Guest / Limited Access /

It's always tempting to look for biblical allusions in apocalyptic stories, and they're not hard to find in the Terminator movies, a franchise that returns on May 21 with its fourth installment, Terminator Salvation.

The series is in many ways a sci-fi Nativity story, about a man from the future, Kyle Reese, who travels back in time to tell a woman named Sarah Connor four things: that the machines controlling humans' defense systems will become self-aware; that they will launch a full-scale war to destroy the human race; that humanity will be saved under the leadership of Sarah's to-be-born son, John; and that a robot has been sent back in time to kill Sarah so that John can never be born.

In the first Terminator, Kyle is sent back in time to protect Sarah, and although he does not know it, he will also become John's father. Thus, the film portrays an annunciation of sorts. As the Terminator robot kills everyone who comes between itself and Sarah, the film evokes parallels to the slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem. And just as the birth of Christ took place against the backdrop of a cosmic war in which the final outcome was never really in doubt, so too the birth of John Connor is soaked in the blood of battles he is destined to fight. (It's also tempting to suggest that John Connor's initials might have messianic parallels, but they are also the initials of writer-director James Cameron, so who knows?)

The sequels complicate matters in a number of ways, as more robotic assassins and more protectors go back in time to fight over John's life, but the allusions remain. The second film reveals that the day the war with the machines began is called Judgment Day. A spin-off television series, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, also ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Subscriber Access Only My Top 5 Books on the Black Experience in America
Pastor Bryan Loritts chooses 5 books to help evangelicals understand African-American hopes and anxieties.
Subscriber Access Only I Was Addicted to Romance Novels
Then God asked me to start writing them, for his glory.
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only More Giving, Less Taxing
President Obama's tax plan will hurt the very people he's trying to help.
RecommendedRemembering Prince: A Pop Music Priest in a Secular World
Remembering Prince: A Pop Music Priest in a Secular World
He seemed to defy mortal boundaries, but in fact, he showed us the glory of simply being made in God's image.
TrendingCover Story: Inside the Popular, Controversial Bethel Church
Cover Story: Inside the Popular, Controversial Bethel Church
Some visitors claim to be healed. Others claim to receive direct words from God. Is it 'real'--or dangerous?
Editor's PickWhen It Comes to the Next President, We Need More Than Strength
When It Comes to the Next President, We Need More Than Strength
From Trump to Clinton, would-be leaders promise authority without vulnerability.
Christianity Today
Jesus and the Terminator
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

May 2009

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.