24 July 2005

Harry Potter and the Dark Maven of BlogSpotting

  • Bret Capranica thinks my blogname fits my personality. He, on the other hand, has recently helped start a group blog called Fide-O. Less than a week after launching, Bret and the other dawgs at Fide-O have been cranking out great posts at a pace I can hardly read fast enough to keep up with. If they keep it up, I'll be adding Fide-O to my blogroll soon.
  • Doug McHone seems to exclude me (and Hugh Hewitt) from the list of bloggers he "actually would like to meet." What's up with that?
  • Paul Lamey thinks some cases of church arson are justified.
  • Gavin at "The Squawking Cockatiel" manages to find a picture of the PyroManiac in the pulpit of the Metropolitan Tabernacle. He's very clever at doctoring graphics, too.
    Elsewhere, he gives a brief account of how the effects of America's evangelical meltdown has reached even to Perth, Australia.

  • Dr. Andrew Jackson expects the rest of my series on the evangelical disaster to be interesting. I'm going to do my best not to disappoint him.
  • Shaun Nolan reminds us that the key to getting evangelicals back on track lies in looking back to Acts 2, not looking ahead to the next fad or looking around at what the world is doing.
  • Andy at "The Last Homely House" says his view of the current state of the church is virtually the same as mine.
  • Peter Bogert found a few good things floating around the blogosphere.
        There are lots more links I could BlogSpot, but some of the homeschool moms get really irritated when I BlogSpot them, and I don't want to risk getting clubbed with one of those unabridged dictionaries. I'm getting tired, anyway. So, finally...
  • Matthew Self wants me to post an opinion about Harry Potter. As if we needed another opinion on that. Then again, what's the point in blogging at all if you don't want to express an opinion in a realm already glutted with opinions? So, without further ado:

    On reading Harry Potter books
        I haven't read any of the Harry Potter books, so I'm not really entitled to much of an opinion about them. I've seen a couple of the Potter movies.
        In fact, I rarely read any fiction. The only two significant fiction works I recall reading in the past twenty years were both written by Tom Wolfe. I read those only because he was one of my favorite non-fiction authors. (I regularly read so much in the course of my work that when I get a hankering for fiction as entertainment, I'd normally prefer to watch a movie rather than read.)
        I don't agree, however, with those who think the Potter books should be automatically declared off limits for all Christians because they feature magical and occult themes. The argument simply proves too much. Ultimately, it would work as an argument against virtually all fiction. In order to be consistent, for example, those who make that argument would have to rule out The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, everything from the Brothers Grimm, The Chronicles of Narnia, and my own favorite book from childhood, A Wrinkle in Time (which I read in 1962, before it won the Newberry Award).
        All those books do teach some ideas I strongly disagree with. But they are, after all, fiction. Darlene and I taught our kids to read such books as fiction. We would have been concerned if the kids had shown any difficulty distinguishing between reality and fiction, or if they had become obsessed with Harry Potter, developed a fixation with sorcery, or taken any kind of personal interest in the black arts per se. If they had begun to live in a fantasy world of any kind, I would certainly imposed restrictions on reading fantasy and fiction. Since they weren't prone to that kind of dementia, I encouraged them to read as much as they wanted to read.
        Consider this: If you are a thoughtful and critical thinker, you'll have to acknowledge that even the "family fare" coming out of Hollywood—virtually all of it—is grounded in one non-biblical worldview or another. It is therefore usually most seriously flawed at the very point where it aims to teach us some lesson about religion or Christianity.
        As a matter of fact, speaking as a Christian who believes Scripture is authoritative, I have to say that I don't agree with the basic spiritual world-view in "It's a Wonderful Life"; "Star Wars"; "Pinocchio"; and a whole lot of other family films. (Personally, I didn't even like the rigid Sabbatarianism portrayed in "Chariots of Fire.") But I do like all those films as works of fiction (or historical drama, in the case of "Chariots").
        Now, I have no difficulty whatsoever living with both what I like and what I dislike about any work of fiction or drama. Because even where they get spiritual truths wrong, such works still provide opportunities for discussion and clarification of vital biblical points.
        I would naturally be inclined to argue that all fiction is useless and wrong, except for one stubborn fact that mitigates against that position: Jesus used fiction all the time in His teaching. In at least one case, even when the story's protagonist had an evil value system, Jesus used the story to teach a positive spiritual truth anyway (Luke 16:1-9). Creative parents, likewise, can use even the portrayal of evil in children's stories like The Wizard of Oz, The Lord of the Rings, or Harry Potter to teach their children positive truth. The key is to be attentive, and Christ-centered, and biblical in your thinking.
        All secular works of fiction should be read with the utmost care and discernment. But then, even Christian works of theological non-fiction should be read with the same kind of careful, critical discrimination.
        I do happen to believe there's inherent educational value in reading great literature, even if it teaches moral or spiritual lessons we disagree with. "Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22). Daniel was taught "the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans" (Daniel 1:4). The benefit they derived from learning the ways of the Egyptians and Chaldeans surely was more intellectual than spiritual. But Scripture never treats such learning as a Bad Thing.
        Ultimately, therefore, how I might answer the question of whether Christians should read Harry Potter or not would hinge primarily on whether the books really qualify as good literature. Having never read them, I cannot give an informed opinion on that. But judging from all reviews I have read, they are quite well written. Judging from the films, they are inventive and entertaining. So I'm not going to frown on brothers and sisters in Christ who have read them and enjoyed them and who do think they are good literature.
        I know some will be disturbed by that. I'll respect your opinion and refer you to Romans 14.

