Imago Dei and The Walking Dead

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WalkingDead

Imagine for a moment a parasitic virus of unknown origin infected the entire world. A plague of epic proportions in which the virus turns the dead host into a walking corpse.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s not possible in God’s creation…

Well it is. I present to you Zombie, ahem, I mean Walker Ants…

There are no words to adequately describe the horrific curses of the fall. But what if God’s common grace towards humanity was removed? What if there was a mutant virus/parasite/cold flu that once a human was dead, took control of the dead body much the same way as the poor unfortunate ant above?

Welcome to world of The Walking Dead.

The Walking Dead on AMC is the most popular show on television. Originally a comic book by Robert Kirkman. The show is so popular, that last years season finale brought in more viewers than the series finale of Breaking Bad.

Imagine for a moment that one day billions of people, become infected with a highly contagious virus that spreads faster than mankind knows what to do. If you are bitten, you become a host. If you are not bitten, don’t worry…when you die, the dormant virus will turn you into a Walker within moments of death.

In this world Governments have collapsed. Civilization no longer exists and the city of Atlanta is a graveyard, much like present day Detroit.

Humanity is absent of a Minister of Justice. There are no more laws, government, order, technology, power, internet. Humans are no longer on top of the food chain. They are prey. Death is every day, and death is gruesome. It is tragic. It is horrific.

I’ve heard many Christian’s (who have never seen the show) argue that the show glorifies death. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, The Walking Dead, does the opposite. It brings the viewer into a world in which the sinner deserves. A world which we should be in, if God never made a Covenant with man before the foundations of the world.

A world where death is void of hope. Life is meaningless, void of any future purpose for humanity. In the world of The Walking Dead, death is not something we will one day deal with sometime in the future, death is every single moment of our lives. Death is in the smell of the air, always around the corner, and constantly in your face.

In a world deprived of hope The Walking Dead attempts to answer questions like, What is the purpose of life amidst so much tragedy? Why fight for morality? Why get married? Why have Children? Why care about what is just or unjust in a world so empty? What is good? What is evil?

We still have those questions today, but the world in which Robert Kirkman has created places a magnifying glass on those issues and brings them to the forefront.

The moral center in this world of immorality, is Rick Grimes, a former sheriff, who is first and foremost a father and a husband. A man who is anything but perfect but fights for law, justice, good and against the greatest enemy in this world, other humans.

But what’s the point? Why not just pursue a survival of the fittest mentality? Why look out for others and try to build society with rule and order? Why risk your life and limb to try and scavenge abandoned grocery stores for the last remaining food (thankfully, filled with preservatives) to feed so many people?

Because we’re created in the image of God, that’s why.

We know that the law of God is written on the hearts of men. They know good from evil. They choose wickedness, and shun good.

It’s amazing to me, that even in the most fictional of worlds, void of any humanity, created by unbelievers, the primary issues of Imago Dei, cannot be avoided even when there is absolutely no reason to do otherwise.

The writers of The Walking Dead know that there is something more to life, than just living. Perhaps the most famous instance of this is in a scene with shows older, wise conscience, Hershel. Here he picks up a Bible, in the midst of great tragedy, and without saying a word opens the Bible to this verse…

“And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, until the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:29.

walking-dead-bible-verse

“And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, until the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:29.

walking-dead-season-4-episode-5-hershel1

Hershel sits on his bunk and reflects on the Bible.

Now I am not foolish enough to try and use this to say that the writers of The Walking Dead are Christian, or even that they are trying to bring the Gospel out and make the show Christian. I am not desperately seeking out Christian’s in pop-culture like a teenager who votes for the Christ professing American Idol contestant.

Claiming The Walking Dead as a Christian show is ridiculous, but my point is, like in my review of Breaking Bad, that the Christian Worldview pours out of the pagans uncontrollably. They know Good and Evil. They know right from wrong.

And in The Walking Dead, The boundaries of Good and Evil are quite clear.

The evil ones are the ones who are out for themselves, the anarchist. The selfish. The vigilante’s. The tyrants. The ones who kill or be killed. The ones who take matters into their own hands. The Bible condemns all of these people.

The good in The Walking Dead are those who risk their lives for others, those who fight for justice, for law, for order, for civilization, for family, friends and love even though doing so is seemingly foolish.

In a world where survival of the fittest, evolutionary thinking, has every reason to rise to the top, it doesn’t because it can’t. The image of God is what makes people human and continues to restrain the wickedness of man. The image of God is what makes people fight for others and risk their lives for the ones they love.

Now this doesn’t mean that everyone is a Christian, or that their attempts to do good are not inherently sinful apart from Christ. But the questions the series poses about humanity are important. The questions posed in The Walking Dead are the most important questions one could ever ask and as Christians, we are the only ones who can answer them properly.

Ultimately, we know that without God’s grace, humanity really is no different than the Walkers.

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