Spoiler Alert: But come on, if you haven’t read the Potter books yet, are you really ever going to?
I was on another forum, discussing whether or not the Harry Potter books are appropriate reading material for Christian children. These are my answers.
Is Harry Potter a type of Christ, as is Aslan in the Narnia stories?
Aslan is a metaphor for Christ because he is the sinless creator of worlds, who comes to the aid of Narnia, suffering and dying in the place of sinful man (Edmund), and restoring the world of Narnia.
Harry is more like the children of Narnia than the God of Narnia. He is a normally-sinful little boy who disobeys his professors and argues with his friends. The idea that he is a type of Christ, just because he is on the side of “good” when compared to Voldemort’s evil, is a really dangerous idea, and shows a huge misunderstanding of the gospel message.
Because there is no Creator in the Potterverse, and no arbiter of a universal good and evil, there can be no consequence for sin. Indeed, sin is not even a concept to be explored. There is good and there is evil, but “good” is not a concept in itself, defined by the goodness of God. Indeed, good can only be defined as anything that is not evil, defined by the badness of Voldemort. So the Potterverse has a devil, but not a god.
Take for example, the chapter where Harry, Ron & Hermione disobey explicit instruction from Professor Dumbledore by sneaking out of bed in the night in order to fight Voldemort. Are we to say that their decision was right, because they are the “good guys?”
Consider that they cast a spell on poor little Neville Longbottom, who is trying to obey Dumbledore in telling them to go back to their rooms. In the relativist morality of the Potterverse, it’s okay that they cast a spell on him, because they are justified in their disobedience because they are on a well-intentioned mission to foil the evil Voldemort. In the Potterverse, the ends justify the means. How very Machiavellian!
When Edmund betrays his brother and sisters in Narnia, there is a consequence. Indeed, Aslan Himself takes that punishment for Edmund. Remind you of anyone? This is why Aslan is a type of Christ.
When Harry Potter betrays Neville Longbottom, there is no consequence for this action. Indeed, this is the very night on which he succeeds in defeating Voldemort (the first time). There is a huge celebration, where he is rewarded for his actions by Dumbledore, the same professor whom he disobeyed. Certainly, Neville is also rewarded by Dumbledore for his bravery in standing up to Harry, but there is no consequence to Harry’s disobedience.
If Harry Potter is a type of Christ, he is a type of a Christ who never existed. He is a type of a Christ who would never have taken the cup of suffering given to him by his Father, but instead, who would have taken arms as Peter wanted to, and fought the forces of evil on his own terms. He is a type of a Christ who could never have led us to salvation, because it is in humility and submission that Christ did this, not in rebellion and disobedience.
Aslan, dying on the Stone Table for Edmund’s sin, is a type of Christ. Harry Potter, in his rebellion towards authority, is more a type of Edmund! But because Harry Potter lives in a godless universe, where morality is relative, where good has no definition of itself other than “not evil,” there is no consequence for sin, and no need for Christ.
But what about the last book, where Harry sacrifices himself for his friends?
Romans 5: 7-8: For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Christ died for sinners, who fell vastly short of God’s standards. Christ was able to provide a sacrifice for us because He was not a sinner. That’s the whole point of a Saviour. We are unable to save ourselves, because we are just not good enough (because God sets the standard of “good.”)
Harry died for his friends, who followed the same morality he did. They were all good, in comparison to Voldemort.
Harry is the one (in Romans 5) who will dare to die for a good person, while Christ is the sinless one who died for sinners.
The Christian worldview is based on God’s standard of morality. He decides what is good and what is evil. So God is good, and whatever is opposed to Him is evil. That includes all of us, (for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God: Romans 3:23) so we are all in need of a Saviour.
The Potterverse is based on Voldemort’s standard of morality. Voldemort is evil, and whatever is opposed to Him is good. So anyone who opposes Voldemort is good, and therefore has no need of a Saviour.
Harry Potter is a good kid, a nice guy, brave and self-sacrificing. He sacrifices himself in order to save others who are nice, good people, others who are opposed to Voldemort’s standard of evil. But He is no Christ.
But not every story has to be a gospel allegory in order for Christians to read it.
Certainly not. But the previous has been in response to the idea — presented by a religion teacher, of all things! — of Potter being a metaphor for Christ. The question of whether Harry Potter is appropriate for Christians to read is a separate issue, one best left to the individual Christian and his/her parents to determine.
If parents are using Harry Potter to springboard discussion about the Christian worldview vs. moral relativism, more power to them.
The bigger issue is that many Christians don’t recognize the flaw in the worldview, and imagine that it is compatible with a Christian worldview. They are not using the book to springboard critical thinking and discussion. They are merely allowing the world’s errant philosophies to enter their child’s perception of the world, unchecked.
As Christians, we need to be vigilant… especially when it comes to our children. Certainly, all things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. (1 Cor 10:23)