Jump to content

Welcome to Christian Writers!

We are a friendly community built around Christian writing, publishing, reading and fellowship. Register or sign in today to join in the fun!
Sunny

Would you consider this Christian Fiction?

Recommended Posts

So I am currently writing a story with magic. Its has black magic but most of it is used for good. I don't know if you would consider that Christian Fiction. I know in the Bible states: 

“But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars–their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death- Rev. 21:8 

 

The story has elements from Harry Potter, Mortal Instruments, and DC/Marvel.

I do mention God, the Scriptures, but I don't know if you would consider it "Christian Fiction"? I know some people would not consider it Christian. Mainly because black magic is witchcraft and witchcraft is against God. 

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you pretty much answered your own question. 


Black magic being used for good sounds pretty oxymoronic, don't you think? Or perhaps I misunderstood what you mean by the term.


You might think about exactly why you are writing the story this way. Are the "black magic" elements actually necessary? If so, why must the good guys employ them?


Alternatively, why not just write a magical fantasy in the time-honored tradition of fairy tales, Lord of the Rings, etc? Why must your story contain the ugliness that is "magic" in the real world?


Just my thoughts.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, Sarah Daffy said:

I would consider all magic witchcraft. 

I agree!

 

Just now, Sunny said:

but I don't know if you would consider it "Christian Fiction"?

I wouldn't consider it Christian fiction because it's portraying something evil (black magic) as something good. 

 

Hope that helps!

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, Zee said:

Alternatively, why not just write a magical fantasy in the time-honored tradition of fairy tales, Lord of the Rings, etc? Why must your story contain the ugliness that is "magic" in the real world?

I say you could even try a Narnia-like approach.

 

But I agree with everyone else. Magic, even in fiction, is something not to be messed with. Here's another scripture for you to think about:

 

Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God. - Leviticus 31:19

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry to be on the negative side, but I would never read it. I watch my spirit carefully. I won't watch, read, or listen to anything that is not positive. Not even my favorite program...Father Brown! ;)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It may not be Christian fiction, but we have seen stories here that have a great deal of magic, some for good and some not.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really do like fantasy, so give me a good story, and it doesn't matter if it's not Christian. That said, I spend an awful amount of time rolling my eyes at how often non-believers get it so terribly wrong, even in fantasy, who our God is. (TV shows like Supernatural and Star Trek come to mind.) 

 

And, just so you know, my story includes characters with special powers, but the powers aren't magic as much as they were created to be like that. (Did you know stuffed animals can put people to sleep? Well, in my story some of them can. It makes sense. That's why parents buy stuffed animals for their babies. They also have ESP with the ones they love. How else do kids converse with their stuffed animals? ;))  So, not against unusual powers, just against the concept of using magic.

 

No problems if you do a fantasy story as a Christian. But if you're going to do a fantasy story that includes Christian themes, then please keep it consistent with Christianity. Accepting evil as good, doesn't work. Too much like Supernatural in the opposite direction.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Black magic, by definition, is black. Ergo, it's not something I would ever depict as good anymore than I would try to depict a killer as a hero. (I know this is in vogue. I don't like the trend.)

C.S. Lewis and JRRT depicted magic in their works, but they had a rationale behind how they represented the working of magic, and this is worth careful study.

The writings of E. Stephen Burnett (and others) over at Speculative Faith debate this issue in detail:
http://speculativefaith.lorehaven.com/?s=white+magic


Christopher Miller makes a distinction between Lewis' Deep Magic and what he refers to as Dark Magic.
http://speculativefaith.lorehaven.com/magic-in-the-story-the-two-faces-of-magic/

 

Quote

 

Discerning the Difference

Many Christians define magic as only Dark Magic. They dismiss the idea that anything with the name “magic” could possibly be deep. Call them wonders or miracles and we’re perfectly fine but the moment we say “magic” it falls into another category altogether. I think the concern among Christians isn’t really the existence of the two faces of magic, but rather discerning the difference between the two.

Even having defined the two archetypes of magic in Narnia it is not always so simple to determine what magic is at work.

