Getting Harry: A Review of 'Harry Potter
and the Bible'
By Laura J. Bagby
Just saying the name J.K. Rowling aloud today will bring a myriad
of passionate responses -- some pleasantly favorable, and some
quite heated. Interestingly, the Potter series, which made Rowling
famous, has sparked controversy not just between the secular and
Christian communities, but also within the Christian community
In light of the books' popularity, Christians are wrestling with
the moral content of the series, debating whether or not to support
the books on moral grounds. Are the Harry Potter books harmless
fantasy, or are the tales a step toward a deadly fascination in
the occult for today's children and teens? How does the series
line up with Scripture?
Enter Richard Abanes, author of Harry Potter and
the Bible: The Menace Behind the Magick, a thoroughly
researched volume to help concerned parents, educators, and
pastors decipher the deeper message behind the Potter series.
As a nationally recognized cult researcher, and member of the
Evangelical Press Association and the Society of Professional
Journalists, Abanes lends credibility to the Potter debate.
By assimilating information from various resources, both pagan
and Christian, Abanes draws from his vast storehouse of knowledge
to back his main premise: that despite Rowling's claims that
she doesn't believe in serious witchcraft and has no desire
to promote its use, she offers much knowledge about the occult
that could potentially lead the curious down the path to the
"…It is neither absurd, nor laughable,
to suppose that the Harry Potter books might lead some children
into the world of occultism since the series contains actual beliefs
and practices associated with witchcraft and paganism, including:
divination, astrology, numerology, familiars, pagan gods/goddesses,
spellcasting, potions, necromancy (i.e., communicating with the
dead/ghosts), mediumship/channeling, crystal gazing, palmistry,
charms, arithmancy and magick…" (p. 173).
Sound a bit daunting? That is largely the point.
Written in the same arduous and well-supported manner as a college
thesis, the author picks through the Potter craze with a fine-toothed
comb, mentioning every problematic detail and defining every occultic
allusion in each Potter book, and tearing down straw man arguments
that the liberal media and even well-meaning, but perhaps uninformed,
Christians have put forth.
Sectioned into two equally important halves, "Part One: The World
of Harry Potter" covers all of Rowling's books to date, summarizing
each plot, and then delving into ethical and age-related issues
that would concern adults, particularly parents and educators;
and "Part Two: Out of the Darkness" seeks to define terms, explain
in shocking personal testimony the effects of the occult on young
persons, and differentiate between the Potter fantasies and the
works of Christian fantasy writers like J.R. Tolkien and C.S.
After reading the book, I initially questioned whether the book's
title should have been changed to Harry Potter and the Occult,
since the author spends more time discussing the occult than discussing
the Bible. However, knowing that the intent of Abanes is to point
others to Christ by exposing falsehood, and also knowing that
a title like the one I proposed might confuse Christians, I think
ultimately the publishers made the right choice.
Be forewarned, however: This meaty book is not for the timid.
You will learn about occultic practices that might make you squirm.
There will be things in this book that might horrify. But if you
are willing to withhold your initial judgment, I think you will
agree that it is well worth mulling over Abanes' arguments.
In particular, for those who, like me, have wondered how the
Harry Potter books stack up with Christian fantasy novels, Abanes
provides a clear and insightful perspective in his chapter "Beyond
Fantasy: Tolkien, Lewis, and Rowling."
Deftly avoiding a hellfire-and-brimstone approach and sidestepping
a Bible-thumping perspective, Abanes is careful not to misjudge
Rowling's intentions for penning her novels. He is likewise careful
not to condemn those who might read Potter books in the future.
He simply leaves the reader with a well-reasoned argument with
the hope that Christian parents, educators, and church leaders
would combine their new understanding with their own discretion
to make a godly decision.
As Abanes explains so well: "…Know
that the enemy is not J.K. Rowling, the American public school system,
Harry Potter fans, pro-Potter journalists or the publishers of the
Harry Potter series. The true enemies are spiritual forces of darkness
seeking to overshadow Christian values and virtues with occult myths,
practices and morals" (p. 273).
Whether you come away agreeing with Abanes or not, this book
is an eye-opener that will help you better define your position
on the Potter phenomenon.
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