Harry Potter and deathly theology
It all seemed like such a blur. I was sitting down in the movie theater and thought, “Oh, that’s right. I’m going to see the new Harry Potter movie.” Then BAM...it began. It’s hard to imagine that I’ve (well, not personally...) known Harry since we were first introduced in 2001. At the ripe age of eleven, I had no idea what adventure awaited me. It’s odd seeing things change almost before your eyes. It seems like yesterday that Voldemort was just chillin’ on the back of some guy’s head...But alas, things must change and here we are talking about Part 1 of the final movie.
A long-standing Harry Potter love affair
In all honesty, the main reason I even watch the Harry Potter films is simply because it brings back nostalgia from when I was little. My friends and I would have a great time writing fan fiction stories about how we somehow got transported into the wizarding world where Harry suddenly fell madly in love with one of us...cough * cough (Ladies, don’t pretend like you didn’t.) In any case, I used to be madly in love with the Potter franchise – lock, stock, and barrel.
But as the years have gone on, my perspective has changed. I would like to establish up front that I am not against the story of Harry Potter at all. I am only against the unintended consequences and the distortions that people take from the series. One might ask, “Then wouldn’t you just be disagreeing with the fans instead of author?” My answer is no.
Re-examining the franchise
Since J.K. Rowling has indirectly stated that she is a Christian, she has a responsibility to make her work within her career shine the light of Christ. Yes, her books hold Christian imagery, but they do nothing to encourage the Gospel. Nowhere is Christ mentioned, or a verse that mentions His sacrifice or grace. Only verses such as Matt. 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” and 1 Cor. 15:26, “And the last enemy to be destroyed is death” are used, and quite frankly, there are dozens of movies that use scripture either out of context, or just skip over the “grace” and “Jesus” part of scripture (i.e. Pulp Fiction, The Book of Eli, Cape Fear, and many others.)
Why is it that when J.K. Rowling claims to be Christian, millions of people applaud her without double checking her theology? Rowling claims to attend church, however just going to church does not automatically make a person a Christian. Christ says in Matthew that the way of spotting a true Christian is seeing the ‘fruit’ that they create. Yet, what ‘fruit’ is Rowling creating from her work? What is the main message of her work?
Does Rowling’s theology reflect the gospel?
The main foundation of Christianity is the resurrection and sacrifice Jesus Christ proclaiming that belief and walking in Him alone is the only way into heaven. End of story. Yet in Rowling's own words "On any given moment if you asked me [if] I believe in life after death, I think if you polled me regularly through the week, I think I would come down on the side of yes — that I do believe in life after death. [But] it's something that I wrestle with a lot. It preoccupies me a lot, and I think that's very obvious within the books." If she is, in fact, a Christian, then she would not have to doubt there being life after death at all.
One may say that I am being harsh on her. Yet, since Rowling is in a place of influence, especially with her claim of being a Christian, she should be either directly or indirectly proclaiming the entire truth of the Gospel. Not presenting some mixed theology within her work that the rest of the world is comfortable swallowing.
Popularizing witchcraft can have unintended consequences
With the Harry Potter franchise using witchcraft heavily within the story, what does that say to people who don’t know Christ? The unintended consequences of using the occult within her work is promoting the message that witchcraft is an acceptable power that can help you overcome your troubles in life and this power comes from you alone, not an outside source. And it’s wise to remember that witchcraft isn’t just in fairytales and legends, it’s highly accessible now in almost every bookstore and every type of media in existence.
The Potter franchise has played a significant role in legitimizing witchcraft and the occult in young adult fiction. In 1999, Harry Potter was one of the leading books in breaking down the taboo of the occult in children’s literature. And throughout the years, the books on the shelves of the teen section have been increasing their raunchy sex content, dark witchcraft and vampirism. Last time I checked, Christ didn’t exactly say that these subjects are good spiritual fruit that we should be absorbing.
Harry Potter is not a Christian series
Unfortunately, the term “Christian” is distorted to be used as a label for mixed and extremely flawed theology. I once talked to a girl who claimed that she was “Christian”, yet she then began to tell me about the shadow people who guide her throughout her house to leave water offerings to her dead relatives so that they can successfully finish their journey onto the other side. Yeah....so, bottom line, if the Gospel is not in it, it’s not Christian. Period.
I have heard so many Christians try to convince me that the Harry Potter books are inherently Christian. I do not buy this for one fraction of a second. I have heard that the incantations of spells within the book are disguised Bible verses in Latin or something like that. Friends, Christ will never be found within something contradictory to His own word.
Movie critique and preparing to say goodbye
But despite these theological criticisms, Part 1 of the Deathly Hallows was a pretty good film. The chase scenes really held my attention and at one tense moment, I was literally about to shout at the screen [I caught myself though haha]. The battles were more intense and I absolutely loved the “WWII Nazi Resistance” vibe that I got from the first half of the movie. I also loved the dance scene with Hermione and Harry because it allowed the audience to see the love in their friendship which, in all honesty is rarely shown, since the movies tend to be so plot-heavy. Overall, this was a good movie and I am definitely excited to see the ten year climax we have all been waiting for.