How the Media Portrays Jesus, Part III: “Not God Enough”

I am reminded of the words of C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity, when he explained that Jesus was either lying, crazy, or truthful in saying he was the Son of God. While Lewis was using this concept to show that there is no way to say Jesus was “just a human,” I see it as a simple summary of the interpretations of Jesus in media. If he isn’t God, then he is just as messed up as the rest of humanity, and there’s nothing special about him. (This goes back to the hypostatic union in Part II.) Either Jesus is fully God and emotionally dead, or he’s fully human and sinful.

That said, when I saw the Family Guy episode with Jesus in it—

What? It’s on Netflix. And it’s not like I’ve seen every episode. Just…all through Season 13.

I would have to say the Jesus here is the least accurate to his Biblical appearance. He has the look, but he doesn’t have the actions. Sure, there are allusions to the Bible in what he does—ranging from a few miracles to a mildly accurate retelling of the crucifixion from his perspective—but he comes across as a fratboy and a rockstar. (In fact, he becomes a rockstar before the episode is over.) His dad, God, is no better, as he’s an alcoholic womanizer.

I’ll put it to you this way: I started watching the episode, “I Dream of Jesus,” (wherein Jesus returns) and stopped about ten minutes in, when Jesus appeared. When I sat down to write this entry, I started watching it again, from that spot.

I wrote two paragraphs, stopped the episode again, and moved on to watching a far more theologically sound show: Animaniacs. Between the heresy and the “Bird is the Word” gag, I am done with that episode on so many levels.

I want to compare this episode to The Last Temptation of Jesus Christ, except I haven’t seen the movie in its entirety. I’ve only seen a few clips of it—one can only take so much of the Green Goblin playing Jesus.

But what I have seen—and heard—of this movie shows that it is not far from Family Guy’s interpretation. This version of Jesus is one who is more prone to stumbling, not saying the right things and accidentally inciting rebellion. One scene, a retelling of John 8: 1-11, even plays Jesus as threatening and eccentric rather than wise.

While I see both examples as pure, unadulterated heresy, I do see what they were trying to accomplish. Family Guy wanted a punchline, and Last Temptation wanted to do something different. Either way, they got shock value. They portrayed what they thought to be a human Jesus. But they missed his true nature as fully God and fully human. He was fully human, yes, but he was fully human and without fault.

In closing, this goes to show us that if Jesus was not a liar (as in Family Guy) or a lunatic (as he was in Last Temptation) then he must be Lord.

I have one more part of this series in store, due this Wednesday. Until then, let’s connect!





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