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Why I Wrote ‘The Harry Potter Bible Study’

Pastor Jared Moore: “I wrote ‘The Harry Potter Bible Study’ because I’m trying to encourage Christians to approach their cultures with the same method of interpretation they use when reading Scripture. I believe Christians should be consistent. Please allow me to explain.”
| Dec 9, 2011 | No comments

I recently wrote a book titled The Harry Potter Bible Study: Enjoying God Through the Final Four Harry Potter Movies. The writing of such a Bible study poses a question: “Why would a conservative Christian pastor write a Bible study intertwined with a book and movie series that obviously contain evil elements?” This is the question I hope to answer here.

To summarize, I wrote The Harry Potter Bible Study because I’m trying to encourage Christians to approach their cultures with the same method of interpretation they use when reading Scripture. I believe Christians should be consistent. Please allow me to explain.

The Bible, even though it is God’s perfect Word, contains evil elements. These elements are recorded so that readers and hearers will know the definition of evil and how God’s wrath is kindled against it. In other words, these evil elements are provided so readers will know that man has a sin problem which makes him God’s enemy (Rom. 3:23; James 4:4); and yet, God reveals His love for His enemies by sending His only Son to redeem sinners from His own wrath (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9-10). In most cases in Scripture, God provides the discernment for the reader by judging evil immediately or by speaking of its coming judgment.

My point is that just because various forms of media contain evil elements, doesn’t mean that they are entirely evil. If the Bible can contain evil elements without being evil, then other forms of media can contain evil elements without being entirely evil as well. The mere presence of evil doesn’t make something evil, for evil is clearly present in Scripture. It’s the reaction to evil that determines whether a form of media is entirely evil or not. Whenever evil is argued as good or acceptable, then media is making an evil argument that directly violates Scripture. But, if Christians recognize this argument as evil, then they still may participate in media unto the glory of God by exposing and rejecting this evil argument.

Furthermore, whenever media presents something that is evil and calls it evil, Christians can recognize God’s fingerprints, for evil can only be rightly called evil in light of His perfect goodness/holiness. The Light of the world exposes the darkness (2 Cor. 4:4-7). Christians know the “Why” (God), the Reason why certain acts are evil and certain acts are good. Therefore, when we participate in media we can enjoy God because we know media presents evil as evil and good as good because there is a moral law pressing down on all humanity from the Law Giver (Gen. 1:1; John 1:3-4). Moreover, even when media presents evil as good and good as evil, Christians can recognize the fingerprints of the Fall, the fingerprints of Satan, and reject them; which is exactly what God does throughout the Scriptures as He judges evil.

Before we continue, let me be clear, I AM NOT saying that other forms of media are equally God’s Word with Scripture. The Bible is the only special revelation Christians possess. Of course, God reveals Himself through conscience and creation as well, but these are not infallible or inerrant (John 1:3-4; Rom. 1). What I AM saying is that some evil does not necessarily corrupt the whole form of media; for if the Bible can contain evil elements and not be evil, then other forms of media can contain evil elements and not be entirely evil as well.

The difference between Scripture and other forms of media is that in Scripture God has largely provided the discernment for us. He doesn’t merely tell us that David committed adultery and murder, He also records His sending of the prophet Nathan to rebuke David (2 Sam. 11:1-12:23). He also records His own direct judgment against David in taking His son’s life, as well as, prophesying of His future judgment concerning the sword being active in David’s kingdom among his children (2 Sam. 12:10-23).

On the other hand, when it comes to Christians participating in media, we must provide the discernment. No one will provide the discernment for us. This is true of all of our participation in this evil world, not just in our participation in media. We therefore must bring Scripture to bear on all aspects of culture: our jobs, education, media participation, politics, morality, family, etc. My contention is that if we bring Scripture to bear on media as we participate, it’s no different than God bringing His Word to bear on the various evils in Scripture. In other words, if Christians approach evil and good in their cultures the same way God does in Scripture, they will participate in media unto the glory of God.

Like God has revealed in His Word, we must hate evil, love good, and connect truth to its Author: the Triune God of Christianity (Gen. 1:1; John 1:1; Rom. 8:9; Col. 1:16-17). All truth is God’s truth and all lies are Satan’s lies. Therefore, Christians must reject Satan’s lies while connecting all truth to God through Christ in light of the Spirit of Truth.

As Christians participate in Harry Potter and other forms of media, they must ask three questions: 1) What must I reject because it goes against God’s Word? 2) What must I accept because it is in full agreement with God’s Word, including its connection of all truth to God through Christ? 3) What truths are presented that are hanging in midair that I must extract and connect to God through Christ in light of the Spirit’s work through the Word of God? If Christians answer these three questions in light of Scripture, they will participate in their cultures in a distinctly Christian manner. I wrote The Harry Potter Bible Study to train Christians to approach all forms of media in this distinctly Christian manner.

My question for those who are against participating in Harry Potter is “If a Christian rejects the lies and connects the truth to God through Christ, why can’t they participate in Harry Potter?” I ask you this because it is possible to even read Scripture in a way that doesn’t honor God. For example, in reading the story of David, it would be displeasing to God if you read about David’s adultery and contemplated how gratifying it must have been for his flesh when he committed adultery with Bathsheba, and thus how gratifying adultery would be to your flesh as well. To dwell on such things from Scripture as if they are meant to be enjoyed is evil. If you reject the evil, you can enjoy God’s holiness in light of David’s poor example. Thus, I’m contending that you should participate in media the same way. You should reject the evil, extract the truth, and connect it to God through Christ.

My final question(s) for those who believe Harry Potter should not be participated in is this: “If you and I approach Harry Potter the same way God approached David’s sin, what’s the difference?” If we agree with God concerning evil while also agreeing with God concerning good, and we seek to understand these truths in light of Christ’s creating, sustaining, and redeeming work (Col. 1:16-17), why shouldn’t we participate in media that contains evil elements? If we reject the evil, just like we reject David’s evil acts, and we qualify the good with Christ’s creating, sustaining, and redeeming work just like we qualify David’s good with Christ’s work, why shouldn’t we participate in Harry Potter and other forms of non-Christian media?

Jared Moore has served in ministry for 11 years and is currently the pastor of New Salem Baptist Church in Hustonville, Ky. He has an M.A.R. in Biblical Studies from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, an M.Div. in Christian Ministry from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and is currently completing a Th.M. in Systematic Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Amber, reside in Hustonville, Ky., with their two children. If you have any questions or if you are interested in inviting Jared to speak, you may contact him through his website. Jared writes at http://jaredmoore.exaltchrist.com. He is also a contributor at www.sbcvoices.com and www.servantsofgrace.org.

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31 Comments on "Why I Wrote ‘The Harry Potter Bible Study’"

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Galadriel
Guest

While I agree with the basic principles, I would also add the point that sometimes, even if evil is presented as evil, it’s presented in so much detail that it should be avoided. For me, one example is The Dresiden Files. The evil was clearly evil, but I had a nightmare the first night I read one, another after I read more, and a third one later–so I swore off them.

Galadriel
Guest

While I agree with the basic principles, I would also add the point that sometimes, even if evil is presented as evil, it’s presented in so much detail that it should be avoided. For me, one example is The Dresiden Files. The evil was clearly evil, but I had a nightmare the first night I read one, another after I read more, and a third one later–so I swore off them.

Kessie
Guest

My only quibble is that this is focusing on the movies, which are like Harry Abbreviated. The books are so much better, including the whole theme of “the last enemy to be defeated is death”. Which Harry runs around quoting in the last book. Lots of great thought fodder there. I haven’t seen the last couple of movies, alas, but I know what happens. 🙂

Kessie
Guest

My only quibble is that this is focusing on the movies, which are like Harry Abbreviated. The books are so much better, including the whole theme of “the last enemy to be defeated is death”. Which Harry runs around quoting in the last book. Lots of great thought fodder there. I haven’t seen the last couple of movies, alas, but I know what happens. 🙂

Rebecca LuElla Miller
Admin

Thanks for your thoughts, Jarred. You are most likely “preaching to the choir” here at Spec Faith. I thought, however, you scraped up against the question so many ask: “What is Christian fiction?” As Kessie said, Harry dealt with the defeat of death, and in  most sacrificial way. So would we ever consider the Harry Potter books to be Christian fiction?

 

Becky

Rebecca LuElla Miller
Admin

Thanks for your thoughts, Jarred. You are most likely “preaching to the choir” here at Spec Faith. I thought, however, you scraped up against the question so many ask: “What is Christian fiction?” As Kessie said, Harry dealt with the defeat of death, and in  most sacrificial way. So would we ever consider the Harry Potter books to be Christian fiction?

 

Becky

Jane Wells
Guest

Excellent points, Jared, and an excellent summation of why I wrote Glitter in the Sun: A Bible Study Searching for Truth in the Twilight Saga.
Both of these series tap into our inborn need for the Supernatural – but without discernment  leave the consumer only aware of a hunger for significance without the ability to fill that void.

