For: strong gnostic themes, and witchcraft
The Wizard of Oz is a classic, nostalgic, weird little movie that’s both incompatible with biblical Christianity and capable of persuading the average Christian viewer to temporarily lay aside otherwise non-negotiable Christian principles. What makes The Wizard of Oz incompatible with biblical Christianity is its theme of noble witchcraft, its moral mix-ups, and its less-than-subtly Gnostic moral of the story. What makes it weird is that its persuasion pretty much boils down to a scarecrow, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and a cheerful color palette.
Strong Gnostic Themes
The Wizard of Oz’ views of life, power and insight are based in a Gnostic worldview,1 not the less Gnostic for being popular, familiar, or filmed in 1937.
After a movie-long journey, main character Dorothy and her three unusual friends finally reach the titular “Wizard”, and are told that their quest to find answers - not just from him, but at all - was misguided. The solution to their problems: to look within themselves for true happiness. The Scarecrow doesn’t need a brain after all; Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion don’t need a heart or a spine, respectively. They just needed a little nudge to let their innate knowledge, love and courage show through. The idea that individuals have within themselves the source of all the powers they really need is textbook Gnosticism, and is opposed to the Christian view of reality.
Glinda the Witch (see Witchcraft, below) gives another classic example of Gnostic worldview when she reveals that Dorothy had the power - within herself - to grant her own wish and return to Kansas all along, but Dorothy couldn’t have been shown this before, she explains, because Dorothy is, herself, the best person to guide her to truth. The concept of inherent, unrealized insight is another central Gnostic theme which is opposed to Christ’s emphasis on the importance of special revelation from God that comes from outside of ourselves (the gospel, for example), and the concept of individual self-realization, as well as being the moral of the story of The Wizard of Oz, is the apex of Gnostic thought.
The supposed spiritual guide, the titular Wizard, is in the end revealed to be a fraud, a deceptive display of smoke and lights, created by and for well-meaning but mistaken human beings as an outlet for their admiration of things they don’t understand. This corresponds, whether by accident or design, to the Gnostic view of God as a fictional construct who turns out to be only the projected shadow of man, a distraction from the quest of human self-realization.
"Witches" travelling through the air with magic wands, wielding power over nature, play a major part in the film. The witches are divided into categories of “good” and “bad”, based on their physical appearance, the color of their dress, and whether they respond to unfavorable situations with giggles or death threats. The acts of witchcraft themselves are always portrayed in a neutral or positive light, regardless of which individual is performing them.2
A witch instructs Dorothy to consult a wizard (at whose mention everyone kneels solemnly), and she in turn persuades three others to consult him as well. The foursome agree to perform life-threatening tasks in order to win the wizard’s favor.
Dorothy also has her fortune told from a crystal ball she is told was used by occult priests to consult Isis and Osiris.
Despite the fact that both the wizard and the fortune teller are imposters, Dorothy is clearly positively portrayed for following the advice of an occult crystal ball, and she and her friends are clearly positively portrayed for seeking out, and risking their lives in order to please, what they sincerely believe to be a real wizard.
1 The creator of The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum, rejected Christianity and converted to Gnosticism (known as Theosophy in the nineteenth century) two years before writing the book. Among the tenets he subscribed to as a Theosophist/Gnostic are rank pantheism, the constant evolution of all things physical and spiritual, reincarnation, a self-existent and eternal Universe, the complete removal of God from Christianity, and the denial that Jesus Christ came in the flesh (see 2 John 1:7). Theosophists referred to themselves as an “occult” society. These views and others are explained in original nineteenth-century documents available at blavatskyarchives.com, a modern Theosophic site.
2 Biblically, all acts of witchcraft are bad, regardless. See Deuteronomy 18:10-12 and 1 Samuel 15:23.