Lost in Translation: The Spirituality of the TV Show “Lost” and the Christian Faith – Part 3

Part 3: Lost and the Loss of Holiness
in American Spirituality

As I noted in my first post in this series (October 23, below), Lost contains a surprising number of references to God and Christian faith. However, in many cases, Christian ideas or practices are given a different twist, usually along the lines of New Age interpretations.For those not aware of the differences, Christian faith relies on the Bible as its source of teachings and beliefs, while New Age spirituality tends to be more eclectic.That is, the New Age draws from a variety of religious traditions pretty much at will and combines them according to personal tastes.Often New Age teachings are rooted in Eastern religions (think Hinduism and Buddhism).If Christian ideas are incorporated into New Age teachings at all they’re usually reinterpreted in terms of the Eastern religions.

This sort of eclectic spirituality—kind of like a spiritual buffet—appears to be what we have on Lost.While it’s true that a number of the spiritual ideas we see on Lost may be recognizable as Christian in origin, often they’re reinterpreted in a way other than that accepted by mainstream Christian churches and believers.Or else they’re simply emptied of much of their unique Christian meaning until they’re made to seem “generically” spiritual.(I intend to say more about this in a future post, so please stay tuned….)

An example of this “genericizing” of Christian ideas (how ‘bout that for a new word!) occurred with the baptism of a baby last season. In that episode, Eko, the African drug lord turned Catholic priest (please forgive my previous misspellings of his name), advocated strongly that the child must be baptized; and yet it wasn’t a Christian baptism the baby was given. 99% of the Christian church agrees that baptisms are always conducted in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (the other 1% I’m thinking of baptizes in the name of Jesus—either way, Christian baptisms are related to the person of Jesus Christ). The baptism on Lost was not in any name as I recall—even though it was supposedly conducted by a Catholic priest.Instead, here baptism was given a more nebulous meaning. It was said merely that the infant needed to be baptized, but not in the name of Christ, and for reasons that aren’t clear. Evidently, in this view, baptism is just what you do with babies, because it has some sort of spiritual significance, a cleansing perhaps, or a rite of passage.

This is how a lot of the Christian references on the series are. They’re often denuded of their unique Christian content, until they become merely generalized spiritual activities or rituals.

In a flashback on the October 18th episode, we find John back on a farm several years previously (when he had hair), living in a commune with a group of friends and associates. As they gather round a picnic table for a group meal, the leader asks John to say grace. The prayer is almost a regular Christian prayer, very conversational and folksy (and that in itself isn’t bad, because God invites us to speak to Him in our own terminology).It’s offered sincerely, but of course, it’s generic, not concluded with the name of Jesus. Later in the episode, though, we learn that the people living and working in this commune appear to be involved in some sort of criminal activity, presumably growing and selling some type of illegal drug.(It’s not certain what the brown powdery substance is they showed briefly—that’s another of the show’s many mysteries—but all the people at the commune are afraid of getting caught by the police and busted, so apparently, whatever they’re doing there is illegal….)

To Christian sensibilities it’s an odd combination—here you have a friendly group of people praying together on the one hand, thanking God for His goodness and asking for His blessing, and yet it turns out these same people appear to be deeply involved in a criminal lifestyle.

In this way Lost presents for us the kind of spirituality that’s all too common these days in our land. There’s a desire to relate to God on intimate terms, yet without any consciousness of sin or a need for personal holiness. Proverbs 30:12 says, “There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness” (NKJV). That pretty much describes the generation we live in. People today want to come before God and call him their friend without dealing with the issue of sin in their hearts. This is one of the characteristics of New Age spirituality: A desire for God without a willingness to face one’s own sinfulness.

In past years there have been specials on TV about the spiritual lives of celebrities. One program showed a million-selling rock band and an equally popular female singer (or it may have been two separate shows) each praying with their entourage before their concerts. In their prayers they addressed God in chummy terms and each asked His blessing on their respective shows. Yet knowing the professed New-Age-type beliefs and promiscuous lifestyles of both these artists, it makes one wonder if they know the God of the Bible and Christian faith.They claim to have some sort of relationship with God but don’t display a desire to live according to His teachings.

We’re in danger of forgetting that there can be no fellowship with God apart from salvation, justification, and cleansing from sin. And in order to receive these we must go to the cross of Jesus Christ. Because of the disobedience of the first humans, we’re all sinners. Our sin has destroyed our relationship with God and keeps us from him. In other words, our sinful state separates us from God.

However, Romans 5:8 says, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” As the apostle Peter explains in 1 Peter 3:18 ~ “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”

Rom 3:20-25 explains things further: “For no human being will be justified in [God’s] sight by works of the [Old Testament] law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been [revealed] apart from law, although the law and the prophets bear witness to it–the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an [atoning sacrifice] by his blood, to be received by faith.” (RSV)

There can be no relationship with God without personal holiness, and there can be no holiness without the cross, faith, and repentance.

And yet many today want to gloss over this reality, as if we can come to God on our own terms. But we cannot. God is God and we are His creation. He is above us, superior to us. And though He loves us deeply, he is holy, which means he cannot accept sin unless it’s forgiven and done away with. As the verses above explain, this is why He sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross and rise again on the third day, in order that our sin might be atoned for and we could have friendship with God through faith in Christ.

And that’s today’s thought.NEXT BLOG: Sin and Redemption in the Land of the Lost.

See you next time!!Thanks for stopping by.

 

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One thought on “Lost in Translation: The Spirituality of the TV Show “Lost” and the Christian Faith – Part 3

  1. remix: the urban mission

    Good job again. The best term I’ve heard about the ecclectic spirituality that we get in contemporary America (and seeps into some of the Church) is “Cafeteria Religion.” You can pick and choose and mix and match the beliefs and practices that seem interesting to you outside of the notion of any cohesive content or (gasp) Truth. At the end of the day we are left with a tray full of jello and nothing of substance. This is not “True Religion” (as the book of James states it in the KJV) this is superstition. Biblical Christianity follows God-given reasoning…it makes sense upon investigation. It is historical and theological Truth with eternal implications (and answers) and not the catch-all feel-good mysticism that we are drowning in today.

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