I’m writing a Bible Study over the Harry Potter movie series. The study presented below is the first installment of my bible study. I need your help:
*I am not interested in what you think about whether or not Christians should watch Harry Potter.
*I am interested in what you think about how I have interacted with the movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
*I am interested in what you think about the layout of this Bible Study.
*I am interested in how this Bible Study could be better.
This Bible Study is based on the premise that Christians should engage their cultures, find the common grace examples therein, extract those common truths out, and add special revelation to them: man’s sinful condition, and Christ’s redeeming work in reconciling sinners and creation to His Father. This study is meant to be used in family worship, couple worship, small group studies, homeschool curriculums, etc. My basic goal is to turn family movie night into a family movie night Bible Study. We must teach our children how to interact with culture unto the glory of God. Why not take something that they are already watching and show them how to enjoy it unto the glory of God?
*SPOILER ALERT: This bible study contains spoilers throughout. If you have never seen Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, this Bible Study will ruin the movie for you. Proceed only if you have either seen the movie or if you do not care about the movie being spoiled for you.
CHRISTIANS MUST REJECT EVIL
Witchcraft and Wizardry
The Harry Potter series is full of witchcraft and wizardry. Witchcraft and wizardry must be discarded, since the practice of divination directly violates God’s Word. There is no such thing as good magic, sorcery, or witchcraft. All forms of witchcraft and wizardry are evil. Here are just a few Scripture verses for reference:
Exodus 22:18 – 18“You shall not permit a sorceress to live (ESV).
Deuteronomy 18:10 – 10There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer.
1 Samuel 15:23 – 23For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king.”
Galatians 5:19, 20 – 19Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries [Emphasis mine].
Practicing sorcery, witchcraft, divination, etc. are all attempts to gain special knowledge or power apart from God and His revealed Word: the Bible. Since God has not chosen to reveal Himself in this way, the source of knowledge and power through this method is Satan, his demons, or our own flesh. If you receive any knowledge or witness any power through witchcraft or wizardry, the Devil is the source. We must ask ourselves if we had rather submit to God or submit to the Devil. If you submit to God through Christ, then you must reject all forms of sorcery, witchcraft, divination, etc.
There is a desire for revenge throughout the movie: 1) Harry makes the glass disappear at the zoo to make his cousin fall in the snake exhibit; 2) Hagrid uses magic to make Dudley Dursley (Harry’s cousin) grow a tail; etc. Furthermore, one cannot help but sense Harry’s desire for revenge against Lord Voldemort, the evil wizard that murdered his parents. Christians however should seek justice, not revenge. There is only righteous justice or unrighteousness in the mind of God. Revenge or vigilante “justice” is unrighteous. Christians must make sure that they do not desire revenge in their daily lives.
Whenever we watch the nightly news or a movie, or read a book, and we see a man or woman hunted down by his or her victim, a rogue cop, a family member, etc., we must remind ourselves that vengeance is ultimately the Lord’s (Rom. 12:19); but while humanity is on earth, He has given this charge to His ministers: the government (Rom. 13:1-7). When they fail, Christians should trust the Lord’s coming vengeance instead of seeking their own (Rom. 12:19). On the flip side, whenever the government fulfills its role as God’s ministers of justice on earth, we can enjoy the Lord through their picture of His justice. When Christians are tempted by fictional media and the nightly news to seek their own form of “justice,” we must run to the truth of God’s Word, trusting Him beyond our own wicked desire to say, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says sovereign me!” Thus, we must reject Harry’s desire for revenge.
Scattered sparsely throughout the movie is inappropriate language. Inappropriate language is commonly understood based on the culture in which you live. If a specific culture says that certain words are vulgar or inappropriate, then they are vulgar or inappropriate in that culture. For Christians, inappropriate language extends beyond mere vulgarity, to whatever words are not edifying or encouraging. For example, after Hermione corrects Ron concerning saying his spell properly, he speaks negatively about her to his friends, saying “She’s a nightmare, honestly. No wonder she hasn’t got any friends (1:04:30).” Hermione overhears his comment, and spends much of the day crying in the bathroom as a result. Have you ever hurt one of your friends or family members with your words? There is nothing wrong with joking with friends; however, whenever we hurt one another with our words, we sin against God. As Christians, we are expected to edify, not to tear down one another with our language (Eph. 4:29).
Furthermore, God’s name is used in vain three times in this movie. God’s name is to be revered. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things (Gen. 1:1; Col. 1:16-17). The only reason you and I have tongues and brains capable of speech is because God has given us these gifts and sustained them. Christians must reject all unedifying and blaspheming language. Here are some helpful Scripture references:
James 1:26 – 26If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.
