There have been hints in earlier books in the series of Christian symbols and concepts. However, so many conservative Christians were noisily attacking, boycotting, and even burning the books, that few noticed.
The Nerdy Blogger describes Christian symbolism in the book series:
During 2006, "Nerdy Blogger" wrote an undergraduate thesis comparing Christian symbolism in C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Nardia with R.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books. She wrote:
"Lewis is indeed quite intentional in his use of symbolism in Narnia. What is perhaps not as commonly known, however, is that the same type of symbolism is used in a similar book series. This series is the popular Harry Potter novels by J. K. Rowling."
"This claim might seem startling, considering the reaction among many Christians to the Harry Potter novels has been almost anything but positive. From the books often topping the banned books list, to many book burnings, many Christians are completely opposed to Harry Potter and its author. Despite all of this, however, Rowling is insistent that her novels present no threat to Christianity, and many find the novels useful in discussing matters of faith. Michael Nelson writes in his article, 'Fantasia: The Gospel According to C. S. Lewis'."
She’s a member of the Church of Scotland and, whenever she’s asked, says, 'I believe in God, not magic.'’ In fact, Rowling initially was afraid that if people were aware of her Christian faith, she would give away too much of what’s coming in the series. 'If I talk too freely about that,' she told a Canadian reporter, 'I think the intelligent reader -- whether ten or sixty -- will be able to guess what is coming in the books'. ..."
"In Harry Potter, one of the foremost themes is love, in the sense of sacrifice, familial ties, and friendship. The reader sees this in the loving self-sacrifice of Harry Potter’s parents for an infant Harry; Harry, Ron, and Hermione (The Trio) bear much love for each other and display this in their actions towards one another; Harry shows great love for his Godfather, Sirius Black, and Sirius returns this love in many ways, including self-sacrifice; and this similar love can be seen in Harry’s love for his teacher and friend, Albus Dumbledore, as well as Dumbledore for Harry. Similarly in Narnia, we can see this same type of love in the Pevensie children for each other, and foremost, in Aslan’s love for the children and his creation, the world of Narnia."
The entire article is well worth reading. 1
The Nerdy Blogger's thesis was written before the final book in the series was released in 2007-FEB. The book contains Christian symbolism that was obvious to all:
In the final book, Harry:
Dies as a sacrifice;
Is tortured using the Cruciatus curse (a.k.a. the Torture Curse);
Experiences an afterlife at Kings Cross;
Comes back to life;
Triumphs over his evil adversary, Voldemort. 2
The parallels with the torture death by the occupying Roman Army and subsequent story of resurrection of Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus Christ) are obvious.
Derek Murphy, author of "Jesus Potter, Harry Christ" discusses the similarities between Jesus Christ and Harry Potter:
Murphy suggests that both Jesus Christ and Harry Potter are mythical characters!
He notes the degree of unease and open animosity between followers of both figures, and asks the question: "Just what is it about Harry Potter that Christians find so threatening?."
"How and why Jesus Christ, who is traditionally considered a historical figure, shares anything in common with the modern re-telling of ancient folklore that emerges in the character of Harry Potter, is the basis for my new book, Jesus Potter, Harry Christ – a 100,000 word treatise on Christian history, comparative mythology, astrological symbolism, and contemporary culture. ..."
"... Jesus Potter, Harry Christ provides answers that no other book on the subject has been able to provide: exactly how this transformation from myth to history occurred, why anyone would want to combine Judaism and pagan mythology, how followers of Jesus could believe so fervently in his existence to become martyrs, and how a movement as powerful and long-lasting as Christianity could have begun around a myth." 2
The author has created a contest with a prize of $500 for the best review of the book posted on Amazon.com's website before 2011-FEB-01. 3
William Schnoebelen is a fascinating
individual. One book reviewer points out that over a two year period, Schnoebelen claims to have studied
four different traditions within Wicca, and became a "high priest"
in each of them; this is a position that normally takes many years to
attain within a single tradition. An Amazon.com book reviewer wrote: "This
from a man who supposedly, in one lifetime, has been A Catholic Priest, a
high degree Mason, A Wiccan High Priest, Hard-core (baby
sacrificing) Satanist, a Mormon, AND an evangelical Christian; in
less than 50 years." (The reviewer missed Schnoebelen's alleged
consecration as a bishop in the Gnostic Church).
More details on his background. Schnoebelen has been quoted on a Goth lampoon website as
writing that Potter imitators are blind to the dangerous supernatural
entities that respond from
"an unknown beguiling arena. It seems so
enchantingly fun and innocent, but they are trafficking in evil spirits.
The books definitely draw kids to witchcraft." 4
Ellen Makkai is a syndicated columnist who
writes about "popular culture from a traditional perspective." She writes:
"Witchcraft and sorcery permeate
Rowling's books and parents would do well to attempt the impossible: steer
kids clear of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. At the very
least, children determined to explore Harry Potter's realm should be
grounded in a flame-retardant faith, enabling them to ride the lightning
and still walk away unscathed." 5