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Book Review: The Harry Potter Bible Study

(Lisa Robinson)

I’m sure that the title alone has sparked some questions, raised eyebrows or maybe even some scathing criticism.  But before you judge a book by its cover, please read what I think is a fascinating way that Jared Moore has constructed a guide  in which Christians can learn about God and His world through an intentional interaction with pop culture and specifically it’s media products.   His goal is simple;

My goal is for readers to gain enough understanding of how to exercise a Christian view of the world in their daily lives…to teach Christians how to participate in media unto the Glory of God.  In order to enjoy God through media, Christians must submit to God’s revealed Word in light of Christ’s finished work and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).  In other words, I hope to show Christians how to be on their knees in their cultures worshipping God through recognizing His fingerprints in the media produced by God’s fallen image bearers. (pg 9)

With this goal in mind, I think the title can be a bit misleading since it suggests that we understand scripture by watching Harry Potter movies.  Rather, the goal of Moore’s exercise is to engage Christians in a deeper understanding of how pop culture reflects general revelation and how cultural products speak to God’s invisible attributes and eternal power, which he has made evident (Romans 1:19-20).   It makes sense that image bearers would reflect themes of redemption and hope, even though truth within them is suppressed, as I wrote about here as well.   It is no different with the Harry Potter series or with any other cultural products that contain both elements of truth and lies.    When we sift media through the lens of special revelation and God’s redemptive plan for his creation, we can take even something as unlikely as Harry Potter movies to experience how much God has interacted in the world He created.

Moore aims to  participate in media as an act of worship.  He proposes utilizing this study to not engage Christians in critical evaluation of media, but also to use it as a tool for outreach that will ultimately shine light on the gospel.  And why not, given the popularity of the Harry Potter series?   It is here that I think he makes a very compelling case for parents to teach kids how to navigate through the world.  he states, “Parents may profess their children are sinners, but they seek to protect them from a sinful world as if the world is the problem.  The problem is not outside influences but is instead their inside influences.” (pp 6-7).  By utilizing media to teach kids 1) who they are as sinners; 2) their need for Christ and 3) how to navigate media, Moore illustrates that media can and should be used for this training in how to think Christianly, not just for kids but for all Christians.

He uses it to show humanity’s fallenness and quest for truth and how to evaluate what is consistent with divine revelation is what is false.  Since all truth is God’s truth, media is a way that Christians can and should engage with it, identifying where it exists and rejecting what contradicts it.  I concur with Moore that we should not throw the baby out with the bath water simply because it contains some unpalatable elements.

Therefore, one should not get the impression with this study that Moore is glorifying Harry Potter or sorcery.  He is not.  In fact, Moore is pretty emphatic about pointing out the elements in the Harry Potter movies the book guides the reader through that are contradictory to Christianity.   And some will undoubtedly still be troubled by the fact that these elements in Harry Potter.    But I think Moore makes a compelling case for why this should not be a concern.  First, he emphasizes that the world of Harry Potter is a created, fantasy world that demonstrates creativity of its authors.  Second,  the engagement with the Harry Potter movies are not to emphasize the evil elements but to examine where there is a reflection of God’s revelation and his truth and engage with the philosophical underpinnings of contradictory worldviews.   He demonstrates that Harry Potter like all cultural products, contain elements of evil but also elements of truth.   This is the reality of our fallen world.  The problem is not Harry Potter, the problem is sin and a fallen world.

Moore takes the last four Harry Potter movies and provides a step by step guide of how to analyze the themes present in each film.   He extracts themes of good, evil, providence, love, forgiveness, creation, fall and redemption that are present in the movies that are analyzed in this study.  Since I don’t want to present a spoiler nor counteract Moore’s prescription of viewing the movie first, then reading the guide, suffice it to say that I think he does a wonderful job of drawing out themes for analysis, discussion and reconciliation with the biblical text.

Overall, I think that Moore’s study is worth the time and is no more detrimental to the Christian than watching the 11:00 news.  In fact, by engaging with the discussion guide and the movie, I can’t help but see how it would but sharpen our Christian worldview lens and provide a greater ability to interact with heightened Christian thinking in the world we live in.  Moreover, the questions can serve as a guide to evaluate other media products as well and should give the reader a better sense of discernment.

But most importantly, Moore uses this study as an opportunity to demonstrate that the only real remedy is found in Christ.   The gospel is the very foundation and overarching theme which Moore wishes to highlight, as he states here,

To summarize, this Bible study is based on the foundation that Christians should engage their cultures, find the common examples of God’s image therein, extract these common truths, and add God’s truth to them: 1) man is sinful (Romans 3:23; 2) God’s answer for the sin problem is Christ’s redeeming work in reconciling sinners and creation to His Father (John 14:6). (pg 23)

The link to Amazon is here.

Jared Moore’s web-site is here.

 

 

7 Responses to “Book Review: The Harry Potter Bible Study”

  1. Good Review. Doesn’t look like a first one!

  2. Here is link I have found useful for thinking about Christianity as religion, versus the typical evangelical focus today — that makes it, well basically, a cult.

    http://www.kuyper.org/

    In particular, this free PDF
    http://www.kuyper.org/storage/documents/Common-Law%20Wives%20and%20Concubines.pdf

  3. Truth Unites... and Divides December 31, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Lisa,

    Much thanks for writing up this review and recommending this resource by Jared Moore.

  4. Thanks for this. I was looking for Bible study materials for the new year. This is definitely a contender. If for no other reason than to actually talk positively about Harry Potter in church. For some strange reason, Christians got the impression that they were required to hate Harry Potter, even though it was one of the most clearly Christian popular stories to emerge in the last couple of decades. Reading (or watching, as it were) Harry Potter in church would be a potentially powerful antidote to such assumed nonsense. So, again, thanks for the tip.

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