What Would Jesus Say to... Part 3
What Would Jesus Say to Harry Potter?
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
November 17, 2002

 

Harry Potter. Since the release of the first book about him by J. K. Rowling in 1997, Harry Potter has captivated the minds and imaginations of children around the world. But not just children. Parents, college students, teenagers, young adults and fans of fantasy have all been charmed by the fictitious young student of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Over the past five years, over 175 million copies of the Harry Potter series of books have been printed in 59 different languages. The most recent book was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire released on July 8, 2000. And it was released to a huge fanfare and waiting crowds at bookstores. It quickly sold out the largest first-printing in US history… 3.8 million copies. Federal Express devoted 100 flights and 9000 employees in a single weekend just to deliver Amazon.com’s advance orders. Two weeks later, the New York Times added a new list for bestselling children’s fiction so it could get the book off the top of their other lists. I checked the list this week and it’s still at number 1 after 118 weeks on the list. In fact, all four books that have been released are still in the top 8, even though the first one was released 174 weeks ago. And there are three more to come in the seven volume set.

The first movie, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, was released in November last year and grossed over $967 million worldwide, making it the second highest grossing film of all time. The second movie in the series was release this weekend, bringing in about $29 million the first day and is projected to bring in a total of $81 million in this first weekend, close to the $90 million that the first one brought in.

As the story goes, Harry Potter was born as the son of a wizard, but his parents were killed while he was still an infant. So he ended up being raised by his uncle and aunt who wanted nothing to do with wizardry and hid Harry’s heritage from him. But eventually Harry finds out and is enrolled in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where he learns about himself and his powers and where he experiences adventures with his friends Ron and Hermione.

I think one of the reasons that the book series has become so popular is because people can identify with Harry. He’s a young boy, innocent in many ways, wants to do the right thing, is unsure of himself and his abilities, and is really on a quest to discover who he really is. People identify with that.

The Harry Potter series has not been unanimously embraced, though. The American Library Association reports that the Harry Potter books collectively rank number seven on the list of books challenged as inappropriate for schools and public libraries (“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” ranks fifth). Many parents worry that the Harry Potter books encourage children to rebel, since Harry always tries to do what he thinks is best regardless of what he’s been told. Others, including many Christians, are concerned that their emphasis on magic and witchcraft creates an unhealthy interest in the occult.

The flip side is that many people including Christians applaud the series as a well-written series of books that encourages children to read. Harry Potter is a strong moral character and models courage and loyalty to his friends. He’s a good kid who takes on evil. And in regards to dealing with witchcraft and the occult, they would say Harry Potter is a series about fantasy. And real-life witches and Satanists have claimed the books do not really resemble what they are all about. And if you’re going to reject Harry because the books deal with magic, then you also have to reject Cinderella, A Christmas Carol, The Sword and the Stone, and classics like C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” and J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings”, that by and large Christians accept and even view as Christian allegory.

Okay? So those are the two opposing views. But my purpose this morning is not to tell you which side you should fall on. I would encourage you to be informed and investigate the things that the book series teaches. Compare it to what the Bible says and make a right judgment yourself.

What I do want to do, since Harry is such a cultural phenomenon, is talk about what I think Jesus would say to Harry Potter, if Harry Potter were real. And as we do this, we’ll talk about how the words of Jesus apply to us as well.

 

What Would Jesus Say to Harry Potter?

 

1. Harry, I’m the God of New Beginnings.

Harry was orphaned as an infant when his parents were killed by the evil Lord Voldemort. And he was raised in a home with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, where he was always seen as an outsider. They resented him, and perhaps even hated him. They saw him as a freak, and feared him. They treated him with disdain and contempt. An example would be that Dudley, on his birthday, would receive close to 40 gifts. But Harry, on his birthday, would not even be acknowledged. And they lied to him about what happened to his parents and basically treated him very poorly.

Being raised in an atmosphere like that. Never knowing who your parents were. Discovering that they were murdered. You know, those kinds of things can traumatize a kid. Harry could become consumed by them. He could be bound to his past.

Many of us have things in our past that could bind us. There are things that have traumatized us, that we’re ashamed of, that can distort our view of reality, things that have hurt us to such an extent that they define our existence.

But Jesus is the God of new beginnings. Here are a few verses:

Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Luke 4:18-19 (NLT)
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for he has appointed me to preach Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the downtrodden will be freed from their oppressors, and that the time of the Lord's favor has come.”

 

2. Harry, You Can’t Do It Alone.

One of the appealing things about the Harry Potter series is the friendship he has with Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley. They end up going through their adventures together, and each of them plays an important role. In fact, Harry would have been killed on several occasions if it weren’t for his friends being there for him.

Ephesians 4:16 (NLT)
Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

We need each other. We need to minister to each other and care for each other. We need to be accountable to each other, and we need to support and encourage each other.

 

3. Harry, Live in a Growth Environment.

Harry was born with the potential to become a great wizard. But when he was living with his uncle and aunt and cousin, he wasn’t in an environment where he could grow, where he was encouraged, where he was challenged, and it wasn’t until he enrolled at Hogwarts School that he started to grow and develop.

This is something that is true in our Christian lives, in our professional lives, in our personal lives… if we want to grow, if we want to improve, if we want to become more than we are today, we need to live in a growth environment.

In A Growth Environment…

  • Some are ahead of you
  • Some are behind you
  • The atmosphere is affirming
  • Growth is modeled and expected

 

4. Harry, Be Wary When Dealing with Mystical Powers

Facts About Mystical Powers

  1. Unseen Powers Do Exist

    In fact, there are millions of practicing witches worldwide. It seems strange to most of us in Western Society, but the truth is that there are people who claim to be witches and sorcerers even in Canada. And they do deal with unseen powers and strange incantations.

