Magic & fantasy in Christian perspective

{file under “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie”}

We have no shortage of opinion when it comes to a Christian perspective on the arts. In recent memory the most prominent case study was found in the fanfare & furor generated by the Harry Potter series and the prominent place given to magic & wizardry. In light of the biblical injunctions against divination & sorcery all Christians recognize the concern raised by such subject matter even if we arrive at different conclusions.

So does Harry Potter (or Narnia or The Lord of the Rings) cultivate an affinity for the occult? Jerram Barrs thinks not and offers this insight from his recent book Echoes of Eden: Reflections on Christianity, Literature, and the Arts:

     We return here to the charge that Harry Potter books are evil because they contain magic, witches, wizards, spells, and the like. As we have seen, the same criticisms have been made of Lewis’s and Tolkien’s books, even though both of these authors are known by the critics to have been committed Christians. Because magic is a part of the Potter books, the Narnia books, and The Lord of the Rings, some claim that these books may have the effect of interesting children in the occult.

…None of these books encourages occult practice. The magic is simply a part of the imaginative worlds that Lewis, Tolkien, and Rowling have created. In such an imaginary world, people can become invisible, animals talk, mythical creatures like unicorns and centaurs exist, and rings and spells work wonders. In all of these books the magic serves to help us see the battle between good and evil more clearly. Magic is simply a device to unveil the world of virtue and vice to us. [p 135-136, emphasis added]

Author: Jonathan P. Merritt

Happily married father of six. Lead pastor at Edgewood Baptist Church (Columbus, GA). Good-natured contrarian, theological Luddite, and long-suffering Atlanta Falcons fan. A student of one book.

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