I think that many Christians would say that they don’t believe in magic.
However, I think in some ways, Christians act and practice as if they did believe in magic. When this topic first came to mind, there were three areas that sprang to mind. There are probably other areas in which this truth applies.
First, a definition; by “magic”, I mean the concept and idea that words have power; this is one aspect of witchcraft and sorcery (as I understand it) – that the right words, spoken the right way and/or at the right time have power. That is the aspect or idea I want to examine.
First, let us consider prayer. I’m afraid that too often, the living God is treated as a mere vending machine; that is, “If I pray with just the right feeling in my heard and/or throb in my voice, or with the right amount of faith, He will give me what I ask for.” God is not a great vending machine that we can insert the right prayer words and guarantee that He will answer us. He is the Lord God Almighty; we are merely His creation. He does answer prayer, always for His honor and glory, and usually for our good (I’m remembering that there have been times when God answered the demands of His people, but sent leanness unto their souls). Certainly we should pray – but we should not think that there are “magic” prayer words that will force God to give an answer. I’ve seen articles and seminars that promise to give the secrets to getting prayers answered. Or I’ve heard Christians say “If only I could pray like X!” – God made you uniquely you, not a clone of X. Pray as yourself; you can at best be a poor imitation of another, but you are the best you that exists. Prayer is not magic.
Next, let us consider salvation. I think that the so-called “sinner’s prayer” that is so often used when talking to another person about his soul is treated as a magic incantation that guarantees salvation. I am very afraid that many people are putting their trust, not in Jesus Christ for salvation, but in the “magic” incantation that they said on their doorstep, or in their house. Salvation is frequently treated in such a trivial manner by some; it is treated like buying a lottery ticket to win a multi-million dollar prize – people may not be sure that hell exists, but they are willing to say “magic” words that will keep them out of it. There is no real awareness of their sinfulness; there is no real awareness of their sins. After these kind of “salvation”, there is no interest in following Jesus Christ or, frankly, in any spiritual matters. This is not the same salvation we see in the Bible. The Bible clearly teaches that salvation is the gift of God, and is not of works – but it just as clearly teaches that when someone is truly regenerated by the Holy Spirit, he is changed. Everyone in the Bible that came to faith in Jesus Christ showed a change (although some “fell away” later on). Sometimes we are in such a hurry to “get one” that we rush them into “repeat these words after me”, but there is no actual conviction by the Holy Spirit. There has been much written on this subject, by better authors than I. Let’s just summarize that salvation is not a matter of magic words.
Finally, let us consider the Bible itself. There are some today who appear to believe that the words of the Bible are somehow “magical” – powerful because they are (somehow) indwelt by the Holy Spirit. But that’s not what the Scripture teaches: the word of God is powerful, not because of the words themselves, but because God is all-powerful. The promise that Christians are kept by the power of God is powerful (and precious) because God Himself has the ability to do it. The words of the Bible are just English (or Spanish or Russian or Greek) – it is our God that has the power to back up His words, and THAT is what makes the Scriptures powerful. We don’t need to believe in any kind of “magic” that has imbued the words with some kind of mystic power – we need to believe in God who gave us His words. The Bible is a blessed book; a divine book; a book that is the words of the Living God to His creation – but it isn’t magic.