E. Stephen Burnett
Admin

 

Excellent points, Jared, and an excellent summation of why I wrote Glitter in the Sun: A Bible Study Searching for Truth in the Twilight Saga.
Both of these series tap into our inborn need for the Supernatural – but without discernment  leave the consumer only aware of a hunger for significance without the ability to fill that void.

Jane, thanks for reading, and for challenging me personally! You see, when it comes to the Twilight books, by untempered instinct, I am likely just as reactionary as the folks who mean well and criticize Harry Potter. All I have previously seen are the shrieking fangirls, and mature women who talk publicly about how nice those younger men look with their shirts off. How could there be anything good in that?

My guess is that this would prove to be a stereotype. Though that does exist, it is counterbalanced by your thoughts, and those of my Christian female acquaintances from church who enjoy the series, yet not in the shrieking-fangurl way.

A related issue to the Harry Potter discussion is the frequency of many Christians to pass along, carelessly or intentionally (?!), total falsehoods about the series. My wife, for example, recalls curiously attending one Christian leader’s presentation about the series, in which he showed clips from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and claimed directly that Voldemort’s possession of a certain Hogwarts student was applauded and endorsed in the book and movie. That’s just inexcusable, and there seems no way to react to that claim than to say the leader was intentionally lying (or is so ignorant as to be disqualified from ministry).

Anyway, I bring that up here to ask, while you’re around, what do you think the greatest lie (spread intentionally or otherwise) among Christians is about Twilight?

E. Stephen Burnett
Admin

 

Excellent points, Jared, and an excellent summation of why I wrote Glitter in the Sun: A Bible Study Searching for Truth in the Twilight Saga.
Both of these series tap into our inborn need for the Supernatural – but without discernment  leave the consumer only aware of a hunger for significance without the ability to fill that void.

Jane, thanks for reading, and for challenging me personally! You see, when it comes to the Twilight books, by untempered instinct, I am likely just as reactionary as the folks who mean well and criticize Harry Potter. All I have previously seen are the shrieking fangirls, and mature women who talk publicly about how nice those younger men look with their shirts off. How could there be anything good in that?

My guess is that this would prove to be a stereotype. Though that does exist, it is counterbalanced by your thoughts, and those of my Christian female acquaintances from church who enjoy the series, yet not in the shrieking-fangurl way.

A related issue to the Harry Potter discussion is the frequency of many Christians to pass along, carelessly or intentionally (?!), total falsehoods about the series. My wife, for example, recalls curiously attending one Christian leader’s presentation about the series, in which he showed clips from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and claimed directly that Voldemort’s possession of a certain Hogwarts student was applauded and endorsed in the book and movie. That’s just inexcusable, and there seems no way to react to that claim than to say the leader was intentionally lying (or is so ignorant as to be disqualified from ministry).

Anyway, I bring that up here to ask, while you’re around, what do you think the greatest lie (spread intentionally or otherwise) among Christians is about Twilight?

Jane Wells
Guest

Excellent points, Jared, and an excellent summation of why I wrote Glitter in the Sun: A Bible Study Searching for Truth in the Twilight Saga.
Both of these series tap into our inborn need for the Supernatural – but without discernment  leave the consumer only aware of a hunger for significance without the ability to fill that void.

E. Stephen Burnett
Admin

From Becky:

Thanks for your thoughts, Jarred. You are most likely “preaching to the choir” here at Spec Faith.

Indeed, yet this choir member could use some more voice training. I knew that somehow there was a disparity between how Christians’ “eisegeted” Harry Potter, reading their own interpretations and fears into it, and how they exegeted Scripture. Disparities also arise when they claim to believe sin comes from the human heart, then act as though Objects are what give rise to those evil thoughts. This helped reinforce that conclusion — it’s not just trying to excuse a certain fantasy franchise!

We need more stuff like this, in the church leadership community as well, crossing between that and the spec-fic reader/writer community. Thanks much, Jared.

I thought, however, you scraped up against the question so many ask: “What is Christian fiction?” As Kessie said, Harry dealt with the defeat of death, and in  most sacrificial way. So would we ever consider the Harry Potter books to be Christian fiction?

I’m still convinced the best term for Harry Potter himself is not “Christ-figure,” but Christ-figure-figure (or perhaps something less cumbersome). Though he does model Christ’s sacrifice, for sure, it’s more like a copy of a copy — a copy of how we are meant to model Christ. I’m not sure what “secondary-level” name we could give to that kind of story, though. And I don’t mean to detract from the Biblical truth-echoes, either.

E. Stephen Burnett
Admin

From Becky:

Thanks for your thoughts, Jarred. You are most likely “preaching to the choir” here at Spec Faith.

Indeed, yet this choir member could use some more voice training. I knew that somehow there was a disparity between how Christians’ “eisegeted” Harry Potter, reading their own interpretations and fears into it, and how they exegeted Scripture. Disparities also arise when they claim to believe sin comes from the human heart, then act as though Objects are what give rise to those evil thoughts. This helped reinforce that conclusion — it’s not just trying to excuse a certain fantasy franchise!

We need more stuff like this, in the church leadership community as well, crossing between that and the spec-fic reader/writer community. Thanks much, Jared.

I thought, however, you scraped up against the question so many ask: “What is Christian fiction?” As Kessie said, Harry dealt with the defeat of death, and in  most sacrificial way. So would we ever consider the Harry Potter books to be Christian fiction?

I’m still convinced the best term for Harry Potter himself is not “Christ-figure,” but Christ-figure-figure (or perhaps something less cumbersome). Though he does model Christ’s sacrifice, for sure, it’s more like a copy of a copy — a copy of how we are meant to model Christ. I’m not sure what “secondary-level” name we could give to that kind of story, though. And I don’t mean to detract from the Biblical truth-echoes, either.

Bob Menees
Guest

Has anyone read or watched Harry Potter or Twilight on their own merits, and turned or become closer to Christ? I doubt it. It was never the intent of their authors to do so. Why should we use these to become the springboards to understand Truth? I fear this approach dilutes the gospel, spreading it so thin that the next series might be the ‘Playboy Bible Study.’ Hey, that could be a best seller. Consider it copyrighted.

Bob Menees
Guest

Has anyone read or watched Harry Potter or Twilight on their own merits, and turned or become closer to Christ? I doubt it. It was never the intent of their authors to do so. Why should we use these to become the springboards to understand Truth? I fear this approach dilutes the gospel, spreading it so thin that the next series might be the ‘Playboy Bible Study.’ Hey, that could be a best seller. Consider it copyrighted.

E. Stephen Burnett
Admin

Has anyone read or watched Harry Potter or Twilight on their own merits, and turned or become closer to Christ?

Yes.

If you don’t believe my own “testimony” in favor of that, watch this.

Or say! I have a better idea. I shall embed that video, from a Christian professor, here.

I doubt it. It was never the intent of their authors to do so. Why should we use these to become the springboards to understand Truth?

Bob, did you read the column above? If so, you might find it interesting, and helpful, to engage with Jared’s arguments in favor of such a study.

As it is, you haven’t said anything he hasn’t already addressed. I’d enjoy hearing your different perspective — especially because you’re clearly not the agreeing “choir” Becky mentioned — but only if it’s been honed and can address the rebuttals most of us have already heard and accepted, and which otherwise stand completely unchallenged.

Bob Menees
Guest

Evil is in the eye of the beholder. In the end the only eye that matters will be God’s. But if you ask most people, they think themselves good, even good enough for heaven. So we as a whole are not a discerning lot. So the danger with using the secular to teach the divine is that it dilutes our discernment more. Studies show how devastating the current trend of Bible teaching (the ‘how do you feel or what do you think about this’) is having on the youth by the time they enter college. They lack foundation and principle.
 
I enjoyed watching the Harry Potter series (didn’t read the books), so I don’t personally have issues with the content. But when we deal with the scriptures, I think we should start there. Sola scriptura. 

Bob Menees
Guest

I stand corrected as to whether anyone could draw closer to God by watching/reading a secular work. When I watched Secretariat, I thought about life’s race, ending it well. The verse at the end helped that thought along. But can a unbeliever turn to God by the same means? I doubt  it.

Bob Menees
Guest

I stand corrected as to whether anyone could draw closer to God by watching/reading a secular work. When I watched Secretariat, I thought about life’s race, ending it well. The verse at the end helped that thought along. But can a unbeliever turn to God by the same means? I doubt  it.

Maria Tatham
Guest

Bob, I wouldn’t say that evil is in the eye of the beholder, but it’s a great lead-in to saying that God’s way of looking at things is what matters. 

 

Maria Tatham
Guest

Bob, I wouldn’t say that evil is in the eye of the beholder, but it’s a great lead-in to saying that God’s way of looking at things is what matters. 