In the book The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lucy is given a task to enter a mansion and recite a spell to turn Dufflepuds and a wizard (and even Aslan himself) visible again. Lucy enters the mansion and finds the spell-book, a ‘book of incantations’ which holds many spells for all kinds of ailments. It is never specifically mentioned where this book finds its origin, but its very existence requires someone to recite the words for them to work. After misusing one of the spells to her own advantage, Lucy does find the passage to make the invisible visible and in both cases the magic works. What are we to think of that? What magic was at work here? Deep or Dark?

This is one of the most controversial passages in the entire series.

Perhaps the narrator, Lewis, gives us a hint when shortly before this he eludes to the fact that he himself is not a magician and that the Book (capital B) is not unlike that of the Bible (one of the only references to the Bible in the entire series). Lucy misuses the Book to eavesdrop on her friends and becomes very irritated in what she hears. Guilt ridden, she overcomes the temptation to continue her misuse of the book (Aslan’s book even, as we will soon learn) and turns the page. To her relief, Aslan has provided a ‘spell’ for soul-refreshing just when she needs it. Perhaps this is a symbol of Aslan ‘leading her beside still waters’ like Psalm 23? Aslan knows her immediate need is for comfort and refreshing. He introduces a spell ‘for the refreshment of the spirit’ which is a story so refreshing to her soul it reminds us of the Gospel story (literally a ‘god-spell’ or ‘good-spell’, the origin of the English word ‘gospel’).

But here’s the kicker!

When Aslan appears after Lucy has spoken the spell for making hidden things invisible, he says that it is Lucy’s spell which has made him visible and crucially asks ‘Do you think I wouldn’t obey my own rules?’. The spells, the magic, in the book, obey Aslan’s rules; it is all ultimately Aslan’s (or God’s) Deep Magic.

Lucy and we, the readers, are learning that perhaps Deep Magic is really the only magic there is. It can be abused and in doing so be thought of as Dark Magic. But all of it belongs to Aslan. After all, it is not what is outside of a man but what it inside that corrupts him. So too, it is the intent of the heart that makes a thing wicked or not. One may love another person and it would be a good thing. But if the love becomes perverted by selfishness it is no longer love at all, but an obsession. What good is selfish love? I propose it is Dark Magic.

Like Eustace and Jill learned(in the excerpt from Silver Chair I began this post with), in Narnia, the rules are simple – magic must be ordained by Aslan alone. Anything else would be a deception.


 



I like the even-handed approach from my friend Travis Perry.
http://speculativefaith.lorehaven.com/seven-ways-to-deal-with-the-problem-magic-poses-christian-fantasy-writers/
 

 

 

Quote

 

I would say the basic task is to make it plain the magic in the story world is not the same thing as the sorcery the Bible condemns. In order to harmonize with the Bible’s condemnation, a Christian writer must make it plain that the supernatural power referenced in the story is not in fact in opposition to reliance on the Creator God of the Bible. I know of six good ways to do this (and will reference a seventh way):

1. Only the villains have “magic.” 
This is probably the most straightforward approach. Bad guys use spells, sorcery, incantations, and magic items. Good guys are stuck with either plain items devoid of any magical powers, or have supernatural power openly linked to God and under His control rather than theirs (and which is never described by the term “magic”). The Left Behind series actually shows baddies into witchcraft whereas the good guys, especially the two prophets in Jerusalem, call down supernatural power overtly in the name of God. To take this notion into the realm of fantasy, take this same sort of thing but instead of setting it on Planet Earth, put it in a world of imagination, but one where God is still God, though perhaps under a different name (e.g. Aslan–though note that magic in Narnia is not just reserved for the villains).

