A Word On Witchcraft And Harry Potter From A Christian Lens

Christians, Witchcraft And Harry Potter: A Brief Word

Is it really fair to condemn Harry Potter and other magical worlds of fantasy as being "occult"?

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The guy penning this piece is an unapologetic, unashamed nerd from way back. I love The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, I grew up playing with Yu-Gi-Oh cards and getting logged on to "Rune Scape" as often as I could. I have always enjoyed fantasy stories with heroes, wizards, monsters, goblins, and the usual characters that can immediately be brought to mind when one thinks of fantasy.

This was true of me when I was a boy and is true of me now in many respects. But there has been the discussion in the world and in the church on the subject of the enjoyment of things such as this and the themes at play within them that has been going on since the Harry Potter movies were becoming really popular when I was a kid. Truthfully, they were going on before that, but that is when I first began to hear them.

Many Christians, like me, are very big fans of things like Harry Potter where the main characters are referred to as "witches and wizards" that of course participate in magic. Other believers, whose viewpoints I personally do not share but I certainly understand and respect as their brother in Christ, consider the celebration of things like the Harry Potter franchise and having a fondness for certain characters and themes in the story to be nothing more than an exaltation of witchcraft and an affirmation of the occult as acceptable. This debate, I believe, in no way represents a hill that Christians should die on with respect to their doctrine or their relationships with their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Nevertheless, I don't think this to be something so peripheral that no real discussion or consideration of it is warranted. After all, a fairly sizable ethical matter is brought into view with this. How should those who follow Jesus think about magic, witches, wizards, and the occult? For purposes of this piece, which I intend to be a very brief exploration of the issue in question, I will seek to answer this question: "what qualifies as witchcraft?"

With that, an objection could arise that I haven't yet probed deep enough to raise the aforementioned question. After all, we haven't covered the moral permissibility of practicing the occult. Is it immoral, a sin against God, to dabble in the occult or in witchcraft? Does that matter to God under His objectively good, holy moral law or is it on the plain of taste and subjectivity, occupying virtually the same space as the preference for chocolate ice cream or vanilla ice cream? Biblically, it is certain that God does not permit His people to participate in witchcraft or any form of occult behavior. First I will define "occult behavior" and then I will provide Biblical support for the earlier claim of its Biblical clarity of being sinful in God's sight.

In a 1981 sermon entitled "Jesus vs The Occult," pastor and theologian John Piper provided a definition for occult practices saying the following: "I designate anything as belonging to the occult that involves dealings with the world of spirits or of supra-normal forces which (dealings) are not oriented on Jesus as he is revealed in the Bible. With this definition, I am assuming the reality of a spirit world and of mysterious supra-normal forces. I am assuming that the church makes a grave mistake when it says that supra-natural phenomena are restricted to another age or that only godly people can work miracles. Such a mistake lays the church open to the power of evil precisely because it refuses to recognize the presence of that power. The definition is also intentionally very broad. I mean to include everything from the most blatant Satan worship to the most commonly accepted use of horoscopes. As examples I would mention séances, necromancy, and all forms of communicating with the dead, PSI, ESP, and all forms of supra-natural psychic phenomena, real magic (as opposed to simple sleight-of-hand tricks), fortune telling, the casting of spells, wearing of charms, the use of Ouija boards, astrology, etc."

I would also consider the religion of Wicca and the New Age as examples of witchcraft. With that said, some of the Biblical texts that argue against dabbling in the occult as being an act of evil are Deuteronomy 18:9-12, Isaiah 47:10-14, and Leviticus 20:27. The first text that I mentioned, from Deuteronomy 18 is probably the best text that discourages the practice of the occult in the Bible, and it reads as follows: "When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There 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 or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you." (Deuteronomy 18:9-12, ESV)

Why are such practices wrong in a moral context from a Biblical perspective? Three things.

One, the participation in the activities mentioned in Deuteronomy 18:9-12 is to directly participate in a sort of reverence for that which is demonic in origin and therefore to hold in one's heart a higher regard for something of unalloyed wickedness than for God, who is necessarily perfect, holy, and pure.

Two, the Bible's continual teaching is that mankind is demanded of God to trust in Him first and foremost and to depend on Him for all things in life, indeed even for life itself, since He is omnipotent, sovereign, and has the good of the believer as a primary passion in His holy heart. Dealing in the occult is to trust in evil forces of darkness and impurity for a perceived need rather than trusting in God for the sort of deep life that is deeply longed for.

