QUESTIONS ABOUT HARRY POTTER
|By: Dr. John Ankerberg; ©1999|
|Questions about Harry Potter are answered.|
QUESTIONS ABOUT HARRY POTTER
- 1. What is Witchcraft?
If we want to determine whether or not the Harry Potter books are presenting the principles of Witchcraft, we need to define what Witchcraft is.The Encyclopedia of Witches & Witchcraftstates: “Witchcraft is not unified or cohesive by any means. There’s no central authority or liturgy. Various traditions have their own rituals, philosophy, and belief…. It has become increasingly acceptable to initiate oneself into the Craft and practice alone rather than as part of a coven….”
Unfortunately, some modern witches believe that you can tap into powers that are within yourself; others, that you can tap into powers that are in the forces of nature; others, that you can tap into powers that are given by spirits or by a goddess. Witchcraft today is very eclectic. But tragically, all of these views are presented to one degree or another in the Harry Potter books. (See the companion article “What Do Witches Believe?”, esp. Wren Walker’s definition of witchcraft from witchvox.com and The Council of American Witches, esp. principles 3, 5, 7 and 8.)
So, how can we get a handle on what Witchcraft is? One way is to look at what witches do. In the books, Harry Potter manipulates forces, casts spells, makes potions, talks to spirits–to bring about what he wants. Contemporary witches also manipulate forces and do many of the same things Harry does, although they may identify it differently.
For example,The’Encyclopedia of Witches & Witchcraft tells us:
- “For pagans and witches, magick is a part of everyday life. The world itself is magical [to what degree it is magical is the real issue when comparing Harry Potter and contemporary Witchcraft]… not all pagans and witches practice the same types of magick. Some may prefer ceremonial magick, while others prefer folk magick, and still others prefer ecological magick based on natural earth energies and the resident spirits of the land….” But all witches do utilize and believe in the power of magick.
How similar are the practices in the Harry Potter books to what witches do today? TheEncyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcrafttells us, “Today the arts of witchcraft include herbalism, divination, magick, ceremonial ritual, healing, potions, and spirit-world contact with familiars [that is, animal spirits], or elementals [spirits of earth, air, fire or water].”
If these two Encyclopedias of Witchcraft are an accurate description of what witches believe and practice, then Harry Potter and his friends are modeling the kinds of Witchcraft real witches practice today.
- 2. Does God tell us we are not to learn about or imitate those who practice Witchcraft, cast spells, do divination, contact spirits or talk to the dead?
Yes. God does warn us about doing these practices. In Deuteronomy 18 we find a list of occultic practices about which God says, “Do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations.” The Hebrew word forlearnmeans “to study, to become accustomed to, to instruct or train to practice.” I believe children who read the Harry Potter books are unknowingly learning, or being “conditioned” to accept Witchcraft. God says, “Do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations.” The New American Standard Version, New International Version and the Revised Standard Version of the Bible all translate the Hebrew wordasahas “imitate.” It means we are not to do or act like those who practice occult activities. In the New Testament we are told who and what to imitate: “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil but what is good” (3 Jn. 11). Here, the Greek wordmimeomaiis translated “imitate” and indicates a mimic or an actor, one who would imitate the conduct of another.
Paul uses this word in his writings when he says, “Be imitators of me just as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). In Ephesians 5:1 Paul says, “Be imitators of God… walk in love just as Christ [did]….”
If we as Christians are instructed to imitate Christ in how we live, in Deuteronomy 18:9-11, God warns us about what we should not imitate. He lists nine occult practices in these verses that His people are not to learn or imitate.
First, He says: “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination, or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist, or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is an abomination to the Lord.”
Now, God gives us this instruction because He loves us and wants us to come to Him, to trust Him to protect and guide us through life. He doesn’t want us going any other powers or spiritual beings.
Of the nine practices God prohibits, I think a case can be made that eight of them, if not all nine, are described in the Harry Potter books.
This first warning refers to the hideous practice of child sacrifice to appease some pagan God to gain secret power or knowledge of the future.
In InterVarsity Press’sThe Bible Background Commentary of the Old Testamentwe are told: “… the polytheistic religions of the ancient Near East… believed in an impersonal, primordial realm that was a source of knowledge and powers… [They] attempted to tap into that realm for the purpose of gaining knowledge and power.” In other words, pagans in the Near East believed they would be able to tap into the secret powers of the universe by offering the life of a human being, either a child or an adult.
