Christians certainly should be well informed on things that are going on in the world around them. Currently, there is a great swirl of activity in both the secular and Christian worlds regarding the Harry Potter book series, as well as the new Harry Potter movie. On its opening weekend, this new movie grossed by far, more than any other movie in U. S. history.
My great grandmother used to have a saying that came from the "old days." If she was wondering about what was going on with something, she'd say, "What the Harry is going on here?" It seems to me that is a great question to put out there today with regard to one Mr. Harry Potter.
Many Christians are allowing their children to read the Harry Potter books and are taking them to see the movie as well. Many people, including numerous Christians, are saying that the Harry Potter books present wholesome good fun and fantasy for our children. I'd like to suggest that nothing could be further from the truth.
With all due respect, any Christian who takes the position that the Harry Potter books and movie are wholesome good fun and harmless fantasy for our children, is dangerously mistaken. They are either actively ignoring what they know God's Word to say on such issues, or they are simply uneducated with regard to what is said in The Bible concerning the kinds of things so blatantly put forth in The Harry Potter books and movie.
There is no doubt that the author has squarely placed at the center of the books and the movie, the subject and practices of witchcraft. In fact, the author herself, R. K. Rowling, said that she specifically researched witchcraft to make sure the different things depicted in the books and movie were accurate, authentic and literally represented the actual words and teachings of witchcraft itself.
Witchcraft, as a major theme of Harry Potter, is presented to the reader and movie goer in a very acceptable and seemingly harmless manner. It therefore seems to me, that one has to ask the following question. If witchcraft really is simply a fantasy; if there really is nothing to it; and if it really is harmless for our children to investigate, discover and practice; then why does God's Word speak so often about it and why are there strict warnings in Scripture commanding us to avoid it?
In my research of 16 different versions of The Bible witchcraft is mentioned a total of 61 times. That number goes even higher when one takes into account that in still other versions, the word "sorcery" is used instead of witchcraft. If you'd like to do your own study, you can go to www.biblestudytools.net and use the complete online concordance found there.
According to The Bible, witchcraft is something that gets God very angry. It's an abomination to Him. It is never mentioned in any good way in Scripture. It is always seen as something that is anti-God, and anti-Christian. Witchcraft, as it is practiced, directs people to place their faith in things that do not come from God and in powers which in are in fact, set squarely against God and all He stands for in this world.
In I Sam. 15:23 for instance, we see that God gets very upset with King Saul for his rebellion against Him. Interestingly enough, God tells Saul that his rebellion is as bad as practicing witchcraft. Some of the many other references regarding witchcraft, found in Scripture, can be seen in Deut. 18:10 and 18:14 in The New American Standard Version. In The Revised Standard Version we are told in Lev. 19:26 " . . . You shall not practice augury or witchcraft."
That being the case, one has to wonder why any Christian parent would purposefully allow their child to immerse themselves in and be inundated with things that God commands us to avoid.
Now I've heard the rationale that children can tell the difference between fantasy and reality and that they will be able to discern that Harry Potter is pure fantasy. Really?
First of all even if witchcraft was pure fantasy, which it is not, children can still have a difficult time telling what's real and what's not. Maybe that's why on the toy version of the broom Harry flies in the movie, which is now for sale in stores across the nation, they had to put the actual disclaimer, "Broom does not really fly."
One of the biggest deceptions in this whole matter is the lie that says witchcraft has no real power, is actually pure fantasy and really quite harmless. Nothing could be a bigger lie than the one that says witchcraft is harmless, without any real power and pure fantasy. In fact, thousands of people worldwide who actually practice witchcraft as a religion would be insulted if you told them there was nothing to it.
It should be noted here again, that The Bible never sees witchcraft as either fantasy or harmless. It takes it very seriously and the power that is in witchcraft, against which The Bible warns us, is something that young children simply do not have the ability to discern.
I recently saw a child of about 9 years old or so, interviewed on T. V. after seeing the new Harry Potter film. When asked what he liked best about the movie, he said he liked the "witchcraft and all that good stuff." This past Monday, my wife, who teaches in an Evangelical Christian school, had one of her 2nd. grade girls come to her and ask if my wife would please now call her Hermione from now on. My wife asked her why she would like to be called Hermione and one of the other children called out and said the reason she wanted to be called that name is because it's the girl in Harry Potter. The little girl had been to see the film over the weekend.
Some parents are also saying that they can use Harry Potter to teach their children right from wrong. I personally refrain from letting my children play with and taste poison so they can get a better feel for what is good. There are many good Christian and secular books and movies with which to do the same thing, without exposing our children so openly to the dangers of witchcraft.
Christians seem to be coming up with some really strange homemade theology with regard to this subject. One Christian author recently pointed out that some Christians are sort of saying, "Alright, I agree with Scripture when I read that witchcraft is an abomination to The Lord, but what other reasons are there to keep my child from being exposed to it?", as if witchcraft being an abomination to The Lord is somehow not reason enough! The author points out that it's as if some Christians have come to the point where they feel that perhaps God has somehow "gotten over" His position on witchcraft and no longer sees it the way He originally saw it in The Bible.