 

Bob Menees
Guest

Evil is in the eye of the beholder. In the end the only eye that matters will be God’s. But if you ask most people, they think themselves good, even good enough for heaven. So we as a whole are not a discerning lot. So the danger with using the secular to teach the divine is that it dilutes our discernment more. Studies show how devastating the current trend of Bible teaching (the ‘how do you feel or what do you think about this’) is having on the youth by the time they enter college. They lack foundation and principle.
 
I enjoyed watching the Harry Potter series (didn’t read the books), so I don’t personally have issues with the content. But when we deal with the scriptures, I think we should start there. Sola scriptura. 

E. Stephen Burnett
Admin

So the danger with using the secular to teach the divine is that it dilutes our discernment more.

I’d just note that it hasn’t been the case with me, and I’m sure I can speak for many others (agreeing with you that this isn’t even about a particular series).

I’d also certainly agree that most Christians need more discernment, not less.

However, discernment Biblically defined involves just what Jared has argued it does: engaging with others’ ideas, sorting truth from error. That seems directly opposite to a thought that being exposed to more error is somehow more wrong.

If someone is being personally tempted by being exposed to error, though, the problem is not in the weight he is lifting, but in his weakness.

Scripture commands not “if the weight is too hard for you, don’t pick it up,” but growing in strength, “working out” (rim shot!) our own salvation while knowing that God is working in us. This is aided by growing in what you said: sola Scriptura.

Maria Tatham
Guest

This is not about weakness, Stephen. 
Is Jared’s discernment truly Biblical?
Sola Scriptura is Sola Scriptura, not the Word seen through the lens of Potter.
Biblical discernment means that we test those spirits we encounter–that get in our face–not that we don’t go hunting for them. Potter has not gotten that close to me–except here. (Twilight has, because our granddaughter loves the books.) People sort through dumpsters and are sometimes forced to subsist on what they find there, but that doesn’t make this the thing to do. Perhaps Jared is dealing with this among the people he serves, I guess. But why not just do a book exploring what is right and WRONG about Potter, rather than a Bible study, which I feel holds the series up for us as giving insight.   

Bob Menees
Guest

Well said, Maria.
 

Maria Tatham
Guest

Bob, thanks! I usually don’t get this involved. Why I did this time is because of the imprecise and wrong language the author used to describe his book. For me, repeating myself, this is less than satisfactory.

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, brethren, say that God’s Word contains “elements of evil”, when what you mean is that it records and condemns evil.
 
The fact that you spoke in this way, dear Jared, left me no choice but to get involved and stay involved. This hasn’t been picked up on, and is crucial.

Doe anyone else perceive this? I wish you would admit that this is problematic, Jared, correct your statement, and go on.   

Your tenacious sister, M–sometimes no hamster, but a bulldog.

Maria Tatham
Guest

Bob, thanks! I usually don’t get this involved. Why I did this time is because of the imprecise and wrong language the author used to describe his book. For me, repeating myself, this is less than satisfactory.

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, brethren, say that God’s Word contains “elements of evil”, when what you mean is that it records and condemns evil.
 
The fact that you spoke in this way, dear Jared, left me no choice but to get involved and stay involved. This hasn’t been picked up on, and is crucial.

Doe anyone else perceive this? I wish you would admit that this is problematic, Jared, correct your statement, and go on.   

Your tenacious sister, M–sometimes no hamster, but a bulldog.

Bob Menees
Guest

Well said, Maria.
 

Maria Tatham
Guest

meant to say, “not that we go hunting for them” oops.

Maria Tatham
Guest

meant to say, “not that we go hunting for them” oops.

Maria Tatham
Guest

This is not about weakness, Stephen. 
Is Jared’s discernment truly Biblical?
Sola Scriptura is Sola Scriptura, not the Word seen through the lens of Potter.
Biblical discernment means that we test those spirits we encounter–that get in our face–not that we don’t go hunting for them. Potter has not gotten that close to me–except here. (Twilight has, because our granddaughter loves the books.) People sort through dumpsters and are sometimes forced to subsist on what they find there, but that doesn’t make this the thing to do. Perhaps Jared is dealing with this among the people he serves, I guess. But why not just do a book exploring what is right and WRONG about Potter, rather than a Bible study, which I feel holds the series up for us as giving insight.   

E. Stephen Burnett
Admin

So the danger with using the secular to teach the divine is that it dilutes our discernment more.

I’d just note that it hasn’t been the case with me, and I’m sure I can speak for many others (agreeing with you that this isn’t even about a particular series).

I’d also certainly agree that most Christians need more discernment, not less.

However, discernment Biblically defined involves just what Jared has argued it does: engaging with others’ ideas, sorting truth from error. That seems directly opposite to a thought that being exposed to more error is somehow more wrong.

If someone is being personally tempted by being exposed to error, though, the problem is not in the weight he is lifting, but in his weakness.

Scripture commands not “if the weight is too hard for you, don’t pick it up,” but growing in strength, “working out” (rim shot!) our own salvation while knowing that God is working in us. This is aided by growing in what you said: sola Scriptura.

E. Stephen Burnett
Admin

Has anyone read or watched Harry Potter or Twilight on their own merits, and turned or become closer to Christ?

Yes.

If you don’t believe my own “testimony” in favor of that, watch this.

Or say! I have a better idea. I shall embed that video, from a Christian professor, here.

I doubt it. It was never the intent of their authors to do so. Why should we use these to become the springboards to understand Truth?

Bob, did you read the column above? If so, you might find it interesting, and helpful, to engage with Jared’s arguments in favor of such a study.

As it is, you haven’t said anything he hasn’t already addressed. I’d enjoy hearing your different perspective — especially because you’re clearly not the agreeing “choir” Becky mentioned — but only if it’s been honed and can address the rebuttals most of us have already heard and accepted, and which otherwise stand completely unchallenged.

Maria Tatham
Guest

Jared, 

One of my concerns with your view is your language. Though the Bible reports, describes, condemns evil, it doesn’t ‘contain evil elements.’ I feel you’re not saying what you intend to. A reader can be led to believe that the Bible contains elements of evil, that is, contains evil things rather than a record and repudiation of them.
 
About Potter, I’ve avoided reading the books because of a fear of liking them. I have a horror of witchcraft, and have sometimes perceived spirits of witchcraft and the occult.

Another concern, when so many of us are Biblically illiterate, will we have the discernment to handle such fiction rightly? Some books should just not be read. I can’t know this for certain about Rowling’s books, not having read them, but I have seen two of the movies, and I do know about such things generally. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t read these books because I’m a Christian and there is too much witchcraft in them.” Do we have to read Potter to care about, understand, and speak with our unsaved friends? What do we gain from Potter? In other words, all things are lawful for me, but not all things are edifying, and we shouldn’t be mastered by anything.

Jared Moore
Guest

Maria,
    I appreciate your comment.  There are several instances in Scripture where the judgment of God is not provided concerning certain sins.  Ex: polygamy in the Old Testament.  We must bring the one flesh relationship, monogamy, from the Garden to bear here, but there is no direct judgment revealed in every instance.  Does this mean that polygamy isn’t evil?  Nope.  One must interpret Scripture based on Scripture.  The Scriptures are not evil in the least. God’s Word is perfect.

Concerning what we “gain” from Potter.  I participate in media for the purpose of enjoying the Lord.  Truth exists because our God created it true.  Thus, I participate in various forms of sinful media for the purpose of recognizing God’s fingerprints, so that I may enjoy Him where these sinners admit that they live in God’s world. I reject the lies, extract God’s truth, and connect it to God through Christ in light of the Spirit’s work through the Word of God.  Paul says Christians should even do this with the sermons they hear (1 Thess. 5:20-22).  It’s the price we pay for living in an evil world.  We must dissect everything in this world, for we live in an evil, corrupt world.  Even the conversations we have with our friends and family must be dissected in this manner.  Just dissect all of life the way you dissect the nightly news, or the way you’re dissecting this article.  Reject the lies, and enjoy God through truth.  

Furthermore, why fear witchcraft if you know its evil and reject it?  I fear that Christians assume the world will corrupt them; but, if you’re calling evil evil, and connecting truth to the creating, sustaining, and redeeming work of Christ, why fear the world?  You of course must submit to your own conscience, and you are free in Christ to not participate in Harry Potter.  But, remember that you are a new creature in Christ through the power of God the Holy Spirit.  He empowers and equips you to live the Christian life.  Live it to the fullest, enjoying Him while still living in an evil world.  This world is His world and we’re all living in it.

