Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Gospel of Action-Figures

I grew up with action figures. I spent many an afternoon imagining great military battles and ingenious military tactics with my action figures, vehicles and equipment. And although I did join the military, I never experienced a “blood lust” because of these toys.

These toys simply represented a relaxation time in which my imagination could be utilized for things other than short story essays in my fifth-grade class. Yet, it also represented a value-system that accepted military might and lauded military prowess. It capitalized on such moral virtues as bravery, shrewdness, and perseverance. Within a pagan culture, these virtues are ends in themselves, without reference to God or His Law. Thus, they are the roots of militarism and a military state.

Within a Christian context these virtues are not ends in themselves but attributes defined by the Law of God. Within this context, these toys, specifically, the virtues they highlighted, were used for God’s glory because they reinforced God’s Word. The Bible lauds such character traits as bravery, shrewdness and perseverance—remember Christ exhorted the disciples to be as cunning as serpents. However, God does not smile upon the use of stupid bravery, sinful cunning, and prideful perseverance. So, already, one sees how a toy reflects a culture behind it and thus a gospel. For cultures are religions externalized.

Now, what can one make of the new Jesus Christ action figure? (Yes, you read that correctly!)

For starters, is one even allowed to make action figures of Christ? At least, that is the first question our Puritan forefathers would have asked. Remember those men we easily laud as great founders of America—we’d like to have their moral superiority but not their morals. And one of their morals was the Second Commandment: not to make any image of God. Christ is God. Therefore, no image of Christ is allowed.

Secondly, one could write a plethora of pages on the obvious religious-cultural implication involved in a Jesus “action-figure” (I hate even writing that word). We create gods in our own image…need I say more!?

This so-called god of modern commercialism readily fits into the Humanistic god of Americana: he is pliable to the whims of his creator. As the child manipulates the figurine into “action poses” (like dying on the cross?), he merely mimics the theology of his nurturing: a passive god who tries to appease the desires of mankind. Whether this obvious critique maps to the Christmas demigod, Santa, or to the god of the average Christian in America, it does not matter. The metaphor is powerful and ripe, ready to for any energetic pastor to pick and throw at the nearest lackadaisical Christian’s heart.

My toys imbibed on action and heroism. This toy imbibes on pure paganism: man’s sovereignty over God. Instead of imbibing this refuse, try giving your children something more uplifting, like a G.I. Joe or a Book…with Exodus 20:4 earmarked.


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