Can Christians do “magic tricks” with cards?

Q. Do you think it is acceptable to do card tricks if this doesn’t involve calling on spirits, foretelling the future, etc.? I have studied it for a few months and hope it may further my personal development. However, there are several things that make me uncertain whether it’s ok to practice anymore now, as I have to do the following two things in order to succeed in card tricks:
1) Telling lies to misdirect spectators
2) Keeping card trick secrets.

Actually, I think you can definitely keep doing card tricks, even as a follower of Jesus, if you just give a disclaimer before you perform them.  You can say something like, “What you are about to see is an illusion intended for your entertainment.  There’s no magic and nothing occult involved.  What I say during the performance is designed to support the illusion and it may not all be true.” That way everyone has fair warning and the right expectations.

In fact, if this would be appropriate for your audience (for example, in a church setting), you can even say, “As a follower of Jesus, I’m careful to follow the Bible’s teaching not to be involved in magic or the occult.  What you are about to see is an illusion . . . ,” etc.

I agree that practicing and performing card tricks could be good for your personal development.  It will help with things like hand-eye coordination, concentration, memory, logic, and public speaking.

There’s no necessary connection between doing illusions or slight-of-hand tricks and the occult.  See this recent article about how a group of Christian magicians has defended itself as not being involved in the occult.  You may want to see whether you can get involved in a similar group where you live, such as the Fellowship of Christian Magicians or ChristianMagicians.org.  (I am not familiar with either of these groups first-hand and so I cannot give them an informed endorsement, but I mention them as examples of how magicians in many places are using their art to share the gospel in memorable and appealing ways.)

You may wish to read my post on the topic, “Should Christians read books and watch movies that have magic in them?”  It explains how even Christian authors such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien have legitimately used magic as a literary device in their writings, but it also explains the possible risks and dangers of suggestions of magic.

Best wishes as you continue to develop your craft and use it in positive ways!

Card tricks can be used in positive ways: Here a man does a trick to propose marriage to his girlfriend! (Click on picture for link to video.)

Author: Christopher R Smith

The Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith is a writer and biblical scholar who is also an ordained minister. He was active in parish and student ministry for twenty-five years. He was a consulting editor to the International Bible Society (now Biblica) for The Books of the Bible, an edition of the Scriptures that presents the biblical books according to their natural literary outlines, without chapters and verses. His Understanding the Books of the Bible study guide series is keyed to this format. He has an A.B. from Harvard in English and American Literature and Language, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and a Ph.D. in the History of Christian Life and Thought, with a minor concentration in Bible, from Boston College, in the joint program with Andover Newton Theological School.

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