Exploring Lost/Program 2

By: Dillon Burroughs; ©2008
Discover quotes and allusions to more than 12 different faith systems in LOST. How well does LOST represent other religious groups? What are the top religions featured in LOST? What is the significance of numbers in LOST? Does LOST promote the view that all religions lead essentially the same? How could I use LOST to share my faith with someone of a different faith?

Introduction

Announcer: Today on the John Ankerberg show, we will examine one of most popular and influential television programs in America today. ABC’s hit television drama Lost has captivated millions of people worldwide since it first aired in 2004. It has been watched by over 15 million Americans each week for the past three seasons and has been the number 2 watched Show worldwide. Why is it so popular? Many experts have noted the spirituality of Lost whose episodes highlight many deep spiritual issues. Among Christians 18 to 29 years of age, Lost is the most watched TV program. What is the appeal? Up to this point, there’s been no specific book designed to investigate the spiritual themes of this widely popular series. Now there is. I recently co-authored this new book, What Can Be Found in Lost? which has just been published. Along with staff writer Dillon Burroughs, we reviewed the first three seasons of Lost, interviewed experts, and researched numerous Lost resources in order to analyze what the series really says on the key issues of faith. We think you’ll be surprised at the amount of spiritual content we discovered in the different episodes, including the many references to God, the Bible, and other religions. Join us as we discuss one of most popular and influential television programs in America today on this edition of The John Ankerberg Show.

Ankerberg: Thanks for joining us today. We’re here with Dillon Burroughs and we’re going to be talking about the great series LOST on TV. Dillon we talked last time about the many Christian references in LOST. But the series also mentions several other religious groups. And in fact, let’s put it on the screen for people so they can see this chart, and I want you to explain some of these other religions.
Burroughs: One thing that fascinated me as we studied the show LOST in depth were not only the Christian references but references to other religions. Now there were some that were dominant. Christianity was one, but we also saw a lot of focus on Islam as well as Buddhism. But when we investigated the entire series we saw at least 12 specific faith groups. As you see on the chart there were Aboriginal religions, there was Hinduism, there was Judaism, Kabbalah, Native American religions, Paganism, Roman Catholicism and so forth, each with specific episodes where they focus on an aspect of that religious movement. In addition you saw fortune tellers, psychics, people reading taro cards, you saw dream interpretations; one episode after another, another religion would pop up in this series. So it wasn’t exclusively Christian but it dealt with many religions, some of which people don’t know how to handle when they talk about their faith.
Ankerberg: In a moment we’re going to show them a clip about some of these other religions. But we’ve written this new book, What Can Be Found in LOST. And let’s explain why we wrote this book and the information we put in here and how are people to use this?
Burroughs: You can use it several different ways but obviously we wrote this book because we felt it included a lot of spiritual content that people needed to know how to handle. There are some that are specifically Christian and you can point that out for good, but there is also some bad Christian theology, there are also references to Islam that are very favorable and you want to help people deal with various aspects of Islam, help people understand the points of Buddhism that are involved there and what the good and bad is in that and sort it out. And as we went through there we saw so many different ones that people don’t even recognize when they see the show so they’re blind to it as they watch it. But yet they need to have an understanding of it as they communicate with other people about their faith.
Ankerberg: All right, you’ve picked out a clip from the show that is a great example of the other religions. And in fact this gets into spiritism and mysticism. This is kind of a shot you’d see in “Walker, Texas Ranger” about the lodge where you build a fire and you sweat it out and it seems like the spirits speak to you. And let’s take a look right now.

Dialogue from LOST

Charlie: Don’t come in. Okay. Okay, I get it. (Shot of the inside of sweat lodge where Locke eats a paste he has made, pours water over a fire and himself and then Boone appears)
Boone: Hi, John. It’s good to see you again. What’s that, John? (Locke mouths he is sorry)