But isn’t this what J. K. Rowling has described in the shocking scene in the fourth Harry Potter book? In this scene, Harry’s friend, Cedric, is killed so an evil ceremony can take place in which part of Voldemort’s father’s bone is taken right out of the grave, a servant’s arm is cut off, and Harry’s blood is taken from him so that evil Lord Voldemort will be able to get the magic power to form a new resurrected body. Voldemort taps into the secret powers of the universe as a result of this bloody ceremony. (Book 4, pp. 636-643)
The second practice prohibited by God in Deuteronomy 18 is divination. In this practice, people look into such objects as crystal balls, mirrors, tea leaves, or animal entrails to try to determine future events. Harry learns and practices divination at Hogwarts School, including looking into crystal balls and using a magic mirror. Divination can also be practiced by contacting the spirit world in order to gain knowledge about the future. This is something that happens in the third Harry Potter book when Madame Trelawney is possessed by a spirit which speaks through her and predicts events which come true in Harry’s life. (Book 3, p. 324) This is divination through spirit contact.
The third practice that God prohibits is sorcery. By definition, a sorcerer was thought to be able to conjure up spirits or apparitions, mix potions, use figurines, or place curses on people that would supposedly bring death, disease, good or bad luck. Do we see curses being used throughout the Harry Potter books? The answer is “Yes.” Remember Harry’s learning about the Cruciatus Curse in his Defense Against the Dark Arts Class? The curse was placed on a spider that screamed and rolled over in pain. (Book 4, p. 214) Voldemort uses this curse on Harry. (Book 4, p. 661) Harry uses a milder curse on his aunt. (Book 3, p. 29)
The interpretation of omens is the fourth occult practice condemned in Deuteronomy 18 by God. By this practice, people discover hidden knowledge. Sometimes they would read tea leaves or the entrails of an animal. There were many omens people could read.
Sometimes omens were practices by those who practices Witchcraft, which is the fifth practice condemned in Deuteronomy 18. Witchcraft has to do with magic or the casting of spells. This was done in order to manipulate the powers of nature or of different gods or spirits. The Hebrew word literally indicates “someone binds someone else” by the use of magical words. This is what a spell is. Do we see Harry Potter using spells and interpreting omens? The answer is, “Yes.” He and his friends learn about them and use them in all four books.
The next three practices that God forbids in Deuteronomy 18 are as follows: do not be a medium, do not be a spiritist, and do not be one who consults the dead. A medium seeks power or information from spirits; a spiritist talks with or consults spirit beings; and one who consults the dead is trying to gain contact with, and information from, those who have died. All three of these practices are prohibited by God, yet we find all of them described in the Harry Potter books many times.
I believe that if we are to obey God, then we will not give our children books that will help them learn about, or condition them to imitate, these occult practices.
- 3. Some Christians argue that the fictitious behavior of some make-believe kids in some obviously unrealistic setting is not real sorcery–it’s only a fantasy type of stereotypical magic?
I believe if one evaluates all the evidence, it will show that the Harry Potter books, although definitely “adventure fairy-tales,” are subtly teaching the principles of Witchcraft, the occult, and sorcery to our children. Now, a few respected Christian leaders and writers disagree. I would like to examine the reasons why they say they are in favor of the Harry Potter books.
First, you know that God does condemn the learning and practicing of such activities as Witchcraft, casting spells, divination, contacting spirits and more in Deuteronomy 18. All Christian leaders agree that God condemns these practices. But some go on to claim: “We do not assume that the fictitious behavior of make-believe kids in some obviously unrealistic setting is sorcery. It is only a fantasy-type of stereotypical magic that is used in the books and not some serious real-life sorcery or occult. Real sorcery and the occult rely on powers from the beyond or from spirits. The Harry Potter books rely on developing the powers that a person is born with. Therefore, these books do not teach children Witchcraft or sorcery.”
But I am not saying that just reading the Harry Potter books is sorcery; rather, I believe it can lead kids into experimenting with Witchcraft or sorcery. Kids who read this material without being warned that the story includes real ideas and principles of Witchcraft are left unprotected. It opens them to the idea of–”What would happen if I did the same thing Harry Potter does?” This kind of openness to the world of Witchcraft is the very way most people first entered Witchcraft.
