Following in His Footsteps, Not Making Them

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"But a Christ figure doesn't need to resemble Christ in every way; otherwise he wouldn't be a Christ figure, he'd be, well, Christ."

Foster, page 122

How true this is! It is possible to be like someone, but if you overlap in every way, chances are you're one of three things: identical twins, a really creepy, over-the-top wanna-be/stalker, or simply the same person.  With the case of Christ figures, it makes sense that the figures would only emulate various specified qualities and traits of Christ, because if the figure was exactly like Christ in every way, chances are, the character is Christ.

The interesting point that Foster makes about this pick and choose trait idea is that a Christ figure does not always have to be a particularly good person.  Less than stellar characters can possess the traits of Christ, as well.  Merely stating this shakes up the mind.  What?! A Christ figure that isn't a goody-two shoe! Perposterous!

Unfortunately,I am unable to think of a literary example off of the top of my head, so I will resort to a film reference.  I am guessing that I am one of the few that has seen the 1942 John Wayne movie "The Flying Tigers" about American P-40 fighter pilots who flew for China against Japan during WWII.  In the film, John's best friend is a hot-shot, big-mouth, ego-driven, show-off pilot who cares only for himself.  Yet in the end, he sacrifices his own life in order to stop a Japanese supply train from getting weapons to the soldiers.  Now I know that he doesn't fit all of the qualifications, but he does...give his own life for the safety of others, is about the age that Jesus was when he died, and face death without pleading or begging.  This man was a slightly despised character up until that point: the figure merely has to emulate some of the qualities....not be Christ.



Rebecca Marrie said:

I too wrote my my blog on this chapter, and I agree with your thoughts. I had never before compared characters in literature to Christ, however, after Foster brought this to my attention, I found that numerous novels and movies have used this example of literary allusion. Jay Gatsby, Harry Potter, Gandolf from Lord of the Rings, Simon from Lord of the Flies, and potentially Hurly from Lost. (more figures can be obtained from
I hadn't even contemplated that a Christ figure could be any less than perfect, but in fact, I think that it's the flaws of the supposed Christ figure which makes the character so appealing.

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