“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Jesus Christ was a Horcrux

We have seen how Voldemort’s decisions to take Harry’s blood and, in a way, hold his friends for ransom, unleashed the power of sacrificial love, to Voldemort’s demise, and we have noted the Christian nature of the theme of love. Perhaps the most distinctly Christian image in Harry Potter (and maybe the most beautiful) is that of Harry as a horcrux. In taking a closer look at this central part of the plot, we will see in greater detail how Harry’s “death” brought about victory over death.

On the night of the final battle, Harry discovers that when Voldemort’s killing curse rebounded on him because of Lily’s sacrifice, a ruined fragment of Voldemort’s lost and mutilated soul became attached to Harry’s body. In order for Voldemort to be defeated, this horcrux must be destroyed, which can only happen if Harry himself dies.

The parallel between this and events in the Christian story is remarkable. Just as Christ bore in himself everything of mankind that was evil and worthy of just destruction, everything that had to be destroyed if death was to be defeated, and victory gained over evil, so Harry bears in his body something terrible that must be annihilated if evil is to be overcome! Indeed, just as Harry Potter was a horcrux, Christ was said to have, in a sense, become the sin of mankind1 – Christ also was a horcrux. And just as the sin Christ bore was destroyed in his passion and death, thereby achieving victory over sin and death,2 so the evil that Harry bore was destroyed through his “death,” thereby putting Voldemort (who essentially destroyed what was left of his own soul) on the brink of defeat.

This parallel is very striking. Death could not keep its hold on Christ (Acts 2:24) because by his death he destroyed sin, which was the sting of death (see “Death Destroyed by Death”). That is, death could not take Christ without losing its sting and thus destroying itself, and in destroying itself it lost its hold on Christ.3 Satan’s “death curse” could not destroy Christ. Death is an evil that feeds off of something good; it depends on sin in order to have power, and sin implies a moral standard, or justice, which comes from God. On the cross, God wielded both love and justice as his own original weapons (see “A Deeper Wisdom”) in order to atone for sin and thus take away that which death, the great weapon of evil, depended on!

Similarly, Voldemort could not touch Harry without taking his blood and thus depending on him for life, and having done this he could not have killed Harry except by destroying the blood that gave him life, the blood which he had taken into his own body when in his folly he (in Dumbledore’s words) “tethered Harry to life while he lived”! Just as death could not take Christ without destroying itself, so Voldemort could not have killed Harry without destroying himself.

In both cases evil is parasitic, dependent.4 Voldemort took Harry’s blood to gain power, and Satan brought about the Fall in order to gain power in the world. Voldemort tried to exploit love, a very good thing, but it ruined him, and Satan tried to exploit God’s justice, a very good thing, and it ruined him. Neither could escape the deeper and older power of the things on which they depended, and which were turned against them.

I do not mean for this comparison to be taken as allegory. There are a number of strong parallels, but there are also dissimilarities. Harry did not die – he could not die because his blood ran in the Dark Lord’s veins. He returned from death because he did not, technically speaking, die. Christ did die, and he rose again for a different reason. Christ rose because the destruction of his “horcrux” (that is, sin) resulted directly in death’s defeat, and thus in resurrection and victory. So Harry’s death and resurrection does not line up with that of Jesus Christ in every way. Furthermore, the cross was an act of love just as Harry’s sacrifice was, but the reason we are “shielded” or “protected” from death and evil by the cross is not because of love per se. The cross would not have happened if God didn’t love us, but we are saved not only because of God’s love, but also his wisdom, power, etc. – all of God (all his attributes) went into the cross (see “A Greater Revelation of God’s Perfections”). If there is one thing, though, it is the justice of God, through which he atoned for our sins. In Harry Potter, on the other hand, the protective/shielding power resides mysteriously in love itself. Love is a “refuge,” whereas in Christianity it is God himself (and especially his justice) in whom we seek refuge and salvation.

While there are dissimilarities, Harry Potter does weave together facets of what happened on the cross in a similar way. Even the differences share similarities. For example, although Harry and Christ returned from death for different reasons, in both cases evil could not keep the hero in the grave without sealing its own doom. And in both cases, as we have seen, evil is turned on its head because of its own ignorance and folly, and thus death, a great evil, is turned into victory. Furthermore, although the shielding, refuge-giving power of sacrifice is not quite the same, it is similar in that in both cases that power is demonstrated or put into action through sacrificial love.

In summary, just as Christ’s death (because, as a demonstration of sacrificial love, it atoned for / destroyed sin, which is the sting of death) sealed Satan’s doom, so Harry’s death (both because it destroyed the last horcrux and because it was, like the cross, a demonstration of sacrificial love (note the difference in phrasing)) sealed Voldemort’s doom. The symbolism and imagery here is truly beautiful. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that insight into what happened on the cross, and thus a deeper understanding of Christianity, can be gained by reading Harry Potter.

1 See 2 Corinthians 5:21, “for our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God,” 1 Peter 2:22, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree,” and Romans 6:6, “…in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing.”
2 See Colossians 2:15, “having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
3 At the cross God made the brilliant winning stroke, checkmating evil by using its own great weapon against it – see “C. S. Lewis on Death Defeating Death.”
4 Voldemort depends not only on Harry’s blood in his own body, but on Harry’s body as a vessel for his horcrux. This is doubly ironic, given Voldemort’s resistance to depending on anything other than himself – see “Voldemort and the Nature of Evil.” Evil cannot escape the fact that it is no more than a perversion of good, and therefore depends on good in order to exist at all – see “An Unbalanced Duality.”

4 comments:

  1. "I would go so far as to say that insight into what happened on the cross, and thus a deeper understanding of Christianity, can be gained by reading Harry Potter."

    I completely agree! Well said.

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  2. You make a really good case. I like your blog.

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  3. I've been reading these essays and they are amazing. I think you're brilliant. Lately I've been trying to persuade people who think that harry potter is satanic to read them because they aren't. These essays are the best things I've read on the subject.

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  4. It's things like this that make me enjoy Harry Potter. You are well spoken and learned in the ways of righteousness and awesomeness. I look forward to readng anymore findings you come across

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