Faith and Gaming: Mind Powers

Courtesy of Flikr user yellowblade67
Courtesy of Flikr user yellowblade67

Most gamers call them psionics, a term coined in the middle of the last century for the idea that we could use our minds to change the world around us directly. But to many, they are just another form of magic, and therefore a danger to the saved and the lost alike. To believe in mental powers, we are told, is to believe in evil Satanic powers of darkness. No Christian should ever believe in such things, or promote such beliefs, or even entertain the possibility that they might be a subject for conversation, let alone for something so frivolous as game play.

But I do believe in mental powers. I believe that we have them, that we have powers and abilities we have not tapped. I don’t see anything anti-Christian about believing such a thing. In fact, I think I can prove it.

Many years ago I recognized that I had the power to transmit my thoughts to others. No, I’m not claiming some mystic magic here—I realized that you have this power, as well. We can take something that is nothing more than a thought in our own minds, and transmit that through the air to another person, so that they will know our thoughts. We call this power speech. It is a remarkable ability which nearly all humans share to some degree. It is a power of our minds, an ability which enables us to convert pure thought into pure thought, from one mind to another.

Perhaps you are not impressed with this ability; after all, any child can use it, and as far as we know children have been doing it for as long as we have dared to call them human. And were I to suggest that to a lesser degree other animals are able to communicate their thoughts one to another, you would still be unimpressed. After all, bees communicate information about food sources through extremely detailed body language, which we anthropomorphically call a dance; ants similarly leave scent trails for each other, leading to food sources. Just how much elephants, chimpanzees, gorillas, dogs, and octopi can tell each other is unclear, but there is this communication going on around us all the time. Through our own body language, we often tell each other our thoughts and feelings, unaware either that we are telling them or that we are hearing them—thoughts and feelings are communicated without a word, by the powers of the mind. But indeed, we don’t think of this as extraordinary. Why do we not? If it’s something everyone can do, then it’s not magic. It’s only magic if it’s a mind power which only a few, or only one, can do. Those are the powers that interest us, and the powers which we are told are from the devil.

But are they? Could it be that someone could have extraordinary mental powers which were not common to all people, enabling them to do something no one else could do, or at least few could do, or at least which had not been done before? Not only do I believe this to be true, I know it for a fact. We all have such powers; we take them for granted precisely because we all have them—but our ancestors did not have them, and so we have mental powers they did not share. I’m not talking about some hypothetical prehistoric evolutionary ancestors; people whose lives we know and revere could not do some of the things we do today. We have developed such mind powers, and passed them to our children. Where is the proof? There is a story in church history which shows it.

St. Augustine of Hippo
St. Augustine of Hippo

St. Augustine spent some significant time with St. Athanasius, and he wrote a bit about that man. These were certainly two of the intellectual and spiritual giants of the church. Athanasius gave us one of the great creeds, and is credited with developing what philosophers call the ontological argument for the existence of God, demonstrating that because we have existence, God must exist. Augustine wrote many great works of theology, including City of God, which is credited with saving the western church when Rome fell. It is difficult to name two more eminent scholars in the first millennium of the church, let alone two who knew each other.

In writing of Athanasius, Augustine noted one day that when the man was reading something to himself, you could not hear what he was reading no matter how close you stood.

Pay attention to that. Read between the lines. This tells us that when Athanasius, this giant intellect of the day, read anything, his lips moved. My lips don’t move when I read; I dare say yours don’t, either. We teach our children from age five to read without moving their lips. But Augustine fully expected that if he stood close enough to Athanasius, he would hear what the man was reading, and that meant the man’s lips were moving.

It tells us more. Augustine was surprised not that Athanasius moved his lips, but that while he moved his lips he did not also vocalize what he was reading. That means that this other intellectual giant, Augustine, not only moved his lips but quietly spoke aloud each word as he read it. He could not imagine reading without speaking the words, and was surprised enough that Athanasius did not read aloud to himself that he made note of it in his writing. Neither of these two men, arguably the most intelligent and educated of their age, could read something quietly to himself without moving his lips; one could not even do so without being heard speaking.

That means you and I and our entire generation and generations before us have developed a mind power they did not have. We can read words without speaking them. Speech is no longer necessarily connected to our comprehension of language. We do something easily, typically, which they could not do at all.