Finally, it’s the grace of God that draws people to most forms of secular media.  In other words, it’s the gifts that God has given various pop culture icons that draws us to them: the singing ability of Lady Gaga, the rhythmic ability of Eminem, the cinematography of Avatar, etc.  Instead of giving credit where credit is due, instead of enjoying God through His gifting of His image bearers, sinners worship the creature rather than the Creator.  Christians on the other hand should hear Lady Gaga and worship God by rejecting her sin, the fingerprints of the Fall, and by connecting her gifts to God through the creating, sustaining, and redeeming work of Christ (Col. 1:16-17).

Did I answer your question(s)?  I appreciate your willingness to engage in discussion. 

Jared Moore
Guest

Maria,
    I appreciate your comment.  There are several instances in Scripture where the judgment of God is not provided concerning certain sins.  Ex: polygamy in the Old Testament.  We must bring the one flesh relationship, monogamy, from the Garden to bear here, but there is no direct judgment revealed in every instance.  Does this mean that polygamy isn’t evil?  Nope.  One must interpret Scripture based on Scripture.  The Scriptures are not evil in the least. God’s Word is perfect.

Concerning what we “gain” from Potter.  I participate in media for the purpose of enjoying the Lord.  Truth exists because our God created it true.  Thus, I participate in various forms of sinful media for the purpose of recognizing God’s fingerprints, so that I may enjoy Him where these sinners admit that they live in God’s world. I reject the lies, extract God’s truth, and connect it to God through Christ in light of the Spirit’s work through the Word of God.  Paul says Christians should even do this with the sermons they hear (1 Thess. 5:20-22).  It’s the price we pay for living in an evil world.  We must dissect everything in this world, for we live in an evil, corrupt world.  Even the conversations we have with our friends and family must be dissected in this manner.  Just dissect all of life the way you dissect the nightly news, or the way you’re dissecting this article.  Reject the lies, and enjoy God through truth.  

Furthermore, why fear witchcraft if you know its evil and reject it?  I fear that Christians assume the world will corrupt them; but, if you’re calling evil evil, and connecting truth to the creating, sustaining, and redeeming work of Christ, why fear the world?  You of course must submit to your own conscience, and you are free in Christ to not participate in Harry Potter.  But, remember that you are a new creature in Christ through the power of God the Holy Spirit.  He empowers and equips you to live the Christian life.  Live it to the fullest, enjoying Him while still living in an evil world.  This world is His world and we’re all living in it.

Finally, it’s the grace of God that draws people to most forms of secular media.  In other words, it’s the gifts that God has given various pop culture icons that draws us to them: the singing ability of Lady Gaga, the rhythmic ability of Eminem, the cinematography of Avatar, etc.  Instead of giving credit where credit is due, instead of enjoying God through His gifting of His image bearers, sinners worship the creature rather than the Creator.  Christians on the other hand should hear Lady Gaga and worship God by rejecting her sin, the fingerprints of the Fall, and by connecting her gifts to God through the creating, sustaining, and redeeming work of Christ (Col. 1:16-17).

Did I answer your question(s)?  I appreciate your willingness to engage in discussion. 

Maria Tatham
Guest

Jared, 

One of my concerns with your view is your language. Though the Bible reports, describes, condemns evil, it doesn’t ‘contain evil elements.’ I feel you’re not saying what you intend to. A reader can be led to believe that the Bible contains elements of evil, that is, contains evil things rather than a record and repudiation of them.
 
About Potter, I’ve avoided reading the books because of a fear of liking them. I have a horror of witchcraft, and have sometimes perceived spirits of witchcraft and the occult.

Another concern, when so many of us are Biblically illiterate, will we have the discernment to handle such fiction rightly? Some books should just not be read. I can’t know this for certain about Rowling’s books, not having read them, but I have seen two of the movies, and I do know about such things generally. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t read these books because I’m a Christian and there is too much witchcraft in them.” Do we have to read Potter to care about, understand, and speak with our unsaved friends? What do we gain from Potter? In other words, all things are lawful for me, but not all things are edifying, and we shouldn’t be mastered by anything.

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Maria Tatham
Guest

Jared, you’ve obviously spent a lot of time thinking about the issue of why and how we should be involved in our culture. That’s great.

There must be limits to our involvement, don’t you think? I’m not speaking about Potter here, but yes, perhaps Lady Gaga. Sometimes things are perverse and can’t be seen as the works of God’s image-bearers, but as works of the sons of disobedience who follow the prince of this world. That is fundamental.

It sounds like the Potter books/movies exalt things that we can admire, like a person’s sacrificial love. Really, I might read the books, but feel they aren’t for me because of the real world, the prohibition against witchcraft, the evil spirits I know are attached to it, and my husband’s dislike of them. To go very far afield here, I enjoy Victor Hugo, for example, but am not sure I’d agree with him in many areas; but he is an image-bearer truly, in presenting the absolutely righteous and good, true and beautiful. So, I can go to his works wholeheartedly.   

Jared Moore
Guest

Maria, thank you for the continued interaction.  There are limits to our participation, but these are largely based on conscience, not secular ratings.  Now, I do believe Christians should never see someone other than their spouse in a sexual situation (One sexual relationship for life in a committed marriage).  The Bible is clear concerning this; viewing a sex scene is evil.  But, to hear or witness any other act is not evil (the actual viewing or hearing of such sin–except sex–is not evil).  Some Christians will have more freedom than others concerning media participation, but we must be sure to practice consistent biblical discernment.  Even Veggie Tales and Scooby Doo present moralism as the gospel.  Apart from added special revelation, then these two forms of media cannot be enjoyed unto the glory of God.  Scooby Doo is full of paganism, gluttony, lying, witchcraft, pluralism, etc.  Veggie Tales presents Scripture as something that can be accomplished, instead of sending watchers running to Christ for salvation.

Thus those who refuse to participate in Harry Potter or PG-13 or R rated movies may be doing nothing righteous for themselves, for we must be discerning about every aspect of life.  Abstinence may protect from some worldly aspects, but this does not relinquish our responsibility to be discerning.  In other words, if we live in an R-rated world, but refuse to participate in R-rated movies due to a lack of discernment, can we live in this R-rated world unto the glory of God?  What will we do when we are forced to work with an R-rated co-worker, or overhear an R-rated conversation?  If we lack the discernment to participate in media unto the glory of God, do we also lack the discernment to live in this evil world?

Jared Moore
Guest

Maria, thank you for the continued interaction.  There are limits to our participation, but these are largely based on conscience, not secular ratings.  Now, I do believe Christians should never see someone other than their spouse in a sexual situation (One sexual relationship for life in a committed marriage).  The Bible is clear concerning this; viewing a sex scene is evil.  But, to hear or witness any other act is not evil (the actual viewing or hearing of such sin–except sex–is not evil).  Some Christians will have more freedom than others concerning media participation, but we must be sure to practice consistent biblical discernment.  Even Veggie Tales and Scooby Doo present moralism as the gospel.  Apart from added special revelation, then these two forms of media cannot be enjoyed unto the glory of God.  Scooby Doo is full of paganism, gluttony, lying, witchcraft, pluralism, etc.  Veggie Tales presents Scripture as something that can be accomplished, instead of sending watchers running to Christ for salvation.

Thus those who refuse to participate in Harry Potter or PG-13 or R rated movies may be doing nothing righteous for themselves, for we must be discerning about every aspect of life.  Abstinence may protect from some worldly aspects, but this does not relinquish our responsibility to be discerning.  In other words, if we live in an R-rated world, but refuse to participate in R-rated movies due to a lack of discernment, can we live in this R-rated world unto the glory of God?  What will we do when we are forced to work with an R-rated co-worker, or overhear an R-rated conversation?  If we lack the discernment to participate in media unto the glory of God, do we also lack the discernment to live in this evil world?

Maria Tatham
Guest

Jared, you’ve obviously spent a lot of time thinking about the issue of why and how we should be involved in our culture. That’s great.

There must be limits to our involvement, don’t you think? I’m not speaking about Potter here, but yes, perhaps Lady Gaga. Sometimes things are perverse and can’t be seen as the works of God’s image-bearers, but as works of the sons of disobedience who follow the prince of this world. That is fundamental.

It sounds like the Potter books/movies exalt things that we can admire, like a person’s sacrificial love. Really, I might read the books, but feel they aren’t for me because of the real world, the prohibition against witchcraft, the evil spirits I know are attached to it, and my husband’s dislike of them. To go very far afield here, I enjoy Victor Hugo, for example, but am not sure I’d agree with him in many areas; but he is an image-bearer truly, in presenting the absolutely righteous and good, true and beautiful. So, I can go to his works wholeheartedly.   

Maria Tatham
Guest

Jared, hi!

I think that discernment can and should be exercised prior to involvement. A person can know a fire is hot without plunging in. Reading critiques of something, knowing its subject matter, can be enough.

The culture already is x-rated. I’ve never said don’t be involved, only that discernment should be used (plus giving my personal preferences, which by the way are beside the point and belittle my own arguements–I’ll no longer do that.)

