Inglorious Bastards
April 17, 2024

Few themes emerge as profoundly and persistently in the streams of biblical narrative as the conflict between light and darkness, and the juxtaposition of humanity with monstrosity. These themes not only weave through the fabric of Scripture, emerging in stories from Genesis to Revelation, but also stitch together the human experiences as some pilgrim as citizens of the kingdom of light, and others traverse in and toward the kingdom of darkness (Col 1:13-14). 

The dichotomy of light and darkness, humanity and the monstrous begins its unfolding in the Garden of Eden, a pivotal moment that sets the stage for an unremitting cosmic conflict. From Genesis forward, this conflict is not merely a backdrop, but as a central plotline throughout the entirety of Scripture. 

Genesis 3:15 articulates this theme when God declares to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” This prophetic pronouncement sets in motion a saga of struggle and redemption, painting a vivid picture of the perpetual battle between the descendants of Eve, those citizens of the kingdom of light, and the inglorious progeny of the serpent, the embodiments of darkness and malevolence.

While this story unfolds historically over time, it also encompasses a profound spatial dimension, sketching a journey from a central point of the Lord’s divine presence to the distant edges of darkness and alienation. King Saul provides an example, anointed by God to lead, initially humble and favored. Yet, as his reign progressed, Saul’s heart strayed from Yahweh’s  guidance. He became consumed by jealousy towards David, the young anointed champion. This envy led Saul down a path of paranoia and misguided decisions, illustrating a tragic descent toward the darkness. In the halls of his palace, where once he sought the Lord’s counsel, Saul turned to the shadows, consulting a witch at Endor in desperation. Those who follow this path into the darkness, as Saul did, become less human, more driven by their basest fears and desires, even monstrous. For this is the effect of sin when embraced and celebrated – a once-blessed king, now roaming his own kingdom haunted, eyes hollow with madness, a heart hardened against the light he once cherished

At the core of reality is the awesome presence of God; Yahweh’s glory dwells at the center of the cosmos. The Church gathers each Lord’s Day to ascend to the world’s center, into the light of His glory, wherein the Triune God rolls up his sleeves and works upon us. Through the liturgy the Spirit recalibrates our hearts and minds. He renews the covenant with us and invites us to feast with Him at His table of thanksgiving. The Lord then sends us out into the darkness, back out from the center toward the edges. He commissions His saints as light bearers and peacemakers; He sends His people with a benediction to bear the light of the King to push back the darkness and the monstrous ideologies that stand opposed to the gospel of the King. 

This dynamic resembles the natural rhythm of breathing: inhalation drawing in life; exhalation releasing death. Progressing from the edge, back to the center symbolizes a journey from darkness into light, a return to the Divine. Conversely, moving from the center towards the edges represents a shift from light into darkness, a transition from faithfulness to unfaithfulness, from divine glory to darker realities.

Genesis 1-6 follows this path of exhalation from the center to the edge, from the light to the darkness, from God’s divine presence to the place where monsters reside. Genesis 1-2 is the glorious dwelling of YHWH in the center of the world in His garden sanctuary. In Genesis 3, Adam falls prey to the dark schemes of the Serpent and rebels against the Creator. Clothed in the skins of an animal, Adam and Eve are exiled from the garden and move outward to the east. As they do, they become more beastly, more monstrous, as the garments of skins suggest. Augustine rightly sees this movement when he writes, “Since he, therefore, wishes to be like God, under no one, then as a punishment he is also driven from the center, which he himself is, into the depths, that is, into those things wherein the beasts delight; and thus since the likeness to God is his honor, the likeness to the beasts is his disgrace.”1 Adam’s fall is not only one from the center to the edge, from light to darkness, but as Augustine suggests, one from the imago Dei to the imago bestia.

This trajectory continues in Genesis 4 when Cain slays his brother, Abel. Cain is sent to wander eastward, further into the darkness, away from the face of God. By the time we arrive at Genesis 6, we have come to the edge, the deep darkness where every thought and intention of man was continuously evil. Here, we find the Nephilim, the monstrous beings that symbolize the wickedness and perversions of the darkness. 

This story reverberates throughout Scripture. In the psalmist Asaph’s confession, he admits becoming like a brutish beast before God as he slips and stumbles toward the dark edge of jealousy and self-loathing (Ps. 73:22). 

Nebuchadnezzar, because of his prideful rebellion, was judged by the Most High to live as a beast in the wilderness. Cursed and exiled to the edge, becoming an animal/human hybrid, he was “driven from among men and ate grass like an ox, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair grew as long as eagles’ feathers, and his nails were like birds’ claws” (Dan. 4:33).

Likewise, Daniel’s vision in chapter 7 describes the fourth beast as a monstrous hybrid who seeks to feast upon and destroy the Saints of the Most High. These beasts arise from the earth; they come from the dark edges to steal, kill, and destroy. 

In Jesus’ own parables, the prodigal son is the one who despises the center. He departs from his father’s presence and fellowship and wanders to the edge, giving himself to hedonistic passion and thus descending into a sub-human, porcus-type creature (Luke 15:6). The rejection of divine grace leads to dehumanization, transforming individuals into monsters we were not created to be.

Most importantly, the Incarnation follows the path from center to edge. As David prophesied, upon the cross Jesus entered the darkness; the monsters surrounded Him and opened wide their mouths like ravening and roaring lions. Like dogs, they encircled Him, mocked and disfigured Him (Ps. 22:12- 21) – to the point where He no longer looked human (Isa. 52:14). The humiliation of the cross was Christ giving Himself over to the monsters, becoming the very thing He came to destroy (2 Cor. 5:21). And as they tore at Him, paradoxically, He was concurrently crushing the head of the monster under His foot. The incarnation is the story of Christ moving from the center to the edge, the light moving into the darkness, the man facing the monster. 

We see this animalistic descent continuing today, of course.

This distorting movement is happening within the transgender community. Their ideology is morphing into a transhuman obsession, wherein anthropomorphic fantasies manifest prosthetic augmentation and other cybernetic modifications. The so-called “furry” phenomenon (a subculture attributing animal identity, behavior, gender, and even sexuality to people) is the celebration of image-bearers bastardizing themselves, aiming to create a “fursona,” resembling beasts and fiends, rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

The monsters lurking on the edges of ourselves and our society hate humanity – they despise and are repulsed by the imago Dei. They have exchanged the glory of the incarnated God for monstrous images resembling birds and animals and creeping things. The world we inhabit is no longer content to see the monsters linger on the edges but welcomes them into the center and calls it good. 

Sin always fractures and distorts. Left unchecked, it will take us by the hand and rush us to the edge where monsters wait with an appetite. 

However, the Church is commissioned to stand opposed to the monsters, and reign over the beasts. The Lord has called us not just to stand against the darkness, but to pursue the light, embodying the love, grace, truth, and courage of Christ. In doing so, we participate in the ongoing narrative of redemption, playing our part in the conflict between light and darkness, humanity and monstrosity. And so, we understand that he “did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”  There is much to slay.

Kyle Lammott is a Theopolis Fellow and is pastor of Exodus Church in Wichita, KS.

  1. Augustine of Hippo, The Trinity, ed. Hermigild Dressler, trans. Stephen McKenna, vol. 45 of The Fathers of the Church (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 1963), 358. ↩︎
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