wound-up empire, a nation of
mediocre and shrinking influence.
Why such loyalty, Canadians
might ask. We celebrate our national loyalty every July 1, but few of us
like paying taxes, let alone aspire to
dying as a government agent.
Yet there is also something attractive, even compelling, about
Bond being such a loyalist, a rugged, determined defender of what
he sees to be right and true, even if
the institutions that stand for it are
Jesus Christ, for His part, serves
an entirely uncompromised “king
and country.” The king here is the
God of the Universe and the country is the Kingdom of God, the expanding sphere of God’s influence
in the world that will eventually
bring global flourishing. Loyalty to
such a cause makes far more sense
than Bond’s dogged allegiance.
James Bond and Jesus Christ go
about their work very differently
James Bond is played by handsome
actors sporting elegant clothes and
accessories. Jesus Christ, by tremendous contrast, is so nondescript
that Judas has to pick out Jesus from
all the other Galileans with a kiss.
Jesus today, instead of calling us
to enjoy great worldly comforts,
might very well call us to a task in
which looking ordinary (or even
awful) is required – and cool gear
would be an encumbrance. He
might even call us to suffer.
James Bond is credentialled as a
“double-0” agent, which means he has
a “license to kill” granted by the Queen.
This makes him a kind of privateer
entitled to remove any obstacle in
the way of his mission.
There are days of course when
such freedom to just go for it is
Jesus Christ instead has a “li-
cense to die.” This makes Him a
saviour, the Saviour who loves
other people and prefers to die in
their place to remove whatever
obstacles stand in the way of their
eternal benefit. Only as our hearts
are enlarged to love others as
much, or even more, than we love
ourselves, can Jesus’ way look at
Bond does indeed see people as
obstacles, or at least as objects to be
manipulated for his own purposes.
He borders on the sociopathic,
flitting from one sexual partner –
or murder victim – to another,
without anything more than a
flicker of emotion and perhaps a
In Goldeneye, his ladylove Natalya
Simonova chides him for his emo-
tional encapsulation. He responds,
“That’s how I stay alive.”
“No,” she replies. “That’s how
you stay alone.”
Indeed, as the most recent film
Skyfall ends, Bond says a pained
goodbye to M, who has become a
mother figure to him. Yet he meets
a new boss in the last scene, and
we all know the previous M will
join the long line of associates,
friends and lovers – even a wife –
in the rearview mirror of the
speeding Aston Martin that is
Jesus Christ, by the strongest of
contrasts, offers each individual
His full attention – and forever. He
offers each of us the greatest social
connection and status possible –
adoption into the worldwide family
And He calls us to the starkest
possible alternative to the ethic of
exploitation – “Love your neighbour as you love yourself.”
WHO WILL WE FOLLOW?
So will we follow the likes of James
Bond or Jesus Christ?
Although the success of the
James Bond movie franchises
makes him a role model for millions, he doesn’t tell us how to
succeed in the actual world. His
world is the world of adolescent
male fantasy, a long-running exercise in escapism.
Jesus Christ stands at the heart of
what has become in fact the most
successful movement of social
transformation in world history.
The Christian story and the theology that expounds it have become
the most successful intellectual
explanation ever offered to anyone,
Here’s the real deal. You want to
change the world and do it even
with very small, laughably unpromising start-up resources?
Study Jesus Christ and the
Christian Church. Now there are
change agents with a proven track
FAMILY MOT TO
James Bond’s family motto “The
world is not enough” implies a
dedication to saving the world. But
what more is there for him? Yes he
rolls back evil in each movie, but
only to have a new evil appear in
Meanwhile Jesus Christ says in
John 10: 10, “I have come that they
may have life, and have it to the
full” – in this era and in eternity.
So sure, if you have to wear a
tuxedo sometime, there are worse
places to get your fashion tips than
from James Bond.
But if you truly want to help save
the world and want to enjoy more
than this world has to offer, get your
mission from Jesus Christ. /FT
John Stackhouse is the Samuel J. Mikolaski
professor of religious studies at Crandall
University in Moncton. His most recent book is
Partners in Christ: A Conservative Case for
Egalitarianism (IVP Academic, 2015).
“I AM THE WAY AND THE
TRUTH AND THE LIFE.”
–JOHN 14: 6