We’ve talked about weak consciences here. This doesn’t seem to apply, folks. There’s a difference between being able to have a glass of wine, and thoroughly enjoying a fictional world that calls non-witches by a derogatory name. This is not about a weak conscience. 

Sexual sin is not the only sin we should be careful about ‘watching’. God’s eyes are too holy as to even behold sin. What is wrong with walking in His steps?

Bob Menees
Guest

A person can be quite discerning, but if exposed to the R and X rated, will fall. Our minds aren’t sieves. Our evil storage bins will come back to haunt us when we least expect. Fantasies run a wild. Even Christian Alzheimer’s patients can revert to foul language in their disease – those R-rated words stored away. It is a grave danger to advocate participation to Christians, so we can better live with the unbelievers. It is more true, the less discerning an individual is, but it is those people who will fall headlong.
 

Bob Menees
Guest

A person can be quite discerning, but if exposed to the R and X rated, will fall. Our minds aren’t sieves. Our evil storage bins will come back to haunt us when we least expect. Fantasies run a wild. Even Christian Alzheimer’s patients can revert to foul language in their disease – those R-rated words stored away. It is a grave danger to advocate participation to Christians, so we can better live with the unbelievers. It is more true, the less discerning an individual is, but it is those people who will fall headlong.
 

Maria Tatham
Guest

Jared, hi!

I think that discernment can and should be exercised prior to involvement. A person can know a fire is hot without plunging in. Reading critiques of something, knowing its subject matter, can be enough.

The culture already is x-rated. I’ve never said don’t be involved, only that discernment should be used (plus giving my personal preferences, which by the way are beside the point and belittle my own arguements–I’ll no longer do that.)

We’ve talked about weak consciences here. This doesn’t seem to apply, folks. There’s a difference between being able to have a glass of wine, and thoroughly enjoying a fictional world that calls non-witches by a derogatory name. This is not about a weak conscience. 

Sexual sin is not the only sin we should be careful about ‘watching’. God’s eyes are too holy as to even behold sin. What is wrong with walking in His steps?

Kaci
Guest

Incoming miscellaneous comments:

 
Stephen: Jane thanks for reading, and for challenging me personally! You see, when it comes to the Twilight books, by untempered instinct, I am likely just as reactionary as the folks who mean well and criticize Harry Potter.

 
I probably wouldn’t quite put Twilight and Harry Potter in the same weight class, so to speak, but even with my quibbles on Twilight, Jane’s point about a craving for the supernatural has to stand. It’s been around forever; it’s not going away; and we might as well redeem what we will.

On passing around misconceptions and lies about the books: As a former professor once said, “I’m here to squelch your ignorance.”

I’m still convinced the best term for Harry Potter himself is not “Christ-figure,” but Christ-figure-figure (or perhaps something less cumbersome). Though he does model Christ’s sacrifice, for sure, it’s more like a copy of a copy — a copy of how we are meant to model Christ. I’m not sure what “secondary-level” name we could give to that kind of story, though. And I don’t mean to detract from the Biblical truth-echoes, either.

 
Ted taught me to make a very clear distinction between a Christ-figure and a Christ-type. A Christ figure is someone like Aslan. A Christ type is more the Aragon, Frodo, and Harry vein. A Christ figure represents Jesus or is directly the “Jesus of that story world,” so to speak. A Christ figure contains allusions and elements but isn’t a representative figure. Harry, Hermione, and Ron all take on elements of the Christ-type at some point to varying degrees.   (And, just to beat everyone to the punch: The Doctor, Amy, Rory,  River, and Rose have that vein on occasion.)

Bob: Has anyone read or watched Harry Potter or Twilight on their own merits, and turned or become closer to Christ? I doubt it. It was never the intent of their authors to do so. Why should we use these to become the springboards to understand Truth? I fear this approach dilutes the gospel, spreading it so thin that the next series might be the ‘Playboy Bible Study.’ Hey, that could be a best seller. Consider it copyrighted.

I’m going to suggest this is a subjective, experiential question that can’t be used to make the point.  It was never Tolkien and Lewis’ intention to make an allegory. It wasn’t Paul’s intention to  justify pagan beliefs by using Greek poetry and taking advantage of the altar to the unknown god, either. But each case served as a springboard.

It was never the intention of the writers of The Lakehouse, Sweet Home Alabama, or Star Wars to bring people closer to God (I deliberately left The Matrix out). However, I found the former two very much allusive and the latter has been used in enough illustrations my youth group could make videos off the concept (someone even used Power Rangers once).

You’re right; anything other than the Bible itself is spiritual junk food or supplemental at best.  I don’t take my theological cues from fiction, for instance, but  I cannot express to you how many times a well-placed phrase or scene has been used by the Spirit to  show me what he’s already been teaching me. One of my favorites is from Lawhead’s Scarlet, actually.

Because God really is my old friend and Lord, just like Bran is Will’s ‘old friend and lord.’

And your second point is right, too: not everything is glorious. Some things are simply grotesque. But even in that…I hesitate, but God did use a pagan seer to bless Israel and a medium to conjure a dead prophet to rebuke a rebellious king.  But I know that’s not your point, so I’ll concede.

Addendum: And I saw later you revisited and amended your initial statement, so there’s no obligation to reply here. Still, your caution to keep Scripture our primary text for studying the thing of God is valid.

 
Evil is in the eye of the beholder. In the end the only eye that matters will be God’s. But if you ask most people, they think themselves good, even good enough for heaven. 

Eh, yes and no. I’m pretty sure I know what you mean, and I’ll be the first to say people can and will justify anything. And many times there are things we really wouldn’t fault a guy for — but I think we’d both agree that just because something makes sense doesn’t make it right. Know? (Sorry – as a person who spends an inordinate amount of time making bad guys make sense, the writer part of me is forced to maintain that principle to keep my head above water.)

Maria: Is Jared’s discernment truly Biblical?

Well, I have to read the book before I can determine that one. 😛 
 

Sola Scriptura is Sola Scriptura, not the Word seen through the lens of Potter.

No, that’s using cultural language to express the gospel.  I was pleasantly shocked by the Christian themes on display in the movies – which is my primary reason for now wanting to read the books. And I came in a bit hostile. You didn’t see the puppy face my best friend made to get me to see it with her.

Biblical discernment means that we test those spirits we encounter–that get in our face–not that we don’t go hunting for them. Potter has not gotten that close to me–except here. (Twilight has, because our granddaughter loves the books.) People sort through dumpsters and are sometimes forced to subsist on what they find there, but that doesn’t make this the thing to do. Perhaps Jared is dealing with this among the people he serves, I guess. But why not just do a book exploring what is right and WRONG about Potter, rather than a Bible study, which I feel holds the series up for us as giving insight.   

 
Without having read it, I think Potter is likely just the illustration to the study.  There are lots of books weighing the pros and cons of Potterdom – while I’m not big on study guides in the backs of novels, I can definitely appreciate the different approach.  And it’s not really like you have to try very hard to pull those themes out (unlike Twilight, which I don’t consider comparable to HP due to genre distinction, if nothing else.).
 

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, brethren, say that God’s Word contains “elements of evil”, when what you mean is that it records and condemns evil.
 
The fact that you spoke in this way, dear Jared, left me no choice but to get involved and stay involved. This hasn’t been picked up on, and is crucial.

Doe anyone else perceive this? I wish you would admit that this is problematic, Jared, correct your statement, and go on.  

 
I’d agree that particular sentence could be better worded for that reason, Maria,  however,  I also thought he did a pretty good job explaining what he did and didn’t mean by it, too.

But now we’re back to my discomfort in treating the Bible like a novel, anyway….which isn’t really anyone’s fault….

About Potter, I’ve avoided reading the books because of a fear of liking them. I have a horror of witchcraft, and have sometimes perceived spirits of witchcraft and the occult.

Honestly, though: this is a point of whether or not you (generic reader) can or will accept the storyworld (that is not a criticism, btw – jut to point out).  The Hogwarts world is one in which wizards and witches are, essentially, a race of people. They’re a bit comparable to X-Men in some respect.  Either the reader can accept a world in which magical people exist, and there are good ones and bad ones, or they can’t.  I didn’t have a problem with it because the lines were pretty clear. 

(The Merlin show, just to throw it out there, is a little more problematic because while it offers the same kind of story world, the bulk of the magical people who turn up are villainous, vindictive creatures understandably out for revenge against Uther for what he did to their kind. So I’m always a little conflicted there, and I wanted to point it out so as to not make this comment sound personal, which it isn’t meant to be. For me, Merlin is a bit borderline. And most Greco-Roman myth is beyond my toleration.)

Another concern, when so many of us are Biblically illiterate, will we have the discernment to handle such fiction rightly?

I think discerning fiction falls into two categories: (1) Universally, some things are grotesque and should not be read/seen/heard/etc; and  (2) individually, some people do not tolerate certain things on principle and/or cannot participate for one reason or another. 

