Ben Wulpi Hogwarts and Huntington Dr.

Brautigam January 14, 2008 Christ in Harry Potter There has been so much controversy around the best-selling Harry Potter series and its place in religion. Some claim that Harry is a Christ figure, and others claim he is an anti-Christ figure. Those that oppose the series are often fundamentalists Christians who disapprove of the use of witchcraft in the books, especially how the wizarding world is seen as fun and exciting. These people quote scripture like 1 Samuel 15:23, which talks specifically about the sin of witchcraft, and Ephesians 5:11, which says, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (KJV). These are often parents who want to protect their children from reading material that might possibly lead them to explore witchcraft and the realm of evil that it represents. In my opinion, these claims stretch the truth and don’t acknowledge the fantasy-imagination aspect of a series that is meant for entertainment. But I do believe that the fear for children becoming interested in witchcraft on account of the books is a valid one. Those that support Harry Potter as a Christ-figure also seem to stretch the facts. According to a chart given on beliefnet.com, some Christians parallel the scar on Harry’s forehead to the nail scars in Jesus’ hands and feet, Harry’s enemy Voldemort to Jesus’ enemy Satan, and Harry’s link between muggles and wizards to Jesus’ link between man and God. Although these parallels aren’t too hard to accept, there are several others that make often silly claims of parallels that really stretch the facts.

The point against the Christ-figure argument is that most epic stories have some sort of Christ-figure—a hero that seeks to defend what is good and defeats evil. Most fictional stories have clear outlines of what is good and what is evil. I believe that these are reflections of the absolute Truth in the universe. Man knows there is a moral code, a standard that defines good and evil. Inherent within us, we know that there is a need for some sort of hero to defeat evil. Why else would so many stories follow this same outline? These heroes in the stories are merely pale reflections of Christ, the ultimate Hero. Harry Potter is no different than the rest of these heroes in stories. Harry Potter doesn’t necessarily need to be a Christ-figure in order for the books to be acceptable for Christians to read. But the fact that Harry can be compared to Christ should not surprise us because of this absolute Truth that so many authors have reflected throughout history in their stories. Nor should it be difficult for us, as Christians, to discern spiritual truths from the Harry Potter novels or from any secular materials. So it is my opinion that Harry Potter is neither a Christ nor and anti-Christ figure. Nor do I think J.K. Rowling intended for the Harry Potter series to be allegorical of Christianity. But in these books, similar to so many other fictional narratives, it isn’t hard to detect whispers of this absolute Truth seeping through the pages. So, yes, I do think that “Christ began to whisper into the story” of Harry Potter, but I think if we look carefully enough, we’ll find Christ whispering into many stories besides Harry Potter. It seems to me that this topic is given so much weight only because Christians are trying to find an acceptable reason to read the books that outweighs the evils of witchcraft presented in the novels.

There are so many Christian values that have great prevalence throughout the Harry Potter series. The most notable of these is love. At the beginning of Harry Potter’s story, it is the love of his mother, who sacrifices herself, that saves Harry from the death curse of Voldemort. Similar to how Christ sacrifice on the cross saves us from our sins, so Lily Potter’s sacrifice saves Harry’s life. Paul tells us that only “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT). The apostle Peter tells us also: “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8 NLT). Love is a truth that Dumbledore teaches Harry throughout the series. Dumbledore trusts in the power of love to be victorious over evil. This is something that Voldemort doesn’t understand—the power of love. “That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to comprehend. Of house-elves and children’s tales, of love, loyalty, and innocence, Voldemort knows and understands nothing. Nothing. That they all have a power beyond his own, a power beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth he has never grasped” (Deathly Hallows, p. 710). Just as love is the basis for all morality given in Scripture (c.f. Matthew 22:3640), love is a theme that runs quietly underneath most of Harry’s values. One of Harry’s greatest values is that of friendship and loyalty. The bond of friendship between Harry, Ron, and Hermione is so strong that together they accomplish so much more than any of them could do alone. I think C.S. Lewis had it right when we wrote “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art...It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” Many times throughout the series, it is his love for his best friends that gives Harry the courage to do what he must. Friendship is exemplified in

the Scriptures by the love between David and Jonathon (1 Samuel 18:1-4). As soon as they met, they became best of friends. Friendship is obviously something that God values and desires for our lives. Harry Potter’s focus on friendship throughout the series is something to be admired and emulated. A theme shows up every once and a while throughout the books, but more so toward the end of the series, is grace. Harry shows grace to Peter Pettigrew by intervening when Sirius Black and Remus Lupin try to kill Peter in The Prisoner of Azkaban. Harry also risks his own life to save Malfoy, his sworn enemy, from feindfyre in Deathly Hallows. Grace, or mercy, is defined as unmerited favor; love or service shown to one who doesn’t necessarily deserve it. Malfoy is Harry’s worst enemy at Hogwarts, and Peter Pettigrew is the one who betrayed Harry’s parents to Voldemort, but Harry still chooses to save them. This is a great example of grace. We are shown so much grace by God, just because He loves us despite how much we sin against him. He loves us so much that He died to save us from our sins. If Lily Potter’s sacrifice for Harry can be compared to Christ’s sacrifice for us, there can be some interesting and insightful parallels there. Griesinger makes the observation that Lily’s sacrifice is only the beginning of the story for Harry. He still must go through many tests and trials, but these are what form his character. These are what shape him into a man. Similarly, Christ’s sacrifice for us is merely the beginning. We must accept His sacrifice and work out our own salvation “with fear and trembling” (Phillipians 2:12 ESV). As we go through tests and make choices that shape who we are, we aim to become more like Christ in all we do. It is the process of becoming the person God wants us to be (Griesinger 469).

In conclusion, there is so much that is of Christ that we can draw from the Harry Potter novels. There is so much of Christ that we can draw from everything in life. “Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God” (Romans 1:20 NLT). But, more specifically, there is a lot we can learn from Harry Potter. Is he the perfect role model of Christian character? No, but that just makes the story all the more real.

Works Cited http://www.beliefnet.com/story/116/story_11681_1.html http://www.jesus-issavior.com/Evils%20in%20America/Hellivision/harry_potter_is_evil.htm Griesinger, Emily. “Harry Potter and the ‘Deeper Magic’: Narrating Hope in Children’s Literature,” Christianity and Literature, Volume 51, No. 3. Spring 2002.