It’s become a cliche that we live in a “post-Christian” culture. This is shown in obvious hostility to Christians and their faith, but more perniciously when Christianity and God are ignored as if they are completely irrelevant to existence. The latter provides the most danger to our faith at the same time it provides the many opportunities to help strengthen it. The recently ended NBC series The Good Place is an example of both. It’s kind of funny, really, that in a show purportedly about the afterlife that God was persona non grata. We watched every episode of all four seasons, and I’m pretty sure the divine being didn’t even make a cameo. We can conclude, then, that God is not relevant to life, death, or even what comes after death. That’s the danger, that people think such a view of reality is reasonable and plausible, and go along their merry way without a thought of the judgment to come. But it’s also a great opportunity because you see how shallow, weak, and hopeless such a view really is. Ultimately, the ending shows us just how clueless the writers are without God’s revelation to them in creation, Scripture, and Christ.

In case you’re not familiar with the show, it’s a unique comedy that takes death, philosophy, and the afterlife seriously. Of course, being “post-Christian” America, it does this from a thoroughly secular perspective. If you want to make the Christian life and worldview, including its eternal implications, appealing to your children, watching The Good Place with them is a great way to do it.

First, there is the character of Chidi, played by William Jackson Harper. He’s a total nerd obsessed with philosophy. You don’t see much philosophy on prime time TV, or any TV for that matter, or hear much, or anything, about Plato, Aristotle, Hegel, Kant, and others big hitters in the history of philosophy, so I loved it. In our house, this was a great opportunity to teach our kids why philosophy, the love of wisdom in Greek, is so important. And why it’s so ultimately futile without revelation.

The irony is that Chidi, early in the show, while the smartest guy in the room, or in the afterlife, is a mess. Philosophy isn’t much help figuring out himself or life. This was a great opportunity to compare general revelation with special revelation. God has revealed something of himself and the nature of reality in nature, but not enough that human beings can figure it all out without his revelation in Scripture and Christ. So while there is much in the history of philosophy to teach us about God and reality, it will always come up short. Reading the history of philosophy, we see speculation being heaped upon speculation, and an intellectual war of speculation against speculation. It’s several thousand years of futility. That, I’ve always taught my children is life without God revealing himself, and the ultimate truth about reality, in Scripture and Christ. We either have The Good Place, and futile speculation, or God in Christ revealed in Scripture, and thus Truth we can stake our life and death upon. The former is puzzle pieces without the puzzle, and in the latter the pieces all fit.

The final episode was an especially significant teaching opportunity. For the secular writers, the best eternity and the Good Place could offer is every best dream you’ve ever had going on forever. The result is predictable: boredom. Eternal boredom. So the writers offer a way out for the characters, a portal into nothingness. Chidi, it seems, has given up Western philosophy and has become something of a Buddhist, and they have the option of becoming a drop of water in an endless sea of nothingness. How encouraging! What hope! But what else can you come up with if you rule out a personal Creator God who himself is life and light itself, our ultimate fulfillment and meaning and purpose and hope, now and forever. Without divine revelation, The Good Place is as good as it gets, and it isn’t good at all.





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