I think if we haven’t fallen into the grotesque, then each person’s particular conviction should be allowed to stand on its own merit. Personally, I don’t like things with inordinate attention to “relationships,” sexuality, or sexually-based humor and violence. The humor isn’t funny and the violence just brings out in me more vengeful anger than one person should possess.

Some books should just not be read.

 
True.

I can’t know this for certain about Rowling’s books, not having read them, but I have seen two of the movies, and I do know about such things generally.

I’ve made a point, being a substitute teacher, to simply not discuss the HP bit with students so as to not undermine parental authority or leave the school appearing to endorse what many parents don’t.  And I suggested the librarian not put them or Twilight in the school library for the same reason (plus, nothing stops the kid from hiding a book in a locker). 

There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t read these books because I’m a Christian and there is too much witchcraft in them.”

Of course not.  I have a friend who wouldn’t see The Passion because, on principle, she does not see R-rated movies. Even ones about Jesus.

Do we have to read Potter to care about, understand, and speak with our unsaved friends?

Of course not.
 
Okay, this is long. 0=)
 

Kaci
Guest

Incoming miscellaneous comments:

 
Stephen: Jane thanks for reading, and for challenging me personally! You see, when it comes to the Twilight books, by untempered instinct, I am likely just as reactionary as the folks who mean well and criticize Harry Potter.

 
I probably wouldn’t quite put Twilight and Harry Potter in the same weight class, so to speak, but even with my quibbles on Twilight, Jane’s point about a craving for the supernatural has to stand. It’s been around forever; it’s not going away; and we might as well redeem what we will.

On passing around misconceptions and lies about the books: As a former professor once said, “I’m here to squelch your ignorance.”

I’m still convinced the best term for Harry Potter himself is not “Christ-figure,” but Christ-figure-figure (or perhaps something less cumbersome). Though he does model Christ’s sacrifice, for sure, it’s more like a copy of a copy — a copy of how we are meant to model Christ. I’m not sure what “secondary-level” name we could give to that kind of story, though. And I don’t mean to detract from the Biblical truth-echoes, either.

 
Ted taught me to make a very clear distinction between a Christ-figure and a Christ-type. A Christ figure is someone like Aslan. A Christ type is more the Aragon, Frodo, and Harry vein. A Christ figure represents Jesus or is directly the “Jesus of that story world,” so to speak. A Christ figure contains allusions and elements but isn’t a representative figure. Harry, Hermione, and Ron all take on elements of the Christ-type at some point to varying degrees.   (And, just to beat everyone to the punch: The Doctor, Amy, Rory,  River, and Rose have that vein on occasion.)

Bob: Has anyone read or watched Harry Potter or Twilight on their own merits, and turned or become closer to Christ? I doubt it. It was never the intent of their authors to do so. Why should we use these to become the springboards to understand Truth? I fear this approach dilutes the gospel, spreading it so thin that the next series might be the ‘Playboy Bible Study.’ Hey, that could be a best seller. Consider it copyrighted.

I’m going to suggest this is a subjective, experiential question that can’t be used to make the point.  It was never Tolkien and Lewis’ intention to make an allegory. It wasn’t Paul’s intention to  justify pagan beliefs by using Greek poetry and taking advantage of the altar to the unknown god, either. But each case served as a springboard.

It was never the intention of the writers of The Lakehouse, Sweet Home Alabama, or Star Wars to bring people closer to God (I deliberately left The Matrix out). However, I found the former two very much allusive and the latter has been used in enough illustrations my youth group could make videos off the concept (someone even used Power Rangers once).

You’re right; anything other than the Bible itself is spiritual junk food or supplemental at best.  I don’t take my theological cues from fiction, for instance, but  I cannot express to you how many times a well-placed phrase or scene has been used by the Spirit to  show me what he’s already been teaching me. One of my favorites is from Lawhead’s Scarlet, actually.

Because God really is my old friend and Lord, just like Bran is Will’s ‘old friend and lord.’

And your second point is right, too: not everything is glorious. Some things are simply grotesque. But even in that…I hesitate, but God did use a pagan seer to bless Israel and a medium to conjure a dead prophet to rebuke a rebellious king.  But I know that’s not your point, so I’ll concede.

Addendum: And I saw later you revisited and amended your initial statement, so there’s no obligation to reply here. Still, your caution to keep Scripture our primary text for studying the thing of God is valid.

 
Evil is in the eye of the beholder. In the end the only eye that matters will be God’s. But if you ask most people, they think themselves good, even good enough for heaven. 

Eh, yes and no. I’m pretty sure I know what you mean, and I’ll be the first to say people can and will justify anything. And many times there are things we really wouldn’t fault a guy for — but I think we’d both agree that just because something makes sense doesn’t make it right. Know? (Sorry – as a person who spends an inordinate amount of time making bad guys make sense, the writer part of me is forced to maintain that principle to keep my head above water.)

Maria: Is Jared’s discernment truly Biblical?

Well, I have to read the book before I can determine that one. 😛 
 

Sola Scriptura is Sola Scriptura, not the Word seen through the lens of Potter.

No, that’s using cultural language to express the gospel.  I was pleasantly shocked by the Christian themes on display in the movies – which is my primary reason for now wanting to read the books. And I came in a bit hostile. You didn’t see the puppy face my best friend made to get me to see it with her.

Biblical discernment means that we test those spirits we encounter–that get in our face–not that we don’t go hunting for them. Potter has not gotten that close to me–except here. (Twilight has, because our granddaughter loves the books.) People sort through dumpsters and are sometimes forced to subsist on what they find there, but that doesn’t make this the thing to do. Perhaps Jared is dealing with this among the people he serves, I guess. But why not just do a book exploring what is right and WRONG about Potter, rather than a Bible study, which I feel holds the series up for us as giving insight.   

 
Without having read it, I think Potter is likely just the illustration to the study.  There are lots of books weighing the pros and cons of Potterdom – while I’m not big on study guides in the backs of novels, I can definitely appreciate the different approach.  And it’s not really like you have to try very hard to pull those themes out (unlike Twilight, which I don’t consider comparable to HP due to genre distinction, if nothing else.).
 

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, brethren, say that God’s Word contains “elements of evil”, when what you mean is that it records and condemns evil.
 
The fact that you spoke in this way, dear Jared, left me no choice but to get involved and stay involved. This hasn’t been picked up on, and is crucial.

Doe anyone else perceive this? I wish you would admit that this is problematic, Jared, correct your statement, and go on.  

 
I’d agree that particular sentence could be better worded for that reason, Maria,  however,  I also thought he did a pretty good job explaining what he did and didn’t mean by it, too.

But now we’re back to my discomfort in treating the Bible like a novel, anyway….which isn’t really anyone’s fault….

About Potter, I’ve avoided reading the books because of a fear of liking them. I have a horror of witchcraft, and have sometimes perceived spirits of witchcraft and the occult.

Honestly, though: this is a point of whether or not you (generic reader) can or will accept the storyworld (that is not a criticism, btw – jut to point out).  The Hogwarts world is one in which wizards and witches are, essentially, a race of people. They’re a bit comparable to X-Men in some respect.  Either the reader can accept a world in which magical people exist, and there are good ones and bad ones, or they can’t.  I didn’t have a problem with it because the lines were pretty clear. 

(The Merlin show, just to throw it out there, is a little more problematic because while it offers the same kind of story world, the bulk of the magical people who turn up are villainous, vindictive creatures understandably out for revenge against Uther for what he did to their kind. So I’m always a little conflicted there, and I wanted to point it out so as to not make this comment sound personal, which it isn’t meant to be. For me, Merlin is a bit borderline. And most Greco-Roman myth is beyond my toleration.)

Another concern, when so many of us are Biblically illiterate, will we have the discernment to handle such fiction rightly?

I think discerning fiction falls into two categories: (1) Universally, some things are grotesque and should not be read/seen/heard/etc; and  (2) individually, some people do not tolerate certain things on principle and/or cannot participate for one reason or another. 

I think if we haven’t fallen into the grotesque, then each person’s particular conviction should be allowed to stand on its own merit. Personally, I don’t like things with inordinate attention to “relationships,” sexuality, or sexually-based humor and violence. The humor isn’t funny and the violence just brings out in me more vengeful anger than one person should possess.

Some books should just not be read.

 
True.

I can’t know this for certain about Rowling’s books, not having read them, but I have seen two of the movies, and I do know about such things generally.

I’ve made a point, being a substitute teacher, to simply not discuss the HP bit with students so as to not undermine parental authority or leave the school appearing to endorse what many parents don’t.  And I suggested the librarian not put them or Twilight in the school library for the same reason (plus, nothing stops the kid from hiding a book in a locker). 

There’s nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t read these books because I’m a Christian and there is too much witchcraft in them.”

