Is Harry the Chosen One?
Christians who have enjoyed the Harry Potter books and films have picked up on biblical themes and truths throughout the series, and author J. K. Rowling has said that her own Christian faith informed her writing of the seven books. Many see Harry, though far from perfect, as something of a Christ figure, while his nemesis, the Dark Lord Voldemort, clearly represents The Devil himself.
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Connie Neal, author of The Gospel According to Harry Potter, certainly sees the parallels. Here, we've abridged three portions of her chapter that deals with Book Six, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which opens in its theatrical version around the world this week.
The Chosen One
"'People believe you are 'the Chosen one,' you see," said Scrimgeour. 'They think you quite the hero—which, of course, you are, Harry, chosen or not! How many times have you faced He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named now? Well, anyway,' he pressed on, without waiting for a reply, 'the point is, you are a symbol of hope for many, Harry. The idea that there is somebody out there who might be able, who might even be destined, to destroy He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named—well, naturally, it gives people a lift.'" (Book Six, p. 344-345)
Harry is believed to be "the chosen one" because the prophecy identified him as the one who has the power to defeat the Dark Lord. This has been confirmed by the amount of interest he has elicited from Voldemort, causing him to "mark him as his equal." Add to that the fact that Harry has faced Voldemort several times and lived, and it's no wonder that those in the Wizarding world set their hopes on him.
Some readers say this means Harry is a Christ figure or a Messiah. Yes, there are some things that happen to Harry that have marked similarities to major events in the life story of Jesus Christ, whom the New Testament asserts is THE Chosen One, THE Messiah. And the prophet Isaiah wrote:
"Look at my servant, whom I strengthen. He is my chosen one, and I am pleased with him. I have put my Spirit upon him. He will reveal justice to the nations. He will be gentle—he will not shout or raise his voice in public. He will not crush those who are weak or quench the smallest hope. He will bring full justice to all who have been wronged. He will not stop until truth and righteousness prevail throughout the earth. Even distant lands beyond the sea will wait for his instruction" (Is. 42:1-4 NLT).
Harry's designation as "the chosen one" isn't up to this level. "Revealing justice to the nations" and not stopping until "truth and righteousness prevail throughout the earth" seem out of his league given his tendency to lie when it serves his purposes and his penchant for rule breaking.
The phrase "chosen one" or "anointed one" is used throughout the Bible, not just referring to the universal "Chosen One" but also to people chosen by God to accomplish a specific purpose. The Old Testament book of Judges is full of stories of people God designated as "chosen." God chose David to be King of Israel. There is even an account where God predicted that a man named Cyrus would be his chosen one to rebuild Jerusalem and help the exiles return after being taken captive to Babylon (see Isaiah 45).
Harry Potter displays some characteristics that are definitely not Christ-like, even though he does fit the bill as a "chosen one" to defeat a particular enemy. But Jesus Christ, THE Chosen One, lived his life without sin. This is vital because the only way his self-sacrifice on the cross could pay for the sins of the world would be if he had no sins of his own. On that count alone, Harry's wrongdoings set him apart as being less than Christ material. But if you were to compare Harry to one of the Judges, there are numerous similarities. In the case of Gideon, you have a young man stuck in a situation where his people are being oppressed and attacked by the Midianites. He is appointed by God to lead the battle. This is confirmed with supernatural signs supplied by "the angel of the Lord" (see Judges 6-8).