How the Hero of ‘Doctor Who’ Is—and Is Not—Like Jesus

The Gospel Coalition | 1/12/2018 | Staff
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On Christmas Day, the British sci-fi series Doctor Who broke new ground. The Doctor (a superhuman Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey, who travels through time and space in a vehicle resembling an old-fashioned police call box) regenerated into a female body. After 12 male Doctors over a 54-year history, the casting of Jodie Whittaker might seem audacious. But for a show featuring a female, prehistoric lizard-like warrior married to a 19th-century, human maidservant, the switch of the thus-far male Doctor into a woman’s body is practically tame.

At the heart of the series lies a much more controversial crux. While the treatment of religion in Doctor Who is almost always negative (witness the murderous headless monks, the life-sucking weeping angels, and the portrayal of the 51st-century church as a purely military operation), the parallels between the hero of the show and the hero of Christianity are unmistakable.

Doctor - Name - Respect - Jesus - Respects

The Doctor (whose name is never disclosed) looks human, but he isn’t. In this respect, he is importantly unlike Jesus. But there are at least six respects in which the resemblance is hard to miss.

The Doctor can navigate effortlessly from the beginning of the universe to its end. He sees the whole of time in every conscious moment. And yet he is deeply present and engaged with people. “When you love the Doctor,” the enigmatic River Song laments, “it’s like loving the stars themselves. You don’t expect a sunset to admire you back.” But her claim is immediately overturned when the Doctor shows up, to love her.

Doctor - Screwdriver - Weapon - Fights - Hearts

The Doctor is stubbornly non-violent. He carries a screwdriver instead of a weapon and fights evil with his two hearts and one, magnificent brain. And yet he is terrifying to his enemies: “The man who can turn an army around at the mention of his name.”

The Doctor routinely...
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