By fantasy-scare, I mean the scare surrounding things like Dungeons & Dragons (a tabletop roleplaying game), Harry Potter or other media that depicts magic as narrative element and neutral part of the fictional world. The scare surrounding this is that it was/is seen by some as gateway into real-life magic and/or devil worship. (mostly in the 80s and 90s, but still, for some, today)

Is this in any way justified by the Bible?

We see:

  • magic explicitely being forbidden in the Old Testament, alongside with idol worship
  • one instance of necromancy supposedly working (Elija? appearing to ??? I forgot)
  • one instance where real miracles are counterfeited through whatever means (ten plagues)
  • demonic possession in the New Testament, however with no connotation, as far as I can tell, that the possessed did anything wrong to bring about their troubles.
  • a man practicing sorcery giving it up to follow Christ. No indication, as far as I can tell, that the magic worked, or that anything bad followed from it, outside of it being forbidden.
  • indication in the New Testament that devils can manifest, similar to angels. But as far as I can tell, no instance of this actually happening

But most of the time, there is simply a lot of mockery in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament, that idols are man made and have no power. Satan, in the Old Testament, barely even appears as a character, and there is no claim, as far as I can remember, that idol worshippers are actually worshipping demonic powers. Satan does appear a lot more prominently in the New Testament, but is linked to wrongdoing, not so much to Gentiles worshipping idols.

Now, my hypothesis here is magic and idol worship are shown in the Bible to be leading astray from God, but ultimately powerless. A substitute religion, not a devil worship. The scare seemed/seems to be, though, that children playing D&D etc. ultimately get involved with demonic forces(?!)

Is there any biblical support to the idea behind the scare that engaging in "narrated magic" leads to practicing "actual magic" and that "actual magic" leads to "engagement with the devil"?

  • 1
    The Greek Septuagint version of Psalm 95:4 (numbered differently than in the Masoretic) contains the needed reference.
    – user46876
    Oct 8, 2021 at 18:49
  • What on earth are you talking about? What is "D & D" for those of us who are not into computer languages, coding or anything else that goes on in so-called social media"?
    – Lesley
    Oct 8, 2021 at 19:26
  • @Lesley Dungeon and Dragons (table top RPG-role playing game)
    – depperm
    Oct 9, 2021 at 0:09
  • @Lesley My experience, of Dungeons and Dragons is guy friends sitting around a table, fighting imaginary creatures, rolling dice to see results (sword slash hits or misses, etc) without a board or physical game pieces. To the best of my knowledge it has been mostly supplanted by video games which have a much stronger appeal. It has been criticized by a few Christians as leading demonic.
    – nickalh
    Oct 9, 2021 at 0:46
  • 1
    Some scare-fantasy is real. Watch the documentary "Hail Satan", about the Satanic Temple church. This non-religious religion was founded to ridicule (and change) American laws and practices (e.g. a radio station offered free air time to community churches, so they claimed their air time too, much to everyone's dismay, or a church donated a statue to a public park, so they claimed the right to do the same.). The problem is, many people joined the church because they took the satanic trappings as serious. ¶ It doesn't matter how obviously fake a fantasy is, some idiot will believe it. Oct 9, 2021 at 23:49

5 Answers 5


Let us start by answering the question directly.

No, there is no direct Biblical justification for believing that taking part in fantasy games is always sinful.

There is no mention of fantasy games or anything like them in the Bible. Such condemnation as there is is entirely directed at actual practitioners of evil magic.

People who condemn fantasy magic or fictional magic deduce for themselves that 'pretend' magic is evil based on one if these assumtions:

  1. People who pretend to do magic can somehow be tricked into doing real magic - for example they think they are saying a pretend spell to summon a pretend demon, but are really summoning a real demon. This is based very much on a medieval view of magic.
  2. Fantasy magic is a gateway to real magic. If some gets involved in pretend magic this will be used to introduce them to real magic. This whole premise is open to a lot of debate.
  3. Any positive portrayal of magic, even in fantasy, is encouraging tolerance of real magic.

From a Biblical perspective, I think there are three critical things to keep in mind when considering this question:

  1. The accuser or "satan" worked chiefly by deceiving humans to abandon God's commands and seek their identity outside of God, which led to death. The main tactic of the enemy is lies - not spooky apparitions. So simply because something does not result in evil spirits showing up at the door doesn't mean it isn't dangerous.