Of course not.  I have a friend who wouldn’t see The Passion because, on principle, she does not see R-rated movies. Even ones about Jesus.

Do we have to read Potter to care about, understand, and speak with our unsaved friends?

Of course not.
 
Okay, this is long. 0=)
 

Kaci Hill
Member

And…just to play the devil’s advocate game, Jared…. 0=)
 

My point is that just because various forms of media contain evil elements, doesn’t mean that they are entirely evil. If the Bible can contain evil elements without being evil, then other forms of media can contain evil elements without being entirely evil as well.

But might there not be a problem with saying “the Bible includes it”? Jesus flipped tables and chased people out of church with a belt-turned-whip.  I’m not sure WWJD applies in this case, know?
Also, does this mean that fiction must always include a definite sense of good and evil (all white and black hats clearly marked)?  Doesn’t that negate guys like Joab, David’s general, who tended to do whatever the heck pleased him, and the bulk of the judges?

What I AM saying is that some evil does not necessarily corrupt the whole form of media; for if the Bible can contain evil elements and not be evil, then other forms of media can contain evil elements and not be entirely evil as well.

“A little yeast works its way through the whole dough” (New Kaci Paraphrase Ed.)

The difference between Scripture and other forms of media is that in Scripture God has largely provided the discernment for us.

 
But as you’ve pointed out, God doesn’t always directly say “this is bad” or immediately execute judgment. In some cases, I think perhaps the sheer detail is enough (ex: the priest who chops up his concubine after giving her to be abused all night – to death, mind you).
 

My question for those who are against participating in Harry Potter is “If a Christian rejects the lies and connects the truth to God through Christ, why can’t they participate in Harry Potter?” I ask you this because it is possible to even read Scripture in a way that doesn’t honor God.

For some, simply reading/watching about sexual misconduct (I did NOT say sex scenes), violence (war movies, 24), theft (The Italian Job), cheating (Oceans Eleven), lying, drinking, or gluttony is participation.  People who tempted to the occult probably shouldn’t read Harry Potter, anymore than people who struggle with lust probably shouldn’t indulge in chick-flicks. I have a friend who isn’t sure she can read This Present Darkness for that reason.   For some,  it may well be a line they can’t cross.

My final question(s) for those who believe Harry Potter should not be participated in is this: “If you and I approach Harry Potter the same way God approached David’s sin, what’s the difference?”

Perhaps the more comparable example might be a world in which polygamy and concubines was normal and acceptable (which was David’s world). Just the 26 wives and concubines was a gross sin on David’s part.  Most of those who contend with HP do so on the grounds of a world in which magic, like harem-keeping, is acceptable and normative. (Although I know a couple who contend with the kids’ lying, conniving, and occasional rebellion – which I’m curious if you address or not.)
 
Course, some people contend Bathsheba was raped, but that’s a completely different conversation….
 
Okay, devil’s advocate hat off… 0=)
 
 

Jared Moore
Guest

Kaci,  I’ll try and answer your questions :).

Concerning WWJD, Jesus’s unique position as God the Son Incarnate makes the WWJD emphasis impossible at times.  As Christ cleaned out the Temple, He said they had made His Father’s house a den of thieves.  Jesus’s relation to the Father is “other” than our’s or it transcends our relationship with the Father.  He’s, after all, the 2nd Person of the Trinity.  But we could, I suppose, clean out the Temple today . . . if there was one.  The application would be cleaning out the sin in our own hearts, for we, the church, are His Temple today.

Concerning whether fiction should have a definite good and evil emphasis, the answer is “yes.”  There is nothing neutral in God’s world.  Everything either agrees with God or disagrees with God.  (Of course, in telling any story, there is some license since sinners are sinners, and any story that contains sinners is going to contain “good” people doing evil things.  If you wrote a biography of my life from this past week, you would write about a Christian pastor sinning, and repenting, but sinning nonetheless.)  The moments when Joab, David, the Judges, etc. did evil things, they sinned against God.  If the “white” and “black” hats are not clearly marked in the fiction, then Christians must provide the discernment.  I don’t think authors are necessarily required to provide the discernment; but, I do believe readers must provide the discernment.  

Concerning a little yeast working its way through the whole dough, the context is the result of tolerating sin.  In the distinct way for participating in Harry Potter I’m suggesting, I’m not tolerating anything evil in Harry Potter.  I’m dissecting it, rejecting Satan’s lies while extracting God’s truth and connecting it to its rightful Owner (God) through Christ and the Spirit’s work through the Word of God.  The leaven is being rejected, not tolerated.

Concerning some not being able to watch Harry Potter due to having sensitive consciences for one reason or another, this is a legitimate argument.  My issue is with those who either force their consciences on others, or those who simply drink deeply of “entertainment” as if participating in it is neutral for a Christian.  Paul said that all things Christians do must be done unto the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31); entertainment included.

Did I answer your questions? 

Kaci Hill
Member

The universe might come to an end…I just spent 4 hours in a kitchen…. *shock, horror, wonder, amazement, and awe* Oh, look! A TARDIS!
 
Mr. Moore, thank you for addressing my gross concerns. 😉 

 
Concerning WWJD, Jesus’s unique position as God the Son Incarnate makes the WWJD emphasis impossible at times.  As Christ cleaned out the Temple, He said they had made His Father’s house a den of thieves.  Jesus’s relation to the Father is “other” than our’s or it transcends our relationship with the Father.  He’s, after all, the 2nd Person of the Trinity.  But we could, I suppose, clean out the Temple today . . . if there was one.  The application would be cleaning out the sin in our own hearts, for we, the church, are His Temple today.

You know, I really tried to come up with something cantankerous to say…. 😛

Concerning whether fiction should have a definite good and evil emphasis, the answer is “yes.”  There is nothing neutral in God’s world.  Everything either agrees with God or disagrees with God. 

 
So, having morally ambiguous characters would be a bad idea? This might give the anti-HP group some grounds, here, because you still have characters doing things they really ought not be doing, and I’ve heard some suggest they not only get away with it, but it’s condoned.
 

(Of course, in telling any story, there is some license since sinners are sinners, and any story that contains sinners is going to contain “good” people doing evil things.  If you wrote a biography of my life from this past week, you would write about a Christian pastor sinning, and repenting, but sinning nonetheless.)

 
Pastors don’t sin, sir. 😉

 The moments when Joab, David, the Judges, etc. did evil things, they sinned against God.  If the “white” and “black” hats are not clearly marked in the fiction, then Christians must provide the discernment.  I don’t think authors are necessarily required to provide the discernment; but, I do believe readers must provide the discernment.  

So you don’t believe the primary purpose of fiction is to preach the gospel?  (You know, just to make sure I hit every nerve possible. Hehe.)

Concerning a little yeast working its way through the whole dough, the context is the result of tolerating sin.  In the distinct way for participating in Harry Potter I’m suggesting, I’m not tolerating anything evil in Harry Potter.  I’m dissecting it, rejecting Satan’s lies while extracting God’s truth and connecting it to its rightful Owner (God) through Christ and the Spirit’s work through the Word of God.  The leaven is being rejected, not tolerated.

 
But some would insist that merely accepting the storyworld is tolerating sin.  If rebellion and witchcraft are evil, and the characters actively indulge in both…

 
Concerning some not being able to watch Harry Potter due to having sensitive consciences for one reason or another, this is a legitimate argument.  My issue is with those who either force their consciences on others, or those who simply drink deeply of “entertainment” as if participating in it is neutral for a Christian.  Paul said that all things Christians do must be done unto the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31); entertainment included.

 
Relativism, man. Relativism. 0=)
Can witchcraft be written to the glory of God?
[Miscellaneous aside: I’m enjoying picking your brain a bit, even if it is all friendly fire. 0=) ]

Kaci Hill
Member

The universe might come to an end…I just spent 4 hours in a kitchen…. *shock, horror, wonder, amazement, and awe* Oh, look! A TARDIS!
 
Mr. Moore, thank you for addressing my gross concerns. 😉 

 
Concerning WWJD, Jesus’s unique position as God the Son Incarnate makes the WWJD emphasis impossible at times.  As Christ cleaned out the Temple, He said they had made His Father’s house a den of thieves.  Jesus’s relation to the Father is “other” than our’s or it transcends our relationship with the Father.  He’s, after all, the 2nd Person of the Trinity.  But we could, I suppose, clean out the Temple today . . . if there was one.  The application would be cleaning out the sin in our own hearts, for we, the church, are His Temple today.

You know, I really tried to come up with something cantankerous to say…. 😛

Concerning whether fiction should have a definite good and evil emphasis, the answer is “yes.”  There is nothing neutral in God’s world.  Everything either agrees with God or disagrees with God. 

 
So, having morally ambiguous characters would be a bad idea? This might give the anti-HP group some grounds, here, because you still have characters doing things they really ought not be doing, and I’ve heard some suggest they not only get away with it, but it’s condoned.
 

