"I am convinced that the fundamental reason for the astonishing popularity of the Harry Potter novels is their ability to meet a spiritual longing for some experience of the truths of life, love and death taught by Christianity but denied by a secular culture. Human beings are designed for Christ, whether they know it or not. That the Harry Potter stories 'sing along' with the Great Story of Christ is a significant key to understanding their compelling richness." Page 2
Our fallen human nature drives us toward self-gratification, not toward Jesus Christ and the cross. Because the "flesh" (human nature) prompts us to follow our inclinations rather than God's spirit, He warns us that
"...the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. ... Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like... [T]hose who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." Galatians 5:17
Granger: "Some Christians object to Harry Potter because Christian Scripture in many places explicitly forbids occult practice. Though reading about occult practice is not forbidden, these Christians prudently prefer to protect their children because of the books' sympathetic portrayal of occult practice. These Christians believe that such approving and causal exposure to the occult opens the door to occult practice." Page 2love what God calls evil and abhor His Word which shows us His way. (See Twelve reasons not to see Harry Potter movies)
Actually, they do. Any participation in or love for pagan practices is forbidden. We are to love what He loves; hate what He hates. The Bible tells us to "Abhor what is evil" and "cling to what is good." (Romans 12:9) But hundreds of letters we have received from "Christian" Potter fans show that they now
These definitions fly in the face of Grangers invocational / incantational theory. Magic is Magic.
Example: Page 17-19 in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. A dementor is bearing down on Harry with the intent to kill. Harry is carrying his wand. Wands are magical tools. Every wand is charged with one or more of the four elements. Every time you use a wand in any kind of exercise of your will the wand executes the will of the magician via air, fire, earth or water. Harry called for light and he got light (fire) from his wand.
According to Rowling, on page 19, Harry bellows, GET IT. And with a rushing, roaring sound, the silver stag he had conjured came galloping back past him. Harry conjured a stag from his wand (earth). Rowling uses the word conjure. Using Granger's vocabulary - because Harry called in the stag to save him and NOT an evil being then there is nothing wrong with this conjuration. But God never differentiates between calling in [invoking] something good verses something evil. God just says don't do it. According to Granger anybody can conjure anything as long as they believe that what they are conjuring is not evil. The WILL of the magician is at work here, not the power of the Holy Spirit.
There IS conjuration in the Harry Potter books. AND whenever an incantation is used in ritual magic the purpose of the incantation is to invoke something from the other side. Every time Harry does something with his wand the movement of the wand is the invocation and the words are the incantation. They are part of the same thing. Harry cannot have one without the other at this level of his training.
Granger says, "to risk overstating my case, the magic in HP and other good fantasy fiction harmonizes with the miracles of the saints." My question for Granger is this, "Which of the saints relied only on himself and his own will to execute his own miracles?"
Occultists operate by their own WILL. God is not a consideration to an accomplished occultist. God is not a consideration to Harry Potter either.
Harry's action, magic, lifestyle and thinking are always consistent with his belief system: witchcraft. He always exercises his own will not God's when wielding His wand, casting his spells and doing his magic.
From a concerned Christian parent: Many parents of our youth were successful in getting rid of a book our youth pastor wanted to teach, "A Dangerous Wonder" by Mike Yanconelli of Youth Specialties. Our youth pastor's praise of this book makes me believe he is taken in by the Emerging Church movement. Just because we were able to get the book tossed does not mean that his influence and that of whatever he seems to be following will not remain. Last Sunday there was a post that the youth would be going on a retreat read as follows:
"Twenty-four hours spent living, learning and serving in inner-city Minneapolis. Issues of poverty, justice and homelessness will be explored through various debriefing and service components. Students will be challenged to realign their perspectives, passions and pursuits with those of Christ. Church groups will be housed at local churches in Minneapolis."
Now, after reading "Spiritual Junk Food" by Cathy Mickels and Audrey McKeever, this sounds a lot like humanistic philosophy and the eradication of social injustice which Christians are not called. This seems like "service" by using group dynamics and assimilation. I know that my 15-year-old is not ready to "explore" poverty and homelessness this way (how about "exploring" the Bible?). My daughter hardly knows the Bible well enough to be able to effectively witness the gospel and I don't even see that that is going to take place. My daughter struggles with obedience to parents, authority, making friends and loving the elderly. It seems to me that those kinds of things should be what our youth groups should be encouraging.
word "debriefing" is quite suspicious to me, as well as "revamp" and
"realign" as if Christianity has not been effective enough in the past so we
have to "reinvent" "re-imagine" and "rethink" God's Word in light of the
world, instead of the world "rethinking" or "repenting" in their
relationship to God.