  2. The Bible does forbid divination and consulting the dead as detestable practices. So we should not take these things lightly.

  3. While we may feel free to read Harry Potter and play a fun round of D&D, we need to remember Paul's admonition about the weaker brother. We should do our best not to lead those who truly think these things are wrong into sin.

Deuteronomy 18:9-13 - When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. 13 You must be blameless before the Lord your God.

Romans 14:1-4 - Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

Discernment Is a Personal Matter

When deciding whether to read a book or watch a movie, I think a lot of discernment is required, as well as self-knowledge of what might be negative for us personally. Myself, I think something gratuitous and violent like Game of Thrones is much worse spiritually than something like Harry Potter.

In Harry Potter, the greatest form of magic is love and friendship is a key theme. The dark magic is clearly portrayed as evil and divination, which the Bible forbids, is made fun of - Professor Trelawney is a laughing stock among the teachers and Hagrid calls the centaurs "ruddy stargazers". That said, Harry Potter could be a stumbling block for someone and if it is they should avoid it to keep a clear conscience and honor the Lord.

So, I think there are a few questions I would ask:

  1. Does this content in any way directly dishonor God? (idolatry or sexual immorality)

  2. Does this content offend my conscience?

  3. Am I leading someone else to offend their conscience in this situation with my words or actions?


When my sons were aged 12 to 14 years, they played a similar table-top game called "The Hidden Kingdom". It was a fantasy game but designed to sort-of 'counteract' Dungeons & Dragons. It put a "Christian spin" on the concept. I do not have it now, as it was thrown out decades ago after the lads left home.

There certainly is nothing by way of a biblical example that could justify being scared of modern fantasy games, as such forms of supposed 'entertainment' just did not exist in biblical times. People were entertained by real-life-and-death events in the Roman arena, by plays (that often depicted demonic characters) and stories told by travelers returned from globe-trotting. But when people became Christians, such attractions began to wane (if not vanish overnight) because their thinking had been transformed by the mind of Christ. And if they had been brought up by Christian parents, they would have been schooled in biblical truths.

One biblical truth is the outworking of the principle, "They have sown the wind, they shall reap the whirlwind" (Hosea 8:7). This applies to how fantasy role-playing goes on. Back in the late 1900s when this took off, it was seen as just harmless fun by most people - entertainment. But look where it's got to now with computer games! Millions of young people have become obsessed with fantasy computer games, their whole lives subsumed by this. And the violence they are virtually engaged with is horrific, infinitely worse than anything in D&D! Nor do they think anything about whether characters are evil or demonic, because they're just part of the 'fun'.

There is no way a young person soaking up hour upon hour, day after day, year after year, can remain unaffected by the ungodliness on their screens. Even if they think it's mere 'entertainment', look at what saturating young people with the idea that sex is 'entertainment' has led to. What we see here over many decades (with both those examples) is "the thin edge of the wedge" now being so fully shoved in that the door to the evils involved is wide open.

A Christian principle is that "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough. Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast" (1 Corinthians 5:6). This speaks of worldly, sinful thinking and ways. A little previously (2:16) Christians were told they have the mind of Christ - which is pure. Allowing worldly or (worse) satanic thinking to come in will pollute all that is good thinking, given enough time.

Another Christian principle is that we must actively avoid thinking about certain things, replacing how we used to think with a new way of thinking. This is detailed here:

"Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." 1 Corinthians 6:9-12

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8

Now, tell me - how much of the good stuff is in such fantasy games (of old) or in fantasy gaming (now)? And how much of the bad stuff in the first text is present? And how much of the wedge has gradually been shoved into place? And how wide open is the door to worldly, satanic thinking that see millions of impressionable young people rush through, their 4-D visualising gadgets covering their literal eyes?

There is real power in those games, leading to false worship (of entertainment and gaming 'idols') and turning minds away from the things of God. And to elevate anyone or anything above one's regard for God is idolatry - which is utterly condemned throughout the entire Bible. Those who laugh at this, dismissing it as nonsense, will continue to indulge hour upon hour, increasingly so, in the virtual temples of their fantasy gaming, becoming so addicted that when Christ suddenly returns to judge an ungodly world, it will be too late for them.

