Sacramental Worldview: Magic?

The Archangel Raphael, on God's orders, uses occult knowledge to help Tobias

A Calvinist aquaintance of mine recently said that “God can appoint whatever means He chooses for communicating His will. The urim and thummim were God-ordained by the written word, which would *de facto* preclude them from the realm of magic.”  This was after he was criticiing the Harry Potter, Narnia and Lord of the Rings books as horribly anti-Christian, and called the Catholic Mass “witchcraft” in a Biblical sense.

So I just though I’d post some Scriptural passages in regards to “magic” in the Scripture, leaving out the abundant examples of approved divination:

“Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith shall save the sick man: and the Lord shall raise him up: and if he be in sins, they shall be forgiven him.” (James 5:14-15)

“And going forth they preached that men should do penance: And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.” (Mark 6:12-13)

“‘As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained’” (John 20:21–23)

“And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name they shall cast out devils: they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they shall drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay their hands upon the sick, and they shall recover. And the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God. But they going forth preached every where: the Lord working withal, and confirming the word with signs that followed.” (Mark 16:17-20, phah to historical-critical method)

“Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.” (John 14:10-14)


~ by Sam Urfer on March 14, 2010.

7 Responses to “Sacramental Worldview: Magic?”

  1. Hello Sam! I’ve found my way to your new blog at last – and to your comment on mine (link provided here) which arrived over a year after I’d made the post and commented on your parmandur blog – I had almost given up looking! Nice to see you are well and continuing in your religious quest! So you’re at least not opposed to “magic” in fiction though: I suppose you wouldn’t be, as a Tolkien and Lewis (and Rowling?) fan! Can’t really follow this argument about “justified” biblical magic: I suppose it must be that bit too arcane for a poor pagan (though I find CSL easy to follow for he’s logical!) Well I have been neglecting my own blog because of poor health etc: though with an intention to return to it, I have prepared plenty of handwritten notes which will be put up in due course. I still must admit to being quite “inspired” by your “opposition”! Please feel free to revisit and respond to the further comments I have made on both blogs; as stated, you might find them quite interesting!

  2. Hmm; well blow me down; something else I’ve only just found out about Sam: he’s a “Baldursman”! (Or would be, if he had what *I* call a “proper” religion!) *A Baldursman*: my first one though I kinda know a Baldurswoman from badheathens livejournal; you’re the first male “one of his” I’ve ever encountered: I had no previous idea – and me a Lokiswoman – ROTFL! So *that’s* what makes you so nervous of Tricksters: you gotta laugh. So what makes you like the Shining One: but no I won’t ask! (The quiz did say that you were 70% like Loki and some other god as well: so if I were you I wouldn’t get too holier-than-thou!) Sorry: I’ve just been checking out your Facebook & Myspace – update, update! (No point looking for mine; I’ve never had either under any name.) You may be interested to know we share a good few reading and music tastes; not just Inklings but Terry Prachett and Richard Wagner, to name but a few..(Don’t tell me you’ve sat through the Ring cycle without a few pangs of sympathy for that old rogue Wotan.)

  3. & there’s so many things I’d like to ask you about the subjects of your current blog: like – what do you think of left-wing Catholics? Why do I find most Catholic (and most Christian blogs out there) to be right-wing? Eg Father Z’s – and he listens to Rush Limbaugh – and I thought Catholic thinkers were all like intellectual scholastics! Not people who think Obama is a magic muslim negro alien communist. You claim to be a big fan of the current Pope: but unlike his predecessor he’s done nothing original that I can see. And every time I turn on BBC Radio 4 in the past week or so, I hear about him covering up child abuse as a cardinal.

  4. Well thanks for putting ’em up Sam – I wondered if you would! So what did you think of any of the above points (I think one or two deserve separate posts to reply, no?) One thing I’ve wondered about recently: I can quite see why younger people would be attracted to religion, organised or otherwise, in our current troubled times. For the mainstream political parties sure aren’t very inspiring: and the fringe ones are too small to do much. But – what would attract the bright young things to Pope Benedict? I can see it a bit better with John Paul II; because he travelled the world, read comic books and many would have seen him as a pro-democracy symbol regarding Poland and the for most of his reign communist Eastern Bloc countries. But what is the raison d’être of Pope Ratzinger? He’s not populist and he isn’t going to please any reformists or anyone on the Catholic left.. And in the child abuse scandal he doesn’t much seem like a new broom to sweep clean either. Just wondering.. You see, right now is a period

  5. renewed distrust in all kinds of public authorities; cf the international child abuse scandal. (A lot of this however took place in “children’s homes”; and many of these weren’t church-controlled, they were state-controlled. Also from what I’ve read, the litany of most of the most violent abuse is long and the majority of it was and still is coming out of (esp.) American state-controlled/sanctioned places: “youth authority” juvenile prisons; “boot camps”; “drug treatment” facilities or private (state-licensed) scams; boarding schools for the disabled – as well as plenty of Protestant-run Dickensian places! Folks: Google nospank or thestraights; you’ll soon see what I mean!) & in Britain currently there is a lot about political corruption: parliament members claiming too many expenses, accepting bribes etc. All in all it’s made the public very cynical and dissatisfied. Not revolutionary yet: its not quite the 60s again; but give it till the teens or the roaring twenties of our own new century – and I think you

  6. will see that they’re going to be more like the 1960s in terms of public attitude and social change than the wishy-washy 1990s ever were! Mark my words! (You might just have been born that bit too early Sam; as I see myself as having been born a bit too late! But you’re in a good position to join a vanguard! C’mon why not be a Catholic radical?) _Getting back finally “on topic”: your urim and thummim story? Wasn’t the other guy’s reaction quite typical: all orthodoxies say their own tools, mumbo-jumbo etc. are sanctioned; whereas those of the other guy are witchcraft and black magic! This is why neo-pagans are not stung by such (hypocritical) criticism. Sincerely yours, Liz K.

  7. Don’t leave out:

    “Now bands of Moabites used to invade the land in the spring of the year. 21 And as a man was being buried, lo, a marauding band was seen and the man was cast into the grave of Elisha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood on his feet.”

    “And God did extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that handkerchiefs or aprons were carried away from his body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.”

    “they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and pallets, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them.”

    “As he said this, he spat on the ground and made clay of the spittle and anointed the man’s eyes with the clay, 7* saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.”

    “And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the village; and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands upon him, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” 24 And he looked up and said, “I see men; but they look like trees, walking.” 25 Then again he laid his hands upon his eyes; and he looked intently and was restored, and saw everything clearly.”

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