    PS: My eldest noticed the subject of this post and remarked that Frank Peretti's demon-warfare novels and the rest of the cheap apocalytic fiction evangelical publishers keep cranking out are far more evil than Harry Potter, and that's what Christians ought to stay away from. I think he has a point.


45 comments:

Gaddabout said...

I didn't even think about the Peretti books, but that's a very good point.

Big amen to teaching your children how to read and think critically through he prism of the Word.

Donnie said...

Thank you Phil for this thought-filled post about HP. I have been wrestling with the topic and you have presented a most convicing argument of which has led me to think in a positive direction. I believe I have been hypocritical. In recent posts around the blogsphere I have commented in, I have taken the stance that HP is written by a non-Christian and should be left alone for that reason (among others that include the witchcraft). But as you and your son have pointed out, we are to even read Christian works with the same discernment.

So I think, really, that it hinges all on this one thing: a heart issue.

I haven't read the book either; I have seen part of one of the movies--but still not enough to have a solid opinion, I guess.

As for me being a hypocrite, my wife and I the other night were having date night and we watched Star Wars and I am thinking about what I had said and what George Lucas said about his influences for the movie being deep rooted on a lot of the eastern religions, and here we were watching it. I'm not going to turn into a wannabe Jedi watching this and if it does lead me in that direction, I would then have to question my heart for Jesus. And as you said, "Jesus used fiction all the time in His teaching. In at least one case, even when the story's protagonist had an evil value system, Jesus used the story to teach a positive spiritual truth anyway (Luke 16:1-9)."

So, thank you for your insight and commentary. It is valued.

And may the Lord be with you! (as I know He is)

jc said...

Phil, you mentioned how you didn't like the "rigid" Sabbatarianism displayed in Chariots of Fire. What do you think is rigid about that? What are your views on proper Sabbath-keeping?

Kim said...

Thanks for this, Phil. You would not believe some of the pressure my kids' friends receive from others to NOT read the books. Most kids at our church who read the books don't really share that piece of information. There seems to be a mentality that says all fiction must be "Christian." My daughter secretly confided to me that she finds most of the Christian fiction in our church library very formulaic and too focused on romance.

My kids have all read each HP book, but not before my husband read them. He thought they were well-spun stories, and could see the appeal, but he doesn't think they are "great" literature the way other books are.

My 11 year old finished this recent book in two days. It was over six hundred pages. If he can finish it that fast, it can't be too difficult to follow. It took him longer to read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

I'm sorry if our dictionaries frighten you. Would slide rulers be less daunting?

Libbie said...

Christians per se can read what they want, methinks. I'm not into fiction much myself, but I see as much obsession with dark themes in the average Christian bookshop as I do in Waterstones.
Perretti scared the wotsit out of me, and the Left Behind novels are exercises in how to focus on what the devil might be going to do...

One proviso, though. Parents have a slightly different perspective on this. As one myself, I don't believe demons are going to hop into my childrens souls if they read HP. But neither am I going to present them with hardback versions of the series next birthday. May we read them one day? perhaps. Totally agree with you Phil, about the neccessity for parents to be involved with what their children are reading.