  • Your last point is completely valid, but is not, imho, related to those games depicting magic or a fantasy setting. Candy Crush or whatever highly addictive game with abstract or innocent setting, or any addiction at all, really, is already enough to turn minds away from the things of God.
    – kutschkem
    Oct 13, 2021 at 12:20

Are there biblical examples that justify fantasy-scare?

The short answer is that there is no clear examples that may justify fantasy-scare!

It has been said that no one truly hates the Church, but many people hate what they believe the Church to be. For three decades, Dungeons and Dragons (abbreviated “D&D”) has been a source of controversy, and it’s history is confusing as it is complex. In addition to the prevalent stereotypes of players being socially inapt, our culture has linked D&D to everything from satanism and the occult to depression and suicide. This has in some cases resulted in mass fear and anger being directed at the game and its developers. There have even been calls for warning labels and age restrictions on D&D books and paraphernalia. Now, to be fair, the majority of these concerns come from persons who mean well but have been misguided. But as Catholics, we are called to make informed decisions about the things that we consume, including media. As 1 Thessalonians 5:21 tells us: “Examine everything carefully, hold fast to that which is good.” Additionally, those of us that are called to marriage are given the responsibility to teach our children to do the same. For these reasons, it is crucial that we examine them as they are and not merely what we have been told they are, always in light of what God has revealed through Scripture and Tradition. But many Catholics have simply rejected D&D outright out of fear or simply out of a lack of motivation to research it themselves. As someone who has dedicated his life to forming young people in the Catholic Faith, this concerns me. As a person who enjoys D&D, this concerns me. And so by this post, I hope to present the case for D&D through the perspective of the Church’s wisdom. - Can A Catholic Play Dungeons and Dragons?

Ouija boards are outright forbidden to play with amongst Catholics are for good reasons.

Since early in the Ouija board's history, it has been criticized by several Christian denominations. The Catholic Church in the Catechism of the Catholic Church in paragraph 2116 explicitly forbids any practice of divination which includes the usage of Ouija boards. Also, Catholic Answers, a Roman Catholic Christian apologetics organization, states that "The Ouija board is far from harmless, as it is a form of divination (seeking information from supernatural sources)." Moreover, Catholic bishops in Micronesia called for the boards to be banned and warned congregations that they were talking to demons when using Ouija boards. In a pastoral letter, The Dutch Reformed Churches encouraged its communicants to avoid Ouija boards, as it is a practice "related to the occult". The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod also forbids its faithful from using Ouija boards as it teaches that such would be a violation of the Ten Commandments.

In 2001, Ouija boards were burned in Alamogordo, New Mexico, by fundamentalist groups alongside Harry Potter books as "symbols of witchcraft". Religious criticism has also expressed beliefs that the Ouija board reveals information which should only be in God's hands, and thus it is a tool of Satan. A spokesperson for Human Life International described the boards as a portal to talk to spirits and called for Hasbro to be prohibited from marketing them.

These religious objections to use of the Ouija board have in turn given rise to ostension type folklore in the communities where they circulate. Cautionary tales that the board opens a door to evil spirits turn the game into the subject of a supernatural dare, especially for young people. - Ouija (Wikipedia)

Messing around with Ouija boards may seem innocent for most, but they definitely lead people into a world that the bible explicitly forbids.

The Bible clearly forbids Spiritism. God’s people are to make no attempt to contact spirits. Séances and necromancy are occult activities forbidden by God (Leviticus 19:31; 20:6; Galatians 5:20; 2 Chronicles 33:6). The fact that Spiritism places the occult under a veil of “science” makes no difference. The Bible tells us that the spirit world is off-limits to us, for our own protection. The spirits with which Spiritism has to do are not human; the Bible says that the spirits of men face judgment after death (Hebrews 9:27), and there is nothing in Scripture to suggest that spirits return to the land of the living for any reason or in any form. We know that Satan is a deceiver (John 8:44). The rational conclusion, from Scripture, is that any contact spiritists have with the “souls of the departed” is actually contact with demons in disguise (Revelation 12:9). Spiritism is not compatible with the Bible and is spiritually dangerous. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Do not open those doors that will give Satan access to get his foot inside the doorway.