2. Rename miracles and prophets as “magic” and “wizards.”
Take a person who acts like a prophet of the Old Testament, but call him or her something other than “prophet.” Create situations similar to Moses parting the Red Sea or Elijah lighting the sacrifice to God with fire from heaven, but don’t call it prophecy or a miracle or a sign or a wonder. Call it “magic” or “sorcery” instead and those who them “wizards” who call upon the equivalent of the name of God in the story. By linking the activity you’re calling “magic” clearly to the Creator God in the story, you’re making it plain that you’ve simply changed the functional definition of “magic” within the context of your story world. Doing this would take advantage of the fact that fantasy readers expect magic in a tale, but turns their expectation on its head so the story magic works the opposite from how the Bible negatively uses the word. Therefore, done correctly, such wizards would really point back to prophets and their sorcery powers back to God’s power (by whatever name He is presented in the story). Readers who are not Bible-savvy may not immediately notice that the story points back to a Biblical way of seeing the supernatural, even though that’s what it would do. By the way, L. B. Graham, Christian author of fantasy, has used this approach in some of his books.

3. Treat “magic” as an allegory for the workings of God.
I’m thinking especially of how C.S. Lewis used the term “Deep Magic” as a description of what the “Emperor-beyond-the-sea” had written in the stone table where Aslan was sacrificed (in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe). It stated that the White Witch was entitled to kill every traitor and if anyone denied her that right, then all of Narnia would perish in fire and water. But an even deeper magic said that if a willing innocent victim was killed in the place of a traitor, then the Stone Table would crack and death would be overcome. Clearly this references how Christians see Christ dying on the cross for sin, but is phrased as “magic.” A story could call other acts of God or properties of God that parallel what we know to be true, “magic.” Wizardry of this sort would not in fact allow characters to use spells (because “magic” is part of the structure of the universe) and as such might call for the addition of another method of dealing with “sorcery” (one that does allow spells). Though I can imagine a fantasy story without spells at all in which all references to “magic” are simply to acts of God in allegorical form.

4. Treat magic as a form of undiscovered science.
I have imagined in stories I’ve written that magic is a kind of physics that operates in other universes but which is undetectable here. I conceived of magic as a form of power that flows though the multiverse not unlike how electricity flows through a circuit. For universes closest to the source, this power is readily available. The power is subject to manipulation by acts of the will and spoken words (so the use of this power resembles spells), but other universes drain most of the power by the time it hits our universe, so it has never been discovered in our world. In universes that have active magic, wizards are like scientists who study the properties of the invisible and learn how to use it, like how scientists learn to manipulate the forms of energy and matter we know about. Like science, such power can be used for either good or evil and like technology, there are unexpected residual wastes that can be harmful. 

Other novelists have invented other means in which “magic” is either science by another name (as I’ve done myself in the “Time of Magic” referenced in Medieval Mars) or have stated magic is an undiscovered science. Note that making sorcery equal science may create a story universe very similar to ones written from a non-Christian perspective, of the sort that have wizards and spells. But the difference is the kind of story that creates magical power which can be used in a neutral sense isn’t really supernatural power anymore. It’s the power derived from the ordinary physical world as much as photography, internal combustion engines, and atomic power is. What is called “magic” really should be considered part of the natural order in such stories.

It still would be possible for a character to seek supernatural power in an illicit way in such a story world by knowingly circumventing whatever understanding of God he or she had, which would amount to the sin of witchcraft, i.e. trying gain supernatural power without God. Which in that story universe would be a separate thing from the use of magic as in science by another name or in another form.

5. Blend the lines between the supernatural and natural into a strange universe.
What I just suggested in effect blends the supernatural and natural by making acts that would appear to be supernatural merely natural acts, merely the acts of a type of science instead. But I’m suggesting here goes the opposite way. 

A recent example of a Christian writer using “strange universe magic.” Image copyright: C.E. White


Instead of giving everything a natural explanation, nothing has one. Everything is off-the-rails strange and nothing can be said to be a deliberate attempt to achieve the supernatural without God because everything (or most everything) is already supernatural from the point of view of planet Earth as we know it. I’m thinking of Alice in Wonderland or The Wizard of Oz type story universes, where scarecrows and rabbits talk, where changing your size is a matter of what you eat and drink, and tornadoes will transport a house to another land without killing its occupants.In this kind of strange universe, magic is so worked into the fabric of everything that it isn’t special and using it is as natural as walking and breathing. Then that sort of magic does not relate to the Biblical condemnation of people seeking the supernatural without God. Though such a story can shut out God by never mentioning Him and can act as a sort of allegory for witchcraft, it certainly does not have to be. A story universe like this can just as soon mention God in various ways, even though the classic examples I mentioned do not.

