Text — Ex. 22:18; Lev. 19:26, 31; 20:6, 27; Deut. 18:10-11; Isa. 8:19; Micah 5:12; Mal. 3:5; Acts 8:18f; Acts 13:4-12; II Tim. 3:8, Gal. 5:20
Heidelberg Catechism — Q. 94-95
Q. 94. What does the Lord require in the first commandment?
A. That I must avoid and flee all idolatry, Magic, enchantments, invocation of saints or other creatures because of the risk of losing my salvation. Indeed, I ought properly to acknowledge the only true God, trust in him alone, in humility and patience expect all good from him only, and love, fear and honor him with my whole heart. In short, I should rather turn my back on all creatures than do the least thing against his will.
Subject — Magic
Theme — God’s forbidding of Magic
Proposition — God’s forbidding of magic should cause us to look to see if a magical worldview impinges on our thinking today as modern men so that we might forswear it.
We are not talking this morning about Magic as entertainment. Not talking about Card tricks, pulling rabbits out of hats, or illusions.
Magic — Definition
“Any action of man whereby he attempts total control over the powers of nature and other men so has to manipulate nature and men to a unnatural end.”
Magic is the attempt by man to gain control over the world of man, nature, and the supernatural. In magic, man attempts to become god over all things and to assert his power and control over all reality. According to Kurt Koch:
At the threshold of human history stands the command of God: Replenish the earth and subdue it (Gen. 1:28). The task and right of man was the peaceful conquest of the earth’s powers in agreement with the will of God. In opposition to this command, Satan, the great master of confusion, made the arch-temptation: Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil (Gen. 3:5). The antithesis of the command of God is magic, hunger of knowledge and desire for power in opposition to the will of God. With this, young mankind found itself at the crossroads. Kurt Koch — “Between God & Satan”
Its purpose, according to Scripture, is to divert people from God to man (Isa. 8:19).
Magic thus becomes a religion in as much as it is attached to controlling reality through the control of Idols.
Religion — “Submission to that which is ultimate” — Dr. Paul Tillich
Biblical Religion — Man submitting to the triune God moving in terms of God’s law Word and handling all things in light of God’s Word.
Magic — Man submitting only to himself through his Idols and seeking through manipulation total control over all reality.
Pagan man sought that control via incantation and what we moderns consider strange rituals.
Modern man seeks that control via social manipulation by any and all means. What is important though is that in both cases what is being sought are the instruments to control via one’s own fiat word other men and all reality in a way that is not in harmony with God and His Word. In both the animistic or ancient world and the modern world magic is a means of deception whereby man seeks, by power of his fiat word, to alter real reality.
Modern man laughs and scoffs at the Shaman, Witch Doctor, or Druid in the third world with their slain chickens, and feathers and bones and yet modern man seeks every bit as much to leverage Magic in order to manipulate his reality to move in terms of his fiat word as the Shaman, Witch Doctor and Druid.
And yet Modern man engages in his own type of magic in order to manipulate & control his world & the world around him.
Modern man still looks to Shamans, Witch Doctors, and Druids to leverage magic in order to manipulate reality to move in terms of his fiat word.
Different Modern Expressions of Magic
I.) Much of Psychology is nothing but a form of Magic
Remembering that we have defined magic as the attempt to use raw power (consider Simon the magician’s desire for power in Acts 8) to gain total control over men and / or situations with the purpose of manipulating them to move not in terms of God’s authority but in terms of man’s fiat (self-legislating) word.
And this is what much of Psychology / Psychiatry / Counseling does. It does not look to God’s word for authority and insight but rather seeks to control men through theories that come from a worldview that is distinctly non-Christian. The humanist psychologist seeks through his fiat theories and therapeutic word to magically create alternate realities whereby his patient is magically cured.
The Shaman … can be viewed as a early psychotherapist.
Herbert Benson M. D.
There is abundant evidence in many forms of modern thought, especially the so called “prosperity” psychology “will power building,” and systems of “high pressure,” salesmanship black magic has merely passed through a metamorphosis, and although its named be changed, its nature remains the same.”
Manly P. Hall
Masonic, Hermitic & Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy — pg. C1, C11
Cited from Dave Hunt’s Occult Invasion, pg. 432
We too often forget that psychology as a discipline originated in the attempt to understand man without taking into consideration the God of the Bible. Previously man had been understood in terms of God, but with Psychology man would now be understood without God and the elite would be able to control man through this understanding of man. Psychology thus became a kind of magic that accepted almost unquestioningly in all of our institutions, including our Churches.
And so this discipline that began with feeling the bumps on people’s heads as become a form of magic consulted in how to manipulate people to act in ways that are uninformed by God’s revealed word. The psychologist, like the Shaman of old, uses incantations and rituals in order to alter someone’s perception and to gain control.
We remember that we are talking about magic, and in order to reinforce our understanding of what magic is we offer another definition from M. Stanton Evans,
“In it’s most fundamental terms pagan magical mentality is an effort to obtain the secret knowledge which will give one mastery over nature and other people. As such it has long been a component of the modern outlook. Much of what passes these days as science, (Scientism is the more accurate term) is in fact magic in modern dress. Scientism and magic appear together at the age of the Renaissance … and have been ingredients in secular thought ever since.”
II.) This definition of magic thus brings us to another modern expression of Magic in the modern world and that is Scientism.
