Introduction. In the hit TV horror series, The Walking Dead, lead actor Andrew Lincoln (“Deputy Rick Grimes”), awakens from a months-long coma to discover that his once bucolic city has been transformed into a post-apocalyptic world filled with flesh-eating “Walkers.” The apocalyptic event is a world-wide pandemic that somehow infects humanity with a virus that brings the dead back to “life” — but not in a resurrected body in the way that Scripture describes (1 Corinthians 15:21-23) – but in an “undead” body, that is, a corpse that somehow walks. Upon death, humans “reanimate” into non-human beings (Walkers/zombies) that progressively “degenerate into mindless shells, driven solely by instinct to spread the unknown, fatal, pathogen by biting … any living animal, especially other humans.” The TV series began in 2010 and for each of its six seasons it has been one of the most popular TV series. For a recent 2015 episode, it had average viewership of almost 17 million viewers (4th highest), with Sunday Night football (Indianapolis – New England game, 2015) gaining top ratings with 22 million viewers.
After I watched a few of the episodes, the closest thing to describe the “herds” of decomposing Walkers, was a pack of wounded, rabid wolves all fighting for the flesh and blood of their captured prey. The only thing Walkers do not feed on is themselves or other Walkers. Walkers do not sleep, they feel no pain, have no need for food, water, or anything–except to satisfy their insatiable appetite for flesh and blood. Walkers cannot run, they can only lumber about with arms outstretched seeking their next victim. Their strength is in their numbers, as they cannot outrun you (they are literally “walkers”), but can swarm even a heavily armed group of outnumbered humans, and consume them.
In the closing episodes of Season 1, Deputy Rick Grimes and others make their way to the CDC in Atlanta, after hearing that the CDC is trying to develop a cure for the virus. Upon arrival, Atlanta is a mass of Walkers and the few of its population still living are sheltered in place, hiding from the Walkers. Only one employee of the CDC still lives, a “Dr. Jenner,” who tells Grimes that he believes “the outbreak is the human-extinction event.” Dr Jenner suspects that the disease is caused by a “microorganism– such as a virus, bacterium, fungus, or parasite– or possibly even Divine Intervention.” In a later episode (Series 2, Episode 13), Rick tells his small community what Jenner had also shared with him in a private moment: everyone living (even though not bitten) carries the unknown pathogen; and, when death occurs, regardless of cause, the corpse reanimates (revives) as a Walker. A bite just speeds up the process. The only way that reanimation does not occur is with a gunshot to the brain (or any trauma to the brain). Dead is dead, only then.1
Can you imagine how desperate for a cure the remaining humans became when they learned that they were actually infected with the virus, and upon death by any cause, would be turned into a Walker?
Why a post on The Walking Dead? Because the TV series is another in a long list of shows that takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, of which this blog is devoted to; and, the TV series is like a gold mine of spiritual nuggets for believers, particularly when lined up alongside how Islam handles each nugget.
How accurate is the TV series’ portrayal of death followed by revival of the deceased as a Walker in a literal “Hell on earth”? Is it possible that the TV series is closer to reality than anyone could ever imagine? That is, does Scripture tell us that all human beings are carriers of a fatal “virus” that, apart from a cure, irrevocably condemns one to eternal life in Hell (on earth?)?
Isaiah describes the eternal place of damnation for the “corpses of men” who have “transgressed against Me”:
Isaiah 66:24 (NAS) Then they will go forth and look on the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm will not die, and their fire will not be quenched; And they will be an abhorrence to all mankind.
Walkers could easily be described as those whose “worm will not die” because they are humans who have died but are revived from dead as decomposing Walkers (zombies). In the TV series, the Walkers’ flesh progressively decomposes so that by Season 6, the human form is emaciated to near skeleton only, far beyond the zombified corpse of Season 1. If we were to insert into Isaiah 66:24 the parallel cirucmstances of The Walking Dead, a decomposing Walker is much like a corpse never consumed by the maggots that feed upon it; and, the insatiable, never-quenched fire within a Walker for human flesh is comparable to the “fire never quenched.” The “fire” of course, if literal, compares to other passages describing the state of unending burning for those rebellious to God (Luke 16:24, Matt 25:41, Rev 20:10, Mark 13:42). The summation of what Scripture says about Hell and what the TV Series depicts as the experience of Walkers on earth are near to a “living” hell on earth. On this point, the Scripture and the Qur’an agree. Read more.
