[The following passage is an excerpt from Eye on Cleveland‘s article on Wipf and Stock title, Echoes of the Gospel in Harry Potter by Clay Myatt. Read the full article here.]
On an eight-hour drive in the summer of 2017, Clay Myatt tackled something his parents had strongly discouraged him from doing when he was younger. Going from his home in Cleveland to Eastern Tennessee to attend a college classmate’s bachelor party, Myatt began listening to a Harry Potter audiobook.
The more Myatt heard – and later read – of Harry Potter, the more intrigued he became.
“When I was young, there was a Christian backlash against J.K. Rowling’s writings and a lot of Christian and conservative groups admonished parents against letting their children read Harry Potter books,” Myatt recalls. “Even the Pope condemned the books, saying that they were a threat to religion.
Myatt isn’t exaggerating.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of Vatican Doctrine and later Pope Benedict XVI, described Rowling’s writing in 2003 as “…. A subtle seduction, which has deeply unnoticed and direct effects in undermining the soul of Christianity before it can really grow properly.” Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson called the Harry Potter book series dangerous. “We have spoken out strongly against all of the Harry Potter products,” Dobson said in one of his daily radio broadcasts.
But the more and more Myatt read of Rowling’s books, the more clearly he discerned patterns and connections between the narrative in Harry Potter novels and the Bible message. What he discovered surprised him.
“Over time, I started to see some fairly explicit overtones to both the Gospel and Biblical story lines, Christian themes in the Harry Potter series,” Myatt explained. “As I saw more and more of this, I asked myself ‘why haven’t I heard of these before?’
“I’ve heard dozens of sermon illustrations based on the works of C.S. Lewis, such as The Chronicles of Narnia novel series, and J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings novel trilogy, but I’ve never heard a pastor make a reference to Harry Potter in a sermon.”
The more Myatt looked into Rowling’s works, the more obvious the overtones presented themselves. As he began researching the connections, he discovered that Rowling herself (who’s pretty reclusive) has admitted to writers profiling her that these connections exist.
“To me, the religious parallels have always been obvious,” Rowling said in a 2007 interview. She has also stated to multiple writers that she believes in life after death.
The best-selling book series of all time and the best-selling book of all time—do they have anything in common? And if so, might there be a reason for that? Echoes of the Gospel in Harry Potter suggests that there is a profound connection between these two beloved and inspirational stories and, moreover, that it is the connection between the two that has caused them to be so widely read and enjoyed. Each chapter sheds light on this connection from a different angle by unpacking how either an aspect of the magical world, a character, or a theme in Harry Potter echoes the gospel—the story the Bible is telling that finds its climax in Jesus Christ. Whether Christian or non-Christian, well-versed in the Bible or unfamiliar with it, fans of the Harry Potter series will find this an illuminating and captivating read.
About the author
Clay Myatt is a pastor in Cleveland, Ohio. He is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.