Monday, July 9, 2012

The Gospel in Harry Potter and other books? Why not the Bible?

     Over the years, as the Harry Potter series has picked up momentum, there has been increasing interest in Christian circles to find biblical meaning in the series, i.e. The Gospel according to Harry Potter.  I will not only be discussing Harry Potter here, so stay with me. (added after finishing the post).
        This concerns me for a number of reasons, not one of the least of these being the fact that we are looking for anything Godly in a book whose driving force is witchcraft.  Galatians 5:19-21 lists the acts of the sinful nature, all of which will keep you from the kingdom of God, and witchcraft and idolatry are among them. Also, I am concerned about promoting books written by an author who by her own admission is "drawn to religion" yet her actual beliefs are ambiguous at best based on several interviews involving questions about her beliefs.  Certainly, she has Protestant background and thought the book is not a true allegory there are Christianesque themes.  She is also quoted as having always thought of Dumbledoor as gay.  I don't remember if that was ever alluded to in the movies. It doesn't come to mind.  And I can't speak for the books, however that she would even go there leaves a concern for just how liberal her "religious" views are.   
        Now, before I go any further, let me just say that I understand the fascination with Harry Potter.  I have grown up enjoying movies and TV and I can get sucked in to a storyline as easily as anyone else.  I have not read the books.  I have seen all the movies, some of them more than once. I am not sure that will continue based on my current convictions however. I have even seen the movie about J.K. Rowling's life and the creation of Harry Potter.  It is very endearing, as are the books.  I have many family members who love the books and the movies.  In a debate they will argue for the Harry Potter books vs. against them.  If the truth be told, my fleshly, movie loving man would love to be able to justify the existence of these books.  I would love to be able to have peace about finding inklings of the Gospel in Harry Potter and using them to justify the books.  Unfortunately, I do not believe the Bible supports that idea.  I believe that Satan is using the fantasy and interspersing of biblical ideas such as sacrificial love, redemptive love, and good vs. evil to draw us in.  There are many respectable authors and journalist trying to do justice to both sides.  I have not read the book "What's a Christian to do with Harry Potter" by Connie Neal from Focus on the Family, but from what I can tell of lengthy reviews of her book, it is the closest thing out there regarding addressing legitimate spiritual concerns while still finding virtue in the books.
         There is already so much out there trashing the Harry Potter books and focusing on the negative vs. positive aspects of it that I am going to try to take a different direction.  That direction is:

Why, in a world that is already so anti-Christian are Christians so apt to go crazy over Harry Potter, Aragon, or any of the other multitudinous series of books that have come out in the last 10 yrs.  What about stories like Twilight.  Vampire story lines have become increasingly popular over the last 10-15 years.  Talk about your ungodly subject matter.  Even Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia have a seen a resurgence with the making of the movies.   
    Here is the thing.  The BIBLE is the only God-ordained, God-Breathed book with a message and author powerful enough to break strongholds, heal disease, and save souls from eternal damnation and yet, you don't see nearly the hype over it. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation(Romans 1:16). You don't see parents encouraging children to find interest in the Bible and read it over and over again.  That's not to say that it doesn't happen but, it doesn't appear to be a prevailing, awe inspiring, news worthy event.  Why is that?
    I suppose that is an unfair statement.  It gets attention. But it is usually in the form of how we can make it more appealing to this generation.  How it will make you prosperous and help you find your best life now, or whether or not Genesis is a legitimate story and basis for Creation.
    Here is a fact that is undeniable.  If we are giving more time to and getting more excited for ourselves or our children regarding secular entertainment than we are about the Bible and it's influence on our lives then we have seriously misprioritized what is important. We are in danger of idolizing these other sources of entertainment by giving them a higher priority than God's Word. 
 Just how often is the Bible read?
Wiki answers says this:
Surprisingly, the people that claim to be the most devout Christians and go to church often have spent the least amount of time reading the bible that is supposed to be their guiding text. Most it seems go to church and "hear the Word" from their minister or pastor, trusting that this person is being truthful, honest, and meticulous about sharing what is written in the Bible and ONLY what is written in the Bible. Modern churches seem to focus more on prosperity and making people feel good then they do Scripture. Therefore, the modern Christian must take it upon him or herself to read the bible. There are bibles printed for every reading level and in every language, so there is no excuse not to have read it for yourself. Trusting the wrong person to teach you Scripture could place you in the position to be victimized and preyed upon by a charlatan.

Read more:

A Gallup poll says this:
 According to a recent Gallup poll, about six in ten Americans (59%) say they read the Bible at least on occasion, with the most likely readers being women, nonwhites, older people, Republicans, and political conservatives. Readership of the Bible has declined from the 1980s overall, from 73% to 59% today. And the percentage of frequent readers, that is, those who read the Bible at least once a week, has decreased slightly over the last decade, from 40% in 1990 to 37% today. About one American in seven reports an involvement that goes beyond reading the Bible. Fourteen percent currently belong to a Bible study group. In terms of frequency of readership, 16% of Americans say that they read the Bible every day, 21% say they read it weekly, 12% say they read the Bible monthly, 10% say less than monthly and 41% say that they rarely or never read the Bible

If I were a betting man, I would bet you that the percentages are sadly better for secular material. I could be wrong.  Even if I am, these stats are pretty sad.  If we made as big a deal out of the bible as we do the Harry Potter books, or Vampire books/tv shows, everybody would be reading the Bible.  I have a hard time rationalizing anyone spending tons of time on trying to find the "good" in Harry Potter or any other secular book, defending it's good name in the name of unity between views, when the Bible is so under utilized and under prioritized.  People are out there trying to use Harry Potter to relate the Gospel to people. WHY?!  God does not need Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, Lord of the Rings or any other fictional book Allegorical or otherwise to supplement the true story of the Bible.  If we are using them for that purpose then we are undercutting the power of God's Word.
     Why are we trying to use man written secular books or any other secular material to try to relate to children or anyone else in our culture?  Maybe if we raised our children on the Bible instead of all these other books they would not leave home at 18 and abandon their faith for some period of time if not permanently because they had no real faith in God's Word.
 Do we really think that God did not know what the 20th and 21st centuries would hold when he wrote the Bible.  Do we really think the Bible needs help from other resources to accomplish the goal for which God put it forth. That the All powerful, All knowing God of the universe is sitting up in heaven saying, "boy I sure am glad those other authors squeezed some semblance of my Gospel into their fictional story books.  I don't think the world would have gotten it otherwise". 
NO! Don't be ridiculous! God's word is sufficient(2 Timothy 3:16-17).  It will accomplish anything that God needs it to accomplish in our lives(Isaiah 55:11).  However, if we do not have a working knowledge of God's Word and instead we are pouring our time into secular, fantastical books that have no eternal purpose then we are wasting our lives and we will lack power and knowledge to accomplish the work of the Gospel.  
       Two thousand years ago, the God-inspired writers of the Bible were steering people away from all things secular and back to the Word of God.  They were reminding them that they were created for one purpose and that is to glorify and worship Almighty God with their lives.  This may seem like a critical rant to some but, if the apostles thought it important then to sometimes strongly draw attention back to God from the things of this world then I think it's safe to say that it is important today as well.
       I did not even intend to go this direction but I believe this is what God wants said.  We need to stop prioritizing the things of this world over the things of God.  One day God is all you will have, for better or for worse.  I hope that becomes a reality for how you live your lives now.  That is the will of God.  To conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel(Philippians1:27) To consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him,not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ---the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.(Philippians 3:8)  I hope people have read this and that it causes them to think about what is really important.  God is definitely doing that with me.  Blessings.

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