Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Gospel of the Walking Dead

Many people in our nation are fascinated with the AMC series, The Walking Dead. If you have not seen it, it tells the story of the a group of ordinary people fighting for survival in the midst of a world-wide zombie apocalypse. Due to the violence in the show, I am unable to recommend that everyone watch it, but for die hard zombie genre fans, it is a must see.

Though the show is not particularly religious, every so often it will include a religious theme. Though in my opinion, the screen writers' view of religion is a bit warped, I suspect that it is an accurate portrayal of how the ordinary person on the street who is only vaguely connected with religion feels. For example, I noticed that in season two, episode one, the characters went into the "Southern Baptist Church of Holy Light." Since I am a Southern Baptist, that got my attention. But once inside the church, I noticed it was decorated more like a Catholic church, including an almost life-sized crucifix of Jesus at front. Since a Southern Baptist church would NEVER have a crucifix of Jesus still on the cross, it was a glaring theological error. Obviously the screenwriters were lumping all religion together without any understanding of theology. But should that really surprise us? The church has not done a good job in recent years of communicating what we believe to those outside the church. Therefore, it makes sense that those outside the church do not understand something so basic as why Jesus is no longer on the cross.

But God, in His sovereignty, has not left non-believers without a witness. In the very same episode, a key character in the show, whose young daughter had gone missing in a forest full of zombies, prays and asks the Lord to take any punishment the little girl deserved and give it to the mom instead. Though slightly awry in its focus, this mother was expressing the biblical concept of propitiation. I doubt the writers realized they were teaching a Gospel truth that Jesus did exactly what that mother asked for on the cross. For it was on the cross that Jesus took all our iniquities, struggles, problems and failures on Himself and traded us all of His righteousness and purity. I thought it was intriguing that the screenwriters could not get a simple thing like Jesus no longer being on the cross in a Baptist church right, but could at least hint at the much more complicated concept of Jesus taking our sins upon Himself. Only God could have caused the screenwriters' minds to work such a deep idea into an otherwise unredeemable show.
Let us pray that the God of Heaven, whom is calling many to Himself, will continue to work in the hearts of non-believers to reveal the truth of the Gospel to them in ways that no one could have ever guessed.

Dr. Terry W. Dorsett is a church planter in New England. He also writes books and leads seminars on how to help churches be more effective in their ministries. Check out his resources at:


  1. Terry . . . As a former Catholic I can tell you it is that idea that through human effort I can "save" myself or others [Praying prayers & having masses said for indulgences is a prime example] that is a spring board to discussion about the fact that Jesus has already done for us what we are trying to do for ourselves if we will only understand & acknowledge who He is & what He's done . . .