Not so long ago, I shared in the evangelical notion that “Christians need to be represented in Hollywood so that we can be part of the mainstream and use it as a vehicle to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and be salt and light in the culture.” But that was before discovering on websites like Vigilant Citizen, Secret Sun and others what a freak show that industry is. (Babylon? Mystery? The great harlot? It’s all there!) Do not be naive … the Christian powerbrokers that are always whining about not being part of “the in crowd” and want a piece of the entertainment industry action for themselves know this stuff already and have always known. Yet, they demand to be included in this great evil, and even claim that it discriminates against them! And of course, they withhold from their followers – Christian followers – the truth of what this industry is actually about. As a matter of fact, they denounce Christians who do their level best to separate from this stuff and minimize its negative effects as small-minded, anti-intellectual dangerous extremists incapable of effectively conducting ministry “in the real world.” Well, is this the real world? What about this? And yes, this does include a ton of prominent gospel/Christian music artists and prominent preachers, who work with and are intertwined with Hollywood and media, especially behind the scenes.
The fact that mainstream evangelical Christianity would rather join with Hollywood than oppose it notwithstanding, there is one theme in major Hollywood films that seems to be curious: the false messiah. Please recall John 5:43, where Jesus Christ says “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.” This refers to Jesus Christ’s rejection by the world as its true Messiah and Saviour, and the same world’s willingness to embrace false messiahs in His place. In the immediate term, Jesus Christ was predicting that Israel would reject Him and follow after such false messiahs who promised political liberation and a human kingdom as Simeon bar Kochba. Those false messiahs, claiming to have been sent by God and having God on their side, provoked the Roman Empire into destroying the temple and much of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and then to burn the entire city to the ground some 65 years later. Long term, however, Jesus Christ was referencing a series of false messiahs to come, culminating in the beast, the man of sin, commonly called the anti-Christ. How fascinating it is that Hollywood is using movies to prepare the way for the man of sin by releasing “entertainment” that conditions its audience for following him. Consider some examples.
Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader of the Star Wars films.
“Star Wars” is the product of George Lucas, who apparently is an adherent to the theosophy belief system (which is a combination of religious philosophy and mysticism). Anakin Skywalker was born to a virgin slave woman, was prophesied as “the one who would bring balance to ‘the force’” (a dualistic non-personal energy), and after a period of “temptation” by “the dark side of the force” experienced a sacrificial death to secure the triumph of good over evil, and had a sort of “spiritual resurrection.” He also had a forerunner, a John the Baptist sort of herald who preceded him in a death by martyrdom in Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Neo from “The Matrix” films.
“The Matrix” is a product of a worldview that is a combination of postmodernism, Marxism, liberation theology, eastern religions and gnosticism given to us by what used to be “The Wachowski Brothers”, but now consists of one Wachowski brother and another who underwent a sex change operation. (It’s like a freak show in your neighborhood! Freak show baby!) Neo saves mankind from an oppressive world order of machines (which stands for white people, technology, western culture, Christianity and capitalism) to bring in a new bohemian order. The coming of this “Neo” was prophesied by “the oracle”, who is a “goddess” figure that created him as an “incarnation” of herself to help her overthrow the (ultimately secondary) antagonist, “the architect”, a malevolent “god” figure. The “god”, the “goddess” and the “messiah” wind up having to join forces in order to defeat their common threat, “Agent Smith”, a creation of the “god” who has become rogue, turned on his creator and become “Satan”, who wishes to create his own self-styled world order. This “Neo” was specifically not the product of human conception, but instead his physical body was the work of the machine order (“god”), and his mind/spirit, or soul, was the work of “the goddess.” In other words, Neo was “the goddess made flesh.” Morpheus served as the “John the Baptist” figure who paves the way for Neo. Neo dies and rises again (in the first movie), goes to a sideways underworld/hell (the second movie) and makes a final sacrifice of his life that secures the defeat of Agent Smith and a truce between the god and goddess (the last movie).
Sully from Avatar.