If someone wants to enter Witchcraft today, we must realize there are many ways for children to do this. For example, many witches enter Witchcraft as a result of tapping into magical powers that they believe are natural forces of nature or powers inside of themselves. Other witches enter Witchcraft utilizing powers they believe are given by spirits or gods. Others assume that objects or entities have powers that can be tapped into.
The’Encyclopedia of Witches & Witchcrafttells us how easy it is to practice magick: “In its simplest form, sorcery is magic by the manipulation of natural forces and powers to achieve a desired object.” This is exactly what Harry Potter and his friends do. They manipulate what they think are natural forces and power to achieve their own goals.
Further evidence that the fantasy story of Harry Potter mirrors the real beliefs and practices of witches is documented byThe’Encyclopedia of Witches & Witchcraftwhen it says: “Other witches also believe in the development of psychic powers they have within…. Psychic development is a very useful tool. It helps one to discern things of a non-physical nature. This is important because if a person practices magic, he or she is eventually going to encounter non-physical entities.” So here, the encyclopedia admits that modern witches who start with psychic development (powers all people supposedly inherently have) need to realize that this will lead them to eventually discerning entities of a non-physical nature. Here, it’s talking about spirits or ghosts. This is exactly what happens to Harry Potter as he matures and grows older.
Further, theEncyclopediapoints out: “A knowledge of various herbs, enchantments, charms and spells helps to fine-tune one’s ability to direct energy.” This principle of Witchcraft is demonstrated over and over again in the Harry Potter books by what he does.
So what I’m saying is this. Not all witches believe in gods, goddesses or spirits. Some do, but not all. Not all witches enter Witchcraft the same way. There are many different ways to do so and many different beliefs one can hold. But if any child wants to participate in contemporary Witchcraft, he or she only needs to try and develop psychic powers, or mix herbs or cast spells or manipulate energies–just like Harry Potter does. It is in this sense that I say Harry Potter and his friends constantly are imitating and, therefore, instructing, our children in what witches today believe and practice.
- 4. What do you say to Christian writers who claim that if it’s wrong to read the Harry Potter books, Christians should not read “Snow White” or other fairy-tales which have ghosts or witches in them?
Some Christian writers say it must be okay to read the Harry Potter books, otherwise Christians long ago should have taken a stand againstSnow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty, C. L. Lewis, Tolkien, and other fairy-tales that have witches and ghosts in them. But inSnow White and the Seven Dwarfsthe witch was called “the wicked witch,” she wasn’t seen in a good light, and children weren’t told how she did her spells or got her power. Harry Potter is a wizard and Hermione is a witch and their Witchcraft is painted in a positive manner.
But then, the question is raised, “What about the so-called ‘good witches’ that appear in different stories? Is it okay to practice white magic as compared to black magic?” We must realize that as far as God is concerned, white magic and black magic are both condemned since they are utilizing powers that come from sources [evil spirits] that God warns us about. Here, someone’s intentions [good, loving, etc.] to heal, protect or provide for someone through so-called “white” magic is not a good enough reason to utilize or call on powers outside of God. Scripture tells us these powers are there to destroy us, regardless of what we attribute them to. The question is, will we believe God or not?
In past years, references to good and bad witches were relatively brief and not detailed. No one should object to identifying witches–it is when children are confused about whether witches are good or bad that we need to be biblically consistent.
We also need to recognize that in past years children were not surrounded by a culture immersed in television programs and movies about Witchcraft and the occult. They were not acquainted with other children in their class at school who were casting spells, talking to spirits, or making love potions. But all of that has changed today.
The Harry Potter books go much further than children’s stories in the past. J. K. Rowling not only identifies children as witches, but gives detailed information of how these children think and develop their powers and world view. Therefore, whatever book confuses children with believing in so-called “good” witches versus “bad,” I would advise parents to identify all Witchcraft as bad and something that God condemns. Again, it is significant that the Witchcraft Harry Potter does is never identified as something wrong or a great evil. It’s easy for children to be confused when they learn that Harry, a “good” witch, and Voldemort, an “evil” witch, both get their power from the same source. (Book 4, p. 697)
In addition, as a Christian, I do not believe it is wrong for us to use our imagination. For example, it is okay to imagine what it would be like to marry an imagined boyfriend or girlfriend. But there are parameters that God places on our imaginations.