But, you will argue, psionics isn’t about being able to read without speaking. It’s about reading minds, moving objects, levitating, controlling pain, creating illusions, teleporting—the things we can’t do. But that’s just precisely it: fiction—fantasy and science fiction in particular—is about the things that we can’t do now. Jules Verne gave us submarines and space ships, things that we could not do then, but not magical things. Reading silently was as much a magical thing when Augustine wrote of it as reading minds is to us—which is to say that it is not magical at all, but merely something we cannot do but can only imagine doing.

Will we ever read minds, or communicate by thought, or move objects telekinetically? I have no idea. Jesus may come this afternoon, and whatever we do thereafter will not be done in this world. But to say that because these are things we cannot do they must be magic and evil is foolish. By that reasoning, you who have been reading this web page silently to yourselves have all been involved in something magic and evil as measured against Augustine and Athanasius—you are using your mind powers in ways that were beyond human abilities, as they understood them. Perhaps there are no more human mental abilities to be discovered or developed; perhaps we actually have reached our full potential mentally. It is a flaw in human reasoning that we always perceive ourselves as the pinnacle of humanity, that we assume people in the future will not be in any way more advanced or sophisticated than we ourselves are, despite the evidence that we have already advanced beyond the limitations of our own ancestors. It is equally a flaw to assume that because there has been some improvement over the generations there will be more of the same in the future, and that we therefore know that our descendants will accomplish great physical and mental achievements. But there’s no harm in imagining so, or in pretending that we, or characters like us, would have such powers.

This article was originally published in July 2002 on the Christian Gamers Guild’s website. The entire series remains available at its original URL.

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  1. Markus says:

    So telekenisis telepathy and psionic weaponry etc is not demonic? Then why does sometimes they attribute it to witchcraft sometimes I’ve looked to see what the answers were and this topic is SO divided some say its witchcraft and demonic some say it’s a gift and some believe it doesn’t exist I think it’s either a parlor trick for the eye or that it’s possible through God I mean He did have Joseph dreams and Samson his strength, then what is truly witchcraft besides clairvoyance communication with the dead? I’m currently making a book with sibling that have such abilities and are Bible believing Christian’s, indent want to unintentionally promote the occult and attribute these things to God.Thank you for giving the time to read this and you have a good day

    • Bryan says:

      I would say no, those things aren’t demonic; they are fictional. As far as I am aware, there has been no credible evidence, ever, of telekinesis or telepathy. As understood in the context of this article, these are not spiritual or magical abilities—that’s the entire point Mark is making here—but natural ones, and as such, if they exist, they would be repeatable and measurable.

      The descriptions of witchcraft and sorcery described in the Old Testament, especially Deuteronomy 18, are linked to the religious practices of the nations Israel interacted with. Communion with the dead was certainly included, and specifically banned. Also divination from observation of natural forces (observing the flight of birds, examination of animal entrails, etc) or the casting of lots, which might be dice, or might be some other randomizing item, like a cast of I-Ching rods, although obviously Israel had no contact with China at that time and wouldn’t have known the I-Ching. “Spells and enchantments” were probably things like rituals to increase the fertility of the earth or bolster the strength of a house. The reference to making sons and daughters pass through fire is a reference to a specific ritual to the Ammonite god Moloch. All of these practices were related to seeking knowledge and power beyond what is commonly available to humankind from sources that are not God.

      Following that paragraph, we’re told that God will raise prophets to perform these same functions—to provide knowledge, wisdom, and supernatural intervention. Joseph and Samson fall into this category—individuals given power or knowledge by God to serve Israel. Modern Pentecostal traditions (among others, probably) assert that such power continues to be available to believers today, in the form of the “gifts of the spirit” as outlined in 1 Corinthians 12. I lack the wisdom and education to evaluate what that actually means, but I will tell you that I’ve seen some stuff done in Jesus’ name that was clearly not natural. I remain unconvinced that I wasn’t simply fooling myself into believing in what I expected, but I don’t discount it out of hand, either. After all, God does have power, or else He isn’t God. I tend to be cautious, though. I recommend reading about prelest, a concept taught by the Eastern Orthodox church.