Ankerberg: Dillon there are some folks who haven’t even watched the series LOST so they want to know what in the world’s going on here. Explain it.
Burroughs: This is a very bizarre scene, where we see Locke coming into a sweat lodge that he has built in reminiscent form of the Native American tradition, where you take a drug-induced paste as he did and pour hot water over the rocks and begin to meditate. And in doing so the first thing that happens is that the spirit of Boone appears, who is a guy that was killed off in an earlier episode. And he mouths the words “I’m sorry” because he can’t even speak at this point. We see him go into this vision further throughout this clip that we did not show and it tells him eventually at the end, “You have to go see Eko and this is where he is”. So the first thing that happens when he comes out of this clip is he’s able to speak again and he says, “I’m going to save Eko’s life”. And what you also see is that this sweat tent is right in the middle of the framework of the church, so you have at least 4 different religious traditions going on in the same scene where you have Native American tradition, you have a church, you have a miracle occurring through his speech coming back, as well as the Roman Catholic parts involved in reference to Eko himself.
Ankerberg: Yeah and I think this reflects our society. It’s not just Jesus only; they’re not saying that Jesus is the only way, even though in the last program we showed on the Jesus stick Acts 4:12 that Jesus is the only way of salvation and that’s what Eko believes. But the thing is that now you get into these other religions and you’re saying there are many paths to God and you even get into Spiritism, which the Bible forbids. What else is going on here?
Burroughs: Well, what LOST does very accurately portrays what we see in our culture today. Where your religious tradition is as good as my religious tradition, what’s truth for you may not be truth for me. And we see that LOST is very spiritual but it’s not explicitly Christian nor is it explicitly for any other religion. So that very much fits our culture but there’s a problem when you get down to Jesus. Because Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by Me”. So there’s a problem when you specifically say Jesus is the only way, but Jesus is the only way and He says it very clearly in scriptures. We see that He claimed to be God by saying He’s the Son of Man or the Son of God. And then He was the only one who was able to prove His claim to be God by coming alive again from the dead. So when He did that He trumped all other religious leaders, religious traditions in saying that, “I am the one true, divine God”. And that’s something that LOST will not make a stand on because it’s trying to appease the cultural vibe that all religious traditions are equally valuable.
Ankerberg: Yes. The problem with Jesus, like you say, is that He will not be lumped with everybody else. He says, “I am the Way, and nobody comes to the Father but through Me”. So if you’re going to be a Christian there’s only one way to God and Jesus is it. There’s only one person that gives eternal life and that’s Jesus. He says, “I give to them that come to Me eternal life”. Now, in LOST you’ve got the standards of our society reflected. It’s politically correct to say, “All roads lead to God”. But let’s leave that for a moment. And I love the fact that you brought up the way you can tell, what is the proof that Jesus is telling the truth that He is the only way, is He’s the only religious leader that claimed to be God and then gave evidence for it, gave proof that He was God by rising from the dead. OK? Until you can do those things the fact is, you’re not even on the same stage with Jesus. But let’s move on. It’s interesting how these other religious views are brought in and there’s an interesting thing in terms of numbers that are used. And explain that for a moment.
Burroughs: Early on in the series of LOST you see the string of numbers that come up frequently in different patterns. As 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42; what is this all about? And it first begins when one of the island survivors, Hurley, is seen in his flashback story winning the lottery jackpot. But then a string of bad luck hits him. And in the clip we’re about to see in a moment we’ll see exactly what happens in his mind as he’s going through this string of bad luck. And in the end he decides it’s the numbers that are cursed and jinxed and he wants to figure out how to get rid of this curse.
Ankerberg: All right before you explain further let’s look at the clip.

Dialogue from LOST

Ken: I’m an accountant, I believe in numbers. Hey, where’d you get them, anyway?
Hurley: What?
Ken: The winning numbers. What’d you use somebody’s birthday, phone number?
Hurley: No, it’s nothing; it’s something that I…
Ken: What?
Hurley: That’s it. It’s not the money, it’s the numbers. The numbers are cursed. Dude, don’t look at me like that. I’m not crazy. This is real.
Ken: C’mon Hugo, listen to yourself… the numbers aren’t cursed. You know there is no such thing as a…
(a body falls past the window…)

Ankerberg: Christians that might be watching this clip might not realize how big a part numbers play in different religious views around the world. Explain some of those different religious views that relate to what LOST in talking about here.
Burroughs: Numerology has been a huge part of many religious systems. Probably the most well-known is Kabbala, a mystic offshoot of Judaism that looks for special meaning in the numbers found throughout the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament. You also have traditions all throughout history that share the same thing. Gnosticism did this; the Babylonian religions that we saw throughout the book of Daniel used Numerology extensively. And in the New Testament we find Paul writing to his protégé Timothy who is in a town called Ephesus that has a lot of religious traditions very similar. And he wrote to them, “Command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer, nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work, which is by faith”. Now when you look at that, they were in the same predicament that we are today where people will tend to attach special significance to numbers as in the LOST series. But the Bible never tells us to do that. It may highlight specific numbers such as 40 or 7 or 3. But the truth of God is very clear for those who seek it.
Ankerberg: Yeah. The numbers in LOST are really sometimes associated with Fate. It’s like if the numbers are stacked against you, you’re gonna die or have a disease or something bad is gonna happen to you. And that’s what God in the Bible says don’t worry about. He’s in charge. There’s no numbers that are going to fix life for you, there’s nothing that’s called luck. God is in charge of all of this stuff and the fact is that we’re to trust in Him. We’re going to take a break and when we come back we’re going to talk about the bad theology in LOST. We’ve been talking a little bit but now we’re going to get down to brass tacks. And all of this information can be found in our book, What Can Be Found in LOST. This is loaded with stuff that I think you’ll want and we’re going to take a break and then come back and talk about it more in just a moment.

