Christian Relaunch


Magicalism is the belief that a self's realignment requires ceremonial initiation.

Noeticalism is the belief that a self's realignment requires only a new attitude.

Magicalism distracts from the trust in God's realigning power that is the sole channel through which that power takes effect.

Heresy Heretical Belief Reformation Reformational Belief
A human's realignment requires Mosaic circumcision. Gentilism A human's realignment has no need of circumcision.
Sacramentalism A human's realignment requires Christian baptism. Memorialism A human's realignment has no need of baptism.

Some proponents of these heresies would object to calling them "magical", but I think they fit the ordinary sense of that word.

In the New Testament, the usual word for the proper approach to God is pistis, often translated "faith", but more accurately "trust". Pistis is noetic (Greek noesis "thought"), and goes with metanoia ("thought-change", often translated "repentance"). Paul's saying that "knowledge puffs up" (whereas "love builds up") (1st Corinthians 8:1) urges us to diversify our cultural efforts rather than merely developing knowledge for its own sake or pursuing spurious pseudo-knowledge, and is no excuse for Magicalism. (The RSV even puts "knowledge" in quotes to deter misconstrual.)

Mechanisms range from Tridentinism's ex opere operato to the vague residual (sometimes vestigial) Magicalism of many Protestants. I have not distinguished these as separate heresies.

Magicalism is often cloaked. Catholics retreat to "desiring to be baptised" and Baptists speak of "ordinances" rather than "sacraments", but they all uphold the significance of the ceremony as such.

Back to Influential Heresies.