It's for that reason that we say no to HP..but then, we say no to the Tweenies too, and for similar reasons. Harry the Hero is really not a character I want my kids to emulate (and niether is Bella from the Tweenies). Plus the darkness and cruelty of certain themes - well, I'd rather them read Foxes book of martyrs and be moved by gruesome deaths with a point than fictional gruesome deaths in a worldview that is decidedly post-christian...

but hey, I'm not going to disagree that this is one of those things that Christians can disagree on with alacrity.. my 4 year old is devouring the chronicles of Narnia at a pace, and I know folks who think that CS Lewis was an anti-christ because he sat in a pub with Tolkien. Christians are a funny bunch, really.

Jeri said...

Years ago, Mark Sidwell wrote an article to stem the hysteria generated by home school fundies over highly imaginative fiction like NARNIA, WRINKLE IN TIME, WIZARD OF OZ, etc., which they accused of occult teachings, Sidwell pointed out that stories with characters who are innately "magical" are not at all similar to stories that take a reader step-by-step through the practice of occult religions. The magic of Narnia is not "occult," merely make-believe.

TS Elliot, in one of his essays on religion, commented that in some ways fiction can be more dangerous than non-fiction, simply because readers think, "Well, I'm tired, I'd like a bit of fun," and they drop all of their critical thinking skills to just sit back and be entertained. So deceptive ideas or excessive violence, sexual innuendo, etc., that the readers would recognize and reject in non-fiction slip past their defenses in fiction. He wasn't saying we shouldn't read fiction; he was saying we have to be critical thinkers with our brains turned ON when we read, fiction or non-fiction.

And CS Lewis (or was it JRR Tolkien?), commenting on the way some children are completely overwhelmed by a writer's books or a series of novels, attributed such emotional addiction to personal immaturity, something to be outgrown. Others have ascribed the phenomenon to an absence of something crucial in the child's reading/cognitive development. The child latches onto a particular book series that provides what he has been missing and becomes overly fascinated with it..

It was no great surprise to predict slavish devotion to Harry Potter (or, before him, LotR) among some evangelical/Fundamentalist adolescents, as their llives were bordered by such unimaginative and badly written drivel. Children under constant "thought control" will quickly become addicted to stories of such boundless imagination.

The good news is that emotional slavery to a book series is usually outgrown, and can be combatted, not by blaming the books, but by giving the adolescent reader a wider, more challenging and enjoyable exposure to books as a whole.

As for the writing quality of the HP books, I have never read them either, but when the first one came out, some critics said the writing style was positively loathesome, but the strength of the highly imaginative story carried the books. I don't know if Rowling has had better success pleasing critics or not in the series that has followed.

Dittos to your son on the current faddish books in "Christian" book stores. Christian book stores are (and actually always have been) fictionalizing Christianity itself. ...Say, isn't that apostasy?

Michael Spencer said...

A refreshing attack of common sense there, Trogdor. May it spread across the net and ruin your reputation with the thought police.

BTW...lose to the Reds, beat the Cardinals. *shakes head* MSpencer

Douglas said...

"I would naturally be inclined to argue that all fiction is useless and wrong, except for one stubborn fact that mitigates against that position: Jesus used fiction all the time in His teaching."

No He didn't. He used heaps of truth in His teachings.

Sean MacNair said...

"My eldest noticed the subject of this post and remarked that Frank Peretti's demon-warfare novels and the rest of the cheap apocalytic fiction evangelical publishers keep cranking out are far more evil than Harry Potter, and that's what Christians ought to stay away from. I think he has a point."

And I'm assuming that will be a future blog post, since you need to explain that position just a bit more.

Jeremy Weaver said...

Douglas said...
"I would naturally be inclined to argue that all fiction is useless and wrong, except for one stubborn fact that mitigates against that position: Jesus used fiction all the time in His teaching."

No He didn't. He used heaps of truth in His teachings.


Unless you are willing to say that parables were true stories about real people in every single instance, I think you have to let Phil's point stand. The parables were not literal history, but literal parables. And they should be understood as such. It is true that these parables are loaded with truth, but it may or not be true that there was a man who sold everything that he had to buy a field in order to gain a treasure he had found buried in that field. And Jesus did not use this parable as a history lesson. He used it as a lesson teaching us that those who follow Him must give up rights to everything in order that we may truly gain every spiritual blessing in Christ.
So as far as we know Jesus used fiction to illustrate truth.
I think you may have confused fiction with lying. Fiction is a made up story that is not intended to be read as true, while lying is a manipulation of facts to present something as true that is truly untrue.

Jeremy Weaver said...

Sorry, I should have wrote, "Fiction is a made up story that is not intended to be read as true yet may or may not contain lessons in truth, while lying is a manipulation of facts to present something as true that is truly untrue.