This is the product of the atheist environmentalist James Cameron, who saw fit to produce a movie that claimed to prove that Jesus Christ never rose from the dead. It combines Viet Nam and Iraq War allegories with promoting a generic synthesis of eastern, New Age and tribal animistic beliefs. In Hinduism, an avatar is the descent of a deity from heaven to earth, although it is more like an appearance or manifestation than a true incarnation, more akin to the theophanies of the Old Testament than Jesus Christ. However, since the introduction of Christianity into India, many Hindus have concluded that Jesus Christ was an avatar from their religion who appeared in Israel to provide spiritual and moral instruction and enlightenment, essentially assimilating Jesus Christ into their own religion. (In a more modern, secular sense, an avatar is a physical representation of an idea or personality. Note that many websites call the personalized picture that accompanies a username/account an “avatar.”) In this movie, the “soul” (mind/spirit) of Marine Jake Sully is placed inside a soulless alien body (which was created using genetic engineering in a laboratory, making the messianic figure not the product of natural conception) which “dies” (in a sense) when the soul of Jake leaves it but “lives” (or “resurrects” so to speak) when the soul of Jake returns to inhabits it. Sent on this mission to convince the (noble and enlightened) tribal aliens to abandon a tree that grows on top of energy deposits that just happens to be vital to the tribe’s Gaia-like cult, Sully instead converts to the religion, joins the tribe, makes his temporary and laboratory controlled “incarnations” permanent, and leads the tribe in an overthrow of the military-industrial complex invaders (who similar to “The Matrix” represent western, capitalist interests, our existing world order).
Aang from The Last Airbender.
Unlike the director of the other movies, M. Night Shyamalan has a more traditional worldview and is old-fashioned by Hollywood standards in that he actually respects Christianity on some level (see Signs), has a negative view of the occult (see Unbreakable) and rejects postmodernism as it relates to evil (see The Village). Still, Shyamalan jumped at the chance to write and direct a movie that not only presents a false messianic figure, but aims its worldview at impressionable children. Adapted from a very popular Nickelodeon cartoon (and Nickelodeon was created and is owned by MTV Networks) it is an amalgamation of various eastern religions and philosophies, and depicts a world inhabited by humans, animals very similar to creatures described in various mythologies and religions, and spirits. Aang, the messianic figure, is an incarnation of the planet’s spirit component (i.e. an incarnation of Gaia). This Aang discovers that he is the prophesied avatar, and – reminiscent of the prophet Jonah – flees his spiritual calling and as a result winds up in the ocean during a storm. Aang “dies” when he is frozen in ice, is “resurrected” 100 years later, and as the last (or unique) representative of the “air nation” (analogous to heaven) then defeats a penultimate evil threat: the lord of the “fire nation” (analogous to Satan and hell). Aang’s role is to ensure peace, harmony and world order, and as a human incarnation of spirit, he is a link or bridge to both.
It is amazing that these four films (or series of films), despite being made over the course of 30+ years by such diverse personalities and representing rather diverse genres can have so many common threads. It is rather difficult to imagine this being a coincidence.
- All the films embrace eastern religions and philosophies.
- All the films reject monotheism and organized religion in favor of a type of spirituality.
- All the films heavily emphasize martial arts (i.e. karate, kung fu, judo, tai chi) including but not limited to swordsmanship. Make no mistake, just as Albert Mohler (and this own site) says about yoga, eastern practices like martial arts are part of the religion. So, the use of martial arts – often combined with other forms of weaponry and warfare, whether lasers in Star Wars or guns in The Matrix – makes the violent aggression in these messianic films entirely religious in nature, religio-military propaganda after the manner used to justify the Crusades, or in a more recent era the same religious-military propaganda used by axis powers of World War II (which included not only the occult militaristic religion of Nazi Germany, but also the state shinto religion of Japan) and the religious fervor whipped up by the George W. Bush regime and his enablers (no, it’s not just the Muslims who do it, not by a long shot!) during the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars.
- All either reject – or fail to depict – capitalism in favor of socialism, communalism, bohemianism, tribalism etc. (Star Wars, The Matrix and Avatar are particularly vicious towards capitalism.)
- All heavily rely on receiving enlightenment, or some form of “secret knowledge” as opposed to relying on authoritative revelation.
- All on some level contain elements of there existing some common, shared or “connected” mind or spirit among humanity.
- NONE of these films are anti-war or pacifist in any sense, but quite the contrary. More on that later.
- Despite the lack of theism or organized religion, faith plays a huge role, especially among the protagonists.
- The films go out of their way to depict racial and cultural diversity and “gender equality” (and this was rather striking in the 1970s when Star Wars was made) among the protagonists (who represent the new world order) while – with the exception of “The Last Airbender” generally depicting the antagonists as white males (representing the existing world order).
