Written January 2001
The Harry Potter books have sold over 30 million copies, been translated into 35 languages and set a record of 3.8 million books for the first printing. The books have provoked sharp reactions. Rev Brian Coleman, Vicar of All Saints Church in Guildford, held a special ‘Harry Potter’ service beneath a banner featuring a serpent, complete with wizards, pointy hats, broomsticks and a game of quidditch. He insisted that the books are ‘highly moral … about standing up for good against evil.’ On the other hand they have been condemned for promoting interest in witchcraft among young people. The most balanced articles I have found on the subject are written by Berit Kjos and can be accessed on the Internet www.crossroad.to/ . We have copies of these articles, which I summarise below.
Christian leaders who endorse Harry Potter books in their desire to make Christianity attractive to young people are in danger of throwing out God’s much needed guidelines and warnings and leading young people to experiment with things forbidden in the Bible: “When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who… practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord….” (Deuteronomy 18:9-12). “Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)
The hero of these books, Harry Potter, like other students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, travels back and forth between two worlds: the mystical world of magic and the mundane world of ‘muggles’ – those boring, blinded and biased humans who either don’t believe in the world of witches or despise it as evil. Harry’s cruel uncle and aunt fit the last category – and so would you if you see witchcraft as dangerous and demonic!
In the Harry Potter books there are examples of witchcraft, astrology, sorcery, spellcasting, communicating with the dead and astral travel. There is an underlying occult philosophy, which sees the battle between good and evil from a pagan not a Biblical perspective. Children reading the books delight in identifying with the ‘good wizards’ in the books and sometimes even with the obviously evil wizards. But from the biblical point of view there is no good witchcraft and what they are being lured into is seductive world in which they experience a kind of occult virtual reality. Here are some examples of the ideas they are being exposed to:
- Professor Snape who taught Potions: “I don’t expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses….” Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone p 137.
- A Centaur’s views on astrology – “We have sworn not to set ourselves against the heaven. Have we not read what is to come in the movements of the planets? ….Or have the planets not let you in on that secret?” Ibid p 257.
- “He is with me wherever I go,” said Quirrell, referring to the murderous wizard Voldemort. “I met him when I travelled around the world. A foolish young man I was then, full of ridiculous ideas about good and evil. Lord Voldemort showed me how wrong I was. There is no good and evil , there is only power, and those too weak to seek it…. Since then, I have served him faithfully.” Ibid.p209
- Headmaster Dumbledore: “To the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” Ibid p302
- “… and Voldemort’s dead victims whispered as they circled the dueller, whispered words of encouragement to Harry, and hissed words Harry couldn’t hear to Voldemort. And now another head was emerging from the tip of Voldemort’s wand…. The smoky shadow of a tall man with untidy hair fell to the ground… and Harry, his arms shaking madly now, looked back into the ghostly face of his father. “Your mother’s coming…” he said quietly. “She wants to see you…. When the connection is broken, we will linger for only moments…. you must get to the Portkey, it will return you to Hogwarts….” Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire p667.
In this mystical realm, “good” occult characters are naturally pitted against bad occult spirits, just as in pagan cultures where frightened victims would offer sacrifices to “benevolent” spirits who could help ward off evil curses and other threats. Few readers realize that from the Biblical perspective, all occult forces are dangerous. But today, it seems more tolerant and exciting to believe this illusion than to oppose the lies. The words of Old Testament prophet Isaiah ring as true now as they did over 2000 years ago: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil….” (Isaiah 5:20).
The Harry Potter books are a gift to the people in education and the media who are working hard to bring about a different kind of society which will reject out of hand biblical Christianity and embrace a blend of all kinds of religions, including a cross-less and universalist perversion of Christianity, based on the occult idea of discovering the force or the ‘god’ within. Our culture is full of influences which promote the idea that there is a ‘good magic’ which is more tolerant than traditional beliefs, and which teaches people to take better care of the environment and helps them to empower themselves.
The Harry Potter books are feeding into this trend by creating a captivating world where strength, wisdom, love, hope – all the good gifts God promises those who follow Him – are now offered to those who pursue occult thrills. Likewise, the main characters demonstrate all the admirable traits our God commends: kindness, courage, loyalty, etc. But ‘muggles’, who are blind to these mystical forces, are pictured as mean, cruel, narrow and self-indulgent. These subtle messages, hidden behind exciting stories, turn Truth upside-down. But fascinated readers rarely notice the deception. This power-filled realm with its charms and spells soon becomes normal as well as addictive to those who immerse their minds with its seductive images.
Christians who stand against this trend will be denounced as old fashioned kill joys even by many in the church who are trying to makes friends with the world by adopting its ideas and values. Jesus calls us to go against the flow and teach our children to look to the power of the Holy Spirit given to those who call on His name for salvation in order to help us to overcome evil. As gross spiritual darkness covers the earth and Satan’s plan for the control of humanity reaches its climax, the good news is that God is much greater and his power within those who know him is greater than all the power of evil in the world. The final conflict between the power of God and the power of Satan will be the Second Coming of Jesus when Satan’s forces will be utterly routed at Armageddon. Now is the time to get on Jesus’ side if you want to see the really exciting spiritual action!