(Of course, in telling any story, there is some license since sinners are sinners, and any story that contains sinners is going to contain “good” people doing evil things.  If you wrote a biography of my life from this past week, you would write about a Christian pastor sinning, and repenting, but sinning nonetheless.)

 
Pastors don’t sin, sir. 😉

 The moments when Joab, David, the Judges, etc. did evil things, they sinned against God.  If the “white” and “black” hats are not clearly marked in the fiction, then Christians must provide the discernment.  I don’t think authors are necessarily required to provide the discernment; but, I do believe readers must provide the discernment.  

So you don’t believe the primary purpose of fiction is to preach the gospel?  (You know, just to make sure I hit every nerve possible. Hehe.)

Concerning a little yeast working its way through the whole dough, the context is the result of tolerating sin.  In the distinct way for participating in Harry Potter I’m suggesting, I’m not tolerating anything evil in Harry Potter.  I’m dissecting it, rejecting Satan’s lies while extracting God’s truth and connecting it to its rightful Owner (God) through Christ and the Spirit’s work through the Word of God.  The leaven is being rejected, not tolerated.

 
But some would insist that merely accepting the storyworld is tolerating sin.  If rebellion and witchcraft are evil, and the characters actively indulge in both…

 
Concerning some not being able to watch Harry Potter due to having sensitive consciences for one reason or another, this is a legitimate argument.  My issue is with those who either force their consciences on others, or those who simply drink deeply of “entertainment” as if participating in it is neutral for a Christian.  Paul said that all things Christians do must be done unto the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31); entertainment included.

 
Relativism, man. Relativism. 0=)
Can witchcraft be written to the glory of God?
[Miscellaneous aside: I’m enjoying picking your brain a bit, even if it is all friendly fire. 0=) ]

Jared Moore
Guest

Kaci,  I’ll try and answer your questions :).

Concerning WWJD, Jesus’s unique position as God the Son Incarnate makes the WWJD emphasis impossible at times.  As Christ cleaned out the Temple, He said they had made His Father’s house a den of thieves.  Jesus’s relation to the Father is “other” than our’s or it transcends our relationship with the Father.  He’s, after all, the 2nd Person of the Trinity.  But we could, I suppose, clean out the Temple today . . . if there was one.  The application would be cleaning out the sin in our own hearts, for we, the church, are His Temple today.

Concerning whether fiction should have a definite good and evil emphasis, the answer is “yes.”  There is nothing neutral in God’s world.  Everything either agrees with God or disagrees with God.  (Of course, in telling any story, there is some license since sinners are sinners, and any story that contains sinners is going to contain “good” people doing evil things.  If you wrote a biography of my life from this past week, you would write about a Christian pastor sinning, and repenting, but sinning nonetheless.)  The moments when Joab, David, the Judges, etc. did evil things, they sinned against God.  If the “white” and “black” hats are not clearly marked in the fiction, then Christians must provide the discernment.  I don’t think authors are necessarily required to provide the discernment; but, I do believe readers must provide the discernment.  

Concerning a little yeast working its way through the whole dough, the context is the result of tolerating sin.  In the distinct way for participating in Harry Potter I’m suggesting, I’m not tolerating anything evil in Harry Potter.  I’m dissecting it, rejecting Satan’s lies while extracting God’s truth and connecting it to its rightful Owner (God) through Christ and the Spirit’s work through the Word of God.  The leaven is being rejected, not tolerated.

Concerning some not being able to watch Harry Potter due to having sensitive consciences for one reason or another, this is a legitimate argument.  My issue is with those who either force their consciences on others, or those who simply drink deeply of “entertainment” as if participating in it is neutral for a Christian.  Paul said that all things Christians do must be done unto the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31); entertainment included.

Did I answer your questions? 

Kaci Hill
Member

And…just to play the devil’s advocate game, Jared…. 0=)
 

My point is that just because various forms of media contain evil elements, doesn’t mean that they are entirely evil. If the Bible can contain evil elements without being evil, then other forms of media can contain evil elements without being entirely evil as well.

But might there not be a problem with saying “the Bible includes it”? Jesus flipped tables and chased people out of church with a belt-turned-whip.  I’m not sure WWJD applies in this case, know?
Also, does this mean that fiction must always include a definite sense of good and evil (all white and black hats clearly marked)?  Doesn’t that negate guys like Joab, David’s general, who tended to do whatever the heck pleased him, and the bulk of the judges?

What I AM saying is that some evil does not necessarily corrupt the whole form of media; for if the Bible can contain evil elements and not be evil, then other forms of media can contain evil elements and not be entirely evil as well.

“A little yeast works its way through the whole dough” (New Kaci Paraphrase Ed.)

The difference between Scripture and other forms of media is that in Scripture God has largely provided the discernment for us.

 
But as you’ve pointed out, God doesn’t always directly say “this is bad” or immediately execute judgment. In some cases, I think perhaps the sheer detail is enough (ex: the priest who chops up his concubine after giving her to be abused all night – to death, mind you).
 

My question for those who are against participating in Harry Potter is “If a Christian rejects the lies and connects the truth to God through Christ, why can’t they participate in Harry Potter?” I ask you this because it is possible to even read Scripture in a way that doesn’t honor God.

For some, simply reading/watching about sexual misconduct (I did NOT say sex scenes), violence (war movies, 24), theft (The Italian Job), cheating (Oceans Eleven), lying, drinking, or gluttony is participation.  People who tempted to the occult probably shouldn’t read Harry Potter, anymore than people who struggle with lust probably shouldn’t indulge in chick-flicks. I have a friend who isn’t sure she can read This Present Darkness for that reason.   For some,  it may well be a line they can’t cross.

My final question(s) for those who believe Harry Potter should not be participated in is this: “If you and I approach Harry Potter the same way God approached David’s sin, what’s the difference?”

Perhaps the more comparable example might be a world in which polygamy and concubines was normal and acceptable (which was David’s world). Just the 26 wives and concubines was a gross sin on David’s part.  Most of those who contend with HP do so on the grounds of a world in which magic, like harem-keeping, is acceptable and normative. (Although I know a couple who contend with the kids’ lying, conniving, and occasional rebellion – which I’m curious if you address or not.)
 
Course, some people contend Bathsheba was raped, but that’s a completely different conversation….
 
Okay, devil’s advocate hat off… 0=)
 
 

Maria Tatham
Guest

Kaci, you have done beautifully with your observations and responses.

In my writing, I try to be as precise with language as possible–that’s really hard. When Jared wasn’t being precise, I was driven crazy. Plus, when Becky (hi, Becky!) assumed that Jared would be preaching to the choir, this too made me crazy. You may all drive me so crazy I’ll have to read Potter (unless my husband burns it).

PLUS, it’s so important to me to treat the Bible with reverence and not compare aspects of what is Holy and Eternal, HIS WORD, with our scruft (Potter), even our talented blick (Potter).

How’s that for precision? You guys are all very talented folks, and whipped I retire to a corner…Just remember to be precise and reverent, which you mostly are, more than I am really.

Kaci Hill
Member

The truth is I never thought about any of this before I joined the Dekker forums. My worldview on the arts didn’t develop until college (same time frame).  Six years of thinking about and arguing over the subject did its work. 0=)

Kaci Hill
Member

The truth is I never thought about any of this before I joined the Dekker forums. My worldview on the arts didn’t develop until college (same time frame).  Six years of thinking about and arguing over the subject did its work. 0=)

Christian
Guest

But what are scruft and blick?

Maria Tatham
Guest

Christian, hi! Good question. I was trying to find made-up words that would make our writings (Potter and all else) look foolish or pathetic when set beside the Bible, what is “Holy and Eternal, HIS WORD.” Using ‘our stuff’ as a tool to understand and interpret the Bible, strikes me as wrong.

Maria Tatham
Guest

Christian, hi! Good question. I was trying to find made-up words that would make our writings (Potter and all else) look foolish or pathetic when set beside the Bible, what is “Holy and Eternal, HIS WORD.” Using ‘our stuff’ as a tool to understand and interpret the Bible, strikes me as wrong.

Christian
Guest

But what are scruft and blick?

Maria Tatham
Guest

Kaci, you have done beautifully with your observations and responses.

In my writing, I try to be as precise with language as possible–that’s really hard. When Jared wasn’t being precise, I was driven crazy. Plus, when Becky (hi, Becky!) assumed that Jared would be preaching to the choir, this too made me crazy. You may all drive me so crazy I’ll have to read Potter (unless my husband burns it).

PLUS, it’s so important to me to treat the Bible with reverence and not compare aspects of what is Holy and Eternal, HIS WORD, with our scruft (Potter), even our talented blick (Potter).

How’s that for precision? You guys are all very talented folks, and whipped I retire to a corner…Just remember to be precise and reverent, which you mostly are, more than I am really.

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