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Discovering God’s Grace in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

  • Ryan Duncan blogspot for and Ryan Duncan, Entertainment and Culture editor
  • 2017 Jun 27

This week marks the 20th anniversary since Harry Potter first stepped onto platform 9 ¾ and introduced readers everywhere to the magical world of J.K. Rowling. It’s hard to imagine the impact Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone has had not just on audiences, but on an entire generation. This powerful story of wonder, friendship, love, and sacrifice has imbedded itself deeply into the hearts of readers, and while many Christians still remain concerned over the magical overtones, others have been amazed by its unmistakable parallels to the gospel. For my part, the Harry Potter series will always hold a special place in my memory for the way it helped me grow spiritually.

I’ll admit, there was a time I had difficulty understanding the grace of Christ. It always felt so abstract. As Christians, we were supposed to have a “personal relationship” with Jesus, but how could we if he wasn’t here? I prayed and read my Bible like I was supposed to, but I often wondered if I was simply playing through the motions of religion. Then one afternoon, I was finishing up The Sorcerer's Stone when I came upon a quote by the great wizard, Albus Dumbledore.

In the scene, Harry has just survived an encounter with the Dark Lord Voldemort. Despite being outmatched in every way, Harry discovered Voldemort couldn’t touch him. In fact, physical contact only served to cause his adversary great pain. When asked if this was some sort of magic, Dumbledore replies that it was something much stronger: Love.

“Your mother died to save you.” He tells Harry, “If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. Love as powerful as your mother's for you leaves its own mark. To have been loved so deeply, even though the person who loved us is gone, will give us some protection forever.”

In that moment it all became clear to me. Jesus may not be with us in the flesh, but he loved us so deeply that he willing died to save us. Such a powerful sacrifice does leave a mark, and if there is one thing the devil can never understand it is love. Just like Harry, we now have a protection which lasts forever.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”Romans 8:38-39

There is still much about my faith I struggle to understand, but novels like Harry Potter can give Christians a framework to view the gospel in ways we’ve never imagined. They grow with us over time, and teach us to approach difficult spiritual questions in small, deliberate steps. Regardless of how believers may feel about the magical element, there’s no denying J.K. Rowling’s beloved series has demonstrated the power of love and courage in a dark world.

I was just ten years old when the first book came out. It began with my parents reading one chapter a night to my sisters and me before we went to sleep. Later, I can remember a father-son fishing trip where we passed a copy of The Goblet of Fire between us while roasting marshmallows. In a way, these stories tinted the events of my life, including the Christian ones. So I can only hope the next generation finds their own lessons of faith with “The Boy Who Lived”.

*published 6/27/2017