P.S. Having not read or seen any of Harry Potter, I had voiced a similar opinion to someone in my home church about a week ago.

TulipGirl said...

When my Hubby was in the army, he often played "army" with the boys--teaching them to low crawl, the methods of clearing a room, and so forth. . . Until one day one of our youngers sons was acting in a way that showed he had trouble distinguishing playing army with Dad from reality.

We enjoy HP as a family (though we are waiting before the boys can enjoy the later books in the series.)

I believe you have identified the biggest potential problem with the HP books--when children are at the stage of development at which they have trouble discerning reality from fiction. It is a normal stage in childhood and isn't a sign of an "undiscerning" family. But at that point in development, I would want to avoid HP with my children. Having them believe HP is really real at that point is much more of a concern than them believing Goldilocks really did crash the Three Bears pad. . .

Libbie said...

Tulipgirl, excellent point. That's the importance of parents taking the time to engage with what their kids are doing.

I know families who believe they can see demons hopping about on JK Rowlings shoulders but their kids still pop their milk teeth under the pillow for the tooth-fairy, and think that the Easter bunny brings them chocolate.

I also know families who ridicule anyone who has concerns about the 'HP Publishing phenomenon'(said with grand booming voice) and say "As long as it gets the kids reading, it can't be bad". Which they'd say if their kids were devouring Stephen King's entire back-catalogue, of course.

Personally, if at some point my children do read Harry Potter and search out a Wicca coven and start doing candle-magic, I'll wonder why I had such a cruddy relationship with them and taught them the Faith so badly, and I'll leave JK Rowling out of it.

Ben Blakey said...

I would have to agree with Joey Calvin that this was a refreshing attack of common sense. Your thoughtful post pointed out that biblical thoughtfulness is exactly what is needed by Christians today, not only just in reading HP but in reading anything, or simply living for that matter. I would say that most who dogmatically support or attack HP lack much of that thoughtfulness.

Joe said...

I have searched for some time for the words to express my feelings about Harry Potter and other works of fiction. You have expressed them perfectly for me. So, until I come up with some "more perfect" words, I'll just borrow yours. Thanks

JRODFOSS said...

"I would naturally be inclined to argue that all fiction is useless and wrong, except for one stubborn fact that mitigates against that position: Jesus used fiction all the time in His teaching."

I understand the logic with having to rule out all types of fiction if that is your basis for ruling out HP. What I do not believe is that all fiction is equal especially when you compare Jesus parables to HP. We still need to consider the Authors intent. Jesus intends to teach us truth about himself and Rowling intends to introduce Wicca to children around the world.

All things are permittable but not all things are useful. we still need to be careful not to cause others to stumble that do not believe that HP is good for their family.

Eric said...

Excellent commentary. I linked to you from here.

Scott Aniol said...

Kevin Bauder has an excellent series of articles on Fantastic Literature, including Harry Potter HERE. It's a must read on the topic.

Wayne Hatcher said...

Very good article on the subject. When you said "The key is to be attentive, and Christ-centered, and biblical in your thinking.", you said it all. Under that we should include the need for parents to be parents. If a parent has a child who wants to read these or similar books, he should first read them himself, and then determine their appropriateness for his age of child, and whether they do indeed fall into the category of "great literature." I too have not read any of the Harry Potter books; my children are all grown. What I have heard about this series, and someone who has read them may verify this, is that the "good" charactcers are set up as rule benders, while the "bad" characters are portrayed as the sticklers. One thing that sets Lewis and Tolkien (and others) apart is that the Good, the True, and the Beautiful are always seen as such. The Harry Potter books are aimed at an age group where these value roles need to be black and white. I would not let my young, pre-teen children read these books, not because of the witchcraft, but because of the anti-authority message they send.

Patrick Chan said...

I suppose a crucial point is not so much whether certain books are good or bad, or espouse a Christian or non-Christian worldview (in a sense, many Christians, perhaps particularly those of the fundamentalist stripe, have created our own subculture with its own set of rules and restrictions: "Do not handle, do not taste, do not... read!"), but whether we ourselves are immersed in the Bible and its teachings. In my view, whether, for example, the Harry Potter books themselves are good, or good for Christians to read, is of secondary importance to the question of whether we ourselves have allowed the Word of Christ to dwell in us richly. What I'm basically saying, then, is this: to the extent that we are immersed in the Word of God are we mature enough to read Harry Potter.

