FRODO BAGGINS VS. HARRY POTTER:
A Christian perspective on fantasy literature
IV.C. Compatibility with the Bible
Another way for the Christian to judge a work of art is to ask how
compatible it is with the Bible. How does this story affect your
relationship with God?
The Lord of the Rings
It is important to emphasize that Lord of the Rings is a fantasy
informed by a Christian imagination. It is not allegory like Pilgrim's
Progress or a story with obvious symbolism like The Chronicles of
It is a different type of fiction and should be appreciated as such. A few examples of Christian elements in the
- The Hobbits are innocent and childlike. In the words of Jesus,
"(A)nyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child
will never enter it" (Luke 18:17 NIV). In their innocence, they save the
- The ring of power is like the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden.
It represents stolen power. It can only be destroyed, NEVER USED.
- In The Lord of the Rings, it is not the accumulation of power,
but self-sacrifice that saves the day.
- Elessar "the Elfstone" that Arwen gives to Aragorn in the movie (and
Galadriel gives to him in the book), is an eagle with outstretched wings. But in the movie it is very poorly seen and glimmers sometimes like a cross and sometimes like a dove.
- Lord of the Rings is apocalyptic, this is, the story is about
end of an age. Not only the end of a civilization, but the end of a world. (The end of the world as we know it is a very Christian concept and quite at odds with the worldly expect
ation that we are evolving to a higher and higher level of existence.) A
few examples of the apocalyptic imagery in the book and film:
- The black horses of the Ringwraiths and the whites horses at the Ford
of Beruna are reminiscent of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse.
- On the doors to the mines of Moriah are two trees (like the olive
on either side of the gold candlestick in the fourth chapter of Zechariah). The seven stars, one star above the rest and the crown are all images from the Book of Revelation.
- The sound of Boromir's horn is like the cry of a shofar or the angelic
trumpets in Revelation.
- Aragorn is a king who has departed but is coming back. (The final
volume is titled "Return of the King". A fitting ending for an
apocalypse.) Jesus is the ultimate King who has departed but will return
at the end of the age to establish his kingdom forever.
I find no Biblical references, imagery or messages in Harry Potter. Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardy is a dark world of ghosts, goblins, spells and curses, cobwebs and musty old cellars.
Much of the imagery is from pagan mythology:
There is, of course, plenty of witchcraft in Harry Potter. The Bible takes witchcraft very seriously in both the Old and New Testaments.
- "Fluffy" the three-headed dog is simply Cerberus who
in Greek mythology guards the gates of hell.
- The centaur.
- The lightning bolt on Harry's forehead.
"Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord." - Deuteronomy 18: 10-12, NIV
In Galations Chapter 5 witchcraft is listed as one of the works of the flesh.
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies." - Galatians 5:19-20, KJV)
When Paul preached at Ephesus
"A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly." - Acts 19:19 (NIV). Soon afterward a riot broke out and the Christians were nearly killed by a mob. When you oppose witchcraft in
a Pagan society, expect violent opposition.
But some object that the witchcraft in Harry Potter is only fairy tale hokus pokus. This will be discussed in depth in Section 3F: The Uses of Magic.
Copyright © 2002 by Stephen Mark Spence