Vampires vs. the Blood of Christ

James R. Rogers, a Texas A&M professor and board member of the LCSM Texas District, has an intriguing post at First Things about how the vampire craze can become an occasion to help people understand about the Blood of Christ:

Here’s a report [link at the site] about Danish teens using modern Vampire stories as platforms to think of spiritual matters. Given their immense popularity in the U.S., I also think that these stories can be drawn on to consider theological concepts with teens (and teens at heart) such as the Real Presence in the Supper, the relationship between the New and Old Testaments, and the work of Jesus Christ.

Both Vampire stories and the Christ story center on the identification of life with blood. This starts with Noah in the Old Testament. God tells Noah that he can eat animal flesh, but not animal blood, “You shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood” (Gn 9.4). Still, even in the OT, fallen humanity desperately needs the life that is in the blood. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement” (Lev 17.11, cf., Lev 11.14, Dt 12.23).

While the Old Testament flatly prohibits the eating of blood with the flesh, with the coming of Jesus Christ, the New Testament commands the practice, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (Jn 6.53-54).

Vampire stories invert this picture. Rather than the resurrected Lord who willingly offers his own sacrificed body and blood to give humans eternal life, Vampires are resurrected lords who sacrifice unwilling humans to take their blood for eternal life for themselves. The pivot around which both stories turn is the affirmation that the life of the flesh is in the blood.

via Vampire Stories and the Real Presence » First Thoughts | A First Things Blog.

He goes on.  (Also, see comment #2 by Mary.)

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    I see his point, but it can be a dangerous thing to draw our theology from the same place we draw our entertainment.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    I see his point, but it can be a dangerous thing to draw our theology from the same place we draw our entertainment.

  • Michael B.

    I think it’s kind of cheap when preachers try to incorporate the latest fad into their sermons, especially such banal things like Twilight.

  • Michael B.

    I think it’s kind of cheap when preachers try to incorporate the latest fad into their sermons, especially such banal things like Twilight.

  • formerly just steve

    I’m glad Michael and I agree on something. I’m always concerned with trying to link pop culture, which is by nature fleeting, with Christianity. Twilight as already yesterday’s news and the whole vampire craze will be soon. Yet the church remains. When people search for consistency and stability–which is what most people will eventually turn to when they grow out of seeking the latest fad–they won’t look towards Hollywood.

  • formerly just steve

    I’m glad Michael and I agree on something. I’m always concerned with trying to link pop culture, which is by nature fleeting, with Christianity. Twilight as already yesterday’s news and the whole vampire craze will be soon. Yet the church remains. When people search for consistency and stability–which is what most people will eventually turn to when they grow out of seeking the latest fad–they won’t look towards Hollywood.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @#1 He is not drawing theology from entertainment. He is engaging in media ecology, specifically he is examining where theological truth intersects with popular media. He may have made a tenuous connection, but he isn’t drawing his theology from the media.

    Media fleeting as it is, is something we must engage. Others far better spoken than I are also saying this, we need to be able to understand and think critically about media. We need to be able to see where and how the message conveyed in popular media intersect with theological truth. One, so that we can understand what is framing how people think and how. Second, so people don’t fall back on to the lazy and often misleading parameter of asking “is it Christian?”

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @#1 He is not drawing theology from entertainment. He is engaging in media ecology, specifically he is examining where theological truth intersects with popular media. He may have made a tenuous connection, but he isn’t drawing his theology from the media.

    Media fleeting as it is, is something we must engage. Others far better spoken than I are also saying this, we need to be able to understand and think critically about media. We need to be able to see where and how the message conveyed in popular media intersect with theological truth. One, so that we can understand what is framing how people think and how. Second, so people don’t fall back on to the lazy and often misleading parameter of asking “is it Christian?”

  • Jim

    I accept the criticism – although the purpose of the post isn’t intended to be taken in any more seriously than the response , “Hmm, that’s sort of intriguing.” Despite that, I’d suggest that the first three commentators above get the point precisely backwards. The Bible’s theology of blood is the archetype upon which vampire stories draw, even if unintentionally. So it is culture (or entertainment) that has drawn on the biblical archetype, not the other way around. The point to pointing that out, then, is to direct us back to the Bible itself.

    And I’d make the obligatory nod to Acts 17.22-23.

  • Jim

    I accept the criticism – although the purpose of the post isn’t intended to be taken in any more seriously than the response , “Hmm, that’s sort of intriguing.” Despite that, I’d suggest that the first three commentators above get the point precisely backwards. The Bible’s theology of blood is the archetype upon which vampire stories draw, even if unintentionally. So it is culture (or entertainment) that has drawn on the biblical archetype, not the other way around. The point to pointing that out, then, is to direct us back to the Bible itself.

