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.