This same author shares that he was in a bookstore one day. He saw some young children in the occult section looking at books on witchcraft and trying to find out how to say the right words to cast spells on people etc. As it happened, a high Wiccan priestess was also in the store and saw the children in that section and what they were doing. (For those unfamiliar with Wicca, Wicca is the religion of witchcraft as practiced in this and other countries. It is seen as real by both those who participate in and by Scripture where it's seen as a false or pagan religion. We are warned against it because it is real. It does have real power and that power is not from God.)
When this high Wiccan priestess or witch, saw the children and what they were doing, she went over to them and told them that they were messing around with things that were far too powerful for them and that they should stop it and she shooed them away from the books.
I find it amazing that an actual witch was more concerned about the dangerous spiritual powers some innocent children might encounter as they investigated and dabbled in witchcraft, than many Christians are today, as they openly allow their children to be exposed to the very same thing through the Harry Potter books and movies.
Maybe it would be good to look at this issue from another whole perspective. Let's say for instance, instead of witchcraft, the Harry Potter books were about a young boy named Harry who discovered that he was a homosexual. Let's then assume that the books and movie were able to be written and produced in a way that presented homosexuality in a fashion that would be appropriately packaged for an audience of children.
My guess is that the same Christians who allow their children to indulge in the Harry Potter books and movie that promote witchcraft, would take a very different view of a Harry Potter series that promoted homosexuality.
Now I can hear the objections already. Come on pastor. Are you saying that witchcraft and homosexuality are similar sins? Are you saying that God would be as upset with a Christian who encouraged their children to investigate and experiment with witchcraft as He would be with a Christian who encouraged their children to investigate and experiment with homosexuality?
Well, let's put it this way. Unless you can quickly answer "yes" to that question, I'd suggest you are either ignoring how seriously God takes witchcraft, or that level of seriousness has yet to become clear to you from His Word. In either case a bit more digging in God's Word might therefore be called for before going any further.
When the Roman Catholic Church in N. J. bans The Harry Potter books from being in its schools, that should give us cause to stop and wonder why. When The Harry Potter books recently joined the distinct list of the top 100 books of all time with the most complaints against them, one should wonder why. If witchcraft is really just fantasy without any real power, why do you suppose that over 300 avowed witches gather on Halloween in Salem, Ma. from all over the country to do what witches do if there is really nothing to witchcraft?
Let me challenge you to see what Wicca and witchcraft are really all about and what thousands of children will discover as they investigate witchcraft further, thanks to Harry Potter, and trust me, that will happen. All you have to do is go to one of the official websites of witchcraft where those who call themselves "The Witchcraft Experts" have it all in plain view. You'll get quite an education. You'll also see Harry Potter there being put forth as good reading from their point of view. The site is www.wica.org.uk and oddly enough comes from Harry Potter's home country. Below is a copy of one of the website's opening paragraphs. It should be enough to get your attention.
This web-site is an unbiased platform for the exchange of information and the promotion of knowledge. Here you will find the most authoritative and up to date information on all aspects of Witchcraft, Wicca, Paganism and the Occult.
It seems to me that we as parents, are making a mistake when we willfully ignore God's Word on any subject, including witchcraft. It seems to me that allowing vulnerable children to be exposed to things which God warns us against, and which he sees as abominations, is a dangerous and serious spiritual mistake which could have long range and dangerous consequences.
Based on 24 years of ministry experience, I can tell you with confidence a few simple things. First, there will be Christians years from now who will stand up and give their testimonies of how they were saved and delivered by Christ from the wiles of witchcraft and the occult. As they do, I am sure that many of them will also share that they got their start in the occult and witchcraft through becoming fascinated with such things through The Harry Potter books and movies.
Secondly, I am convinced that Jesus would never give a Harry Potter book to any child to read, nor would He ever advise a parent to take their child to see any of the Harry Potter movies. He would in fact be repulsed by the suggestion! I seem to recall something about a "millstone" being hung around our necks when we cause little ones to fall.
He would however, advise us to deal with these issues with our children, according to His Word and to appropriately protect our children from what may be the single most spiritually dangerous series of books and movies ever written and produced for children.
Until such time as someone who calls themselves a committed Christian, does the appropriate Biblical research and definitively and Biblically puts forth a case that clearly shows that what is written down for us in God's Word on this subject of witchcraft and the occult, can now be safely ignored, I'd like to recommend that staying with The Word as written, is the way to go.
About the Author
Pastor John McWilliams is a Presbyterian pastor and full time missionary with Campus Crusade For Christ: Russia. The ministry takes him to various parts of the world to train future pastors and Christian leaders. He is a graduate of Princeton Seminary and pastored two Churches in The Northeast for 21 years before going into mission work full time.
If you have questions or comments about this article, you are invited to contact Pastor John by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Ok, personally I think if you're going have a go at Harry Potter (and I'm not saying you shouldn't) then maybe you should have a go at the whole fantasy genre in general. Dungeons and Dragons which millons of teenagers play, and most of all fiction.
Just because H.P is popular, doesn't mean its the worst that's out there.
I would much rather a child read H.P than the novels with sex and violence or any number of magazines they sell at the drug store... If you let your child surf the internet, then why not let them read a bit of fantasy - keeping in mind it is FANTASY.