But what about the “virus,” the unknown pathogen in the TV series that every living human being is infected with (although humans did not know it until the end of series 1), and the event that began the pandemic, throwing the world into the Tribulation (Scripture, not the TV Series)? Does this unknown pathogen help us to gain a better understanding of what Scripture tells us about state of man?
Rom 3:23 (NASB) For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Rom. 5:12 (NASB) Therefore, just as through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned2
Romans 5:19 (NASB) For as through the one man’s disobedience [Adam] the many were made sinners, … .3
Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:1, 2:5, Colossians 2:13
The Scripture teaches that all have sinned– just as Adam sinned in the beginning; and, humans are of the same “kind” as Adam. When Adam and Eve “ate” the words of the serpent to be like God (Genesis 3:4-6), the nature of Adam was changed. Adam broke God’s law, and separation from holy God was the result. In some way, it was as if Adam’s DNA took on a spiritual component that rendered Adam and his descendants the same– separated from God and unable to fellowship with holy God (Genesis 3:23-24). Hence, humanity was thereafter born spiritually dead (Genesis 2:17)– through Adam’s death which spread to all (Romans 5:12).
I resemble my parents because I am formed from 23 chromosomes of each, so I inherited certain traits of each of them. They were human and so am I. Likewise, Adam and Eve were human. We “resemble” them in that as they sinned, so we sin. The physical and spiritual DNA, likeness, of both has been transmitted over the ages much like a host transmits the virus he carries to those he makes contacts with, thereby spreading the virus. Adam was the first host, and his descendants thereafter, likewise, became hosts of Adam’s sin (Romans 5:18). But how is the sin “virus” transmitted to humanity? Through copulation, the semen of the male, and from which we have termed the transmission event the taint of “original sin” (Psalm 51:5). Whether you hold to the interpretation of Psalm 51:5 as referring to original sin or not is not the point– because whether sin is inherited or not, it is committed (by all), and we are all sinners because we all sin (Romans 5:12). Therefore, unless God does something about our sin, we are all the “walking dead” because we all carry the sin virus in our human nature, beginning at birth. We are all born spiritually dead. We are all sinners and our sin separates us from God. And the wages of sin is death. Of all men, unless we are born anew, we are eternally damned in that place where “the worm does not die” and the “fire is not quenched.” It is quite like the TV series, The Walking Dead, with its unknown virus that all humans are infected with, and for which there is no cure; even death is not a cure. Death is only a door from a human being to a non-human being, a Walker.
But does the Bible give us a cure? Are humans, Biblically, doomed to a second “birth” as an undead, Walker?
Ephesians 2:1, 5 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, … [but] he made us alive together with Christ.
Colossians 2:13 And when you were dead in your transgressions … He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
1 Cor. 15:22, Rom. 5:16-17
The sin of Adam was imputed to us as human beings, created in Adam’s likeness, and infected by Adam’s sin virus. The act of Christ on the cross has reversed the sin of Adam by supplanting Adam’s disobedience with Christ’s obedience (Romans 5:16-17). To the one who has believed in Jesus and His atoning work on the cross, we have been cured of our infection. We are saved from judgment (John 3:16-18) because we have believed in Christ. Now, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us where the sin of Adam had previously condemned us. Romans 5:16-17, 2 Cor 5:21.
What about Allah? Does he offer a cure for the sin virus? In Islam there is no cure for the sin virus. Each person is judged by their own sins. The Qur’an rejects the crucifixion of Jesus and the resurrection of Jesus both of which form the very foundation of the atoning death of Jesus and the method God has chosen to grant righteousness and life to sinners (read more). What the Scriptures provide as the cure for the sin virus, i.e, the atoning death of Jesus, Son of God, the Qur’an specifically rejects as a lie propagated by Christians who have “gone to excess” (lied) in their religion (Qur’an 4:171):
Q 4:171-173. People of the Book, do not go to excess in your religion, and do not say anything about God except the truth: the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was nothing more than a messenger of God, His word, directed to Mary, a spirit from Him. So believe in God and His messengers and do not speak of a ‘Trinity’—stop [this], that is better for you—God is only one God, He is far above having a son, everything in the heavens and earth belongs to Him and He is the best one to trust. 172 The Messiah would never disdain to be a servant of God, nor would the angels who are close to Him. He will gather before Him all those who disdain His worship and are arrogant: 173 to those who believe and do good works He will give due rewards and more of His bounty; to those who are disdainful and arrogant He will give an agonizing torment, and they will find no one besides God to protect or help them
In Islam, the sin of Adam is not inherited even though we are of the same nature as Adam and even though we have all sinned just like Adam. Atonement in Islam is individual. It is only possible when the individual makes amends for his own sins through repentance and penance (Qur’an 2:160). A man may “fall short” of Allah’s standards, but it is because he has failed to do good deeds; or, the good deeds that he has done are diminished by his bad deeds and rendered him out-of-balance with Allah (Qur’an 11.111). Read more.