In the late 1940s, in the United States, priests of the Roman Catholic Church performed a series of exorcisms on an anonymous boy, documented under the pseudonym "Roland Doe" or "Robbie Mannheim". The 14-year-old boy (born c. 1935), was the alleged victim of demonic possession, and the events were recorded by the attending priest, Raymond J. Bishop. Subsequent supernatural claims surrounding the events were used as elements in William Peter Blatty's novel The Exorcist in 1973.

Roland was born into a German Lutheran family. During the 1940s the family lived in Cottage City, Maryland. According to Allen, Roland was an only child and depended upon adults in his household for playmates, primarily his Aunt Harriet. His aunt, who was a spiritualist, introduced Roland to the Ouija board when he expressed interest in it.

According to Thomas B. Allen, after Aunt Harriet's death the family experienced strange noises, furniture moving of its own accord and ordinary objects such as vases flying or levitating when the boy was nearby. The family turned to their Lutheran pastor, Luther Miles Schulze, for help. Long interested in parapsychology, Schulze arranged for the boy to spend a night in his home in order to observe him. When parapsychologist J.B. Rhine learned that Schulze claimed he witnessed household objects and furniture seemingly moving by themselves, Rhine "wondered if Schulze 'unconsciously exaggerated' some of the facts." Schulze advised the boy's parents to "see a Catholic priest". - Exorcism of Roland Doe

One gets hurts by the Devil unless one gets too close!

“For as a chained dog, can bite none but those who go near him, so the devil cannot harm with his temptations those who do not consent to them. Like the dog he can bark at you, but cannot bite you against your will.” - St. Augustine

Obviously Dungeons & Dragons and the like may not be on the same footing as the Ouija board, séances, table-turning, divination and so on, Christians should think twice about playing fantasy-scare games, lest they get lead into something more sinister!


Unless something is expressly forbidden in the Bible, a Christian can use their God-given conscience, along with Bible principles to consider whether something is 'right or wrong'. But here are some things you might consider:

  1. There is nothing wrong with fiction - Jesus used fictional narratives as teaching illustrations. For example, the well known 'good Samaritan' was not a real account, just a story to teach a point. Some of Jesus's illustrations even entered the realm of fantasy, for example, 'the rich man and Lazarus' involves a discussion between two dead people. Of course, these were for teaching, not entertainment, but that gives us another thing for consideration - what is the moral, or overall message that the fiction conveys? Clearly though, just because something is not rooted in reality does not mean it is 'wrong' for Christians.

  2. The Bible definitely does NOT teach that magic 'doesn't work' and DOES clearly link it to power from the devil and the demons - At Matthew 7:22,23, Jesus said:

Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’"

So, Jesus said that people who he regarded as 'evildoers' would perform miracles, including expelling demons. Notice that these people would not say they tried to do these things - they would actually do them! Evidently, the demons do use their power to deceive people in uncanny, supernatural ways. And if they do it to misguided people doing it in Jesus name, how much more so to those practising the kind of magic that God hates. In the western world, magic may not be taken seriously by most people, but in past times and in other parts of the world it very much is, and it would not have gained such a stronghold on people for centuries if there was no power behind it.

  1. The Bible teaches that "those who love the Lord" should "hate evil" (Psalm 97:10) - sure, the Bible discusses magic, sorcery and those who practice it, but purely in a factual sense and in an entirely negative light as a warning against it. Being entertained by it, in books, movies, games etc, even if it is fictional, is not exactly "hating" it.

To sum up: principles ought to be much further reaching than rules. For example, "no shoplifting" is a rule, but not one that excludes other forms of stealing such as burglary. If you believe on principle that "stealing is wrong", then that would encompass all forms of theft. Principles then are far-reaching. So, if something is wrong on principle in real life, would it not also be wrong in fantasy? This is a stark example, but would you think that someone engaging in violent sexual fantasies is doing something harmless because they are not acting them out in real life? So if you agree with the Bible's clear stand on magic in real life, is fantasy any different?

  • As a counterpoint, is it "wrong" in real life to defend yourself against a wild animal? To serve in the military? If you're using a game as a proxy for indulging violent cravings, that's probably an issue. On the other hand, to (mis)quote Freud, "sometimes a game is just a game".
    – Matthew
    Oct 12, 2021 at 14:23

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