Thursday, October 27, 2011

Redemption Reflected in Harry Potter: A Review of THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO HARRY POTTER by Connie Neal

Someone unfamiliar with the Bible's main plot points might read J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series and think it's a really compelling fantasy story with a cast of memorable characters and an unforgettable storyline about an epic battle between good versus evil. And that would be the end of it. But someone with a familiarity with the Bible's main plot points is likely to read through the books and think, "Wow. These stories remind me a lot of the story elements of redemptive history."

It is the second group of people who will appreciate a book by Connie Neal called THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO HARRY POTTER. Neal takes us on an in-depth journey and exploration through all seven books in the series, revealing what she calls "glimmers of the gospel" throughout. The result for me was further confirmation of my belief that the story of redemption has been intricately woven into the fabric of our human existence. The greatest stories, the ones that impact us the most profoundly, are always a reflection of the greater story found in redemptive history.

Neal breaks the book up into seven sections, a section focused on each book. Each section has a summary of the book in the series the section is focused on. The summaries are really helpful because it can be hard to remember all the many intricate story threads that J.K. Rowling wove into each book. Neal then takes some of the most pivotal story elements from each book and shows how they compare and illuminate some of the most pivotal story elements in the Bible's redemptive story.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO HARRY POTTER is first a book exploring one of the most memorable and profound fictional stories of our time, but it also takes readers on a deeper journey into the story God is telling through Scripture. Readers will walk away knowing the Bible more.

This would be a great book for Harry Potter fans, regardless if they're followers of Jesus or not. It's at least a way to introduce someone to God's heart as revealed in Scripture while looking at the story of Harry Potter.

It would also make a great resource to Christians who struggle with the witchcraft story context of Harry Potter, who want to know if there is any redemptive quality to the stories. Neal does a fantastic job of showing us that there is, and that the most profound story elements reflect the sacrificial death and resurrection of Christ for the sake of others in a compelling way.

Having read and loved all the Harry Potter books, THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO HARRY POTTER was a fun read and a profound journey back into both the story of Harry Potter and the story of redemption through Jesus Christ.

I received this book for free for review from Westminster John Knox Press.

How much do you think the Bible had an influence on J.K. Rowling's writing from what you've read in the story?

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