  2. Markus says:

    I’d like to thank you sir for helping me understand, then why do fundamentalists condemn it not only in real life but in the fictitious world of Star Wars, X Men comics among others? Sure sometimes they can be “linked” to the dark arts but that’s not the ONLY way to get it, I dont want to seek it I was just curious about it, and like I said I do not want to promote the occult and attribute those things to God like how the Pharisees attributed Jesus power to the demons, although that was from ignorance and defiance than unintentional

    • Thank you for your thoughts, Markus. I hope I can help.

      When we’re talking about extra-normal and paranormal abilities, there are a lot of different theories and beliefs about them. Some people think that any claimed mental powers are really spiritual; others that any claimed spiritual powers are really mental. This article is not attempting to resolve that dispute. What it is saying is that there is evidence that human mental abilities have improved over the centuries, and we cannot discount the possibility that in the future there might be perfectly normal human mental abilities which in the present would seem superhuman, and that it is possible to imagine such future abilities without assuming that they are demonic.

      That does not mean there might not be demonic copies of such abilities. Indeed, there might also be divine versions of them. We really don’t know to what Paul was referring by words of wisdom and words of knowledge and discernment; we have guesses, usually based on experiences that seem to fit. The fact that Jesus said we could command mountains to move does not mean we cannot move them with our own machines. There are usually several ways to do anything. Speech, as the article suggests, is a mind power, as is reading silently. They are not demonic powers.

      “Fundamentalists” condemn fictional use of paranormal concepts because they fear that such considerations will lead people to explore demonic versions. I don’t share that fear. I think that a belief in supernatural power today is a positive step toward God. Not everyone who takes that step reaches that destination, but no one who disbelieves in the supernatural ever comes to God without overcoming that hurdle.

      I hope this helps.

      –M. J. Young

  3. Bryan says:

    I’m not as fundamentalist as I once was, and maybe I was never as fundamentalist as some in my church would have liked, but I have dealt with people who categorically reject fiction with fantastic elements most of my life. In most cases it comes down to trust in an authority who doesn’t really know what they’re talking about. Pat Robertson got a bee in his bonnet about D&D 30 years ago, and still preaches against it. There are plenty of people who hold the 700 Club, or Focus on the Family, or some other program, as the next step down from inspired Scripture. If James Dobson says fantasy literature is a problem, that’s good enough for them. Don’t need to read it for myself or learn anything about it—the Man of God has spoken!

    I have a dear friend who insisted C.S. Lewis was leading children into Satanism. Unfortunately for her, she taught at a Christian school where The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was part of the curriculum. Since she was forced to assign it, she decided to instead read it aloud to the class so she could immediately denounce everything she saw as wrong with it. By the time she was finished, Lewis was her favorite author. A few months later, I visited her classroom. The school’s mascot was a lion, so it wasn’t at all surprising that there were lions *everywhere* in that room. But when I asked her how many of them were Aslan, she said, sheepishly, “All of them.”

    Of course, she still insists that rock music has “the same rhythms they use to summon demons in Africa,” in spite of the rock 4 beat being the same one used in the majority of contemporary worship choruses, so she still has a ways to go.

    The point, though, is that more often than not such attitudes are based on ignorance about whatever is being demonized, whether that’s Star Trek, Harry Potter, Green Day, or Oliver & Company (a movie I was not allowed to watch because of a Disney boycott). I mean, given the size of just one major fandom convention, if comics were leading people to the occult, it would be *really* freaking obvious. DragonCon’s attendance was 85,000 this year. San Diego Comic Con’s was 135,000. And relatively few comic readers even attend conventions. But I suppose if you’re the sort to blame the Devil when you don’t get a good parking space (and I know people who do), then you probably believe that each and every one of those hundreds of thousands is under demonic oppression. I disagree.

  4. Markus says:

    Thank you this really does help I wish I could tell those people that mental abilities like telekenisis are not bad depending on wether you use it for and where it came from, there’s a lot of my favorite heroes that use mental abilities like Psylocke and Jean Grey, I do hope on the New Earth (which will be the same but without the Curse) that id would have the opportunity to rewrite Star Wars, Frozen among other popular franchises for Gods glory cause i can see when a work or story is good or that it needs some changes. And rewriting stories and entertainment is my passion

    • Markus Schaper says:

      And this is Biblical I presume? Meaning what you guys say aligns with God Word? But yeah Derurotonomy 18:10 has been used by others to prove that psionic abilities are unnatural and I think in a way when we talk to God in our mind when we pray that basically a form of telepathy and God knows every thought and action from the heart and mind

  5. I think it might help to refer all of you to Faith and Gaming: Magic.

    People who use a few Old Testament scriptures as a blanket statement that all such powers are necessarily evil or Satanic are missing the point. Yes, Deuteronomy condemns many types of divination, but then God gives the Urim and Thummin to the priests specifically as tools of divination, and David has the priests use them to help in his battle strategies. Divination is not evil; divination that calls on supernatural powers other than God is evil.