- In each, the antagonist represents or at least bears a striking resemblance to our existing world order, and the protagonist represents a new world order (that again, shares the common points mentioned). This is the case whether the antagonist is the existing authority that gets overthrown (i.e. the empire in “Star Wars” and the machines in “The Matrix”) or is acting as a usurper (i.e. the fire nation in “Airbender” and the militarized energy company in “Avatar”).
Please note: I am not a Eurocentrist, capitalism/big business/war (Viet Nam or otherwise) apologist, or conservative of any sort. Instead, these are simply common threads that unite these movies. Is this the shape of the common, collectivist based (in religious, economic, social and political terms) society to come? If it is, then Christians might have to consider the possibility that reordering global society to fit this worldview would be a massive undertaking that may take quite awhile to pull off. Be that as it may, these films – and others like them – are most definitely laying the groundwork!
But back to the main point: consider a key difference between the false messiahs in these movies and the true Messiah, Jesus Christ: where the real Messiah is the Prince of Peace, the false messiahs are gods of war. Consider what Daniel 11:38 says of the anti-Christ: that he represents the god of forces. With false messiahs, this has to be the case. The reason is that the real Messiah came to provide spiritual salvation; to save people from their sins by dying on the cross. Jesus Christ didn’t have to pick up a sword and kill anybody to accomplish His mission, because His sinless life in fulfillment of the requirements of the law, His death on the cross to pay for sins, and His resurrection from the dead defeated death itself!
Unfortunately, the world rejects this successful mission on the part of Jesus Christ because the world rejects the idea that it is sinful; that it stands inherently guilty before a holy sovereign God that is Ruler and Judge. To it, the Biblical concept of sin does not exist (a la Buddhism and new age) or one can earn salvation from whatever idea that they do have of sin through works (Hinduism and some forms of shintoism). Either way, it does not recognize a need for a Saviour from sins, and therefore the Person and work of Jesus Christ is irrelevant to its concerns and a foolish offense to its desires.
So, the messiah, deliverer, or cosmic superhero must play another role, which is to save people from their earthly situation as opposed to their earthly condition, and this condition is generally that of oppression, poverty, war, etc. Of course, the root cause for the situation is the same as is the condition: sin. But the refusal to acknowledge that the root cause of political oppression, economic exploitation, discrimination, wars etc. is the sinful condition of humanity requires the one promising temporal deliverance to do so by picking up the sword, taking the fight to and overcoming “the other side”; the oppressors that are perceived to be responsible for all the evil. And make no mistake: Revelation tells us that the anti-Christ will identify the church (and possibly the Jews) as “the other side” that is at least partially responsible for all the world’s ills (just as the early church was blamed for political, economic and social problems in the Roman Empire) and it will be given to this anti-Christ to make war against the saints and to overcome them. Christians will be the evil empire in Star Wars, the machines in The Matrix, the energy company in Avatar, and the fire nation in The Last Airbender and as such will be the targets of the beast’s murderous military, economic, political and religious aggression. This will be to the delight of the citizens of the earth, who will be cheering the anti-Christ on just as did movie theatre attendants at the exploits of Luke Skywalker.
This will be because the church (and perhaps also the Jews) will represent the old world order. It will also be because of the church’s witness! During this time, the remnant will bear witness that the anti-Christ is no true deliverer but a fraud, and that the real solutions are not his program, but rather turning away from sins in true repentance and submission to the true Messiah who is Jesus Christ. Needless to say, it will not be a message that the world wants to hear. Similar to the early Christians who were persecuted often to death for refusing to worship the Roman emperor, such ideas will be considered “unpatriotic” (a fact which should strike contemporary Christians that are politically conservative with no small amount of irony) in the anti-Christ’s regime.
It honestly does appear that with these sorts of movies, Hollywood is providing a picture of the man of sin, and paving the way for his appearance in the process. The good news is that though the church will endure the great tribulation at his hands when he does appear, Jesus Christ will return to cut short the days of the tribulation, defeat the anti-Christ and those who support him, and rescue and vindicate His church, and an army of His saints will return with Him. If you are saved through Jesus Christ, you will be a partaker in this great victory. If you are not, then your only portion will be defeat and joining the anti-Christ in the lake of fire, the second death. Abandon all hope in false messiahs, repent of your sins, and join yourself to the only one true Messiah today!