To put it another way, since the whole of society and culture is at bottom anti-God, and since we are in the world but not of it, we should rather strive to learn how to think and live biblically -- not to be conformed to this world but transformed by the renewal of our minds, again, primarily by letting the Word of Christ dwell richly within us -- in order to be adequately equipped to interact with the culture in which we live, and thus be able to proclaim to it the true God of the Bible and His Son Jesus Christ. And I see a steady and constant immersion in the Word of God as the only way by which the Spirit of God will develop in us the spiritual acumen to discern the good from the bad in, for example, a book, not to mention in the other elements of our culture. I believe it was John Newton who compared such a Christian to an ear so attuned to listening to music that it was able to sense when a note was off. Thus, although much of the discussion over whether or not to read Harry Potter justifiably centers on its affect upon our soul, I think we may sometimes forget that Christians are not equally mature (perhaps least of all the author of this particular comment). So our main focus should rather be on the spiritual maturity and state of the individual Christian rather than the "spiritualness" and state of the Harry Potter books.

Okay, I've belabored the point long enough now... ;-)

Phil Johnson said...

To all who might not read carefully before posting:

My scant rules are posted in the right-hand column. Remember not to post off-topic, etc. Remember also that three offenses will get you permanently banned from commenting on my blog.

fickett said...

Phil you are right on the mark. A few years ago I was asked by a member of our church what I thought about Harry Potter. That same week another parent asked me about Left Behind. Having not read either, I needed to read them both before I could give my opinion. After reading them I came to a conclusion that I did not expect.

I recommended Harry Potter – it is a work of fiction that does not make any biblical claims. While some of its themes may be disagreeable to some, it remains a work of fiction and can be read for entertainment by those with discernment including children. Even those with limited discernment would not have their faith shaken by the book; they would see it for what it is: fiction. On an academic level it is well-written and entertaining.

I did not recommend Left Behind -- while it is a work of fiction, it purports to have Christian values and worldview. It is filled with theological inconsistencies, possesses a cafeteria approach to almost all doctrinal issues. Perhaps most disturbing of all is that the Pope is raptured along with the Christians. What ever it is trying to teach it is not orthodox. The issues it raises and the manner it answers them, would confuse the ungrounded. Much like The Late Great Planet Earth set the view of Revelation for a generation, Left Behind is doing for another. Unfortunately like LGPE, Left Behind is also getting it wrong. It is so poorly written that Nathan Wilson was able to write a parody, mocking not only the content but the sloppy style as well.

ThirstyDavid said...

Well, at least that last post, which will no doubt be deleted before anyone reads this, motivated me to learn a new word. Theonomist, that is. I already knew those other words.

David Kjos

TulipGirl said...

This is what Hubby says:

"If your child's grasp of Christianity is so tenuous that Harry Potter can turn him to the dark side, then you have failed in your covenant duties as a parent. Further, Hogwart's is little more than a fanciful adaptation of British public school life.

I think a much greater threat than children turning to witchcraft is that they may develop a desire to wear knickerbockers and speak in fruity little English voices. Now THAT is something to fear."

Reformer said...

I agree that most of the youth fiction we find in so-called "Christian" bookstores is drivel. Poorly written without any substantive plot line or character development. My boy is only 3, but after 3 comes 4 and then 5 and so on... (profound, I know!) My point is simply this: as Jonathan gets older, I want him to want to read. We will be drawn to good writing, not the silly stuff that publishers try to aim at young Christians now.

I do not work for them, this is not free promo, but I found some very good, well written "boy" fiction with a decidely reformed bent at Vision Forum's "All American Boy" Collection. I think these can satisfy the craving a young boy and help the "Word of Christ to richly dwell in him" at the same time.

centuri0n said...

Oh amen. Peretti, Dekker, LaHaye -- just because they go to church, suddenly their bad ideas are santified.

But try to get someone to read Pilgrim's Progress -- and even put it on the shelf for $5 new. You'd think it was mad cow beef.

Todd Bolen said...

Your blog is excellent, Phil. May the Lord give you the strength and will to keep it up. On Chariots of Fire, I agree that the Sabbath issue is problematic, but I think a greater difficulty is the "gospel" that is presented in the movie. The "gospel" is presented in a 1-2 sentence statement, but it actually is the opposite of biblical salvation by grace through faith alone.

Libbie said...

:-( What the dickens is wrong with a fruity little english voice? ;-)

Phil Johnson said...

Tulipgirl, speaking of your illustrious hubby, is the Postmodern Clog clogged? When I go there, for the past few days, all I get are his blogroll and sidelinks. The heart of the blog is blank. Am I the only one having that problem?

bloggo said...