    So are mind powers evil?

    As the article suggests, if they’re natural abilities we develop, then they aren’t supernatural at all and have nothing to do with Satan or false gods.

    We have managed to teach chimpanzees and gorillas to use Ameslan–in essence to “speak” in the language used by the deaf. That’s not natural for them. Does that mean that it is Satanic? Not at all: we have managed to increase their natural abilities. Children learn to speak by listening to adults and mimicking us; they are not born able to speak, but they are born able to learn to speak. It might be that we were created with the ability to improve our own abilities–the example of Augustine and Athanasius demonstrates that we have indeed done so.

    I certainly agree that it might be possible to obtain special powers from the devil. I don’t think those would be psionic, though–they would be magical, using supernatural power to perform feats. In that case, I would say these are satanic. On the other hand, Jesus almost certainly teleported from Emaus to Jerusalem, and Philip appears to have teleported from Samaria to the southern road toward Ethiopia, and in neither case do we hold that to have been satanic, even if we think the devil might give someone a similar power.

    I think, too, we should consider that the devil doesn’t have anything original, and thus if there are satanic or satanically-gifted abilities, they are copies of divine gifts or abilities.

    What matters in these questions is the source. What comes from God is good.

    I hope this helps.

    –M. J. Young

    • Markus says:

      Yes this does help thank you, I have another thing to talk about before I leave you alone: the unforgivable sin is endlessly rejecting Christ till death right? Other ministry’s say that its attributing Jesus’s works to Satan, ba k then yes cause the Pharisees saw Jesus’s miracles but in a willful continued rejection they kept saying, the Hoyl spirits job is not only to convict us but to bring us to Jesus in the first place, if we continue to reject this till death then that’s unforgivable, I’m open to anything but I believe till death ends all opportunity we have EVERY chance to accept Christ and Merry Christmas

      • I’m afraid that I have to say I don’t know. Jesus said that whoever sins against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, but he didn’t explain how someone does that. I would say you’re probably right.

        The best advice I have heard on this is that anyone who is worried that he might have committed an unforgivable sin hasn’t. If he had, he would not feel any need for forgiveness.

        –M. J. Young

        • Markus says:

          Well either way thank you for clarifying on this and yeah I think this is a more truthful solution than attributing Jesus’s works to the Devil, cause yes the Pharisees did do that but they did it with continued rejection in front of Jesus’s face we cannot do that today cause He ain’t here but regardless of interpretations the basic theme is that if one commits this then they would feel no forgiveness, but I dont think it’s that easy to do it, if it were then EVERYONE would have committed it

  6. Markus says:

    Are Psychic and Psionic different? Cause some claim that Psychic is demonic (clairvoyance, telekenisis, etc) I also hear that Psionic is a better word or is Psychic the same? I’m sorry if I’m bothering you I’m just trying to get my facts straight before I use these kind of things for my stories especially since I’m using Jean Grey and other superheroes and use them for Gods glory (if I can) I like that use mind powers but at the same time I need true answers that perfectly align with the Word of God

    • Bryan says:

      The two words are mostly synonymous, but some people use ‘psionic’ to distance the purely fictitious mind powers of science fiction and superhero stories from real-world charlatans (and possibly occultists), who typically only use the word ‘psychic.’ At least, that is my understanding.

      There really isn’t a Biblical position to take one way or another. The Bible doesn’t talk about psychics of Jean Grey’s type because nobody in the ancient world had ever conceived of such things. It also doesn’t talk about locomotives, stock trading, or whether or not playtpus meat is kosher.

      I can give you *my* viewpoint, but I can’t claim that it ‘perfectly aligns with the Word of God.’ In my opinion, nobody can do that, although there are certainly plenty who will claim otherwise. I suggest you pray and meditate over the passages that give you trouble and over what you want to do. Let God guide your decision.

