TEXT: Many have undertaken to draw up an account of
the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they
were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught (Luke 1:1-4).
The Harry Potter series of books are incredibly popular all over the world. They have been translated into eighty languages and have sold over 500 million copies! They are well-written and tell some great stories … children and young people (and a lot of adults) love them.
Some Christians think that they are of the devil, because they speak of magic and spells. I edit a magazine and I remember when one of the books came out I asked my teenage daughter, Becky, if she would write a review. She queued up at the local bookshop for the midnight opening (she was, and is, a big fan!), read the book within twenty- four hours and had the review for me the next day. I think we were the first Christian magazine to have a review of Harry Potter! And some people complained. Was this not promoting witchcraft? Not at all! Not unless you are prepared to condemn the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, the Narnia tales and The Lord of the Rings!
At the opposite extreme are those who regard the Harry Potter books as some kind of Christian analogy. They are not that either. Although J.K Rowling is a member of the Church of Scotland and claims ‘Christianity inspired Harry Potter’. Spoiler alert! In the last book the hero is resurrected from the dead after dying in sacrifice for everyone else. And there are other Christian parallels. So the answer to your question is yes and no. It’s a great story, inspired by Christianity in some ways, but it is not based on the Bible.
But what about this idea? What if all great stories throughout the world are reflections of the greatest story of all – the story of the Bible and above all the story of Jesus?
I think that is true – but the other thing that you need to remember and always keep in mind is that the Bible is not a made up story. It is not a myth. It is the real story of Jesus.
In this week’s passage Dr Luke tells us how he came to write his Gospel (and the book of Acts). He doesn’t begin with ‘once upon a time’, or ‘there was a hobbit who lived in a hole’. He begins like a historian – telling us where he got his sources, (the eyewitnesses of Jesus) and what he did, and how he ‘carefully investigated everything from the beginning’. He then decides to write down everything for a person called Theophilus (the name means ‘loved of God’ and since Luke calls him ‘most excellent’ – he was probably a Roman official or high up Roman citizen), so that he would be certain of things about Jesus he had been taught.
That’s the difference between Harry Potter and the Bible. Harry Potter is a made-up story that was at least partly inspired by the Bible. However, the Bible is the inspired Word of God, which tells us the real story about Jesus. You can enjoy reading Harry Potter, but you cannot base your life on it. You can enjoy reading the Bible – and it is essential that you base your life upon what you learn in it.
CONSIDER: Do you think it is good to read stories, other than those in the Bible? Why? What are the good things we can get from such stories? What are the possible dangers?
RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING:
Looking for God in Harry Potter – John Granger
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of storytelling, and the gift of great writers. Thank you, most of all, for those your Holy Spirit inspired to write your story. We pray that we would never be distracted from the greatest story of all and that we would not live our lives in a fantasy world, but rather in your reality. Amen.
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