Yes sir, the biggest threat to the Church today is Harry Potter. Good post, Phil. My children have read all the Potter books. So has my wife. I asked all of them the other day if they had any desire to cast spells or become wizards. So far no one has gone over to the dark side. My wife did cast a spell over me 27 years ago...........still under it .

I am of the opinion that the Left Behind books have done far more damage to the Church than any number of Harry Potter like books. I have pastored my share of people who think that what is written in the Left Behind books is what the Scripture teaches. Bad theology and quite frankly bad literature.

The Hungarian Luddite

Brian said...

Hard to believe Christians are writing some of these comments.

I don't think I have seen such a display of mediocracy in a while.

I am trying to figure out if it is just "agreement" because Phil posted it or what.

I especially took offense to the reference about Jesus and fiction. To throw that in with the "fiction" of Harry Potter is blasphemous IMO. I can't believe any Christian would ever compare Harry Potter to the Word of God.

The theme of Harry Potter glorifies witchcraft (with children), period. Jesus never approved of such fiction in the Scripture...nor did any of the other Biblical writers.

In fact, since I assume most commenters on Phil's blog are reformed...can you picture John Calvin or any of the early reformers writing in support of works such as Harry Potter? Not.

P.S. There were some good comments as well (i.e. pchan, libbie etc...) I was just really taken aback by a lot of them.

AMDG

bloggo said...

Dear AMDG,

Yes, I simply am in agreement because Phil said it. Once a day I repeat the mindless mantra "Phil said it, Phil wrote it, and that settles it for me."

I am always amazed when people think those who disagree with them are doing so because of ignorance or disobedience. Can you not fathom people disagreeing with your position, and doing so with a clear conscience?

Not all who read this blog are Reformed, so invoking Calvin doesn't do much for some of us. (except remind us that some Reformed people can't go a day without invoking the name of their patron saint Calvin)

Harry Potter is a Romans 14 issue.

The Hungarian Luddite

Brian said...

Bruce,

If you are in agreement with him just because he said it, you have bigger issues to worry about than this one.

I have no problems with people disagreeing with my position. Do you actually know my position or are you just assuming? Any position should be founded in the Scripture though.

If you aren't familiar with John Calvin, take any of the "Christian church fathers" and apply my statement.

Harry Potter is far from a Romans 14 issue. It is true that all thing are lawful for a Christian but not all things are profitable or edify. Trying to lump the glorifying of witchcraft and sorcery under Romans 14 is quite a stretch. I cannot think of one Biblical example where a man of God supported a writing on witchcraft and sorcery, fiction or not.

AMDG

Habitans in Sicco said...

Brian:

Here's a definition for you. I don't think Bruce's first paragraph was meant to be taken literally.

What people have defended here is fiction, not a how-to manual on witchcraft. And no one has "compare[d] Harry Potter to the Word of God." If you'd cut out the histrionics and make reasonable arguments, your opinion would probably carry more weight.

Brian said...

habitans in sicco,

I know full well what sarcasm is...is directing it at a brother called for?

What some people are defending here is Harry Potter, which happens to be a work of fiction about witchcraft and sorcery, which happen to be real things, not fictitious.

And yes, the "fiction" or use thereof in Harry Potter is being compared/contrasted to Jesus's use of fiction for justification. Search the comments for the following phrase "Jesus used fiction all the time in His teaching. In at least one case, even when the story's protagonist had an evil value system..."

My "opinions" hold just as much weight as yours and a position backed with Scripture holds more weight than any. An unscriptural position is pretty much built on sand and won't hold up to any Biblical scrutiny.

AMDG

Habitans in Sicco said...

Brian:

Yes, sometimes, it is justifiable to use sarcasm in response to a brother. Bruce's use of it above was justified, IMO.

And comparing the use of fiction in Harry Potter to Jesus's use of fiction is not the same as "compar[ing] Harry Potter to the Word of God." That's exactly what I mean by histrionics.

You're not gaining any ground for your position by that kind of argument.

Brian said...

I am not going to play tit for tat with you.

Luke 16:1-9 is the Word of God. The use of fiction and the comparison was made against that passage.

I have no time to discuss such matters with someone who doesn't even recognize verses in the Bible as the Word of God.

Nor do I have time to discuss the matter with someone who thinks sarcasm against a brother is justified. Not to mention the repeated false accusations as if you are somehow the judge of the heart behind a person's post (reference histrionics).