      Also, you may wish to go ahead and join the discussion group to get some more perspectives. The Guild is hardly united in thought on the topic. To join, send an email to or sign up through the web portal at

      • Markus Schaper says:

        Once again thank you for your help and I will pray for this even though I think I’ve got the answer: it depends on where you get it

  7. Markus Schaper says:

    Hey is it possible you can send me your email and MAYBE just maybe you could look at some psychic superpowers and maybe see if that’s what God would approve if it were a natural power? If it’s too big of a request I understand it’s just I want to know what is actually demonic or divine because I’m making a story that has siblings and a group of people with different abilities (kind of like X-Men) some psychic some physical, etc. I just want to be cautious cause other Christians would categorize this stuff as the occult due to exposure by fundamentals and extremists, once again if it’s too big of a request I understand I just want to tread carefully and I thought I can show others that not everything is what it seems when it come to things that people don’t understand in a good way.

    Thank you

      • Bryan says:

        That’s two whole different kettles of fish. Usually when people talk about “New Age” culture, they’re referring to a sort of a la carte spirituality where you pick a few religious or metaphysical ideas that appeal to you and use whatever wisdom is available in that worldview for spiritual guidance. It can run the gamut from a superstitious magical worldview to formalized Wicca religion. Tarot cards, palmistry and astrology; use of crystals and magnets; Feng Shui or other geomancy; Earth goddesses and belief in faeries; angel worship. And literally thousands of other informal spiritualist beliefs generally unconnected to the specific cultural or religious traditions a person would normally have experienced. (A Chinese person practicing Feng Shui is not usually ‘New Age’, but a white Midwesterner like me doing it is.)

        Mark will assert (and has in this very conversation) that such beliefs are a valuable and important first step toward coming to Christ. While I can see his point, I think there are too many people who get ‘just enough’ and stop there. It’s easy to substitute a general benign spirituality for the real thing.

        On the other end of things, there are sometimes Christians who mix that kind of spiritual nonsense with their own faith, attempting to use it as some kind of lever to get God to do what they want. I’ll admit to a little bit of temptation in that direction, myself—theurgy is an attractive idea. I have to remind myself of the story of Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8. God’s power is not meant to turn us into Christian wizards—He uses it as He sees fit, not as we would direct Him.

        As a general rule, I’d caution people not to pursue new age spirituality. But as an element of fiction, I’m personally comfortable with it—learning about and appreciating alternative religious viewpoints doesn’t threaten my own faith—but I respect that other people aren’t. And some of those people aren’t comfortable with me being comfortable, so I usually keep things like my Dresden Files novels out of sight if those people are around.

        Parapsychology, on the other hand, is the application of the scientific method to a quite non-scientific subject. To be honest, I’d personally be thrilled if some parapsychologist turned up actual proof of the existence of ghosts or telepathy. The whole idea fascinates me. But what would that mean in relation to my spirituality? I have no idea.

        Whether or not there’s something spiritually problematic in trying to find physical evidence of spirits, I couldn’t say. I suppose it depends on what you’re after. If you’re trying to get information about life, the afterlife, the future, or what-have-you by investigating spirits, then I’d say that certainly falls into the category of necromancy—forbidden by Exodus and Deuteronomy. If your interest is in trying to find proof of some kind of spiritual reality, that might be laudable, but ultimately, I believe, futile. And even if you were successful, it would tend to make erode faith. Why trust God’s Word if you can independently verify it?

    • Bryan says:

      I’m going to instead again suggest that you subscribe to the email discussion list, as I recommended above. Messages sent there do come to my email, and also to the rest of the Guild. You’ll get a broader, and likely more educated, perspective than you’d get form just me. Although you’re not talking gaming specifically, you’re still on-topic—the Christian imagination is a subject we’ve discussed many times in the past. Again, or

  8. Markus says:

    Ok last one I swear ( it’s just I’ve enjoyed this conversation and I think what your saying and your claims are biblical) so how long have you researched about this specific topic? Cause I think as long as one person is not biased and see both sides of the topic and actually USE the Bible to back up thier claims, then I think the person is telling the truth but we must remember that Mans opinion is no substitute for Gods word

