Tuesday 22 May 2018

Magic - good and evil

There are two wrong attitudes to magic - currently prevalent. The obvious one is a fascination with magic, used as a means of personal (usually sexual, but sometimes power related) gratification. This was the version that corrupted (and consolidated the corruption of) Charles Williams as it has, and does, so many others who propagate it.

But it is also wrong to shun-as-evil all forms of magic, and reference to magic - which is the path adopted by too many Christians; who render their religion merely materialistic, legalistic - and who render the supernatural incomprehensible, arbitrary; a thing to be submitted-to and obeyed merely; and in practice a mask for worldly structures of totalitarian authority.

As nearly-always with Christianity; the path of goodness resembles a middle path found by discernment - or rather, it is in actuality the path of love. Love naturally refuses to be captured or  constrained by simple rules regarding means and methods.

The problem is with magic-rejectors is that Christianity is an objectively magical religion - with Jesus Christ known (by disciples and enemies alike) as a doer of all sorts of supernatural feats, including raising a dead man - which, to one who did not regard Jesus as the Son of God, is simple necromancy: the worst kind of black magic.

So, the only reasonable stance a Christian can have towards magic is to support good, and oppose evil, magic; and the Gospels tell us that the difference is in whether the supernatural serves God's will and destiny, or is done with the aid of, and ultimately in service to, demons.

So, it is a matter of motivation. And I mean real motivation - what a person's motivation really is; not what they tell other people, nor even what they tell-themselves - but what their motivation really is.

How can we know motivation? Well, on the one hand, we can't know another person's motivation for sure in any way that can compel agreement of others (there cannot be compelling, undeniable, evidence); although we may know it for ourselves with certainly - due to intuition.

On the other hand, we must judge the motivation of others, as best we can. Yet this judgement is - like all true discernments - a thing which cannot be done by the mere algorithmic application of a flow chart. We are back to intuition - the bottom line of all judgement.

Thus is life. Because motivation is the most important aspect of Life; the most important matters are ones that are least amenable to 'proof' and procedure.

And we should embrace the fact, not try to avoid the truth, and distort it, by arbitrary application of simplistic schemes.

Magic is real: some is Good, some is evil; and we need to/ must decide for ourselves which is which... Taking-into-account what seems to be relevant evidence and what we (intuitively) regard as authoritative opinion...

But in the end making an explicitly intuitive discernment.


Chiu ChunLing said...

Magic fundamentally includes the idea that supernatural forces are subject to manipulation though technique. This is simply what the term "magic" means.

Submission to a supernatural being that one recognizes as higher in kind and beyond manipulation by technique rather than sincere obedience is utterly different from magic.

There can be false religions, and evil religions, but religion is not magic.

The fundamental mindset is entirely different.

Magic means making a deal with the devil (never with anything worthy of being called a god, let alone God) in the belief that you are sufficiently intellectually superior to ensure you come out ahead on the deal. Religion means allegiance to a god (whether you're right about that or not) in the understanding that genuine loyalty is an absolute requirement.

It is not impossible to engage in both religion (believing in gods) and magic (believing in the efficacy of outwitting devils). But there is no necessity to believe that the latter is possible or wise in order to be a Christian.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - My point is that Christianity has, from its origins and at many times and places since, been full of magic; magic as it would be described by any outsider. Miracles in response to prayer, healings in response to prayer (or any perceptible response to prayer) - wonder-working saints or icons, modern Pentecostals... It is just silly for Christians to try and say they are against magic, or to try and exclude any taint of magic - what would be left is just a materialistic ethical system based on blind adherence to tradition or utilitarian expediency.

Chiu ChunLing said...

It is not silly at all.

What is silly is to accept the opinion of outsiders to Christian life and belief as to whether an attitude of obedient submission to God's power is distinguishable from an attitude of scheming to outwit and manipulate diabolical effects.

I personally believe that anyone ("outside" or not) who honestly cares to examine the evidence can tell the difference. But I am even more convinced that it simply does not matter.

What does matter is that we, ourselves, understand and spiritually practice that distinction in our approach to God whether in petition or obedience.