You can argue the matter with someone else. This discussion is over.

AMDG

bloggo said...

Brian,

Well at least you understood my sarcasm. I really do not care what your view is on Harry Potter. My point was to challenge your judgments of others all because you disagree with their point of view on a specific issue. Remember, you used the word mediocracy?

You believe you have the high ground on this because you "think" the Scripture supports your assertions. I commend you for standing on your convictions and your willingness to stand on what you believe the truth to be. Just remember........I believe Romans 14 does indeed apply and I out of conviction stand on that truth.

I do not know you age.......so please do not take offense........if you are a young man.....everything seems so black and white. As a young minister I was certain of everything and if we were having this discussion 25 years ago I would have been against the Harry Potter books. I have come to see that things are not as black and white as I assume. All of us have strains of fundamentalism and the result is we often make judgments about others when we ought not. This does not mean we should not discuss the issues, but it does mean we should treat one another with respect.

I know less now than I have ever have BUT what I do know I know more certainly than ever.

BTW. I know a little about Calvin. My point was that name dropping does not do much for me.

Brian, have you ever read any part of a Harry Potter book?

In no way have I intended to offend you. If I have please accept my humble apology. My intent was to interact not cause one to react.

The Hungarian Luddite

Brian said...

Bruce,

I wasn't offended per se by your sarcasm. I am very thick skinned. However, I do try to make sure that any discussion that I participate in is actually moving forward and it hasn't turned into brothers taking stabs at each other. It can happen easily on blogs.

If you read my comments, you will see that I haven't really stated a die hard position on all this. I have merely stated my observations on the issue in reference to the facts and the Scripture. I am in a constant state of learning as I seek the truth in prayer and study of the Scripture.

I don't think age is an issue. I have been seriously studying the Scripture for nearly 20 years and I am well past the age of "youth". :)

I have not personally read any Harry Potter books. Any time that I have to read is spent in the Scripture, on the internet, and on books/writings about the Scripture and/or doctrine. I have seen the movies though so I am not speaking blindly. In addition, I have read some of the claims/arguments the anti-Harry Potter crowd makes (as well as the pro-Harry Potter crown makes).

I believe I stated that all things are lawful for Christians but not all things are profitable and/or edify so I won't disagree with you on that aspect.

I really don't have much of a concern with mature Christians reading Harry Potter books or watching Harry Potter movies. They should be able to discern the issues just fine. My problem is with "Christians" thinking it is OK to expose young children to such material.

It was nice having a discussion with you on the subject.

P.S. I still don't think Jesus or any of the apostles would approve of the "mediocracy" and support displayed for Harry Potter books. :)

MacArthurFan said...

Phil, very surprised with your post on HP! Would your pastor agree with what you said...just curious!
You sited Romans 14 but that has to do with issues that are neutral not books talking about witch-craft.
One more thing: on the article where you mentioned Benny Hinn and Gary Ezzo with "shady reputations..." Ezzo was a pastor at Grace Church for several years...right? What sort of reputation does he have?

bloggo said...

Michael,

Who defines "neutral"? If you can show a clear command that it is a sin to read Harry Potter then I should be called on to "repent" but as far as I know there is none. I must exercise discernment and wisdom. If, in that exercise of discernment, I cause offense to a brother then I should refrain from the practice while in his presence.

Let's remember sin is transgression of the law not our particular cultural or religious beliefs. Standards of personal separation are fine (and we all have them) but they do not have the force of law. We may never bind a man's conscience unless the law demands we do so.

I do not buy your neutral position. Does a man have the freedom to smoke a cigar? Sure. Is smoking a cigar neutral? No. And such would be the case with many social activities. Our family tries not to eat any form of meat that is raised in a factory farm. We believe strongly about this.I hardly consider it a neutral issue yet according to Romans 14 I must give you the freedom to meat from a factory farm if you wish. I will try and convince your otherwise, and I appreciate the passionate anti- Potter posts, but if we are unsuccessful in changing a person's mind then we must leave it alone. No judgment. No name calling or questioning of motives.

Now if we want to have a discussion about Phil 4:8 I am all for it...........But the discussion would go far beyond Harry Potter and on to virtually everything we listen to, read, and watch. I suspect Harry Potter goes........right along with Rush Limbaugh and most of what is on TV.

Phil should not worry about "what" his pastor thinks. Worrying about what Gods thinks is a full time job.

The Hungarian Luddite

MacArthurFan said...

