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Christians Enjoying Harry Potter – Good Idea, Bad Idea?

Is Harry Potter good or evil?

That question may sound silly to some readers, but there are many Christians who believe it’s wrong to watch movies like Harry Potter (some very close to me whom I love dearly feel this way). I know because I’ve seen every HP movie in the theater, and have had this discussion with more than one Christian after they heard I was a fan.

Some Christians believe it’s wrong because Harry and his friends make witchcraft look like fun, and guess what – I understand their point of view.

Witchcraft is a serious sin as the Bible points out – check it out:

Galatians 5:19-21
19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;
20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions
21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Those who “live like this” – that is, those who practice witchcraft as part of their ongoing, unchanging lifestyle “will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

Wow! Sounds like Harry Potter could be dangerous if it causes someone to want to practice witchcraft, but is it?

Patrick Mead made a post on Tentpegs today that I’d like to share with you … he writes:

… this is a timely question that came in recently via Facebook.

I saw on your Facebook page that you and your wife went to see the latest Harry Potter movie. How could you??? The Bible is very plain in condemning witchcraft. How can you support this evil with your money???

I’ve heard things like this many times since the first draft of Harry Potter was written on the back of napkins over lukewarm cups of tea. Why did I see the movie — and all the others? Because I’ve seen evil, and Harry Potter isn’t evil. It is a fantasy. I am just barely old enough to remember preachers condemning Rex Harrison and “Doctor Dolittle” for talking to animals (and, yes, there was even a Cincinnati preacher who railed against Mr. Ed for the same thing… and claimed that playing the song backwards revealed Satanic messages). I’ve read the articles written against C.S. Lewis for engaging in fantasy, calling him a supporter of witchcraft. Tolkien fought against the same charges.

Some people have a very hard time differentiating between fantasy and fun on the one hand and evil and darkness on the other. In the Bible, the witchcraft being condemned involved ritual murder, the killing of children, bloodletting, serial adultery, etc. I’ve met with witches (self styled), coven leaders, Satanists, people who were convinced they were Warlocks… and found them almost without exception to be sad, lonely people. They are the precursors to the lonely man/woman playing computer games where they are a twentieth level mage… while in real life they work at the Quiklube.

Then I have met others — sorcerers and necromancers and pagans of a different ilk. They were evil. You could see it in their eyes, hear it in their words, and watch them as they spread darkness wherever they could. I have seen photos and films made of butchered men, women, and children; pregnant women whose wombs were ripped open and their babies killed for the amusement of this or that army that stomped its way through their village, raping and burning all the while. THAT is evil.

Harry Potter — and thousands of other like minded books, plays, and movies — are allegories. They are stories of light versus darkness where light is treasured, heroism is lauded, and courage, honor, and loyalty are elevated highly. The characters are told to do the right thing, regardless of personal cost. TRUE darkness mocks the light and encourages people to follow the Satanic slogan of “Do whatever you want to do” (that is translated from their faux olde English styling).

You find witchcraft everywhere nowadays, but it is disguised as comedy, music, and drama. Watch carefully and you see that everyone’s problems are solved by self love, self esteem, etc. and by applying either sex or violence to the situation. Self sacrifice, humility, and grace are never in sight. Light is covered up in darkness. Witchcraft no longer uses brooms and the devil no longer cares about cauldrons and potions. Darkness has moved into the cultural center and calls itself light.

And if Christians can’t see that but, rather, spend their time fighting about Madeline L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, or Harry Potter… if they can’t tell the difference between metaphor, symbol, and reality… then we are in real trouble.

As Patrick points out, I don’t believe enjoying fantasy movies like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, or the Chronicles of Narnia is the same as practicing real witchcraft.

But could Harry Potter and movies like it still be dangerous? I mean, the Harry Potter stories do glorify witchcraft by practicing it in the books and movies, don’t they? Could the books and movies cause a younger person (or even an older person) to become interested in looking into real witchcraft?