    And I’d make the obligatory nod to Acts 17.22-23.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I’m going to go with Jim and DL21 here.
    Now, I’m not sure twighlight is even good entertainment, it is definitely not as good as Dracula. but Dracula is in fact the source for all other vampire stories today, whether it is Interview with a Vampire, or Twighlight, or any of the others, they all draw on Dracula for their basic concept. And Dracula isn’t fleeting. It’s actually pretty good literature.
    But this is one of those things, where we often don’t realize how influential Christianity has been and is on society. It’s a shame. It’s a shame that often times Christians don’t even get the references. Christianity provides the type, the themes, and the plots for almost all that passes as fine literature, and therefore even literature that isn’t so good, but is drawing off the better stuff, often times not realizing it.
    So I don’t think I’d preach from “twighlight” not even sure I’d reference it. There is something to be said for being able to see the references in pop culture and being able to cite them for the purpose of deepening a persons understanding of what it is we believe.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I’m going to go with Jim and DL21 here.
    Now, I’m not sure twighlight is even good entertainment, it is definitely not as good as Dracula. but Dracula is in fact the source for all other vampire stories today, whether it is Interview with a Vampire, or Twighlight, or any of the others, they all draw on Dracula for their basic concept. And Dracula isn’t fleeting. It’s actually pretty good literature.
    But this is one of those things, where we often don’t realize how influential Christianity has been and is on society. It’s a shame. It’s a shame that often times Christians don’t even get the references. Christianity provides the type, the themes, and the plots for almost all that passes as fine literature, and therefore even literature that isn’t so good, but is drawing off the better stuff, often times not realizing it.
    So I don’t think I’d preach from “twighlight” not even sure I’d reference it. There is something to be said for being able to see the references in pop culture and being able to cite them for the purpose of deepening a persons understanding of what it is we believe.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Ahh.. re-reading it, I see the point being made. I misunderstood. My bad and my apologies.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Ahh.. re-reading it, I see the point being made. I misunderstood. My bad and my apologies.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Furthermore, vampire legends go back deep into many folk cultures. I appreciate Jim–who is not, I believe, a pastor; rather, a fellow professor–for stopping by. He certainly isn’t taking his theology from pop culture! If you read his post that I link to, he goes on to make some intriguing connections to the Real Presence.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Furthermore, vampire legends go back deep into many folk cultures. I appreciate Jim–who is not, I believe, a pastor; rather, a fellow professor–for stopping by. He certainly isn’t taking his theology from pop culture! If you read his post that I link to, he goes on to make some intriguing connections to the Real Presence.

  • Michael B.

    Jim, nothing personal at all. I just think Twilight and these vampire series are just incredibly overrated. I was probably reacting more to the Twilight craze than to your post.

  • Michael B.

    Jim, nothing personal at all. I just think Twilight and these vampire series are just incredibly overrated. I was probably reacting more to the Twilight craze than to your post.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I checked his bio on the A&M website he does have a rather Lutheran sounding book title Democracy & Necessity: Rightly Dividing Political Authority. Sorry the theology geek in me can’t help but see a relation to a rather influential Walther book.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I checked his bio on the A&M website he does have a rather Lutheran sounding book title Democracy & Necessity: Rightly Dividing Political Authority. Sorry the theology geek in me can’t help but see a relation to a rather influential Walther book.

  • Jim

    First, please, no apologies necessary at all. I appreciate the interaction. If the courteous disagreement expressed by the (earlier) comments on this blog is the worst thing that happens to me today, then it’s a really good day.

    Secondly, Gene is correct – I am only a professor and not a pastor.

    Finally, Re:DL21 – The subtitle to my book was not drawn from Walther (although it could have been), but from a somewhat-more famous Lutheran theologian by the name of St. Paul (2 Tim 2.15, KJV). :-)

  • Jim

    First, please, no apologies necessary at all. I appreciate the interaction. If the courteous disagreement expressed by the (earlier) comments on this blog is the worst thing that happens to me today, then it’s a really good day.

    Secondly, Gene is correct – I am only a professor and not a pastor.

    Finally, Re:DL21 – The subtitle to my book was not drawn from Walther (although it could have been), but from a somewhat-more famous Lutheran theologian by the name of St. Paul (2 Tim 2.15, KJV). :-)

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @11 LOL :)

    Oh yes, I forgot to add Gig’em.

    Class of ’98

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    @11 LOL :)

    Oh yes, I forgot to add Gig’em.

    Class of ’98

  • SKPeterson

    Look – I have to tolerate the Aggie insanity of my brother-in-law. Must it continue on to this hallowed forum? What next? Chants of “War eagle!”?

  • SKPeterson

    Look – I have to tolerate the Aggie insanity of my brother-in-law. Must it continue on to this hallowed forum? What next? Chants of “War eagle!”?


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