Bruce Gerencser,
Doesn't Romans 14 talk about things that are neither good or bad? That is neutral...things that are neither good nor bad.
I hope I am not being considered a "weaker" brother for my anti-HP position. The book is full of witch-craft! Do you think witch-craft glorifies God?
In the book, there is a distinction between good wizzards and bad ones...just what Satan wants.
I have seen the first movie. If you've seen it, do you remember the part where the boy is practicing his spells and the lil girl says, "No, it's not pronounced like that, but like this"? Do you know that the emphasis on spells in REAL witch-craft is what they really do?

And just a question about Phil 4:8...how far do we take it. It says ,"Whatever things are true." Does this really mean we can not read fiction? I mean...that's what it says..."Whatever things are true...." and fiction is not true. How far should we take it.

Thanks,
Michael

bloggo said...

Michael,

It is fantasy. Nothing more nothing less. All of my children have read the books (all 6 of them) and I not see any sign that any of them are becoming wizards. They recognize it is fiction.

I do not view Harry Potter any different than I do CS Lewis or Tolkien. Some will object trying to suggest that the themes in Lewis and Tolkien are Christian. Yes, to us who know that they are........but ask the average worldling who has viewed the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. See if they picked up the Christian message. Nope! Great movie, they say!!!

To me..........it is either good or bad fiction. Tolkien and Lewis are far better than Rowling to be sure, but it is still fiction nonetheless.

I view book reading the same way I do music. There is good and bad. Not secular and Christian but good and bad. There is very little good Christian fiction. I prefer my children learn discernment while reading various forms of literature. It encourages them to THINK rather than have others do the thinking for them.

I think I have exhausted my ignorance on the subject so this shall be my last word.

The Hungarian Luddite

GetRighT said...

You got a point in if HP is wrong what then about the others? I believe they are all preparing you, me and our children for the comming of anti-christ. He will be the ultimate wizard and do tricks that will facinate us all. Why the big facination with witch craft now? and no facination with the Word Of God.

HP is not man made. Its much more.

http://www.exposingsatanism.org/harrypotter.htm

God Bless,

/GettY

Theodidaktos said...

This is a very interesting topic that my girlfriend and I have been discussing. Our discussion focused on the aspects of beind worldly- or heavenly-minded, maturity, and what the Bible says. I argued against HP because I read the first book for school a long time ago, and I found it to be totally useless. Sure, it was cheap entertainment, but what if I had read my Bible for that period of time instead? I KNOW I would have profited from the use of the Word of God. The problem is that this pertains to all (or almost all) fiction. The secular movies and books that are being produced today are essentially a waste of time (if you think about it from an eternal viewpoint). Spiritually, I get nothing out of watching Star Wars or reading a fictional book. So what should my response be? I am trying to cut all that out of my life, and focus on God instead. I'm not saying it is sin, but Hebrews 12:1 says "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." (NASB). Notice that it specifies that we are to lay off the sin AND THE ENCUMBRANCES. Now, reading Harry Potter certainly doesn't bring me any closer to Christ (some of you may say that it does bring you closer to God to justify reading HP, but I think you really need to examine your motives). The other point of that verse is that "since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us", we should lay these things aside. Sure, reading a Harry Potter book doesn't necessarily pervert the mind of you or your child, but what does your worldly-minded neighbor think when he sees the book in your home?

Also, an interesting passage from 1 Timothy 4:1-7. Its kinda long(that means read it for yourself), but basically it says everything made by God is good and nothing "is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer" (NASB, v.4-5). Immediately following that, though, is verse 7 that states: "But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. . .". That is a seeming contradiction: to accept all things made by God as good if sanctified by gratitude, prayer, and the word of God; except worldly fables. What is the meaning of this passage then? Obviously it doesn't mean just anything can be used in an acceptable manner (for example, pornography). So we should accept the things that can be acceptable (think along the lines of meat sacrificed to idols), and obey what the text says (have nothing to do with worldly fables).

I know that some of you are going to say "Should we not go to any secular movie, or read any secular book?" Maybe. A worldly movie or book are no better than HP. There are some exceptions, though. PILGRIMS PROGRESS is a fantastic book that I would recommend to any person. That is fictional (in the sense that there was no real person named Christian who went on a long walk), but it is a clear picture of THE Christian walk. Historical books (Christian biography in particular) is another exception. The only other exception I can think of is books that help us to learn, as LONG AS WE USE THE LEARING TO GLORIFY GOD.

I apologize for the length of this post, but I hope it is found to be useful.

May God bless us with His presence,
Theodidaktos