James 3:5, 6 – 5So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.
Ephesians 4:29 – 29Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Exodus 20:7 – 7“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
Christians should seek to build up one another in holiness toward God. As a result of believing that Christ is the only Way to be brought into right relationship with God, that He is the only Way of salvation from sin, Christians should build one another up in this evil world (John 14:6; Eph. 4:29). Our speech to and about one another should be seasoned with grace. Furthermore, we should always speak God’s name with awe and reverence.
At one point after Harry, Hermione, and Ron return to safety from the three-headed dog, Hermione says, “Now, if you two don’t mind, I’m going to bed before either of you come up with another clever idea to get us killed; or worse, expelled (1:01:00).” Upon hearing this statement, one must ask if human life is less valuable than education. Is death really a better option than getting expelled from school? Is life really over at any point just because we do not get what we want? Ron responds in the exact way that all Christians should respond: “She needs to sort out her priorities.” Indeed, she does!
Whenever someone wins a public competition and they are interviewed, we often hear them say to everyone listening, “Don’t give up on your dreams.” The problem is that most of the world should give up on their dreams, and enjoy the Lord through their daily lives that they have incorrectly considered “mundane,” or “boring.” Too many people have been “crushed” because their dreams have not come to fruition. The Scriptures however indicate that even the mundane—eating and drinking—must be carried out in a way that brings glory to God (1 Cor. 10:31). If the goal of life is to bring glory to God, then should we care if we bring glory to God through our eating and drinking, or if it is through winning a competition, or through digging ditches, etc.? If our dreams are what life is all about, then life is not worth living unless we reach them; however, if life is about bringing glory to God through living a changed life as a result of the appropriated finished work of Christ, then “whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do,” all can be done for God’s glory (1 Cor. 10:31).
Another example of idolatry is the “benefit” of the Mirror of Erised. Headmaster Dumbledore tells Harry, “The Happiest man on earth would look into the mirror and see only himself exactly as he is.” Harry responds, “So then, it shows us what we want… whatever we want.” Dumbledore corrects Harry,
Yes and no. It shows us nothing more or less than the deepest and most desperate desires of our hearts. Now you Harry who have never known your family, you see them standing beside you. But, remember this Harry, this mirror gives us neither knowledge or truth. Men have wasted away in front of it, even gone mad. That is why tomorrow it will be moved to a new home; and I must ask you not to go looking for it again. It does not do to dwell on dreams Harry, and forget to live (1:32:00).
Men, women, and children do not dream about what they already possess, for their dreams are always out of their reach; and if Christians are not content with what they already possess (Phil. 4:11, Heb. 13:5), then they will miss out on enjoying the Lord through the normal daily blessings in life. You should therefore give up on your dreams if you want them more than you want God. If your dreams do not come to fruition, will you still enjoy the Lord through what you already possess? A blind man dreams about seeing, while a seeing man dreams about excelling, while the excelling man dreams about dominating, while the dominating man dreams about monopolizing, etc. The Christian man however must only dream about God being glorified; whether through excelling or perishing, the mature Christian is willing. Are you willing to spend a million dollars unto the glory of God? What about suffering with cancer unto the glory of God? Are you willing to live to be one hundred years of age, having your family and friends healthy and wealthy too? What about being willing to lose your family in a car wreck unto the glory of God? Sorrow and Joy: God can be glorified in both. He is faithful regardless; and this faithfulness does not hinge on Him providing perfect temporary lives, but rather, hinges on His identity.
Knowing who God is through Christ is the reason why the apostle Paul could say,
I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Phil. 4:11-13).
God is valuable beyond His temporary blessings. Paul understood this truth; and when we understand, we too can enjoy the Lord through something as simple as eating and drinking. He is the source of all good things, whether blessings or comfort in the midst of calamity, we can enjoy Him through Christ. Enjoying Him is the goal, not fulfilling our dreams. So, continue to dream, but ultimately dream about God alone being glorified in your life through all that you do as you learn that God’s steadfast love is better than life (Psalm 63:3). God has shown His steadfast love toward sinners by crucifying His one and only Son Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:8). Have you turned from sin and placed your trust in Christ alone to bring you in right relationship with God the Father?
CHRISTIANS MUST TAKE EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE TO OBEY CHRIST (2 COR. 10:5)
Good vs. Evil
At the beginning of the movie, Headmaster Dumbledore leaves Harry on the front porch at the home of his Aunt and Uncle. What motivated Dumbledore to leave Harry? He and the other professors feared for Harry’s life and safety. We see several similar instances in the Bible due to Satan’s relentless pursuit in crushing the Son (Seed) of God (Gen. 3:15).