6. Treat magic as an innate special ability in analogy to spiritual gifts.
This approach in some ways is a subset of #5, but can also employ notions of #4 as well. It might seem logically contradictory for a story to be both more and less scientific in its approach to the supernatural at the same time, but the author I know who uses this method makes both work. Kat Heckenbach starting in Finding Angel treats the power of magic as a gift that an individual has, given from beyond herself or himself. As such, her approach runs parallel to what the Bible has to say about spiritual gifts, almost forming an allegory of them. Yet since working the supernatural is just a natural ability, she in effect makes the supernatural more common and ordinary as per point #5. But at times she gives specific descriptions of how someone’s ability affects matter or energy in terms someone who has studied science on planet Earth would recognize. Which goes back to #4. In truth, Kat’s approach is unique, but her basic idea of making magic an inherent gift the magic user possesses can well harmonize with a worldview that does not include witchcraft in the Biblical sense of the term.

Dragging magic God condemns into an examination of God’s gifts. Image credit: ohippo.com


Note though that Pagans too have imagined that someone could be born with an innate ability to perform magic that does not really require casting of spells in the ordinary sense. Obviously, if they link such an inherent ability to their gods and goddesses, this would be a portrayal of magic the Bible would condemn. (It’s even possible to corrupt this idea in other ways, as to imagine Christians should be using astrology, tarot, ouija, or other forms of divination the Bible would condemn to find out their “spiritual gift from God”.)

So in a way, what really matters in this discussion is how God is portrayed in stories and what is the relationship between the user of magic and God. That matters more than how magic itself is portrayed.

7. Downplay the Biblical objection in the first place.
This approach seventh would be to either ignore altogether what the Bible says about magic or claim it only references a specific kind of attempt to gain supernatural power without God. I have heard people use the verse I quoted in Isaiah to claim the Bible does not condemn all magic, it only condemned necromancy, that is, trying to interact with or raise the dead. Or as I mentioned, some claim that Deuteronomy 18 only references divination or the point of Isaiah 8 amounts to divination as well. So as long as you stay away from these specific kinds of magic, the thinking goes, you’re clear. Which is why I gave examples outside of Isaiah and Deuteronomy. In fact, the Bible condemns far more that just necromancy and divination. It takes a broad shot at seeking supernatural power apart from God as a whole, though we need to understand by study what that really means.

I don’t recommend approach #7. I think one of the things that distinguishes an overtly Christian writer of speculative fiction is the attempt to work these issues out by some means or other. Not to ignore them. It does not mean conformity to just one way of thinking and it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to be creative or imaginative. (Kat certainly was creative in her solution.)

 

When the Bible forbids the practice of magic, what is it telling us not to do? 
http://speculativefaith.lorehaven.com/deuteronomy-18-witchcraft-what-it-is-and-isnt/

 

Quote

 

In all these Scriptures we see clear characteristics of the kind of magic that God does hate:

God condemns divination. Therefore God’s people must trust him alone and reject idolatrous and unbiblical attempts to discern the future and control your own fate.

  1. God condemns false prophets and their “magic.” Therefore God’s people must reject ideas, things, or people who endorse idolatry and draw attention to themselves.
  2. God condemns sorcery. Therefore God’s people must reject any other sorcerous method people use in an attempt to divine the divine will for idolatrous ends.
  3. In each case the Bible condemns idolatry that leads to personal magic practice. The sin begins in the person’s heart with a desire to worship something other than God. The sin continues when the person seeks some other means for divining the will of God, the will of other gods, or “fate,” instead of trusting God and believing in his word. That’s sinful magic.

Don’t misunderstand. People are wickedly creative and can use anything to sin: fictitious magic, the English language, even the names of God and Scripture truths. Nothing is good just because it exists or because a Christian enjoys it. Rather, God commands us to receive his good gifts with intentional thanksgiving because they’re made holy for us by the word and prayer (1 Tim. 4:4). But if you are a Christian who intentionally fights sin and has less desire to “divine” the future for idolatrous ends, then you can enjoy made-up magic.