Alduous Huxley’s book Brave New World” opens in the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre. The year is a.f. 632 (632 years “after Ford”). The Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning is giving a group of students a tour of a factory that produces human beings and conditions them for their predestined roles in the World State. He explains to the boys that human beings no longer produce living offspring. Instead, surgically removed ovaries produce ova that are fertilized in artificial receptacles and incubated in specially designed bottles. The Hatchery destines each fetus for a particular caste in the World State.
Science is being used, in Huxley’s novel, as magic in order to give sovereign man the ability to have totalitarian control over his world. Man is the idol and science is used as magic in order to control the idol.
But, Huxley’s BNW w/ it’s use of science as a means of magic is not that far fetched from our own world. We don’t quite control birth by caste yet but we do do things like abort 90% of babies diagnosed in utero with downs syndrome thus taking into our own hands the prerogative of God. The push for abortifacients by our Federal gov’t. in our name is nothing but magic seeking totalitarian control. Interestingly enough “pharmakiea” (poisoner) is the word used for “sorcery” (a aspect of magic) in Gal. 5:20
According to Luther (Luthers Works, Vol 27)
“According to Jerome sorcery is called the poisonous art; for the Greek word ‘pharmakon’ means poison or medicament. Hence a sorceress is called poisonous. Therefore the apostle is referring to magicians, wizards, enchanters, and any others who, by means of compacts with devils, deceive their neighbors, harm them, and steal from them.”
Further we use science to control people through drugs and there is work going on in developing designer medicines in order to bring forth a particular personality profile for certain occasions.
I would submit that there are times when there is more sorcery about science than there is science about science.
Of course Science is good and pleasing to God as it is consistent with a Biblical worldview but when Science seeks to overthrow Biblical theology and seeks instead to absolutize itself it becomes a form of magic as it seeks a control that is inconsistent with God’s Word.
Remember, Science is only as good as the Theology it descends from. So, when Science goes outside the bonds of Biblical theology it is serving some other god or gods and when it becomes absolutized so that by its power it seeks total control of man it becomes a form of magic and is thus to be supped with, with a long spoon by Christians.
III.) Another Modern Expression of Magic is our Political Structures
Rose L Martin in her book High Road to Socialism in the U.S.A, 1884-1966, quoted G. D. H. Cole as stating that an objective of socialism is the “abolition of God.”
Remember we said that the purpose of magic is to divert people’s attention away from God and His word and as the State seeks to be the all encompassing arbiter of good and evil legislating for against it the politicians and bureaucrats who comprise the state become a league of magicians.
On this point R. J. Rushdoony could say,
“(The State) plan(s) to abolish sin and guilt, poverty, disease, and hunger, even death itself, and create a new paradise on earth. The new politics is a politics of total control, and it therefore hates God, because God represents a roadblock to power. God is the enemy who must be destroyed so that man can become his own god.”
Non-Christians like Orwell and Huxley in their novels “1984” and “BNW” both understood this totalitarian and magical aspect of the State in defiance of orthodox Christianity, and the reality that the State seeks to use fiat legislative magic to overthrow God explains the hostility of the State towards those who are epistemologically self conscious Christians.
When the Bureaucrats and legislators create and enforce fiat humanist legislation that is unrelated into God’s law they are preforming a kind of magic whereby they are seeking, by means of deception, to use their power to control men. Their words in their legislation thus becomes a kind of “magic spell,” which is cast in order to get people to do their bidding.
IV.) Another important area where magic prevails today is in art.
Here I am borrowing from RJR’s chapter 12 in Law & Liberty
T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, in his study, Mona Lisa’s Mustache: A Dissection of Modern Art, observed that “modern art is not modern at all. It is a revival of one of the oldest systems for getting power. It is a revival of magic.”
The modern artists are totalitarians who despise man and liberty. As Robsjohn-Gibbings noted,
According to the futurists, “Man has no more significance than a stone.” We find Kandinsky, the leader of expressionism, writing haughtily of “the vulgar herd,” and “the mob,” we find the surrealists insisting on the “greatest possible obliteration of individuality,” and Picasso, the leader of cubism, calling for “a dictatorship of one painter.”
To men such as these, art could be only a medium through which they would gain power over the fellow beings they consider so insignificant. So art becomes like a Kewpie doll used by a Voodoo Witch Doctor in order to inflict disorder into people’s reality.
The modern magical artist hates above all to be moral, law-abiding, and meaningful; he belongs in his imagination to an elite group whose purpose is to smash the present order and remake it totally in terms of their own elitist plans. According to one artist’s manifesto, “The artist ‘should be understood as a contemporary magician … How are we to wield power; how are we to influence:’ and not ‘Are we scientists or poets?’ is the question to be posed … Seers, we are for the magic of life.”
Modern art seeks to destroy God’s meaning, to obliterate it from man’s mind, so that man will no longer see God’s order in things but will relearn all things as taught by magical art. Its purpose thus is total brainwashing.
Modern art thus becomes a kind of visible sorcerer’s spell by which the viewer is hexed into accepting the meaning of non-meaning as cast by the Artist.
The magic of the Artist is found in his ability to thrust a hexed people into chaos where integration into the void is the goal by the means of a artistic spell that leads people into concluding that meaning, at best, is person variable. The hope of the magician Artist is that out of chaos order will arise. Those who are deceived by the Sorcerer artists’s hex will increasingly discard meaning and order as declared by God’s interpretation of reality but will instead re-interpret reality according to the spell of the Sorcerer Artist.
It is a form of magic … sorcery.
We fail to see how we are given to magic in our culture because we tend to think that the magical worldview belongs only to animistic cultures. We don’t take seriously God’s word or the Heidelberg Catechism’s injunction against magic because having become so used to the magic around us we fail to see it for magic.