There is something that gives my spirit a check on this. My husband and I have already decided that our own 2 children will not be going to this, but I would like to effectively give a warning to other parents in the church. It seems like a good thing and so many parents don't want to make waves any more, but these are our children, not test pilots or lab rats for someone's idea of a cool way to learn new environments and check off that "service project" box.
We left another Baptist church about 4 years ago because of the youth pastor's successful start of an emerging church and the spiritual formation week we had warned the elders and pastors of, which included lecto divina techniques, visualization in the sanctuary, contemplative prayer and various other new age influences. All this while our youth room set up prayer stations, icons, candles and promoted on-line labyrinth prayers. So we have already been there and seem to be coming to another crossroads at this church.
From Cameron Holder, Youth Pastor, South Africa: I read your article entitled Harry Potter and the Post-modern church and I must say I was a bit surprised by some of your comments. I was particularly disturbed by your comments on the post-modern church. Firstly you speak about postmodernism denying absolute truth. True, but don't assume then that the post-modern church does the same. Granted it does say that there are very few absolute truths, far less then modernists would say there are. But the important ones are still there: God is love; God is good; God loves me enough to send His Son to die for me... interestingly enough the only absolutes left all have to do with God. All of them.
You criticize post-modern thinkers for looking for fresh new truths without acknowledging the need for them. The world looks nothing like it did when the Bible was written. Does this mean that the Bible is irrelevant? No, it means that there is truth hidden in it that we have yet to discover that applies to this time. I don't need to know what to do when my ox gouges my neighbours ox, but I do need to learn how to think on God in the information age when I read the Bible in the midst of 25 pages of other stuff a day, news reports, advertising etc so that the words I read in the Bible are not drowned.
Thank you for taking time to write us, Cameron. I appreciate your concern about all these issues.
Jesus fulfilled the old sacrifical laws. He was the ultimate, once-for-all sacrifice for sin. The New Testament makes that clear. It shows us that, while we no longer have to follow those Levitical laws, we must still (by His life in us) follow God's moral laws. They fit our times -- now and always. Of course, in corrupt cultures such as ours, it's more difficult and costly to obey God's moral standards. But, by His Spirit, it is more than possible.
You argument about Rick Warren using paraphrases of the Bible is only admissible if you only read the Bible in it's original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic to your congregation. Anything else is a paraphrase, we may call it a translation but practically the line between the two is fine and often blurred. I invite you to challenge your spirituality and see what is eternal and what is modern bias, because there is one. For example your comment on the church denying personal salvation for a more collective salvation. Obviously personal salvation is paramount, but what about the early church belief that salvation is impossible outside of the church. Surely we have taken the truth and narrowed it, it is time to explore the wider truth again. I agree with you that it is time to take a stand about Biblical truth. I just think that you are using that statement to say 'what I believe is Biblical truth and if you disagree with me then what you believe isn't' So I question whether what you believe is Biblical truth (I'm sure the overwhelming majority is). Maybe 300 years from now the church will have grown and will look back at the church over the last 100 years (even your web page maybe) and say on some issues 'How could they have got it so wrong'. We all have traditions and bias that has thrown us off course. I don't always agree with the postmodernists but I admire their courage for acknowledging that fact.
Cameron, may I ask you to explain this paragraph: "I invite you to challenge your spirituality and see what is eternal and what is modern bias, because there is one. For example your comment on the church denying personal salvation for a more collective salvation. Obviously personal salvation is paramount, but what about the early church belief that salvation is impossible outside of the church. Surely we have taken the truth and narrowed it, it is time to explore the wider truth again."
If I actually said somewhere that the church is denying personal salvation, I am wrong. I didnt intend to write that. Could you please tell me where (which page) you saw that? And where in the Bible does it say mention the early church belief that salvation is impossible outside of the church? Would you like me to post your observations in our comments section?
Second letter from Cameron Holder, Youth Pastor, South Africa: Thank you for your reply. What I was trying to say is that we assume we come from a place where we are natural (or balanced) and develop our theology from there. But no one comes from an unbiased position. Individuality is an example of a modern bias (there are many more). The term was only coined about 150 years ago to explain the strange culture that was developing in the US. Has Individualism affected the church? Absolutely.