    Ephesians 6:12 (NLT)
    For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.
     
  2. The Power does NOT come from within you

    In Harry Potter, it seems that people receive their powers through heredity and learning. There’s something within the person that makes them capable of doing these incredible magical things.

    Galatians 4:1-7 (NLT)
    Think of it this way. If a father dies and leaves great wealth for his young children, those children are not much better off than slaves until they grow up, even though they actually own everything their father had. They have to obey their guardians until they reach whatever age their father set.
    And that's the way it was with us before Christ came. We were slaves to the spiritual powers of this world. But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. And because you Gentiles have become his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, and now you can call God your dear Father. Now you are no longer a slave but God's own child. And since you are his child, everything he has belongs to you.


    We are either slaves to the powers and forces of this world, specifically to the whims and temptations and will of Satanic beings, or we are freed by the power of God operating in our lives. But it’s not something we have innately within ourselves.
     
  3. There are good and evil forces at work

    1 Peter 3:22 (NLT)
    Now Christ has gone to heaven. He is seated in the place of honor next to God, and all the angels and authorities and powers are bowing before him.

    I looked up the words magic, sorcery and witchcraft in the Bible this week. All together, these words appear in one form or another 54 times in the Bible, and none of these times endorsed the use of magic, sorcery or witchcraft. But the Bible does give examples of times when people performed miracles and healings and extraordinary things through the power of God. Moses turned his staff into a snake, just like the Egyptian magicians. Aaron waved his staff over the waters of Egypt and all the water turned to blood. Joshua marched around the walls of Jericho a prescribed number of times, yelled, and the walls came down. Paul was bitten by a poisonous snake, and lived.

    There are good and evil forces at work. What we need to do is live in obedience to God, depend solely upon Him, and trust Him to work in and through us. It’s not about incantations and spells that we come up with. It’s not about seeking power for ourselves. It’s not about achieving selfish goals by tapping into powers we don’t understand. It’s about trusting God, and living in obedience to Him.
     
  4. We are not to play with them

    2 Peter 2:12 (NLT)
    These false teachers are like unthinking animals, creatures of instinct, who are born to be caught and killed. They laugh at the terrifying powers they know so little about, and they will be destroyed along with them.

    How will there destroy us? Well, the first thing that happens as we play with these unseen powers and trivialize them through things like Ouijii Boards and Séances is that we become desensitized to them. We accept them as part of our lives. We don’t recognize them as anything more than a hobby or a game. Once we’re desensitized, we become curious and begin to experiment a bit more. Then we become enticed by the powers and are drawn into it more and more, much like pornography. We start with something soft that doesn’t seem to do any harm, but eventually it leads to things that are more hardcore. And suddenly, we discover that we aren’t in control anymore.

    The Bible clearly warns us about dabbling with unseen powers and not recognizing their dangers.
     
  5. They cannot overcome God

    In the books, Dumbledore and Voldemort are opposites. Voldemort is evil. Dumbledore is good and the most powerful wizard alive. But he seems to be only marginally more powerful than Voldemort, and there’s the threat that maybe one day Voldemort might win.

    That’s not the way it is with God. God is all powerful. There is no one power or combination of powers that could ever successfully stage a coup against Him.

    Galatians 4:8-9 (NLT)
    Before you Gentiles knew God, you were slaves to so-called gods that do not even exist. And now that you have found God (or should I say, now that God has found you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual powers of this world?

    Romans 8:38 (NLT)
    And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can't, and life can't. The angels can't, and the demons can't. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can't keep God's love away.

 

Guidelines for Dealing with Questionable Life Issues

 

Kind of a strange title, but I didn’t know what else to call it. So that’s what you get: Guidelines for Dealing with Questionable Life Issues.

Remember, I mentioned earlier that prominent evangelical Christian leaders have studies the Harry Potter books, looked into the Bible, and arrived at different conclusions about whether Christians should endorse Harry Potter or not. So I’m not going to make that choice for you this morning. But I want to take the next few minutes to quickly go through 4 guidelines for making decisions about Harry Potter and a myriad of other issues you may face in life.

 

1. Be informed.

Don’t make decisions based on how popular something is, but on how it lines up with good and godly values. Find out what you can about the issues and learn to think for yourself. You should be able to give reasonable explanations for the things you condone and the things you reject.

And recognize too that it’s possible for sincere Christians to have opposite opinions.

Romans 14:5 (NLT)
In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. Each person should have a personal conviction about this matter.

 

2. Be Careful.

1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)
Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour.

If he can deceive you, if he can get you to accept something that leads you away from God, then he’s going to do it. He’s out to destroy you, so be careful.

 

3. Be grounded in your faith.

Colossians 2:7-8 (NLT)
Let your roots grow down into him and draw up nourishment from him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigorous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done.
Don't let anyone lead you astray with empty philosophy and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the evil powers of this world, and not from Christ.

 

4. Be sensitive to others

For example, when you’re dealing with Harry Potter, even if you don’t see anything inherently wrong with the books or the movies, you need to recognize that young children may find certain parts scary. They may not be able to tell the difference between reality and fantasy. They may be spiritually impressionable, and exploring the world of Harry Potter may not be appropriate.

Romans 14:20-22 (NLT)
Don't tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, there is nothing wrong with these things in themselves. But it is wrong to eat anything if it makes another person stumble. Don't eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another Christian to stumble. You may have the faith to believe that there is nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who do not condemn themselves by doing something they know is all right.


 


 

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