Ankerberg: I’m talking with Dillon Burroughs, our staff writer, and we’re talking about the new book, What Can Be Found in LOST. This is the hit ABC television show that will be coming on in a couple weeks of time. And Dillon, we want to talk about the bad theology that is given in LOST. They open up the topic of God, they open up the topic of Jesus, they talk about the Bible, they talk about church. But now as we’ve seen they’ve also talked about other religions in the world. There’s not just one way there are many ways. And there is one more thing, and let’s introduce it via the clip, OK? Let’s watch the clip and then we’ll make a comment.

Dialogue from LOST

When Claire asks him about baptism, Eko answers, “It is said that when John the Baptist baptized Jesus the skies opened up and a dove flew down from the sky”. This told John something; that he had cleansed this man of all His sins. That he had freed Him. Heaven came much later.

Ankerberg: Dillon, after watching that clip—that’s just an example of bad theology. Why is it bad theology?
Burroughs: This clip is just wrong; there’s no other way to explain it. Eko explains baptism with the story that says John the Baptist baptizes Jesus and cleanses Him of His sin in the process. Now this is wrong on two major fronts. One, Jesus never sinned; the Bible does not claim this. In fact in John 8 He asked the people around Him, “Can any of you claim one sin that I have done to you”? And then we find throughout the scripture, scripture after scripture that talks about the sinlessness of Jesus Christ. So that’s wrong on the first front. On the second front they’re talking about baptism as a means of salvation. When we observe the Bible we see that Ephesians 2:8-9 taught clearly that we are saved by faith through grace, not of works so that no one should boast. And that includes baptism. Biblically, look at the best example. Jesus is hanging on the cross. He has one person on each side. One of those mocks Him; the other one says, “Take me into Your kingdom”. And He says, “Today you will be with Me in paradise”. Now that man on the cross had no way to respond via baptism for his salvation; it was an act of faith. And that’s still what salvation is for us today. Always has been, always will be. But in this scene the theology is way off. Jesus did not sin and baptism does not provide salvation and redemption for our sins.
Ankerberg: Before we move on let’s ask the question, “Why was Jesus baptized”?
Burroughs: The Bible tells us there were reasons for Jesus’ baptism. First it was to indicate He was consecrated by God and officially approved by Him according to Matthew 3:15. John the Baptist also publicly announced the arrival of the Messiah, someone he said was about to come. And then we’re also told Jesus identified with the sin of the people, becoming our substitute according to 2 Corinthians. So there were valid reasons for Jesus being baptized even though He never sinned. And following that He was tempted for 40 days in the desert, did not sin, the devil left Him and that’s when He began His major ministry with His disciples.
Ankerberg: We’re going to show another clip right now and this goes to the question, “Are there many ways to God or is there just one”? And here you’re going to see a politically correct answer; I want you to watch.

Dialogue from LOST

Bernard: Everybody on this island is building something. I’m trying to get us saved.
Eko: People are saved in different ways, Bernard.
Bernard: Remarks; I think I liked you better when you just hit people with your stick.