In Islam, the incurable sin virus is a revealed by Allah to be a self-heal. But if we can self-heal ourselves by doing good deeds, why was Adam cast out of the presence of God after he sinned? Why was Adam not offered the same self-heal by God that Allah reveals in the Qur’an? If Adam’s one-time law breaking could have been offset by repentance, why would God have cursed the ground so that Adam’s work would bring “thorn and thistles” (Genesis 4:17-18)? Why would He punish Eve with pain in childbirth (Genesis 3:16)? Why would Allah not give Adam another a second chance to keep the law, and thereby offset Adam’s law breaking with law keeping?
But God did not do that. Adam was cast out after one law break. We can only conclude that once having sinned, the virus cannot be healed by man, or God would have told Adam how he could have obtained it. Of course, we must remember that Allah is the “best of schemers” and so perhaps Allah abrogated what God had said in Genesis 3 with what Allah said in Qur’an 11:111? After all, as everyone says, they are one and the same God: right?
Q 11:110 – 112. We gave Moses the Scripture before you, but differences arose about it and if it had not been for a prior word from your Lord, a decision would already have been made between them, though they are in grave doubt about it. 111 Your Lord will give everyone full due for whatever they have done: He is aware of everything they do. 112 So keep to the right course as you have been commanded, together with those who have turned to God with you. Do not overstep the limits, for He sees everything you do.
The “Reliance of the Traveller” is the classic manual of Islamic Sacred Law. In Book V, 2.3 it states,
It is obligatory to believe in the scale; which consists of two scalepans and a balance indicator between them, and is as great in size as the thickness of the heavens and earth. It weighs a servant’s deeds through the power of Allah Most High, and the weights placed on it are as fine as an atom or mustard seed, that justice may be perfectly done. The pages recording one’s good deeds will be placed in a form pleasing to behold on the side of the scale of Light, weighing it down according to their rank with Allah, through His generosity, while the pages recording one’s bad deeds will be placed in an ugly form on the side of Darkness, diminishing the weight of the opposite side through Allah’s justice.” (p. 823).4
Allah has lied in the Qur’an. The scalepan cannot take away sin. It cannot cure one of the sin virus no matter how many times the law is kept. Only Jesus can cure us of the sin virus because only Jesus was the sinless lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (1 John 3:5). Allah deals with original sin the same way he deals with the crucifixion of Jesus. The Qur’an tells us that Jesus was not actually crucified but only someone who looked like him (that is so preposterous how could anyone believe that?) Allah deals with atonement the same way he deals with the resurrection– if Christ was not crucified then the resurrection is can be ignored (read more). Allah likes to lie about what he cannot provide remedy for.
How convenient for Allah. Isaiah 66:24 will reveal the truth one day: can the scale pan of Allah supplant the crucifixion of the Only Begotten Son? Or is Scripture true? “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23.
Jesus come quickly.
- but, of course, a shot to the head of the dying is not a cure but a mercy killing. [↩]
- The doctrine of “original sin” is partly based upon Psalm 51:5. That is, the sin of Adam and Eve brought about the fall of man and spiritual and physical death (Genesis 2:16-17). Spiritual death is a state or nature shared by all descendants of Adam and Eve in that humanity is always inclined to evil and has fallen far from God’s intention of righteousness. Physical death is then the consequence thereof (Genesis 3:6, 6:5). [↩]
- Adam’s sin transmitted sin to all men; and the death resulting therefrom, is shared by all humanity because all humanity, as Adam, have sinned (v 5:17; Romans 3:23). [↩]
- It seems that only the “net” matters [↩]