The truth is, Harry Potter contains many Christ figures (which is no surprise, all good stories do) and the basic Biblical principle of good vs. evil. Harry himself displays sacrificial love on many occasions; for example, in the fourth book of the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,Harry risks drowning and losing a competition to save a little girl whom he does not even know (Rowling, 501-502). This is an example of agape, Christ-like love-- he is not only willing to risk death for his friends, but for someone he does not even know. As Douglas Jones said in the HP edition of Credenda Agenda,
“…the Potter stories are decidedly Christ figure stories—an elect son, threatened at birth, who sacrifices His life for his friends and triumphs over evil in an underworld, even coming back from death for a feast” (par. 8)
And of course, the final book shows this Biblical redemption story most clearly, but I won't go into that since the first movie comes out in a little over a month!
Certainly Harry Potter has value for Christians, but whether or not a Christian reads (or allows their children to read) the series is a matter of private judgment that should be carefully considered. Christians have been given tremendous freedom through Christ. This freedom extends to all areas of life, including reading habits. Transcendent works of fantasy allow people to look at a “disguised world” (O’Brien 29) and see deeply Christian stories represented in a manner both creative and beautiful, as in Harry Potter. C.S. Lewis spoke of it as creeping past watchful dragons, allowing people to examine and understand concepts that they would normally avoid. Also, a book which depicts sinful behavior does not necessarily commend that sin, nor is it necessarily sinful for the Christian to read such a work, but often Christians use the presence of such plot elements as excuses for dismissing books without considering their value (Veith 72).
Although Christians have been given this freedom, God has also given them boundaries in what they should and should not enjoy. Paul says, “ ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up” (English Standard Version, 1 Cor. 10:23). In this passage, Paul goes on to discuss whether or not Christians should eat meat sacrificed to idols. He explains that while eating the meat is not a sin, if it might cause a brother to stumble or be bothered in conscience, Christians should not eat it. In the area of fantasy literature, then, Christians must exercise discretion (as in every area). If a book or series like Harry Pottercauses another Christian to stumble or be bothered in conscience, that book should be avoided or at least not flaunted by the Christians surrounding this weaker brother.
At the same time, Christians should not judge each other’s choices in matters like these of private discernment, for “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Rom. 14:4). If a Christian has a serious conscience problem with the Harry Potter series, whether it feeds in him a yearning for the occult and dark supernatural powers or causes authority problems, then he, as a matter of conscience, should avoid the series. But these weaker brothers should not judge a Christian who has studied and considered the issue carefully and has decided in favor of Harry Potter. It is a matter of discernment, and that is why it is advisable that parents not expose very young children insecure in their worldview to Potter until they are older (this would be advisable in any case if only because of some violence and dark themes in the books and the objectionable behavior of the children). As Woelke Leithart says in his essay, ‘Some Books’, a critique of Richard Abanes’ Harry Potter and the Bible, “I also agree that young children shouldn’t read the Harry Potter books unless they’re old and mature enough to handle it. But I failed to find one reason why a mature Christian shouldn’t read them, and enjoy them” (par. 9). Ultimately, a Christian’s choices must be focused in glorifying God. This is the ultimate standard for a Christian’s reading habits and life, and is best summed up by Paul: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). And in matters of private judgment, “The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves” (Romans 14: 22).
So, in a nutshell, that's why I'm going to be dressing up like a dork on November 18th and heading to the theater at midnight, and rooting for the Boy Who Lived to defeat evil. It's gonna be epppic.