This is going to be a two-part series. Do not miss part 2 for the argument that will be posted later today. The author for this post is Jack Wilkie. You can read more of his work here. You can also read the unedited version of this post there. I’m letting these guys discuss it since I have never read the books and/or watched the movies. When you finish read Eli Schnell’s response here.
There’s no denying that Harry Potter has taken the world by storm. About 11 years ago I picked up the books for the first time on my mom’s suggestion, and I was completely fascinated. It’s the best fiction I’ve ever read. However, a few years after I started my mom found a book that discussed why Christians should look into Harry Potter a little more closely before reading the books and watching the movies. To be completely honest, I didn’t care at all. I loved the books and I wanted to read the upcoming book just as much. However, a little over a year ago I decided to really examine the issue for the first time. In the next few paragraphs I will discuss why I don’t plan on going to see the final two installments.
It’s quite clear that the Bible speaks out against sorcery and witchcraft. However, I (and the vast majority of Bible believers) found ways to defuse whatever the Bible says about sorcery by claiming that it had nothing to do with Harry Potter. So, in this post I want to first examine what the Bible says about sorcery and witchcraft before looking at the reasons given for why those Scriptures may not deal with Harry Potter.
In Galatians 5:20, sorcery is listed as part of the “deeds of the flesh” along with things like idolatry, drunkenness, and fornication. “Sorcerers” are named in a similar list in Revelation 21:8. In Acts 19:19, those that practice magic brought their books and burned them when they turned to the Lord. In the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 18:10-14 warns the nation of Israel about the things they will face in their new land – like idolatry, child sacrifices, and witchcraft. 2 Chronicles 33:6 says that King Manasseh “practiced witchcraft, used divination, practiced sorcery and dealt with mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the sigh of the Lord, provoking Him to anger” (NASB). Clearly, in both the Old and New Testaments God was against sorcery, witchcraft, and divination
So, how does that not apply to Harry Potter? The first claim is the words mean something different than the kind of magic practiced in Harry Potter. Let’s look at the words. The Greek word (roughly transliterated) is pharmakeia. Yes, that’s where our word “pharmacy” comes from. Typically that leads people to say that this word is talking about drug abuse, thus it does not apply to HP. While I can see why they make that claim, those that translated practically every English version of the Bible seemed to think that it had to do with more than drug abuse. BDAG, a definitive lexicon on New Testament Greek, defines it as “sorcery, magic” and “magic arts” (Bauer 1049). Clearly it implies more than just simple drug use. However, even if it did, would Harry Potter’s use of potions pass this test?
What about “witchcraft”? This one is a little tougher since it isn’t used in the New Testament. The Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon defines it as one who practices “soothsaying or spiritism or magic or augury” (Strong #6049). So, witchcraft is a much broader term than sorcery. It includes magic, but it basically is about fortune telling and divining the future. These (sorcery and witchcraft) terms have everything to do with the kind of magic practiced in Harry Potter.
The next claim is that Harry Potter is just fiction and this kind of magic isn’t real, so there’s nothing wrong with HP. First, just because it is fictional doesn’t get us off the hook. Remember, sorcery was listed as a deed of the flesh along with idolatry and sexual immorality. I don’t know of any Christian that would make a case for watching movies where fornicators and homosexuals are the heroes. I have a hard time seeing how just saying “it’s fictional” makes it acceptable. Second, this magic may not exist as much today (although there are still practicing witches and warlocks), but it clearly isn’t a completely foreign. In Exodus 7, Pharaoh had sorcerers that would come out and try to match the miracles that God. This is why God felt it necessary to warn His people about men like these in Deuteronomy 18. King Nebuchadnezzar also kept a staff of magicians, sorcerers, and conjurers in Daniel 2:2. While some may claim that people can’t work these acts today, it hasn’t stopped the Wiccan “religion” from staying alive and well. It hasn’t disappeared completely, so saying that it is fiction or such a far-fetched idea that we need not worry about it doesn’t work either.
On top of what the Bible says about witchcraft, don’t forget that the Harry Potter movies have become increasingly dark. Having read the book, I’m pretty sure that the next two movies will involve murder, torture, cursing, and things of that sort that Christians should think twice about before viewing. I think that a lot of people (me in the past included) are willing to write off those blemishes in the movies and books because they like the story . Let us never become desensitized. At some point we have to go back to Philippians 4:8.
To conclude this post, I can’t say that I condemn Harry Potter outright. However, due to all of the things I discussed above, I don’t feel comfortable with being involved in the stories anymore. With the evidence against it I don’t want to take the chance. Like I said before, the stories are incredibly well-written and I really enjoyed them, so if anyone can justify it please share. If we can’t justify it by the Book, we shouldn’t do it.