I'm a bit of a church history buff so while the attitude of 'you cannot be saved outside of the church' isn't so much in the Bible as it is documented early church tradition. You will find hints of it in verses like Acts 2:44-45. The community aspect of church was so strong that it's actually fairly difficult to build a strong teaching on why you should become a member of a church because in those days nobody would even question the need to be part of a church, so the church writers never really had to address it. It's our individualistic bias that asks the question.
And the same bias makes it very hard for the church today to understand what Acts 2:44-45 would have been like. I was responding to your line where you said: "That's why the old emphasis on an individual's relationship with Jesus Christ as Savoir and Lord is being replaced with a more global emphasis on one's relationship to the collective, a greater whole which reaches far beyond the boundaries of old Biblical "box."
What I was trying to show you is that a relationship with a collective is only out of the modernist's 'old Biblical box'. For the large part of church history is was very natural. People like Brian McLaren are not so much searching for new truths as they are discovering old, pre-reformation truths that were actually truth, but were thrown out accidentally with the many untruths that pre-modern church carried. Look carefully at what they are saying and you will see that the only freshness is what they do to the truth to make it understandable in today's context.
In a sense truth is the same, the packaging changed. It's easy to criticise them because they pose things that are unfamiliar and even sometimes threatening to our beliefs. But it may just be that we are listening to a Luther, through whom God is saying 'The church is not quite on course, it's time to adjust the direction'. Or maybe he's wrong. But I respect him because he's thinking about it. I hope this clarifies my comments, you are welcome to post them and thank you for listening.
Cameron, here is what the Word tells us through Acts 2:44-45: "Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need."
That Scripture illustrates the wonderful fellowship we have in Christ, but it doesn't deal with the issue of salvation. God's promises concerning salvation are listed in Scriptures such as the ones below. Those are true for individuals who come to Christ in places where there is no organized church as well as those who immediately become part of a congregation.
One example of a solitary new Christian is found in Acts 8:26-39, where we meet the Ethiopian leader who -- by God's grace -- sought the truth and was taught by Phillip. But either way -- whether alone or in a church -- the new believer becomes part of the Body of Christ, the true Church, which has no geographical boundary. And the only condition for salvation is saving faith, not membership in a local church:
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. John 6:47
"He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. John 3:36
...this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." John 17:3
Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience. " Luke 8:11-15
Jesus therefore answered and said to them, '...No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.'" John 6:43-44
... if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. ' Romans 10:8-13
Let me respond to another of your comments as well. You said, "You argument about Rick Warren using paraphrases of the Bible is only admissible if you only read the Bible in it's original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic to your congregation. Anything else is a paraphrase, we may call it a translation but practically the line between the two is fine and often blurred."
Yes, the line between a paraphrase and a translation is becoming increasingly blurred -- for two reason: First, our words (such as "paraphrase" and "church") are being redefined by those who are attempting to change both cultures and churches.
Second, there is a growing desire among "change agents" and Christian publishers to popularize the Bible by stretching the translations as far a possible toward a paraphrase. But the difference between the two is very clear. The Bible translation is an attempt to translate the exact words and phrases in the ancient documents into as similar words and phrases in today's language as possible.
In contrast, a paraphrase is a subjective attempt to rephrase the original meaning and put the message into today's cultural context. Such intentional subjectiveness tends to produce a result that is far more politically correct and pleasing to our human nature than was the original. See What kind of message is The Message
A spiritual war is raging, but help is near. Here come the angels!
But wait! These warriors look more like Power Rangers or Superman. Some soar the skies on skateboards; others fly spaceships that remind us of Star Wars battles. Like sorcerers and superheroes, they can invoke power and protection through magical objects, and even "good" angels have bad attitudes and act like rebellious teens. So who are these new masters of the universe? What do they teach our children? Surely not Christianity!
No, these angels are marketing a tempting counterfeit. According to hollywoodjesus.com, their "creator" Chris Waters (who "moonlights" as a youth pastor) did "extensive research on the 'tween market." He "believes the best way to reach today's 8-12 year-olds is through visual entertainment, and hopes Angel Wars will be a portal through which they will come to understand the nature of a complex spiritual world."[4