I saw James Cameron AVATAR - brilliant movie. While fully absorbed in the 3D digital animation, I couldn't help but notice many biblical themes, symbolism and imagery in James Cameron AVATAR.

After the movie, I came back and Googled Avatar and wrote to Michael Bull from Australia who gave me permission to feature this entry in the South Asian Connection website.

The entry below is from Michael Bull - Bully's Blog - Theology You Can Eat And Drink.

Just saw Avatar with the kids and thought I’d post some thoughts.

Firstly, as with the few other films I’ve noted around here, the biblical themes are worth commenting on. We have a generation of young people hungry for a world full of symbols and are currently stuck with a clergy full of myopic well-meaning geeks too dim to realise they are withholding it from them. Yes, average evangelical, this means you.

You think you are a theologian but you spend little time really seeing the Bible because you don’t understand its language. If you had eyes to see, your children and grandchildren are sitting expectantly around the fire waiting for the aged story teller to share with them their spiritual genealogies, mighty victories and awful rites, and you can’t impart these things because of your own unbelief. The kingdom is being taken from you and given to others.[1] You have robbed them of their heritage for far too long. It’s time for the dead boring boffins of compromise to go. I’d say that’s about 90% of the academy? (It’s okay. They won’t understand what I’m getting at.)

I’m not going to get into the eco-vego-dandiccino gaia crap. That side of Avatar was just a remake of the cartoon movie Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest. On that side of things, Fern Gully was actually better. With Tim Curry and Robin Williams, how could it not be?

What struck me with Avatar was the many rich biblical symbols brought to life. Like most movies, it follows the Exodus to Canaan [Bible matrix] pattern, so I won’t dwell on that. I’ll just list the observations.

1. Someone on the BH list mentioned that the name of the goddess sounds like Yahweh.

2. The main character, Jake, is a cripple, a symbol of the human race whose planet is on the brink of death. As a new Adam, 100% human and 100% alien, he becomes, like Christ, the perfect mediator.

3. When the native chick is deciding whether or not to kill him, and there is that sign, it is every anointing in Scripture leading up to the transfiguration of Christ. It is the dove descending upon the chosen son, the anointed One, the Messiah. He is clothed in glory as a sign. He is Adam with a better heart.

4. Jake and the chick’s “marriage before gaia” was de facto (marriage-by-sex) but at least it was for life.

5. When he visits the Tree of Souls, he is the high priest in the most holy place, an advocate for the people.
Sigourney Weaver is the Old Covenant bride who has “given birth” to the mediator. She dies and is buried, like Sarah, like the body of Moses, in the Land. The native bride is a new beginning, a new government.

6. The Presbyterians won’t understand this, but Jake’s initiation as a warrior is exactly the point I have been trying to get across about the importance of credo-baptism.

7. The villains blow up the giant tree, a symbol of the natives’ kingdom, but their worship is intact. It is their cultus that turns the massive defeat into victory.

8. As Joshua, captain of the Lord’s host, Jake rallies the natives and takes them into battle. As the sixth only native to be able to ride that flying dragon thing, he is a new Covenant head who raises a new body for God out of the ashes of the old kingdom tree. He is the son of man, Ezekiel, Jehu, Jesus, taken up in the Lord’s chariot to speak the Covenant curses over the false worship and end it forever. He is a man riding as Yahweh on the wings of the wind. (Jake even mentions calling the tribes from the four winds).

9. When the chief dies in battle, he hands his bow to his daughter. The rainbow is a symbol the Covenant. This is Covenant succession at its best.

10. There is a lot of talk about seeing one another in truth, instead of seeing each other as simple commodities. This goes way beyond the sentimentalism of modern Christianity. It is understanding the symbolic nature of everything that was made, most importantly man and woman. The native chick finally sees Jake as he really is, a cripple. We too must look beyond the faults of our brothers and sisters. But we must also see their liturgical significance. Christians blinded by evolutionary thinking understand this to some degree, but their unbelief limits them from really seeing it. They think we are nuts, but we see they are blind. They need Jordan’s New Eyes. Jake is a tabernacle.

11. The “synapse” connection the natives have with their environment is interesting, and it highlights the failure behind this theo-ecology. Because of sin, our world is totally disconnected from us. It tries to kill us constantly and eventually succeeds. The only way to reconnect is by blood, pictured in the Covenant-making sacrifices and Abram’s sleep. Only then is the Land fruitful. We are reconnected to the Land only by death and resurrection. Adam has to come out of the ground all over again. He comes out as gold, silver, bronze and iron.

12. The gaia religion intimates that Eden was fully mature, that the garden is already a city. But the Bible shows us that although we lost Paradise, the intended growth to maturity is occurring nonetheless. Adam is supposed to cut down trees, and mine the Land. He is supposed to build stuff. Like Nebuchadnezzar, Adam Himself was cut down, legless, and resurrected in a more glorious body. [2] Nature is supposed to be tranformed into culture.

13. When the natives all “plugged themselves into” the Tree of Souls to save Grace, she passed under the “eye of Eywah.” When we meet for communion, united by the Spirit, we also pass under the eye for inspection. The transformation of the Old Covenant Law is our life.

14. The main victory was won when the “goddess” brought all those fantastic, deadly animals to help out, the birds of the air and the beasts of the field, which had previously been a curse. When that large shiny “panther” comes and submits to the native chick, it is the animals submitting to Noah, it is the wolf and lamb lying down together in the ark, it is Ruth submitting under the Covenant to Naomi and to Boaz, and finally it is the Gentiles joining the hosts of God in the first century to bring about the end of the old earth. It is the true woman, Jael, Esther, the firstfruits church, exalted over the beast instead of the deceived harlot.

15. During the last battle, when the hero and villain are both fighting from inside other “bodies”, it is again the technology of death versus the technology of life. Suddenly the Bible verse about not trusting in the legs of men makes more sense. Jake is in his avatar and the bad general in his metal body (very much like the last battles in Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, which were virtually identical). What it really funny is that it is actually James Cameron in the metal man. James Cameron hates Jesus. He is Goliath with chainmail and bronze legs and trusting in the strength of Philistine iron. After his pathetic “documentary” about Jesus’ tomb, it is James Cameron trying destroy the “empty” tomb of Jake as he attacks the container containing Jake’s human body. The living sacrifice was the source of the victory.

16. Making this movie, despite the animism, James Cameron is an unwitting avatar for the Spirit of God. He, like all western atheists enemies of Christ, is a product of a Christian heritage. This is the only story they know. He, and many like him today, is teaching the Bible to our children. We just need eyes to see, to take back this role for ourselves, and to keep doing it better.

Nice to see an Aussie in the lead role, too. On ya, Sam.

Beyond the horizon of the place we lived when we were young
In a world of magnets and miracles
Our thoughts strayed constantly and without boundary
The ringing of the division bell had begun…

The grass was greener
The light was brighter
The taste was sweeter
The nights of wonder
With friends surrounded
The dawn mist glowing
The water flowing
The endless river [3]
[1] Want a theologian you can listen to like stories around the fire? Listen to James Jordan. Get that series advertised in the right column. Just do it.
[2] See Unashamed Artisans.
[3 Pink Floyd, High Hopes.

Bully's Blog - Theology You Can Eat And Drink