    • Bryan says:

      Wow…. It’s hard to say how long it’s been. I started roleplaying when I was about 12, and as I said, I grew up in a Fundamentalist church, so I almost immediately got some pushback. That was 1988, I guess, give or take a year. My Bible reading at that time was cursory, though. I think I started really delving into the Word when I was about 14, which would be around ’90. I had a bit of a crisis of faith at that time and got rid of much of my roleplaying material, thinking it was too much of a distraction, although I never came to the point where I thought the fantastic elements themselves were problematic. I continued to read fantasy literature through that time. I picked roleplaying back up as a Junior in high school—92-93, though at that point I played more sci-fi and superheroes rather than fantasy.

      A couple years later, as I was about to graduate high school, I started getting a little deeper into apology and meatier theological study. I recall it being around 1996 when I was actively engaged in debate on a local Bulletin Board Service. (An activity that, although it certainly added to my knowledge, I did without much love and therefore now bitterly regret.)

      A look back through the CGG archives shows I joined the Guild in 2002. I seem to have already formed a pretty solid foundation for my thinking on the Christian imagination at that time, though. As I read back through my old posts I don’t see much that I currently disagree with.

  9. Markus says:

    So basically a long time. Not bad, I know this might seem crazy but if God were to give us the abilities to control snow (Elsa), psionic abilities (Psylocke, Jean Grey etc), powers absorbtion (Rogue) or other abilities that are found in comics, could God himself give us such power (and I’m not talking about abilities that come from or is exclusively found in occult/demonic origins)? Cause I’ve heard people jump at high distances, have great strength among others, so sometimes I think that superpowers in a sense exist but comics tend to exaggerate reality, but yeah I just dont want to attribute something that is bad (occult and/or sorcery) to God, this is truly the last time I post on this cause I’d just like to know cause I’d like to use ideas of psionic abilities for my Christian characters but I wanted to check if that’s something that God can give and be mindful of this fallen world and it’s silly worldviews

    • Markus Schaper says:

      And I agree that mental powers are just that… Mental. Spiritual powers are ones that deal with the spirit (chi and other fake life energy that others make up with New Age philosophy)

      • Markus says:

        And what I’ve also read is that others claim that these powers bend the natural law and we cannot do that/not supposed to be, although there are some stories in which sometimes they do use these powers to bend reality its self

    • As I read through the “gifts of the spirit” I find that I am rather clueless concerning what many of them are. Some are workers of miracles–and that’s separate from gifts of healings. Wisdom, knowledge, I don’t know what they all mean. I sometimes find that I know exactly what someone needs to be told, and later wonder how I knew that. I suspect that God can give any ability at all to anyone he chooses. Note that when Moses brought water from the stone the second time, God scolded him for using the staff to do it; He wanted Moses to command the water to come without using the staff. That suggests to me that Moses had been given the ability to call water from the stone, whenever he wanted. The first time Elijah called fire from the sky, he prayed rather seriously; the second and third times he was almost flippant about it, as if this now was something he could do whenever he wanted. Certainly I would class those as spiritual gifts, but that doesn’t mean mental powers couldn’t be spiritual gifts.

      You will undoubtedly have some people who will say that whatever gifts you give your characters are demonic. I dare say even if you gave them the power to call water from rocks or fire from the sky, some will say these are Satanic counterfeits of gifts God gave to His prophets. The notion that we can’t violate the natural laws is an Enlightenment age belief, not a Biblical one–Peter walked on water. The very notion of a miracle is that God is intervening in ways contrary to “natural law”.

      I hope this helps.

      • Markus says:

        This does help and am I bothering you guys? If I am I’m sorry it’s just I do like mental powers you know but I dont actively “seek” it you know? And from what I’ve seen from you guys is that God can give us ANY powers/gifts but it’s up to us to see if we use our powers wisely or for our own selfish benefits wether it’s purely a spiritual or mental power. It’s just I’d like to know what the Bible says about this but it looks like the mental powers are either fake from recent imagination or it’s real and can be obtained from God or Satan but I’d prefer getting it from God if I was born with a power

  10. Going back to the article, when I read your post I didn’t read it aloud; I didn’t even move my lips. I apparently have a mental power which Athanasius and Augustine both lacked. Is that a gift from God? It is in the sense that my ability to speak, to see and hear, to walk, all are gifts from God; my ability to read is a gift from God, and my ability to read silently without moving my lips is a gift from God. Yet they are all what we would call “natural” gifts. I can remember my elementary school teachers coaxing some of my fellow students to close their mouths when they read and so not move their lips–it was taught to us at an early age.

