The not-so-obvious stuff
You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error (1 John 4:4–6, ESV).
Before I delve into some of what I consider to be hidden spiritual gems in the Twilight Saga, I will briefly explain what I intend to do here so that no one misunderstands me.
First off, I do not consider any fictional work to be inspired (meaning in a biblical or spiritual sense). Whatever spiritual truths can be dug from it, no fictional work can take the place of the Truth as found in God’s Word. No one can be saved by reading fiction. No one can gain a true understanding of God by reading fiction. Tainted by the curse, every production of man’s hands will have fatal flaws. Because of this taint, we should never trust the words of man over the Truth found in Scripture (John [8:31]; 2 Timothy [3:16]).
Secondly, though tainted by sin, every man has a buried sense of God (Ecclesiastes [3:11]; Romans [1:20]). Some of the most common plots and stories have a root in some unconscious sense of God and the condition of man. God can reveal Himself through the works of even unsaved men and women, regardless of the human intent involved.
Thirdly, though I may point out interesting spiritual parallels in secular novels, I am in no way claiming that the authors intended such parallels, nor am I putting forward any novel as a spiritual allegory. I firmly believe that when you know and are sensitive to the Truth, you can find aspects of that Truth everywhere—even in spiritually bankrupt counterfeits of the Truth. Counterfeits are, after all, enough like the object they are copying to be deceptive, meaning that they can and do contain some elements of the Truth.
Every body needs a head
But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it (1 Corinthians [12:24]–27, ESV).
There are some brief spiritual gems in the saga that caught my eye. One of them was a quick statement in Breaking Dawn that opened up a spiritual parallel that has a subtle strength throughout the series.
“There was a good reason for the Alpha’s authority. Even a pack as strong as ours wasn’t much of a force without a leader. We had to move together, to think together, in order to be effective. And that required the body to have a head.” (Jacob, Breaking Dawn, page 208)
The pack mentality of the werewolves—all of one mind and following one leader—is a very good parallel to the way the Christian church is supposed to behave (1 Corinthians [12:12]–27; Colossians [1:18]; Ephesians [5:23]). Granted, this doesn’t often happen in reality, but if we allow God to have total influence in our lives, then we will plug into the body in the correct way with Christ as the head and the rest of us working cooperatively as His body. Take special note that it is repeated in Scripture that Christ is the head. This is very important. We have to be careful to never give our frail human leaders the position of the head. They may be the mouths, but they are never to supplant Christ’s headship over the church.
But beyond the werewolf pack, there is another prominent leader in the series: Carlisle. He is the calm, the compassion, the strength of purpose that holds the Cullen family together. You really get the impression that the rest of the Cullen family would be just like other vampires without his influence keeping them civilized.
“Carlisle has always been the most humane, the most compassionate of us … I don’t think you could find his equal throughout all of history.” (Edward, Twilight, page 288)
In this way, Carlisle appears to be the “true” spiritual leader of his family. He guides them by example with love and wisdom (Ephesians [5:28]–30). He is devoted to his wife, always in control of himself, never given to wrath, abhors violence, and dedicates himself to saving lives by working in a hospital. He encourages others to live as he lives. When quantified that way, it’s amazing how well Carlisle meets the biblical standards of a church elder (with the exception that he is not standing on Christian doctrine):
An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it (Titus 1:6–9, ESV).
This is not a huge spiritual parallel, but it is a subtle reminder of what a father figure and a leader is supposed to be. Our culture has so twisted these roles that it makes portrayals such as these valuable. However, since Stephenie Meyer is a Mormon, it really is not all that surprising that she portrays biblical style leaders, and from my Christian perspective, it’s definitely nice to see these types of archetypes portrayed.
Dead in sin
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind (Ephesians 2:1–3).
One of the things that I noticed right away in the Twilight Saga was the spiritual parallel that can be drawn between Meyer’s vampires and the condition of sinful man. She describes her vampires as walking, talking corpses. They have no heartbeat, no blood flow, they breathe only to use their sense of smell; they are venomous and their bodies do not change either to age or to produce life. They are ruled by an unquenchable thirst that can only be momentarily satiated with blood.
Taken into a spiritual domain, this perfectly describes the condition of man in sin (Romans [2:10]–17). Sinful man is nothing more than a spiritual corpse (Ephesians 2:1), animated in a semblance of life but lacking some very basic indicators of a healthy, living soul. Sinful man is ruled by desires that are corrupt and his every instinct serves to fulfill these desires (Ephesians 2:3). The only way these heinous acts can be atoned for is through the shedding of blood (Hebrews [9:22]).
Vampires also cannot reverse their situation. Edward loves Bella so much that he would become human for her, if he could, but this cannot be done.
“If there were any way for me to become human for you—no matter what the price was, I would pay it.” (Edward, Eclipse, page 273)
Another aspect of Meyer’s vampires, as presented most spectacularly by Edward, is that they cannot destroy themselves without external help. In fact, New Moon is bracketed by discussions about how Edward would attempt to kill himself in the case of Bella’s death because he could not bear to exist without her.
“It’s something I had to think about once, and I knew from Carlisle’s experience that it wouldn’t be simple. I’m not sure how many ways Carlisle tried to kill himself in the beginning … after he realized what he’d become. … And he’s clearly still in excellent health.” (Edward, New Moon, page 18)
Once again, the spiritual parallel holds true: nothing that sinful man can do can change his spiritual condition. He cannot reverse it on his own, nor can he find release from his eternal nightmare on his own (Romans [7:21]–24).
This is an imperfect spiritual parallel, of course. It works for the first three books, but gets turned on its head in the fourth book where Bella finally becomes a vampire and describes the experience in such glowing terms that there is no way it can be seen as the bad thing that Edward portrayed it to be throughout the rest of the saga. But there is something so incredibly fitting about using the illustration of a walking, talking corpse when discussing spiritual matters. Can a vampire become human again? Can a spiritually dead soul come alive? Or as Edward puts it in the unpublished Midnight Sun, can “a dead, frozen heart beat again?”
But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you (Romans [8:10]–11, ESV).
There’s more to this good news. In my next and final post on the Twilight Saga, I will write about the deepest theme in the books and the overall most sought after—eternal love.
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