In Matthew 5:27 Jesus warns us about using our imaginations sinfully when He says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ but I say to you that anyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart.” So there are parameters God places on our imagination. Psalm 94:11, Psalm 139:2, 23 indicate that God knows our thoughts, and He holds us responsible for them. (2 Cor. 10:5)
So what parameters does God place on us when we imagine witches and ghosts in our minds? It’s one thing to imagine what they might look like, but we shouldn’t allow our imaginations to overpower us so that we desire to talk to ghosts or to try spells for ourselves to see what will happen. We shouldn’t start asking the question, “Is it possible for me to manipulate things or other people?” The problem with the Harry Potter books is they not only paint a vivid picture of how Witchcraft works, but identify those practices in Witchcraft as being good. Some children will not be bothered by this. But many others will be enticed and motivated to try some of the things Harry Potter does for themselves.
- 5. Who else believes the Harry Potter books and movie are presenting the true principles of Witchcraft?
One of the spokesmen for Warner Brothers, makers of the first Harry Potter movie, during a press conference stated: “The film is an accurate portrayal of things that happen in Witchcraft.”
- 6. What do you say to Christians who claim that the magic in the Harry Potter books is purely a “mechanical magic”?
One Christian leader has stated that the Harry Potter books are okay to read because the magic that is portrayed in them is purely a “mechanical magic.” By “mechanical magic” I assume that he means it is like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat or someone doing card tricks. He goes on to say, “Harry and his friends don’t make any contact with the supernatural world”–therefore, he believes it is okay for the kids to read these books.
But it certainly seems to me that contact with the supernatural world is being portrayed in many places in the Harry Potter books. Just one example is the divination teacher, Professor Trelawney, in Book 3:Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Harry is to take his final exam on Divination. He enters the room and looks into a big crystal ball and is supposed to tell Professor Trelawney what he sees. Based on what he sees, he gets his grade. Harry disappoints Professor Trelawney by pretending to see something and just makes it up (p. 323—but his “made-up” prediction later comes true—p. 415). He is dismissed. But then, as he picks up his bag to leave the room, J. K. Rowling paints this picture of what happens to Professor Trelawney:
- A loud, harsh voice spoke behind him.
- “IT WILL HAPPEN TONIGHT.”
- Professor Trelawney had gone rigid in her armchair; her eyes were unfocused and her mouth sagging.
- “S—sorry?” said Harry.
- But Professor Trelawney didn’t seem to hear him. Her eyes started to roll. Harry sat there in a panic. She looked as though she was about to have some sort of seizure. He hesitated, thinking of running to the hospital wing — and then Professor Trelawney spoke again, in the same harsh voice, quite unlike her own:
- “THE DARK LORD LIES ALONE AND FRIENDLESS, ABANDONED BY HIS FOLLOWERS. HIS SERVANT HAS BEEN CHAINED THESE TWELVE YEARS. TONIGHT, BEFORE MIDNIGHT… THE SERVANT WILL… SET OUT TO REJOIN HIS MASTER….”
- Professor Trelawney’s head fell forward onto her chest. She made a grunting sort of noise. Harry sat there, staring at her. Then, quite suddenly, Professor Trelawney’s head snapped up again.
- “I’m so sorry, dear boy,” she said dreamily, “the heat of the day, you know… I drifted off for a moment….”
- Harry sat there, staring at her.
- “Is there anything wrong, my dear?”
- “You—you just told me that the—the Dark Lord’s going to rise again… that his servant’s going to go back to him….”
- Professor Trelawney looked thoroughly startled. (page 324).
Here, Professor Trelawney is possessed by some spirit. She goes into a trance state, her eyes fly open, an entity comes into her and a strange voice speaks out of her that Harry doesn’t recognize. This is full mediumship. In the occult world, it is spirit possession or channeling. The spirit prophesies through Professor Trelawney specific events that do take place. So here is a clear depiction in the Harry Potter books of contact being made with the spirit world. J. K. Rowling is not presenting “mechanical” magic.
- 7. Since the Harry Potter books have encouraged so many kids to read, how can we say these books are bad?
This is the same kind of reasoning John Stossel, a reporter for ABC News, used in a segment for20/20. He said, “It’s odd that adults are upset about a book that more than any other has inspired kids to read.” NBC’s Katie Couric, in her hour-long special Sunday night, November 11, 2001, stated that the Harry Potter books had “reintroduced [kids] to the lost art of reading.” But I think it’s “odd” for John Stossel and Katie Couric to argue this way. Everyone is for children reading books and being inspired to read. But no one would say, “It doesn’t matter what children read, just so they read.”
For example, no one would pass outPlayboymagazines in school classrooms just because it would inspire boys to read. We all care about the content found in the books that children read.
