Harry Potter and the Search for the Sacred Text

“And they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables (2 Timothy 4:4).”

Recently, hundreds of Harry Potter fans attended an event hosted by Harvard Divinity School graduates to explore these books as sacred texts. (1) The hosts said that they “find an ethical theme in every chapter, like duty, forgiveness, mercy, love, heartbreak, sanctuary, and grace.” Certainly, these are good values for any person to put into practice, but does that elevate the Harry Potter books to the status of “sacred texts?”

Why not? It all depends upon how one determines what is a “sacred text.” Webster’s defines “sacred” as “dedicated to the reverence of a deity”, “worthy of veneration of or relating to religion.” Harry Potter was written by a fiction writer and yet tens of thousands of Scientologists hail the book, Dianetics, as a sacred text, which was written by the religion’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, a pulp fiction writer.

Roughly 20% of the world’s population considers the Koran as sacred text which was delivered to them by the prophet Mohammad after revelation received from the angel Gabriel. While the Koran provides teachings on virtue and moral character it also teaches that Jesus did not die on the cross (Sura 4:157) while the Bible rises or falls on the truth of this event in history, that Jesus was crucified, buried and rose again (Luke 24:7, 1 Corinthians 15:17). Based on this difference alone, one of these books cannot be a true sacred text.

Millions of Mormons hold the Book of Mormon, received by the prophet Joseph Smith from the angel Moroni, to be sacred text. While it teaches lessons on righteous living and conduct that is pleasing to God it also teaches that inhabitants of North America were baptized in the name of the Lord (Mosiah 18:10) 147 years before the birth of Christ, and were called the church of Christ (Mosiah 18:17). Nearly 180 years later Jesus said, “I WILL build My church (Matthew 16:18).” The Bible and the Book of Mormon cannot both be sacred texts – failing to accurately pinpoint the time (Daniel 2:44) and place (Joel 2:32, Mark 9:1, Acts 1:8, 2:16) in which the church was established must discount that book’s claims to be divine revelation.

The Bible was not written by a single person but by 40 authors from different stations in society, over 1,500 years but with one central theme – How God would redeem mankind through His Son. From Genesis 3:15, to the Passover (Exodus 12:22-23), to Galatians 4:4, 2 Corinthians 5:21, and to Revelation 22:12-14 it is echoed.

But there is a wealth of evidence that supports that the Bible is indeed a sacred text that any other challenger should be ready to meet. It is historically accurate. In Acts, Luke mentions 32 countries, 54 cities and 95 persons. Sir William Ramsay set out to prove that Acts was written centuries after the supposed events written therein occurred. He explored the sites and records and concluded that Luke was a “historian of the first rank.” Archaeology continues to validate the written record of the Bible. The prophecies of the Bible are further evidence that it should be regarded as sacred, such as stating that Cyrus would free the Jews before he was even born, or the numerous details provided about the Messiah long before the child was born and a Son was given (Isaiah 9:6). The scientific foreknowledge of the Bible is another witness of its divine fingerprints, like an understanding of the hydrological cycle (Ecclesiastes 1:7, 11:3, Amos 9:6b), the existence of ocean currents (Psalm 8:8).

Test the claims of all books regarded as sacred texts because it is not a trivial matter. The Bible claims to be sacred text (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and it also claims that the One who made us (John 1:3) and gave us His Word will also judge us by this book (John 12:48, Revelation 20:12). So, which book do you hold as sacred?

“For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe (1 Thessalonians 2:13).”

  1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/07/19/harry-potter-and-the-sacred-text-podcast-draws-non-believers-who-find-meaning-in-magical-fiction/?utm_term=.bd75f2842787

Billy Alexander is a member of the church of Christ in Jersey Village in Houston, TX. He and his wife Gwen both work at Hewlett-Packard where they met and have worked more than 25 years each. Billy enjoys teaching Bible several times each week at Jersey Village and Memorial church of Christ. Since 2008, his weekly article "Equipping the Saints" as run in the Jersey Village bulletin.