Third and finally, many deals in practices of witchcraft and occultism because they feel as if they need some sort of power that, for them, is at an inappropriately high level on their priority list and so they go anywhere and everywhere to obtain it. They feel a need for power over other people and proceed to put some sort of hex on them, for example. There is much more that may be said or written on this topic, but as a very basic primer on this concept, we have enough to conclude that such a thing, a thing that draws a person's from trust from God, pulls them to favorably consider the demonic, and gives their hearts inappropriately high thirsts for power and control, is wrong and should be treated as minefield for one's soul rather than something to be enjoyed and reckoned as a good source of good life.

I'm using the terms the occult and witchcraft interchangeably in this article, but it may be the case that they are different things when one probes deeper. They are often connected and linked so closely, and so I am using both to describe the same phenomenon.

So we have established what sorts of things would count as being practices that could rightly be considered witchcraft or occult behavior. In light of that, is it fair to say that enjoying Harry Potter as a universe in film and literature and appreciating things like it is to celebrate witchcraft? My view that I will argue is that it is not and that the church ought to drop the idea that it is. Three things…

One, Harry Potter's primary themes that are easily perceived are themes like the value of friendship, the triumph of what is good and hearty over that which is villainous and cold, the hero's journey, the value of self-sacrifice and courage, and so forth. Thematically, JK Rowling never gives an exaltation of the real, demonic sort of occultism that exists in the actual world. (i.e hexes, curses, communicating with demons, etc.) Two, the magic that is practiced and communicated as intriguing and potentially good in the Harry Potter universe doesn't resemble the kind of magical practice and witchcraft that exists in real life. Three, magic in the Harry Potter universe is enigmatic, but not obscure and associated with darkness like the pagan occultism warned about in Deuteronomy 18 or even modern occultism for that matter. That kind of witchcraft often concerns dreary themes like death and suffering or other principles and practices like the emptying of one's mind, chanting, the sacrifice of animals, or the exaltation of some dark reality for some sort of gift, reward, or gain of power or control. As far as I can tell, the Harry Potter universe, being very much one of fantasy, doesn't portray magic as being something intimately tied to demons, Satan himself, or things that are expressed in real magic and occultism.

With that said, Christian parents have total freedom over what they are and are not willing to permit their children to watch on TV, listen to on the radio or their phone, or line their shelves with. Should a godly couple find it best in their own judgment to avoid something like Harry Potter due to even the mere fact that the word "witch" appears in the story, they have done nothing wrong and are acting according to their liberty in Christ and are practicing a level of discernment about the media environment their kids will inhabit. On the other hand, if a couple finds value in Harry Potter's themes and portrayals of friendship, moral virtue, boldness, integrity, heroism, the age-old battle between good and evil in which the good always claims victory, and the like and they desire that their child's heart possess the ability to dream and have vast, decorated imagination, they have done nothing sinful or occult in the slightest by walking through Harry Potter with their kids. In this, as there often is in peripheral issues, there is Christian liberty and the Biblical exhortation to practice wisdom and discernment and to simply look out for the best interests of the children and the family, all to the glory and magnification of God's holy name and inerrant Word.

In conclusion, I would say that there are things taking place in our environment and even in the church itself that are occult and so it is right to condemn them and call them out as being sinful and displeasing to the Lord. Christians absolutely should not play with Ouija boards. Followers of Jesus should avoid becoming tangled up with tarot cards, fortune tellers, psychics, and other forms of astrology or divination. Those who proclaim passion for the holiness of God should trust God and not deal with things that are demonic and explicitly pagan in their purposes and practices. However, it is unfair to make up unbiblical ethical imperatives that claim that it is sinful to enjoy fiction stories that mention magical characters and creatures.

In this discussion is absolutely essential to honor the Biblical principles of the importance of respecting individual Christian conscience, of Christian liberty, of gentleness and respect for others, and of consideration of the difference between primary issues and peripheral, secondary issues of doctrine, ethics, and theology.