In the beginning of creation, Adam and Eve were perfect, placed in the Garden of Eden for the purpose of enjoying God through relationship with one another and relationship with Him forevermore (Gen. 2). God provided them with freedom to enjoy Him through giving them the entire Garden of Eden except for one tree, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen. 2:15-17). God told Adam that if he tasted the fruit of the forbidden tree, he would surely die (Gen. 2:16-17). Satan however had different plans. He manifested himself as a serpent and deceived Eve (Gen. 3). He lied to her, telling her that she would not surely die (Gen. 3:4). Satan acted as if God was withholding something good from Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:5). Deceived, Eve ate the forbidden fruit, gave it to Adam, and he ate as well. As a result, all of creation fell into sin and the curse. God however set his redeeming plan in motion as detailed in Genesis 3:15: While speaking to Satan, God said, “15I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” God prophesied of Satan’s hatred for humanity. He even prophesied of Satan’s attempt to kill the woman’s Seed. Satan however would merely bruise His heel, but her Seed would crush his head. As a result of Satan’s evil desire, throughout the Old and New Testaments, he tries to crush all of humanity, especially when he anticipates the birth of the Seed that would crush his head. In spite of Satan’s best efforts, he would merely bruise the heel of the Son of God.
One way that Satan tried to crush the Seed of the woman was through murdering her children. Satan tried to kill Israel’s children in Exodus 1 and 2 through using Pharaoh to murder the Israelite children. In similar manner, Herod tried to kill Jesus when He was a child as detailed in Matthew 2. Satan of course “succeeded” in crushing Jesus, or so he thought. He entered Judas and betrayed Jesus (Luke 22:3); but, Christ revealed that Satan merely bruised His heel, for Jesus rose from the dead; thus, crushing Satan’s head (1 Cor. 15)!
In similar manner, Harry Potter’s heel was bruised through the scar given to him by Voldemort. Potter however crushed Voldemort’s head through merely touching the skin of his vessel: Professor Quirrell. Concerning this miracle, Headmaster Dumbledore asks Harry, “Do you know why Professor Quirrell couldn’t bare for you to touch him?” Dumbledore continues, “It was because of your mother. She sacrificed herself for you; and that kind of act leaves a mark.” Harry then touched the scar on his forehead. “No, no, this kind of mark cannot be seen,” says Dumbledore. “It lives in your very skin.” Harry asks, “What is it?” “Love,” Dumbledore replies, “love.” Love is what crushed Voldemort. Likewise, Christ’s perfect love for God the Father and His church is what defeats Satan (John 3:16; Rom. 8:33-39; Rom. 14:9; Heb. 2:14).
Moreover, even though Satan is running to and fro on the earth today seeking people to devour (1 Pet. 5:8), accusing the church (Rev. 12:10), trying to deceive her (Luke 22:31), etc., one day the Seed of the woman, the Redeemer, will crush him forevermore (Gen. 3:15; Rev. 12:10). Harry Potter as well will one day defeat Voldemort. The difference between Harry Potter and Jesus Christ however, is that the story of Jesus’ defeat of Satan is not fiction, but truth. Have you come to God through the only One who has defeated the evil one—Jesus Christ (John 14:6)?
In another example of good vs. evil, we see the clear portrayal of evil in the game of Quidditch when Slytherin starts hurting the Gryffindor players. We see however that Gryffindor, the representation of good, defeats Slytherin, the representation of evil, while being led by Harry Potter to victory. This reality is further emphasized at the end of the movie as Gryffindor wins the house cup by 10 points because of the goodness of Harry, Ron, and Hermione. In the end, good overcomes evil. In real life, this reality does not always appear to be true based on our own experiences; however, it is ultimately true. God is faithful; and He will bring His people into the new heavens and new earth while also judging evil forevermore (2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21-22).
When the Sorting Hat is placed on Harry’s head (0:40:00), it reads his heart (mind, will, character, etc.). It struggles with where to place Harry. Harry doesn’t want to be sorted with the Slytherin House, due to their dark arts emphasis. The Sorting Hat however tells him “Not Slytherin eh? Are you sure? You could be great you know? It’s all here in your head; and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness. There’s no doubt about that. No? Well, if you’re sure, better be…Gryffindor!” The Sorting Hat believed that Harry could have been part of the dark arts or part of the good wizardry. Harry has both of these realities warring within him. He has been touched by Voldemort, which provides him with his excellent wizardry. However, it appears that Voldemort’s evil exists within Harry as well.
