Are there Christian themes in Harry Potter?
From the start, Harry Potter has been criticized by some Christian organizations because of its sorcery, and yet lauded by other Christians for its spiritual themes.
Now, the author J.K. Rowling, on the release of Part 1 of the Grand Finale, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows film, has spilled the beans—she is Christian.
According to Ministry Values, Rowling is a member of the Church of Scotland, and her daughter was baptized there. Rowling grew up in a family of unbelievers. Nonetheless, as a 13-year-old she was drawn to faith, and used to go to church by herself.
Danielle Tumminio, a graduate from Yale Divinity School, taught a course at Yale University called “Christian Theology and Harry Potter. She told Ministry Values that as one who also had a similar faith journey, (having grown up without religion but being drawn to the faith), she believes that Rowland was able to use her life experience to put together the Harry Potter series. Tumminio said, “that’s God’s hand at work.”
Part of that life experience included Rowling’s life before Harry Potter, when she was dealing with the death of her mother. At the time, she was a single mother living on welfare, afflicted with clinical depression and a suicidal tendency, according to CNN.
Rowland used this emotion to write Harry Potter. The character lost his parents, just as she lost her mother. In the book, “Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban,” Rowland personified her depression battles with the dementors in the novel, CNN reported.
Rowland said one reason she withheld her faith was so that the conclusion of the Harry Potter series would not be predetermined, according to The New Yorker. However, one author is not content with that explanation.
Steve Wohlberg, bestselling author of “Exposing Harry Potter and Witchcraft: The Menace Beneath the Magic,” told The Christian Post, “The more I read the books, the more I realized how spiritually dangerous the material is. Even though it’s fiction there is a lot of reality woven in it. My warning is that Harry Potter is a major contributor to Wicca.”
And regarding the claims of Christian themes, Wohlberg told The Christian Post, “To me, she is just like Eve, not realizing she has become a channel for the devil, she is not aware of it.”
Other religious leaders who have denounced the series are Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, and Pope Benedict XVI, who in 2003 as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger warned of “subtle seductions [that could] corrupt the Christian faith [in impressionable young children]” The Christian Post reported.
Bible in Harry Potter
The New Yorker cited a list of authors who saw biblical lessons in Harry Potter. This includes Greg Garrett, author of One Fine Potion: The Literary Magic of Harry Potter, who called Rowling’s book “the best and most powerful contemporary retelling of the gospel narrative I’d encountered.”
The New Yorker cited other titles of books that found Christian themes in Harry Potter, including “What’s a Christian to Do with Harry Potter?” by Connie Neal; “A Charmed Life: The Spirituality of Potterworld by Francis Bridger;” and “The Mystery of Harry Potter: A Catholic Family Guide” by Nancy C. Brown.
Christianity Today said, “Whether Rowling intended it or not, the Harry Potter phenomenon is an example of how the Holy Spirit uses cultural means to tell God’s story.”
The publication cites Paul in Acts 17 where the evangelist “reminds us to listen to culture for those stories that resonate with God’s story of love and redemption. This doesn’t entail that Christians embrace all of popular culture (or even all of Harry Potter), but it does mean that we are attentive to the world around us, aware of the ways the Spirit is moving.”