Of course they could.

But could watching the latest season of American Idol or America’s Got Talent influence someone to become obsessed with fame?

Could watching Jack Bauer handle business in 24 influence someone to commit an act of violence?

Could watching Judge Judy influence someone to act like a condescending jerk to everyone they come into contact with?

Yes, yes, and yes – the potential for evil is there in all of those things.

Here’s my feeling: almost any television show or movie a person watches has the potential to influence them for evil. I believe it’s up to individuals to decide how they’ll allow themselves to be influenced, and I believe it’s up to parents to do a good job teaching and explaining things to their kids (like the dangers of real witchcraft, and how Harry Potter is just a story that someone made up).

That’s how I feel, and I’m going to stop right there and ask you these questions:

Do you think Harry Potter be should be completely avoided by Christian families? Why or why not?

If you do believe it’s ok for kids to read the books or watch the movies, do you believe any precautions should be taken (i.e. should you talk to your children about real witchcraft before allowing them to read the books or watch the movies)?

What do you think? I’m interested in hearing from you.

Now, for no particular reason, here’s a picture of Harry Potter smoking a cigarette:

Harry prefers menthols ...

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Apologetics Resources?

I’m going to spend time over the course of the next couple of months perusing the best apologetics resources out there.

Here in San Francisco, many of those I study the Bible with don’t have a basic belief in God, a trust in the Bible, or an awareness of, or belief in, core Christian doctrines.

I would like to prepare myself as well as possible for any encounters with people God may send, and would also like to be able to teach other church members to do the same.

 

Here are a few questions I’m interested in designing studies for:

  • How can the Bible be taken seriously? How do you know it hasn’t been rewritten over the years?
  • How could a loving God send anyone to hell/allow evil to exist?
  • Don’t you think it’s arrogant to say Christianity is the only path to God? Can’t God be found in other religions?
  • Do heaven and hell actually exist?
  • Was Jesus the Son of God, or was he simply a good teacher?
  • Hasn’t science proven that Christianity is a fraud?
  •  

    Here are a few resources I already own that I’ll be diving into:

  • Josh McDowell – The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict
  • C.S. Lewis – Mere Christianity
  • F.F. Bruce – The Canon of Scripture
  • Ralph O. Muncaster – Examine the Evidence: Exploring the Case for Christianity
  • C. Stephan Evans – Why Believe?: Reason and Mystery as Pointers to God
  • Lee Strobel – The Case for Christ
  • Lee Strobel – The Case for Faith
  • Lee Strobel – The Case for a Creator
  • Wayne Grudem – Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine
  •  

    Here are a few of good websites I’m aware of:

  • http://www.everystudent.com/
  • http://www.apologetics.org/
  • http://www.evidenceforchristianity.org/
  • http://www.apologeticspress.org/
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jxzGA-OQOk (Jacoby-Shermer Debate)
  • http://douglasjacoby.org/
  • http://thetruthtree.com/faith_qa.shtml
  • http://www.veritas.org/
  •  

    Here are a few additional books I’m planning to pick up:

  • F.F. Bruce – The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?
  • N.T. Wright – Simply Christian
  • Fred Von Kamecke – Busted: Exposing Popular Myths About Christianity
  • Timothy Keller – The Reason for God
  • John Clayton – The Source
  •  

    And here are a few resource lists from TheResurgence.com:

  • http://theresurgence.com/Recommended-Reading_Apologetics-Cults-and-World-Religions
  • http://theresurgence.com/Recommended-Reading_Apologetics
  • http://theresurgence.com/Great-Books_Apologetics_Introduction-and-Methods
  •  

    Am I leaving anything out? If you know of a good resource please let me know.

     

    —-

    In other news, remember that finger I slammed in the bathroom door? That injury has born fruit:

     

    A new nail is growing underneath the old one! This is the weirdest thing that has ever happened to a fingernail of mine.

    Just thought I’d share … I know you needed to see that. :p

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