    In the same way, it is entirely possible that what we call paranormal or psionic mental abilities could become natural abilities, something we learn and teach to our children. It is also possible that some people would have aptitudes for these and others not.

    I think for your purposes what you need to understand is that within the context of your fiction the powers are whatever you say they are, as long as you make it make sense and stick to it consistently. If Ralph’s telekinetic ability is a gift from God, you make it clear that that’s what it is; if Joe has a similar ability that he got from Satan, you make it clear that it is different in that regard. Indeed, if Pete got a similar ability studying with Tibetan monks who have for generations trained themselves and their offspring and students to use this, then you include background that this is a perfectly natural ability. In those backgrounds you include aspects that fit with them–Ralph feels it is wrong to use his TK for self-serving purposes, and Joe gets a flush of wickedness when he uses his, and Pete tires himself from the effort.

    Let me invite you to read Verse Three, Chapter One, and pay particular attention to the Lauren Hastings stories. She has quite a few powers of different kinds, and at times wrestles with how she uses them. It might be helpful to continue with Old Verses New, as she starts using “arcane” magic and considers the ramifications of that as well. (Of course, I hope you enjoy them enough that you keep reading beyond that, but by the time we reach For Better or Verse she’s pretty much got her head together on those things.)

    Again, I hope this helps.

  11. Gee, I missed a lot of this discussion when my computer was down. Let me repeat what Bryan has suggested: join the guild, and get more people involved. One reason for that is that I would never claim my view is THE Christian answer. (I was scolded for doing that once, and realized that it was a mistake.) What we have is answers given by Christians, each of us seeking to understand God’s will to the best of our abilities. I can cite “credentials”–I started reading the Bible with The Golden Book of Bible Stories back in about 1959, obtained two degrees in Biblical Studies from different Christian colleges, and have been involved in ministry and study for decades before since then–but that doesn’t mean I have a corner on God’s truth. I often say that I know I’m wrong about something, because I’ve found that I was wrong before and corrected myself, and I would be foolish to assume that I now have a perfect understanding of it all. I just don’t know where my mistakes are, and when I find them I’ll correct them, and hope that I have corrected them correctly. But you’ll get more perspectives through the guild. The President and I (I’m the Chaplain) disagree about magic, he asserting that it’s fine to include in a game or story if it’s purely another natural force, I arguing that it should be supernatural because only so do we point to the existence of God. If you want to know THE Christian answer about psionics/psychic abilities, you’re never going to find it. The best you can do is find A Christian answer that is consistent with what you know.

  12. Markus says:

    I suppose the occult, anything demonic and witchcraft are one in the same? I get confused when they use the word occult more but I think it’s probably an interchangeable term if I’m not mistaken. So Deuteronomy not only describes witchcraft forbidden but the occult also? I’m just trying to learn more on what it forbids but I know that mind powers as long as they are from God is good. I just dont see why people won’t see it that way

    • Bryan says:

      “Occult” simply means “hidden.” Same word as “occluded.” Another couple of relevant words with a similar, but slightly different meaning are “arcane” and “esoteric” which don’t necessarily refer to secret knowledge, but that which is understood by only a few people.

      Occult is a nebulous term that can encompass as much or as little as you like. I most often associate it with the 18th and 19th century mystical and Hermetic traditions like the Golden Dawn, some branches of the Freemasons, etc, and various conspiracy-theorist favorites like the Trilateral Commission and New World Order. I don’t usually put things like Tarot reading, palmistry, astrology and the like in that category because those things are usually in plain view.

      There are at least twice as many opinions on this stuff as there are cultures that practice it. Although we want to categorize and tag everything, put it in neat boxes so we can understand it, that risks causing us to misunderstand things. Sure, you can say that all secret societies are occultic, and therefore demonic, but you’re inevitably going to run into a committed and upstanding Christian who is also a Freemason. How then do you respond?

      The fact that you’re confused and can’t reach a place where you have a definitive answer is, to me, a good sign. When all these things make total sense and you cease struggling with them, you’ve stopped learning.