In Scripture Christians are told: “Study to show yourself approved unto God” (2Tim. 2:15). But to be “approved unto God” means we won’t willfully dwell on ideas and information that can motivate us to live in ways God objects. The content, the message, the world view a book conveys all matter.
What’s disturbing is that many children who read the Harry Potter books have little or no discernment about the world view that is being presented. Yes, witchcraft is presented in a very delightful way, but parents and adults need to be aware of the powerful sway, the pull, these books have on children.
For example, if a teenage boy has severalPlayboymagazines stacked up on his desk at home, because he reads them does not mean he will go out and have sex with his girlfriend. But every father, every male, knows that the sway, the pull, the motivational power of these magazines is strong. Further, if the boy says, “I can’t put them down. I’ve read all of them many, many times. I can’t wait for the next one to come out,” I think it would be reasonable to assume his behavior in the future will be affected.
Similarly, the Harry Potter books have a powerful motivational sway on readers to think about and be open to the ideas and practices of witchcraft. In fact, statistics tell us many children are trying some aspect of Witchcraft for themselves.
- 8. People shouldn’t object to kids reading the Harry Potter books because kids know the difference between reality and fantasy.
Kids comprehend the difference between fantasy and reality as they grow older. But let’s not forget that even fantasy teaches about the real world. For example, ABC reporter John Stossel says the Harry Potter books teach “about friendship, courage and making moral choices.” But if this fantasy story teaches real values, characteristics and attributes of real life, then it is not possible for these books to be teaching other things as well?
Right here I’d like to raise a question: How do we know that children who read these books are crystal-clear about the spiritual issues that are raised? What is fantasy? What is reality? For example, do all children know what they believe about life after death? Is what happens in Harry Potter a fantasy or reality? Are children absolutely clear about whether or not it’s possible for people to make contact with spirits? Is it possible for Harry to speak to his mom and dad? Are there spirits like Voldemort? Is it possible for people like Sirius Black to change into an animal? In brief, how do children interpret the spiritual concepts found in Harry Potter?
As I’ve interviewed children and students, I have found they simply don’t know the answers to these questions. For both Christians and non-Christians, these questions impact them in the real world. Unfortunately, through Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling has presented a concept of the afterlife that is based in the religious views of Witchcraft and the occult. The Harry Potter books certainly do not portray the biblical view of heaven and hell; that God is absolutely good; and that there are evil spirits who are our enemies. If kids do not know the difference between fantasy and reality regarding spiritual issues, then Harry Potter certainly won’t help them.
- 9. How can Harry Potter be read by students in the schools when they aren’t allowed to read the Ten Commandments?
American society has agreed that religious beliefs cannot be taught in the school classroom. In 1980 the Supreme Court of the United States (Stone vs. Graham) struck down a ruling requiring the posting of the Ten Commandments on the walls of public school classrooms in the state of Kentucky. Even though many people were in favor of placing the Ten Commandments on the schoolroom walls, the Supreme Court said there were two reasons why this could not be done. First, if the Ten Commandments were posted, some of the children might be tempted to read them; and second, if they read them, some might want to follow and obey them. Notice, the Supreme Court admitted the Ten Commandments might inspire some kids to read. But inspiring kids to read is not a good enough reason for the Ten Commandments to be brought into schools. The Supreme Court said that however desirable it might be as a matter of private devotion to have kids read and follow the Ten Commandments, it was not permissible in school because this would violate the separation of church and state.
Well then, how can Harry Potter, which conveys many of the religious principles of Witchcraft, be read in schools? After all, the Supreme Court has officially recognized and ruled that Wicca (Witchcraft) is a religion. If it can be shown that portions of the Harry Potter books agree with the religious beliefs of witches today, then why are they allowed to be read in school classrooms?
Some respond to this by saying that the Harry Potter books are fantasy stories. They are not presenting “full-fledged” Wicca religious beliefs. Yet the Ten Commandments are not teaching “full-fledged” Christianity either. It’s just part of what Christians and Jews believe.
The evidence shows that the Harry Potter books, through fantasy, convey more than a little of Wiccan religious ideas. But even if there is just a little bit of Wiccan beliefs found in these books, why haven’t parents objected to having these religious beliefs presented to their children in school?
- 10. In what ways is Harry Potter practicing Witchcraft like contemporary witches do today?