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A Letter From God To Help You Finish The Semester

God sees your struggles and He's here to give you strength and motivation.
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My Child,

The lack of motivation towards the end of the semester is normal. You are mentally and physically tired, but you are almost at the end. Don’t stop walking down the perfect path I have for you. When you’re going along and you come upon a speedbump, I want you to go over it and keep driving. The paper you have to write and the test you have to study for are just small speedbumps I have given you to make you wiser. You can write that paper and you can gain motivation to study for that test. I am here to give you strength, and am here to open up your mind and give you motivation.

You are so loved. You have such a beautiful mind. The light of Jesus shines through your eyes and your smile brings comfort to the world. There’ll be times you feel like you’re carrying a heavy load. There’ll be times you feel like the task I have given you is impossible to perform. But remember this: I would never put anything upon your shoulders that you cannot carry. If I put you in a certain situation, it’s because I know you are strong enough to go through it.

When you feel like crying, cry to me. When you feel like a failure, remember how much I love you. You are not a failure and you are not going to give up. I will hold your hand through every second of your life. I will seek your heart through your darkest moments. I see you, I see your heart, and I see your burdens. And remember that I have your heart which means I also have your burdens. Follow my footsteps and you will be free from the doubt. Remember Mark 4:40-41: “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” I have the power to calm any storm and wave. I have the power to calm YOUR storms and waves. Set your doubt, anger, and tiredness in my hands and simply be patient.

Romans 8:14-15 says,“For those who are led by the spirit of God are the children of God. The spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again, rather the spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.” Nothing can separate you from my love. Not even your lack of motivation. You have no motivation because you do not feel good enough. You are more than good enough. You were perfectly made by me and when I look down at you, I think of how proud I am of your heart.

Throughout the last few weeks of this semester, you will stumble upon speedbumps. But hold the hand of my son Jesus and you will be able to go over that speedbump with ease. Go write that paper, go study for that test, and go get an A in that class. I know you can because I have given you power.

Love,

God

Cover Image Credit: Margaret Carnes

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10 Types Of Questions To Ask God For Transformation

What is my abnormal normal?

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I believe one of the best ways to get to know who God is by asking Him questions about what you don't understand. God wants us to come to Him boldly (Hebrews 4:16). He wants all of you. He wants you to come to Him when you're frustrated, angry, depressed, lustful, sick, hateful, prideful, selfish and more. He wants you to bring all that to Him so that He can produce in you what you can't do yourself.

TD Jakes introduced this prayer in a sermon that is completely life-disrupting but indescribably worth it. The prayer is about our "abnormal normal". These are things that we do that we think are completely normal so much so that we wouldn't be able to identify it on our own but these things actually aren't normal.

I believe that the word normal is being used from the lens of 'healthy'. I remember TD Jakes daring his audience to pray this prayer but to be careful because you don't know what will spring up when you ask God to reveal this to you and, of course, help you with it.

Listen... when I prayed this prayer some time ago... I just remember situations springing forth revealing things to me that I was not prepared to deal with. It's almost the ballpark of when you ask God to show you who your real friends are and you get betrayed or people start acting 'funny'. But I believe this prayer is tougher because you're forced to deal with you in a way you may not be ready for.

But have no fear because you're in God's hands. He'll give you beauty for your ashes (Isaiah 61). You might experience some pain but it's indescribably worth it with God.

Dear God,

Why do I keep falling short even though I'm doing all that I know how to do to follow you?

Why should I follow you?

1. FRIENDS/RELATIONSHIPS

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Who are my real friends? Who really loves me out of my circle/s? Who can I count on for what counts in this life? Why do I keep experiencing the same things in my relationships? God, you haven't given me the authority to control people or their hearts so what am I doing that keeps me ending up at the same place with people? Am I just retaking the same test over and over again?

Do I have any patterns? What are my patterns? Where am I not holding myself accountable? How can I hold myself accountable so I won't go throw bad patterns in relationships?

2. PRIDE

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What is pride? Where am I prideful? Where does pride come from? Why does my pride keep coming back? What triggers my pride?

3. INSECURITY

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Why aren't insecurity and humility the same thing? Who do you say I am? Who do I have around me that could be perpetuating insecurity, doubt or self-consciousness? How does my insecurity affect the people around me? How can I build confidence YOUR way instead of the world's way? What does being confident in who I am in Christ look like? What does this mean?