      • Markus says:

        And what do you mean “plain view” do you mean that they are obvious in terms of they are witchcraft practices that are strictly forbidden? I just hope mind powers are not of the occult nor witchcraft

        • Bryan Ray says:

          I mean that you can walk down the street and see businesses offering Tarot readings as a service. That’s the opposite of hidden, thus not ‘occult.’ Troubling? For sure. Sinful? Likely. But not secret. But again, my own definition is narrower than many people’s.

          The Bible never talks about ‘the occult.’ The Pentateuch warns against some specific practices that were prevalent among the cultures surrounding Israel and some more general ones, most of which boil down to an amplification of the commandment not to worship other gods.

          • Markus says:

            Really? Cause when I got to movieguide or other sites they think the occult is the same as witchcraft or anything that’s demonic/satanic I dont think mind powers are that

          • Markus says:

            Do you read on Cause they have something to say about psychokenesis and telepathy and I’d like to hear your commentary

          • Markus says:

            But at least mind powers (telekenisis, telepathy, psionic constructs, among others) are not of the occult/witchcraft, at least I hope so cause either they are fake or it’s real and God could give you that power. I dont mean to be presumptive but I hope you are not the false teachers that others warn about and you know what Deuteronomy ACTUALLY means

          • Markus says:

            That’s interesting cause others think that the occult IS witchcraft, I just hope you and this article are right about what your saying and youv3 used the Bible correctly for your research, i dont mean to be presumptive but i hope your not a false teacher leading me into something bad, I’d just like to get to the bottom of it, cause I’m a.ways finding something that might make it witchcraft and i keep commenting to see what it means. Others also say that fictional aliens and almost everything in science fiction and in our entertainment culture is demonic/satanic, I disagree I thi k that everything is corrupted by sin

  13. Markus says:

    But at least mind powers (telekenisis, telepathy, psionic constructs, among others) are not of the occult/witchcraft, at least I hope so cause either they are fake or it’s real and God could give you that power. I dont mean to be presumptive but I hope you are the false teachers that others warn about and you know what Deuteronomy ACTUALLY means

  14. Markus says:

    Do you read on Cause they have something to say about psychokenesis, telepathy, parapsychology and the occult. I agree with some things from gotquestions but I disagree with it’s new Earth view (but that’s besides the point) I’d like to see what you think of these articles

    • Markus says:

      Even (on the article what is the occult?),,, among others but I feel like that they are the biggest ones and maybe you’ve missed something but I KNOW that mental powers are not demonic but at least fake and fictional

    • Bryan says:

      I think I said early on that I’m really not as Fundamentalist as the people I grew up around would wish. I suspect the websites you’ve referenced are written from the perspective of typical Evangelical paranoia. I don’t subscribe to that, so I will probably generally disagree with them. Remember that you’re writing on a website that has a goal of defending roleplaying games (D&D among them) against slander. So it’s *very* unlikely that we’ll see eye-to-eye with people interested in categorizing this, that and the other thing as occultic influences that Christians should stay away from.

      I think at this point that I’ve adequately explained my beliefs and what I believe is meant by the terms witchcraft and sorcery in the Bible. I very seriously doubt that anyone’s going to be practicing sorcery by accident. There are many, many other sins that are far more likely to be a problem for us, and a preoccupation with occultism and sorcery merely serves to blind us to them. We are tempted to dismiss our greed, lust, and unkindness as problems because at least we’re not witches!

      So if what you want to write doesn’t conflict with Scripture as you understand it, then write it! If you’re still questioning, perhaps consult your pastor—someone who knows you is far better to consult than random strangers on a web site. Neither I nor M.J. are either qualified nor entitled to either forbid or permit you to do anything. We’re neither of us in a position of authority and I, at least, have no formal theological education.

  15. Markus says:

    I REALLY am sorry if I’m annoying you, I just need to remember this: if it’s real then both sides could use it on others, if it’s fake, it’s fake. As long as it does not have a connection to witchcraft or the occult (which is mostly found in Duerotonomy and Isaiah) then it should be fine, like you guys have explained it’s not a power of the spirit (unlike New Age philosophies) it’s a power of the MIND. Sometimes we humans HAVE broken through the laws of physics thr

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