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March 25, 2010

'The Most Informative Episode to Date'

Chris Seay weighs in on the meaning of Tuesday's LOST episode, "Ab Aeterno"


Chris Seay, author of The Gospel According to Lost, chimes in on the developments in Tuesday's episode of LOST, "Ab Aeterno." (SPOILERS AHEAD) Seay calls it "the most informative LOST episode to date," recounting the history of Richard Alpert -- who he was pre-island, how he got to the island, and how he became involved in the ongoing psychological/spiritual battle between Jacob and The Man in Black, whom Seay is convinced represents Esau. Seay notes that at one point, Richard was reading Luke 4 in prison, where Jesus is tempted in the wilderness; Richard later comes to the island and faces his own temptations and tests in the wilderness, including this promise from The Man in Black: "You can have it all, even get Isabella back." And lots more. Check out Chris's comments here:

Related Tags: Chris Seay, Lost


Interesting take on Lost. I think after watching this Lost is starting to make more sense. I thought Tuesday's episode was very well done.

Thanks so much Chris for your perspective...I love the show and you make it so much more meaningful!


I really enjoy watching your video blog about LOST each week. However, I must disagree with you on your interpretations this week. I think it is obvious that Jacob is symbolizing God, The Man in Black is symbolizing Satan, and Richard Alpert is symbolizing Jesus. I say this because of the scene where Jacob and Richard are talking. Jacob says he will not tell the people how to behave and Richard tells him then The Man in Black will win. Then Jacob suggests that Richard be his representative and tell the people for him.

Another event that suggests this is when Richard gives the Man in Black the white stone and tells him this is from Jacob.

The white stone is from Revelation 2:16-18
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.

I think this was Jacob's way of saying to The Man in Black, "Game on. Meet my new representative."

We also have seen many instances where The Man in Black lies or twists the truth and uses manipulation to get his way.

The founder of Methodism is John Wesley not John Whitfield.

I'm pretty sure the Whitfield character was the same as the guy who stabbed everybody on the ship.

There also seems to be a major continuity error in the episode, since the ship comes to the island during a violent storm, whereas we originally saw it in calm seas when Jacob and the MIB were first introduced. Or it's a different ship, which would make less sense.

As for the Messianic character being Richard or Desmond or whomever, all I care about is Desmond returning to the show which should be happening pretty soon according to IMDB. They also list a pretty interesting episode coming up that seems to only have Jacob and the MIB as the sole characters.

After this past episode, I'm inclined to think that the Man in Black at least partly represents Calvinism, and the Man in White at least partly represents Arminianism. After all, Arminius' name was ... Jacob

I like Kim's thinking about the God-Jesus relationship. I hadn't thought of the white rock verse!

However, did anyone catch a different allusion to Richard? He killed a man, became a slave and was asked to be the voice for a deity...to gather his people. Sounds like Moses to me.

To explain the identity of the real George Whitfield, he was an Anglican pastor but ALSO an influential figure in the establishment of Methodism. And yes Jesse, Whitfield was indeed the character who killed the men below deck.

Laura, I love the Calvinism thought. Wow.

Lastly, I want to comment on the Black Rock and the idea of a continuity error. Could be. It was kinda suspect and goofy. The producers have said it WAS the Black Rock in the finale last year. But you have to remember, this was no speed boat. It wasn't THAT close. ...And the producers imply that a storm shipped up quickly. It could be something that MIB whipped up.

I agree regarding the founder of Methodist is John Wesley not Whitfield. I knew from the first time that I saw the black smoke in an early episode that it was the devil or satan. As a Christian, I felt the evil and had to turn the tv off! Satan can take many disguises to lure people.

Yes, Jacob is representing God and we do have free will. He will not force us into going to Him. It also seems that Ben is repenting. I hate to see James/Sawyer and Kate going with satan however. I also am curious regarding Sayid and Claire if they died and came back to life was it thru good or are they filled with the darkness of satan.

I also want explained the dual lives of the characters and if they are in alternate universes. I have been a fan since the beginning!

Anglican priests John Wesley and George Whitfield were contemporaries in the 18th century American Great Awakening. As stated above, it was Wesley, not Whitfield who founded Methodism although Wesley went to his grave as an Anglican priest.

Jim McCaslin+

Not everyone has high speed internet and can get videos. Any chance of printing transcripts of your video?

Whitfield was a Calvinist; he vehemently disagreed with Wesley regarding election. See http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/wesley.htm

If this is the case, then the LOST Whitfield would fit the real Whitfield. LOST Whitfield chose who he chose to die--"not be elected to life," and there was nothing the slaves could do to change his mind. As slaves, they had no freedom (free will); and they were at the mercy of a captain (God) who was the only real agent.

Calvinism teaches the same thing. If freedom means the power to act against causes, and if God is sovereign, then He is the only Agent (that is, one who is able to act outside the chain of cause and effect.)We humans can only await our fate, as God decides for us; for if we were to posess even partial agency (that is, the ability on occasion to act against a cause)then, from a Calvinist viewpoint, God would no longer be sovereign.

Wesley was a follower of JACOB Arminius, and believed that in being made in God's image, we share a degree of agency--free will. Thus we are constantly being offered the meangingful opportunity to "choose this day who you will serve."

What makes "Ab Aeterno" such a gripping episode is that we witness Richard Alpert both as a pawn of other Agents and as exercising his own agency.

Oops, I'm sorry,please disregard the previous message. I've confused the Whitfield who appears in the prison with the captain of the ship. Carry on.

I still believe that Lost is not a Christian allegory, but a very smooth syncretic tale that has, until now, been very careful to espouse no one doctrine but make itself appealing to all who believe in the supernatural. It has never been a "clean" allegory on any one doctrine or mythos, but I suspect "Ab Aeterno" laid some very blatant cards on the table in terms of the writers actual POVs. I don't think there's anything wrong with finding Christian allegory in non-Christian art, but I do think one must tread more carefully when that art is heavily spiritual.

The biggest alarm bell here, for me, which Seay glosses right over, is the line Jacob (in his role as God, an agent of God, an agent of good, whatever) delivers about how "the man in black believes that all men are corruptible because it is in their nature to sin...I bring people to this island to prove him wrong." What is alarming here is that it is Jacob who is wrong, if his dialogue is in fact suggesting he believes that it is not in man's nature to sin and that we are not all corruptible. This is a strange line indeed if someone wants to make a Biblical connection out of it, since its two halves are contradictory in that respect. Seay didn't address that part.

What interests me the most is what the show is communicating now that we have all the major player's backstories, and all of them save Claire and Desmond wound up on the island because someone died, was dying, or was killed (by their own hand or someone else's). Richard killed the doctor because his wife was dying, Jack's father (an emotionally abusive adulterer named Christian Shepherd...hmmm, it's hard to see how that could be more blunt regarding an opinion of Christianity) died, Kate murdered her father, Hurley was involved in a car accident, Jin was a hitman, Sayid was a torturer, Ben's dad and Juliette's sister had cancer, and so on. On top of that, Jack, Claire, Kate, Hurley, Desmond, Sun and Jin, Locke, Ben, Miles, and Sawyer all have dead and otherwise absent and/or abusive fathers and father figures. What do you suppose Cuse and Lindelof are trying to say about God in all this soup?