 

 

My book THE BLUE GOLEM heavily features the use of mana on a Fantasy world for the working of what is suggested is magic but the mechanism isn't supernatural, it is the invisible use of power by consuming mana. Magic is used by anyone who has access to mana, and is as widespread as electricity for us. It's a tool to be used for good or evil. It's not divination (the practice of seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown by supernatural means) or sorcery (the use of black magic).  The city government uses mana to fire up street lights, good guys use mana for defense and protection, and the evil Archmage uses mana curry power and to kill.

Brandon Sanderson writes magical systems better than nearly any modern writer. His Mistborn series contains a fascinating fantasy magical system - Allomancy.
https://www.tor.com/2015/06/17/learn-about-the-many-magic-systems-of-brandon-sanderson/
 

Quote

The main magic system of Sanderson’s Mistborn series, Allomancy is accomplished through swallowing different metals and metabolizing (“burning”) them to achieve various effects. Mistings are those who can only metabolize one metal and therefore access a single power of Allomancy, whereas a Mistborn is one who can metabolize all sixteen metals and their alloys to gain access to the full range of allomantic abilities. Allomancy is a net-gain magic system, where a person introduces magic into their system and gains extra power from it. The abilities associated with Allomancy range from emotional control and manipulation to physical augmentation to gravitational control (using metals to pull and push oneself around the world). There are rare metals that Mistborn can metabolize that can make them even stronger Allomantic users, and some that can even show them the future itself. The most recent Mistborn novel The Alloy of Law and its forthcoming sequels, Shadows of Self and Bands of Mourning, introduce Mistings that can alter the flow of time, adding an intriguing and robust temporal component to the Allomantic powers.
 


I hope this will give you something to think about as you grapple with this issue. First and foremost I recommend praying and asking God to guide you in your writing. Perhaps there are other ways to depict the wonder of God's world (which contains two facets, the natural AND the supernatural). Frank Peretti's angelic warfare novels are dated but really interesting and have inspired many people to read their Bibles more closely to bring people closer to God and more fully discover the truth, and isn't that what Christian fiction is all about in the first place?

  • Thanks 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
34 minutes ago, Spaulding said:

But if you're going to do a fantasy story that includes Christian themes, then please keep it consistent with Christianity.

I would agree with this. Fantasy in a fantasy world is very different than portraying magic as positive at the same time as portraying the Bible as true - since those two statements are contradictory. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, PenName said:

I would agree with this. Fantasy in a fantasy world is very different than portraying magic as positive at the same time as portraying the Bible as true - since those two statements are contradictory. 

 

I'd say it's like saying you're portraying the genie from Aladdin as positive at the same time as portraying the Bible as true. One is fiction and the other is not. It's like comparing apples to lugnuts - they're not in the same class of being.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, lynnmosher said:

Sorry to be on the negative side, but I would never read it. I watch my spirit carefully. I won't watch, read, or listen to anything that is not positive. Not even my favorite program...Father Brown! ;)

 

It would be interesting to hear what kinds of things you do enjoy reading/watching. What meets your standard of "positive?" 
For me, a positive story is one where evil is portrayed as such, love and truth are honored, suffering is not pointless, and, in the words of Aeschylus, "Good wins out in the end." 

But you may have an even more stringent standard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

By positive, I meant that which is not evil/satanic. Mysteries are more up my alley. But nonfiction is what fills my house. ;)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey, Johne!

 

What's the recipe for that curry powder?

 

Ann McCaffrey, though not a Christian by any stretch of the imagination, used the "undiscovered science" method to populate worlds with dragons and materials with fantastic properties. I'm more comfortable with this approach; it's the one I'm using in my "romepunk" project. (The "Magi" have harnessed the power of lightning and have "far-seer" globes, electric-powered airships, and other technology, which is deteriorating because they've forgotten the teachings of Daniel.)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.