Ankerberg: Alright Dillon, this clip gets us to the crux of things when you’re talking about religion with people. Is Jesus the only way to God, to heaven, to forgiveness, or are there many ways? What’s going on here with the clip? What’s the answer with LOST?
Burroughs: This clip really fires me up because you have Eko, who is the most spiritual of all the characters saying that there are different ways to be saved. Now someone even of a Roman Catholic tradition would not teach that. The Bible is very direct and even one of the verses on Eko’s Bible stick is Acts 4:12 which says, “There is no other name under heaven given to men by which they must be saved,” and Jesus is the only way. Yet here he is claiming that there are multiple ways to know God. It would be like landing in my town and calling and saying, “Give me directions to your house” and I say, “Just take any road; they all lead to my house”. We wouldn’t do that, and the same is true with God. Would it make more sense for Him to give us 100 or 1000 or more ways to find out who He is? Or would it make more sense to have one clear way that He reveals to us so that we can know Him personally. And the Bible makes it very clear that salvation is found in Jesus alone.
Ankerberg: Dillon I want to wrap this up by saying, what else can you find in our book, What Can Be Found in LOST?
Burroughs: Well we have a lot more than we were able to share on this program. In fact we had 13 specific chapters on key themes in LOST that are also found in the Bible, and where they connect and where they’re off, similar to some of the theology we just shared in the clips on this episode. Some of the ones covered are redemption, what does LOST say about that; about leadership, spiritual leadership versus secular leadership. We see the issues of forgiveness, of destiny, of fate, of purpose in life. All these are discussed in LOST as well as the Bible, of course. And you can use this resource for personal study, as a gift to someone else or for a discussion group as you’re talking about the show and its spiritual implications for your life today.
Ankerberg: Tell them a little bit about all the different websites that are going on, some that you have contacted and a lot that you have read and put into the book.
Burroughs: If you go to a bookstore now, the entertainment section will feature books on all of the major television shows out today. But the area that has the most books is the show, LOST. If you go online you’ll find hundreds of websites obsessed with the LOST television series. Everything from freeze framing some of the scenes so you can find the deeper, hidden meaning to forums talking back and forth, people’s different speculations or theories, to other sites like LOSTpedia.com which has thousands upon thousands of articles and entries giving lists of every type of fact imaginable, from the music played in the background of the show to the different books. And we take some of those and we adapt them for spiritual purposes. What books are used in LOST? What religions are cited in LOST? And again, how you can use these to help find spiritual significance, that relate to your Christian faith?
Ankerberg: There’s just a wealth of information in this book. I’m amazed at all the stuff that you’ve gotten together. And one of the ways that you can use this, folks, is that if you’re aware of this information and all the different circumstances of life that this book, as well as the series LOST talks to, if your friends are encompassing some of those problems and some of those circumstances it’s interesting that LOST references the Bible in terms of all of these experiences. And you can say, “What does God say about this circumstance in life that you’re finding, that you’re experiencing”? And so I think it’s valuable to have that connecting point of what LOST does say, people have watched this, and then be able to connect that with a Bible verse or be able to connect that with your own experience with the Lord. One other thing that I’m concerned about is that some of you that watch have a head knowledge about Jesus but you don’t have a personal relationship with Him. That is, you’ve never done some business yourself with Jesus. And how do you do that? Well, the Bible says all of us have sinned. When the Bible uses the word all, does that include both you and me? Of course it does. We’re all sinners; we’ve all fallen short of God’s law, of God’s standards. You know that and I know that. The thing is then the Bible says, “The gift of God is eternal life”. Now I would bet that you’re sitting there saying, “When I die, I want to have the gift of eternal life that God would give”. Do you know for sure that you have it right now? You may be watching this program from a hospital bed, you may be watching this from your own home and you know that death is around the corner. For all of us death is around the corner up ahead. Are you prepared? You know that’s not just a trite question; that’s a serious question. And when you come to grips with the fact that Jesus is the only religious leader that claimed to be God and then Jesus is the One that died on the cross and paid for our sins and then Jesus rose from the dead proving His claim that He was God and that He has the power to save you and to give you eternal life, you’re faced with a decision. Will you come and put your faith in Him? Will you just simply say, “Lord, I need Your forgiveness. I don’t want to come into Your presence and have all this sin to my account”. The fact is what you want to do is say, “Lord Jesus you died for all of my sins and if I understand you correctly, Jesus, you’re saying that You will forgive me, You’ll wipe the slate clean so that when I come into heaven it’s not because of anything that I have done it’s because of what You have done”. Now instead of just knowing that, why not act on that? Would you take this moment right now to say a prayer with me? Would you be willing, would you have the courage to open your life to God? Let Jesus Christ actually come into your life, forgive your sins, change you, to live inside of you, to empower you to live the way that He says? Are you willing to do that? You should do it; you need to do it. And if you are willing to do it right now, here is a prayer that I said when I was just a young man. I meant it with all my heart. I didn’t know all the theology that I know now, but I meant it with all my heart. Here’s that prayer: Dear Jesus, I admit to You that I am a sinner; I’ve broken Your laws. I know that You died on the cross and You paid for mankind’s sins. And I am a sinner and I would ask right now that You would come into my life and that You would forgive me of my sins. I’m going to believe that You are my sin-bearer, You paid for all of my sins. And I’m putting all of my faith in You to save me. I’m inviting You to come into my life and empower me and change me. I don’t know how You can do that but I’m going to trust, because You’re God, that You can do that. Thank You, Jesus, for coming into my life. Thank You for Your promise that “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord (if you prayed, you just called) shall be saved”. And He’ll save you. Not hope to, if He gets around to it. When you call it says you shall be saved. You can know for sure according to God’s Word. Friend I hope that you’ve done that and I hope that if you did you’ll send me a letter, drop me a note and tell me what you’ve done. We’ll send you some information to help you in your first steps with the Lord Jesus and walking with Him. Thanks for joining us and if you’d like to get the book, we’re going to talk about how you can get it in just a moment. I hope again that you’ll join me next week.

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