Harry Potter and his friends are constantly learning new spells, charms, and curses to direct energy for their own purposes. Are any of these practices part of contemporary Wicca today?
TheEncyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraftexplains that today’s witches believe that “a knowledge of various herbs, enchantments, charms and spells help to fine-tune one’s ability to direct energy…. Like anything in life, practice is required in order to become skillful.” Now, isn’t this the very reason Harry is going to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry–to learn how to practice and refine his magic skills?
TheEncyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraftalso instructs: “Psychic development is a very useful tool. It helps one to discern things of a non-physical nature. This is important because if a person practices magick, he or she is eventually going to encounter non-physical entities. Psychic senses can help to perceive both the presence and the actions of various spirits and elemental creatures.” Again, this is exactly what happens to Harry in the books. He develops his psychic senses a little more each year which helps him as he encounters various spirits and elemental creatures–like the giant snake guarding the Chamber of Secrets. Why do you think J. K. Rowling accurately portrays these concepts and practices which are taught in real books about Witchcraft?
- 11. What do you say to witches who claim they are not practicing Satanism?
Now, all witches agree on one thing; that is, they are not practicing Satanism. From their point of view, that’s true. But from a biblical point of view, their spells, charms, symbols, spirit contacts and psychic abilities have ultimately come about because they have believed information that originated with a powerful, evil angel called “Satan” or “the devil” and other evil angels that follow him.
This is a matter of world view versus world view–of Christianity versus Witchcraft. How can we decide which way to go? I believe if there is evidence in history that Jesus lived, claimed to be God, and rose from the dead, then He has proved His claim to be the Son of God. Therefore, He has the right to teach us about what else is truly taking place in the world. We need to listen to Him.
In Matthew 5:41, Jesus taught that there is a real devil and real evil angels who follow him. He said anyone who did not believe in Him really had the devil “as their father” (Jn. 8:44)—they were under his sway and power. Further, the devil could put ideas and desires into their heart (Jn. 13:2).
One of Jesus’ disciples, Peter, wrote that when Jesus was here on earth, He came to heal all those “who were oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38).
It is recorded that on certain occasions, Jesus gave His Apostles power and authority over evil angels called demons: “And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons, and to heal diseases” (Lk. 9:1).
The disciples testified that the demons were “subject unto us in your [Jesus’] name” (Lk.10:17).
Another of Jesus’ Apostles named Paul said pagan worship was really sacrifice to these evil spirits called demons, and not to God: “No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons;…” (1 Cor. 10:20-21).
The Apostle Paul also said, “…seducing spirits and doctrines of devils ” would lead many people away from the truth (1Tim.4:1). But Christians were not to give place to the devil (Eph. 4:27). Rather, Christians are to stand “against the schemes of the devil” (I would include here the worldview being presented through Harry Potter).
The Apostle James said Christians are to “resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jas. 4:7). Yet Christians are warned: “Your adversary the devil goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1Pet.5:8). This means that adults or children who open the door to the occult are in terrible danger.
Jesus tells us these chilling things about the devil:
- he is one who “has sinned from the beginning” (1Jn. 3:8).
- he is “a murderer” and “a liar” (John 8:44).
According to the Apostle Paul, the devil is:
- “the god of this world who has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4).
We are told, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph.6:12).
But we are also told that “the whole world lies inthe power ofthe evil one” (1Jn. 5:19) unless they have believed in, and been rescued by, Jesus Christ (1 Jn. 5:4). Christians can be confident in Christ because, “All authority in heaven and in earth has been given to Me” (Mt.28:18).
Jesus’ disciples witnessed that evil spirits were afraid of, and subject to, Jesus. Also, the evil spirits admitted Jesus is the Son of God (Mt. 8:29). Anyone who is terrorized by evil spirits or even Satan himself should flee to Jesus because the Apostle John said Jesus “came into the world that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1Jn.3:8).
To summarize—yes, it is true that witches do not believe in Satan (the devil). But according to the Bible, that which they believe in originated with Satan and his angels. In that respect, they have been deceived. There are not many gods; there are not many ways to access magical powers. There is only One God who exists and rules (Eph. 4:6; Rom. 8:28). Jesus, the Son of God, said, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by Me” (Jn. 14:6; Mk. 14:61,62).
- 12. How can a fairy tale for children convey harmful messages about the occult?
