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The Difference between Faith and Magical Thinking: Why the Church Must Come Back to Faith

Updated: Apr 29, 2022

Hello everyone! I was listening to a song this morning from Evan Craft. I discovered his music while streaming random music on YouTube music last night. The song was talking about faith and how some people view Christians as crazy because of their faith. I got to thinking about those lyrics this morning. Yes, faith can seem crazy to some. The Lord brought something to mind just then; there is a difference between faith and magical thinking, a stark difference. Faith and magical thinking have nothing to do with one another at all. I want to elaborate on the difference today to encourage you in your faith and to prevent magical thinking from becoming part of your journey. I will also be pointing out ways in which magical thinking is hindering the Church today and why we must turn away from it.

Let’s begin with faith. What is faith? Paul’s letter to the Hebrews answers this question best: “To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1 (GNT)) Faith asks us to believe, regardless of what we see in our natural realm. It does not ask us to neglect, ignore, or negate the natural realm, but to believe in something bigger and better for us and our world. Faith in Jesus, whom we don’t see, is part of salvation – “For by grace you have been saved by faith. Nothing you did could ever earn this salvation, for it was the love gift from God that brought us to Christ so no one will ever be able to boast, for salvation is never a reward for good works or human striving!” (Ephesians 2:8-9 TPT). Faith, just like grace, is a gift from God to all who want to receive it. Faith increases our hope, and hope increases our love – “there are three things that remain: faith, hope, and love, yet love surpasses them all!” (1 Corinthians 13:12b TPT). Faith comes first, then hope, then love and love is the perfector of all things! Do you see how they work together to strengthen you and others? Faith does not require objects or incantations. Faith is a gift that asks you to believe in something greater than yourself.

Magical thinking on the other hand does not require faith and it certainly doesn’t increase love or hope because it always has a selfish focus. You need not believe in something bigger than you because you baby, are it! Magical thinking says, “this is what I want, so I will have it and it will “magically” appear or happen if I want it enough and will it enough.” Another way of thinking magically is all this talk of “manifesting”, a popular buzz word these days. Magical thinking assumes and presumes much of God, in fact, it actually disrespects His grace and love in many ways because it attempts (and fails) to reduce Him to a “genie in a bottle” - here to grant your every wish and fix your every problem. I credit America’s consumerist mindset for this thinking as well. Ladies and gentlemen, there are no genies and God is not a cosmic wish-granter nor is he interested in your consumerism. No amount of magical thinking or “manifesting” will make Him so either. I have never seen this type of thinking more pronounced in recent years in the Church than I have in the “prosperity gospel”, certain beliefs on healing, and during the present COVID-19 pandemic. This type of thinking is alarmingly replacing faith, hope and love in some circles of the Church and bad things have already come and will continue to come if the Church does not whole-heartedly reject magical thinking.

Never mind real faith, hope, love or work ethic; the magical thinking of the false “prosperity gospel” tells you that you can “have all the riches you want! All you have to do is speak it and claim it as yours” – like a magic spell or charm. “If you want that mansion, claim it, it’s yours or that Maserati, it’s yours! Invest $100 in my ministry and it will be yours!” I wish they realized how foolish they sounded.....;p and how deceived they are by this false gospel. This kind of thinking can seriously damage people financially as well as hurt their true faith when things don’t just “magically happen” that the televangelist promised them. A great deceit is at work here.

Never mind real faith, hope and love; Here’s some more magical thinking for you. “Manifested healing” is always ours! If you aren’t healed, you don’t have enough faith!” (You haven’t strived enough for God to love you enough to heal you” is what that is really saying). Here’s another one; “Use this cloth or use this cross, it will help to heal you because you either don’t have enough faith or you need this “anointed” object to heal you” (I fell for this once and I know better now). What they are really saying is this, “Jesus, the Son of the Living God, is not powerful enough but my cloth made by me, or my ministry is powerful enough. He died for nothing, believe in me and my cloth. Oh, and don’t forget to donate or give. Clothes are $10.00” This is a boldface, rotten lie. This thinking leaves no room for the mysteries of faith and destroys hope for healing altogether, not to mention taking advantage of people financially. Do you see the fallacy (myth) and deception in this? Do you see the pain it inflicts and the insult? This kind of thinking hurts people emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and financially.

And lastly, to the presumption and assumption upon God and magical thinking’s role in this pandemic. The magical thinkers of our present time presume and assume upon God that He will protect them from COVID-19 because they will it and He is their “genie”, so He grants what they want. They are “blessed with protection because they believe.” In actuality, they believe nothing and neither faith, hope nor love are present in this paradigm. They simply will it and their “genie” their “cosmic wish-granter” could not possibly disobey their will. They want no part of the real healing and preventative measures He has actually provided us through science and thought such as masks, social distancing, vaccines, governing bodies, and scientists who care. “God will just protect me”, they say. “I go to so and so church and I believe such and such way and He just will”, as if they could bend Him to their whims at any given time. I am sorry to report that many have died or become gravely ill because of this type of thinking – many who did not have to die or become ill. Please don’t misunderstand me here, every person who has died or become ill with COVID-19 has hurt the heart of God. This pandemic hurts the heart of God. He did not cause it to judge anyone or anything. Anyone who tells you that is lying to you and does not know the heart of God. I am also not saying God does not protect humans in many ways because He does – think of the miracle stories you have heard both in this pandemic and before. I don’t claim to know why bad things happen other than we live in a fallen, broken world. I do know, however, that God is good, and a good God would not curse us with a pandemic or kill or maim people to judge them. I can tell you He will not be presumed or assumed upon as that has nothing to do with faith, hope or love – that is just humans magically thinking they can force Him to do what they want to support a belief system they have chosen – not one He gave them. Many have died because of this foolish, magical thinking in the last 2 years. This grieves Him greatly.

I want to call upon and admonish the Church and a subset of our political leaders to turn away from magical thinking! It’s hurting and killing people and you have the power to do better! Return to the tenants of Faith, Hope and Love – and most of all Love! Love your neighbor, despise greed, turn away from (repudiate) harmful teachings on healing, gender, and other groups of people (image-bearers like you). Love the truth of the one true Gospel of Christ! Love people more than you love yourself! Church, when you do these things, the magical thinking will fall away because it is rooted in deceit and selfish desire. I beg you, turn away from it! If not now, when?

My heart is to see the Church thrive and be true representatives of Jesus in the earth, not representatives of magical thinking and selfishness that lead to undesirable outcomes for our communities and our nation. We can’t be Christ’s representatives and practice magical thinking. We must not tolerate politicians who claim Jesus yet hold onto magical thinking and deceit at the same time. Jesus is not a magician. The cross is not a magic charm. There is no deceit in Jesus Christ, nor can there be. Jesus is life to all who will receive Him! He is the author and finisher of our faith, our hope, and our love. Church, return to your first Love! Reject deceit and those who follow after it!

I will leave you with this verse as it still echoes through my heart in mind; “there are three things that remain: faith, hope, and love, yet love surpasses them all!” (1 Corinthians 13:12b TPT)

Love has already won! (John 16:33) No magical thinking can change that or the Triumphant King!

With much faith, hope, and love,


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