Published January 29, 2010
After months of waiting, fans of the ABC drama "Lost" can rejoice: the show returns for its final season on Tuesday. But, if promotional materials depicting the cast as characters in DaVinci's "The Last Supper" are any indication, "Lost's" roughly 23 million followers may be surprised to find a great deal of religious imagery in their favorite fantasy show this year.
According to theological experts, the show's characters and themes are steeped in a profound biblical message.
Chris Seay, who pastors the Ecclesia Bible Society in Houston, has been a big fan of the show since the very first episode. In his new book, "The Gospel According to Lost," he writes that the TV show is rife with religious themes about faith and the human condition.
"All the evidence in 'Lost' is pointing to existence of a truly good higher power, and in turn, to the existence of evil," Seay says.
Though the show quotes a wide range of philosophers and has made references to various religious terms, like the dharma of the Hindu and Buddhist faiths, Seay says that "Lost" for the most part thrives on the Judeo-Christian narrative, particularly from the Old Testament.
Consider the character names, for example. There's Jacob, who is the biblical father of the 12 tribes of Israel. And then there is a baby named Aaron, the name of Moses' brother.
Seay says the story of "Lost" mirrors the Book of Exodus, when the people of Israel are led out of slavery into the Promised Land. But while the Jews were literally enslaved, Seay says, the characters of "Lost" wear emotional shackles instead.
Indeed, each character has a burden to bear. From a murderer to an alcoholic to a former Iraqi solder who used torture tactics, the characters all have baggage. And this, Seay says, reaches out to viewers.
"Deep down, we all know we're not as perfect as we should be," Seay said. That is our personal "land of slavery."
Mark Labberton of the Fuller Theological Seminary agrees.
"We find ourselves in a context of evil and suffering in the world and the randomness of it all -- 9/11, Katrina, the Haiti earthquake," Labberton told Fox. "We've been made for mercy and justice [and yet we] live in a world where those things are out of order, in chaos. We are clueless. We are lost."
So what can fans expect when the season premieres on Tuesday?
While Seay has no connection to ABC, he speculates that if the show follows the Bible's narrative, the characters will spend their final season searching for home.
"Everyone is trying to find a way home for salvation," Seay says. "They are looking for someone to show them the way to the land flowing with milk and honey."