Would you agree that some fairy-tales convey good messages, others, harmful messages? Let me give you an example of both: First, Aesop’s fable ofThe Hare and the Tortoiseconveys a good message of steady plodding and consistent work, even though we know the race between the turtle and the rabbit never took place. But fairy-tales can also deliver a wrong or harmful message. Remember Camel Cigarettes’ cartoon figure of Joe Cool, the camel? So many adults objected to what was being conveyed to children by Joe Cool standing smoking a cigarette, that his cartoon figure was banned from magazine ads and all billboards. If Harry Potter is conveying objectionable material, then the children should be similarly protected.
- 13. In all four of the Harry Potter books Harry and his friends try a lot of magic spells. Even love potions are mentioned. But some people say, “Well these can’t be real spells. They’re just funny little Latin words like “Expelliarmus” which J. K. Rowling made up so Harry could get rid of other spells. Is that true?
Since witches can make up their own spells, it’s not the precise words that are important, but the amount of concentration a person uses. Today, you can pick up little books at the grocery store that list spells that will start you off in creating your own spells.
As Berit Kjos said during our program: “A spell is what a witch, occultist, shaman (or witch doctor) uses when they want to accomplish something–some kind of a magical change in the physical world and in the spiritual world. They are very common.”
The spells in the Harry Potter books are similar to spells in Witchcraft used around the world.
- 14. Is it possible for anyone to convert to Witchcraft, even children?
In April 1974, the Council of American Witches adopted a set of principles of Wiccan Belief. One of those principles was: “We acknowledge a depth of power far greater than that apparent to the average person. Because it is far greater than ordinary, it is sometimes called supernatural. But we see it as lying within that which is naturally potential to all.”
In another principle they said, “This same creative power lies in all people.” In other words, everyone has the potential to be a witch, and anyone, even children, who embrace the principles of Witchcraft, will be able to tap into the magical power within.
Well, if it’s possible for your kids to convert to Witchcraft, all that would be needed is for them to be excited and properly motivated–and that’s what the four Harry Potter books do: educate, motivate, and entice kids to try some aspect of Witchcraft.
- 15. In the Harry Potter books, people, even children, change into animals and then back into people. Does anybody really believe that people can change into animals?
To answer this question, look at theEncyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraftwhich states: “It is a very ancient belief that witches possess the power to transform into animal form.”
InThe’Encyclopedia of Witches & Witchcraftunder the word “metamorphous” we find: “Witches, sorcerers, and other magically empowered persons have been believed to have the power to transform themselves and other humans at will into animals, birds, and insects.” The transformation of a human being into a wolf is called “lycanthropy.” There are two types of lycanthropy. The first is when a person just imagines himself to be a wolf and exhibits a craving for blood. In the second there is the magical, ecstatic transformation of a person into a werewolf, usually accomplished with ointments or magical charms.
InThe Spiral Dance, a Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess, “An Overview of Contemporary Witchcraft” the witch Star Hawk quotes a friend who said this abouttrance: “We may have experiences such as… [this]: ‘I moved into a region of strange life forms, neither above nor below the human level but strange beings and strange shapes, metabolisms, thought forms and so forth.’”
What does all this mean? First, the dreadful idea that people can change into animals is part of the practices and ideas of Witchcraft history and lore.
Second, though not all witches believe in shape-shifting or transformation or lycanthropy, some still do.
Third, changing into animals or merging with an animal spirit is still practiced (either through visions or possession) by those in the Dark Arts, sorcery and the occult. Unfortunately, these very dark occult ideas and practices are clearly presented to children through the Harry Potter books. They are also being introduced in our school classrooms. Berit Kjos is an author who has written about contemporary Witchcraft and the books children are reading in schools. She says that some of the books teach children about how to cast spells and imagine what it would be like to change into an animal, just like in the Harry Potter books.
During our television program, she said,
- I want to just give you some of the titles that went into classrooms. There is a book calledA Book of Enchantmentsand it says, “Cast a spell, any spell,” and it’s full of short stories that show children or illustrate to children how to cast spells and model the people who are really powerful and strong: earth witches and wizards, those who know how to manipulate spiritual forces.
- Then there is a book entitledAnimorphs.The cover shows a girl who is morphing into a cat. J. K. Rowling calls it “the transfiguration.” This woman is becoming a cat.
I asked Berit, “Why would educators want to show a child how to turn into a cat?” She said it was to expand children’s imaginations so they could accept the “new” thinking. The “new” thinking includes the acceptance of witches, different sexual orientations, and that no particular religious view is more valuable than any other.