4. RACE

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How do I love EVERYONE as my neighbor (Mark 12:30-31)? How do I have grace for and love people that hate my race? How do I have grace for and love people that spread hate? Why would you want me to have grace for people that spread hate? How do I have grace for and love people that have bullied me/ mistreated me/ persecuted me/ lied on my name/ cursed my name/ judged me?

How do I have grace for and love people that have hurt the ones that I love? How is my heart supposed to have enough capacity to love like this?

5. LBGTQ

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If you are Love (1 John 4:8), then why do my Christian friends recommend, with their actions, to express hate to our gay friend? Are they not our neighbor anymore because they're gay? Does the greatest commandment of love (Matt 22:36-40) not still stand even for gay people? Does the blood of Jesus Christ not cover them as well? Do we not all need the same grace? But how do you want me to walk in Grace AND in Truth as Jesus did before us as an example?

Because I'm not walking like you Lord completely if I don't also extend the truth of your word to my brothers and sisters in Christ, I'm asking for you to speak through me when I don't know what to say.

6. LUST

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How do I know when I've crossed over into lust? What are the differences between lust and love? What is so harmful about lust? Lust perverts things and I don't want to fall prey to this, what are things that are opening that door for me? Are there people around me that are enabling this in my life?

No temptation[a] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[b] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[c] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Cor 10:13)

7. OPPORTUNTIES

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How do I stay disciplined to your will and being with you? What are the opportunities that are for me and the ones that are not? I've heard Pastor Michael Todd of Transformation Church talk about ambition being evil, why would ambition be an evil thing? What is the most important thing for your children to do? What is our purpose for your kingdom on earth? What have you set us here to do above all of the other favor you've given us?

(Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plan's in a person's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails)

8. IDENTITY

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How do I learn who I am in Christ? What does it mean for me to be apart of the body of Christ? If we're all your children, does that make everyone my brothers and sisters in Christ? How should I treat all my brothers and sisters in Christ? Why is it toxic to others if I don't know who I am in Christ? Why is it harmful to the body of Christ when I don't know who I am?

Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth—everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made. (Isaiah 43:6-7)

All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name. (Psalm 86:9)

I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. (Psalm 86:12)

9. ENVY/JEALOUSY

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Am I supposed to be affected if someone I don't like walks into a room? Why is it hard for me to celebrate the wins of others? Why is it hard for me to celebrate the wins of people that I know don't honor your word? Why am I coveting even the lives, experiences and things of my close friends? Why do I compare myself to people who I'm close to and wouldn't want to compete with? Why do I secretly compete with people even the ones I care about?

10. PURPOSE

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What is the purpose that you've created for my life? What did you put me on this earth to do?

*Championship Playbook Scripture:

This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:8)

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:35)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentlenesses and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
and the one who is wise saves lives. (Proverbs 11:30)

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:1-8)

13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)

When I ask God questions I'm able to learn more about who He Is and I begin to experience another dimension of adventure in my relationship with Him! I would recommend always asking Him and trusting Him with what you don't understand!

These questions are for you to ask God in time of prayer and really be still and waiting on His answer. Asking God questions, even ones that I'm not sure I want the answer to, has to lead to God transforming me. I mean literally transforming me in my heart, how I love others, how I treat others, my discipline, my character, and more. It's indescribable.

Asking God questions like these also always leads to me, in addition to transforming, getting my own experiences of seeing deeper levels of His glory. And I get to see Him do it through MY life. I can't explain how awesome that is! As His children, we get the opportunity to experience the same God who used the same power to perform the miracles that we read about in the bible.

Those miracles in the bible are so mind blowing but it really does take faith for me to believe that He did them. So if I'm the child of the same God who literally says in His word that he'll be with us how he was with Moses, why wouldn't I trust Him? Why wouldn't I partake in the abundance that He wants me to experience with Him? Am I going to not experience it just because I don't 'feel' like being obedient?

Where is your kingdom mindset? Because my kingdom mindset tells me that do not experience more of Him because of how I feel is hustling backward. What do I mean by that? I mean that why would you invest in how you feel (Finite; fickle; changes all the time with no loyalty to you) over investing in the King of Kings who created the heavens and earth (infinite; omniscient; omnipresent; impossible to be defeated; impossible for Him to not love you)?

I feel selfish experiencing His glory and not sharing it. I want my brothers and sisters in Christ to know that there's always more of Him for you to learn about and experience. Be Bold! Ask the Questions! Try Him out! See what He can do through you and your family!

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