Likewise, all Christians have a battle going on within them between the flesh and the Spirit (Gal. 5:16-17). That evil which exists within Satan also exists within us. We say “not Slytherin, not Slytherin” while constantly depending on God the Holy Spirit’s work within us (Gal. 5:25). We are to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in us, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:12-13).” Run to Christ continually.
Furthermore, Professor Snape, the professor that favors the dark arts, says at one point to his class,
There will be no foolish wand-waving or silly incantations in this class. As such, I don’t expect many of you to appreciate the subtle science and the exact art that is potion-making. However, for those select few who possess the predisposition, I can teach you how to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses; I can tell you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even put a stopper in death (0:49:15).
The dark arts indeed promise all these things and more. In similar manner, sin promises the same. Sin however is not the gospel, for it is not good news. The sad reality is that sin cannot deliver all that it promises. If you reject Christ and pursue the bad news, sin, you may gain the whole world, but you will lose your soul (Mark 8:36). Is gaining a temporary world worth losing your eternal soul for?
Moreover, in the Forbidden Forest, Firenze, the half horse half human centaur, tells Harry, “It is a terrible crime to slay a Unicorn. Drinking the blood of a unicorn will keep you alive even if you are an inch from death, but at a terrible price. You have slain something so pure that from the moment the blood touches your lips you will have a half-life, a cursed life.” Harry responds, “But who would choose such a life (1:43:30)?” Firenze reveals that it is Voldemort who is drinking the blood of unicorns for the purpose of living forever in evil. Likewise, anyone who desires to live in this evil world forever will realize quickly that they cannot live forever, and that they cannot escape eventual death. Satan is eternal, but his judgment is coming; just as Voldemort’s judgment is coming. If you choose to trust the evil one, and you live for this world alone, you are choosing a “half-life, a cursed life.” Christ came to give the abundant life to all those that come to God through Him (John 10:10; Heb. 7:25). The abundant life cannot be found in anyone or anything else. Humans were created with a God-shaped hole. Filling this hole with anything else other than God will leave you with a “half-life, a cursed life.” Won’t you come to God through Christ alone?
Finally, Voldemort argues, “There is no good and evil. There is only power and those too weak to seek it. Together, we’ll do extraordinary things. Just give me the stone!” Harry screams, “You liar (2:06:15)!” Christians too must cry out against all other false gospels: “You Liar!” We must destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Cor. 10:5).
As argued previously, Harry overcoming Voldemort is portrayed as good for all of humanity. Harry is depicted as the chosen one for this task throughout the movie. At the life-size chess game near the end of the movie, Ron and Hermione both tell Harry that he is the one who is supposed to go on. It seems that Harry, not Ron, Hermione, or even Dumbledore are meant to overcome Voldemort. In like manner, Christ is the only One who God chose to overcome the evil one, the sin of humanity, and redeem His people (Acts 4:11-12). God loves His church with a special love (Rom. 5:8; 1 John 4:10). In order to be part of the church, you must repent and trust in Christ alone for your salvation (John 14:6). There is redemption in no other (1 John 2:23).
Furthermore, when Harry and Ron save Hermione from the troll, they reveal love for their neighbor. Were they correct in valuing the human life of Hermione above their own? Also, in the life-size chess game, Ron sacrifices himself for the good of Harry, Hermione, and the rest of the people of Hogwarts. Ron was willing to lay down his life for his friends. Although these acts are praise-worthy, are these acts good enough to save sinners? If you or I sacrifice ourselves for the good of other humans, will this save us? The answer should be obvious based on what we have already studied: NO.
God is wrathful toward sin. He is the One who has subjected creation to the curse (Rom. 8:20). He is the One in judgment over humanity (Gen. 3). This fact is what makes His sending of Christ and punishing Him for the sins of humanity so amazing (Rom. 3:25; 1 John 4:10). God sent Jesus to satisfy His own wrath toward sinners (Rom. 5:9). Thus, all sinners must come to God through Jesus Christ alone (John 3:36; John 14:6). The difference between Jesus and those willing to sacrifice themselves in Harry Potter is that Jesus had no sin, but yet, sacrificed Himself for sinners (1 Pet. 3:18; Heb. 4:15). He is the only Human who could satisfy God’s wrath, and reconcile sinners to His Father (1 John 4:9). God the Son became Man, lived among us, died for us, and rose from the dead, conquering sin and death (John 1:14; Rom. 5:8; 1 Pet. 1:3)! Will you come to God through Christ alone? Repent and believe the good news (Mark 1:15; Rom. 16:25-27)!
What are your thoughts?