Gospel Magic is not, in any way, shape, or form, involvement with or in supernatural arts. The Scripture clearly forbids activity that falls into the categories of enchantments, sorceries, witchcraft, and anything associated with that which could be termed occult. Gospel Magicians are individuals who are committed to living in obedience to the Word of God and under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. They have no secret powers and have no interest in anything that would suggest metaphysical transcendental ability. They are specialists in the use of unique object lessons, accomplished by totally natural means, that confound the eyes, yet illustrate truth.

Gospel Magicians are much like those in the movie industry who produce special effects for films and television. They offer an audience amazement, wonder, entertainment, mystery and surprise for the eyes. The difference between Gospel Magicians and those in the movie industry is, rather than using electronics and sophisticated scientific gadgetry, Gospel Magicians rely on the skill of their hands, unusual mechanical devices, principles of color blending and light reflection, plus a lot of audience psychology and showmanship to create puzzling and exceptional events.

It is unfortunate that the term "magic" causes so much confusion to a large number of modern Christians. It is not uncommon for believers to assume, since someone is a magician, that he or she must be dabbling with the demonic world. (Evangelists have been known to claim that David Copperfield conducts séances before his shows to achieve the power of levitation.) Such an assumption is ignorant and terribly false. Even non Christian people, who do magic tricks, are not in league with evil powers. They simply have an interest that has led them to learn principles, from God's created world, that cause wonder and mystery in a theatrical or "show" type of setting. These principles have to do with sleight of hand, tricky apparatus, strange contraptions, and the clever use of physics and science. They have nothing to do with enchantments or phantom interventions.

To avoid the confusion caused by the term "magic," it is not unusual for present day Gospel Magicians to refer to themselves as "Christian Illusionists." They have found that it is better to call their effects mystery object lessons, amazing illustrations, or even simply refer to them as "illusions," than it is to call them magic tricks. This does seem to be a better choice of terms. Since most people learn about optical illusions while yet in grade school, they tend to view the term "illusionist" as being quite innocent, while the term "magician" arouses suspicions. Since many people are familiar with mystery stories, they aren't bothered by something that is presented as a mental challenge, but if the same thing was called conjuring, they would be spooked by the demonstration.

 (It is interesting to note that European people seem to find no problem with the use of the word conjurer, whereas American congregations get quite upset by it.)
In the past, since many dishonest individuals sought to use principles of optical illusion and science to give others the impression that they had true supernatural powers (see Acts 8:9 24 and the story of Simon), old dictionaries often lump magicians into the same category as necromancers, sorcerers, and those who use incantations. Since Christians often turn to dictionaries to prove their interpretations or establish the meanings of terms, this tends to aggravate the confusion among God's people about the meaning of "magic." (It is a matter of wisdom to remember that dictionaries are not divinely inspired, nor do they always reflect local perceptions about terminology. It is especially prudent to remember that, over time, word meanings change. Therefore, when dictionaries are consulted, they should be up to date versions.)
It is vital to turn to modem resources when seeking to understand the term "magic." An ignorant society finds a demon under every bush. An educated society, while still believing in the reality of demonic powers, knows it is good to check first for natural explanations to phenomenal events.
Recent and better definitions of magic and magicians offer a distinction between those who claim mystical abilities, and those who are performers of unusual and fantastic visual effects. Some recent definitions of magic almost totally disregard the old idea of magicians being people of preternatural achievements.
The 1986 version of the Funk and Wagnalls New Encyclopedia says this, "Magic is the art of entertaining with tricks that are in apparent violation of natural law. The principles of deception that magicians use are psychological; the methods are manipulative and mechanical. The psychological principles are misdirection, suggestion, imitation, and concealment. The spectators do not see everything that happens, and they believe they see things that do not happen. Such faulty perception leads to false assumptions, fallacious logic, and, in the end, to the conclusion that the performer has achieved an impossible result."
Key terms in that explanation are apparent and faulty perception. A magician is doing normal things in a manner that makes them seem to be something other than normal. As a form of entertainment, he is playing tricks with the regular process of human reasoning. This is a legitimate thing to do, as long as he clearly lets his audience know that he is creating amazing effects for them to enjoy. If he instead tries to convince his audience that he really does have secret or mystical powers, he is a deceiver. There is nothing wrong with letting people know they are going to witness a "pretend" situation. There is much wrong with someone pretending to have contacts with the spirit world, or attempting to lead audiences into believing that things are real miracles, when they are only tricks.

Gospel Magicians are honest individuals who tell those watching them that what is being witnessed is only an act. They make it clear that it is a type of show, offered for the entertainment and education of those who see it.

So what is Gospel Magic? It is the use of human knowledge and skill to create actual illusions and baffling events that serve to attract people to situations where they will hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The illusions and amazing events also are used as visual aids to assist listeners in the comprehension of spiritual truth.

To state the matter very simply, Gospel Magic is the use of a unique performance skill to bring people into contact with the message of salvation and abundant life that is available through Jesus Christ. Gospel Magic is very effective as a tool for teaching and evangelism. It does attract unbelievers to places where the truth is proclaimed, and it does make for some tremendously meaningful object lessons.



This article was taken from the book Greater Gospel Magic by Duane Laflin. He is an established Gospel Magician and ordained minister as well as two-time President of The Fellowship of Christian Magicians.