Harry Potter vs. the Bible: Can Christians read Harry Potter? Pt. 1

Much has been made over the Harry Potter series, the magic within it, and how it should be handled by Christians.  Is Harry Potter harmful to the Christian soul? Does Harry Potter paint the occult in too friendly a way?  Can anything valuable for the Christian be found in Harry Potter? Many Christians believe that the Harry Potter series is directly against the Bible, but there is a strong argument to be made that the books actually endorse more Christian messages than they contest.  So, are the messages in Harry Potter so evil that they outweigh the worth in reading it and the Biblical messages throughout it?

Of course, there would be no conversation here at all if the Bible did not have some very strong thoughts on this subject, so let’s start by discussing those. Sorcery and magic are directly forbidden in the Bible many times. Deuteronomy 18:10-12a says:

“Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.  Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord.”  

These practices are forbidden at numerous other times as well (Ezk. 13:18-23, Lev. 19:27 and Lev. 20:27) and the Bible speaks of those who practice sorcery being destroyed by the Lord’s wrath (Mic 5:12 and Is.  47:12-15.) In Revelation 9:21 and 22:15, those who practice magic arts are mentioned in the same breath as the sexually immoral,  murderers, thieves, and idolaters, as well as “everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”

The Bible, then, very clearly condemns the use of the magic arts.  But the Bible never condemns the reading of materials that discuss the magic arts.  Indeed, if we were to refrain from the reading of all materials that mention the use of magic, we would have to ban even the Bible, because outside of directly forbidding these activities, the Bible also discusses numerous individuals who practiced them.  The most famous of these is, of course, Simon the Sorcerer who Philip meets in Samaria.  This story is found in Acts 8:9-13:

“Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria.  He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, ‘This man is the divine power known as the Great Power.’  They all followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic.  But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.  Simon himself believed and was baptized.  And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw.”

 Outside of this being a direct instance of magic used in the Bible,  we can also glean another interesting piece of information from these verses. Simon was astonished by the miracles Philip was performing through the name of Jesus.  Simon was probably working his magic through the power of the devil, but he immediately recognized a greater power and followed it in awe.

There are also several other mentions of individuals practicing magic in the Bible.  In Acts 16:16, Paul commands a demon who is assisting a girl in the practice of divination to leave her. When Moses visits Pharaoh and causes his staff to transform into a snake, Pharaoh counters by calling in the magicians and sorcerers of Egypt, who did the same by their “secret arts.”(Ex. 7: 11).  Pharaoh also calls upon these men when Moses strikes Egypt with the first few plagues.  It is interesting to note, that although these magicians are able to copy Moses in his turning of water into blood and in causing frogs to pollute Egypt, they fail to fill the land with gnats, and they finally admit that Moses is working through the hand of God (Ex. 8:19). We once again see that God is more powerful than anything man or the devil can do.

In 1 Kings 9: 22, the wicked queen Jezebel practices witchcraft. Likewise in Samuel 28, Saul uses necromancy to summon Samuel at the end of his reign, even though he worked very hard at the beginning of his reign to rid Israel of such a vile practice.

Now, it is true that the magic in Harry Potter is much more compelling than in the Bible, but there are many, many books that we read that discuss magic in this way, including The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings, which are both looked at as very strong Christian allegories.  So what makes Harry Potter more dangerous than these books?

There are several reasons why the Harry Potter series  could be considered dangerous.  The first is that in Harry Potter the magic is very explicitly depicted and explained, and the central plot revolves around magic.  The second reason is that in Harry Potter, the line between the good and evil magic is not very clear.  The good characters at times use spells considered black magic, unlike in many other series, such as Charlie Bone.

The final reason lies in how well Harry Potter is written.  J.K. Rowling is an amazing author, and she naturally makes you feel a part of the world she is in.   The danger in this is that those reading the book may feel so involved in the story that they want in a very real way to experience it, which can lead readers down the wrong path.

The other side of this argument, however, is that just like all fantasy literature, the magic in the Harry Potter books is merely fantasy, and can be regarded completely as fiction, just as it can in the Chronicles of Narnia or Charlie Bone.

 There are also many themes in Harry Potter that are very reminiscent of Christianity. J.K. Rowling’s degree, (at Harvard University) was in classical literature, and in her books the themes of classical literature shine through, those themes often finding root in Biblical truths.

(Keep an eye out for part two!)

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4 thoughts on “Harry Potter vs. the Bible: Can Christians read Harry Potter? Pt. 1

  1. Pingback: Harry Potter Vs. the Bible: Can Christians read Harry Potter? Pt. 2 | teenchristianbookblog

  2. Pingback: Harry Potter Vs. the Bible: Can Christians read Harry Potter? Pt.3 | teenchristianbookblog

  3. The problem with saying that “the magic in the Harry Potter books is merely fantasy, and can be regarded completely as fiction” is that the magic in the Harry Potter books ISN’T merely fantasy. Former occultists have recognized in Harry Potter things which they themselves used to use. This article is an extremely good one by one former devotee of the occult.
    https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=4624

    I don’t believe that Christians “shouldn’t” read Harry Potter. I just believe that no child who has not had extensive religious instruction should read these books without constant parental supervision and discussion of the different themes in the books.

    • The sentence you pulled out of my post, was not my stated opinion(although I partially agree with it) I was merely providing contrast to the opinion I had already provided. I do not believe that J.K. Rowling has ever had experience with the occult, but I do believe that she researched her topic very well. I agree that for a former occultist these would not be good books. While the author of the article you provide certainly has a very good grasp of what the occult is, they do not seem to have a very good grip on the Harry Potter series at all. For example, under the heading, “The Church’s Warning,” she discusses Harry not getting punished because he is talented, while actually, he is not punished because he has saved the world, and made everything that was wrong right, because he has been noble and brave.

      The author also discusses Harry as “plucking up his courage and telling a lie,” in order to save the world from Voldermort, which she calls as wrong, because Rowling should have “found a truthful way to save the world.” But if we’re honest, in reality, if you had to save the world, you wouldn’t be able to be completely honest with everyone, and the book would have seemed much less real if all Harry had done were the right things, and if he had never failed. (after all, no one’s perfect.) And if we find lying in books disturbing, then all books would have to be banned. Also, when the article’s author discusses Rowling twisting catholic doctrine, she mentions (among other oddities) a hand of glory. She says that this is a bash against the term we use to worship God, while it is fairly clear all Rowling intends to say is that this item is greatly magnificent (as the dictionary defines glory) and not intending to bash anything. What I merely mean to say here is that the author of this article appears rather unbalanced, and her feelings for the Harry Potter series because of her occult experience may be causing her to bring issues into the situation which are actually not issues at all. I could bring more examples of this from her article, but I feel the ones above are sufficient.

      If you have read parts two and three of my Harry Potter series, you will see that I give many examples of Christian themes/ ideas in the books. I do agree that children should have discussions and instruction before they read these books.

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