The Matrix - A Cyberpunk Parable?
III. THE MATRIX AS A CYBERPUNK PARABLEC. Shortcomings in This Parable
Although the story of Neo has many parallels to the journey of a lost man finding salvation in Christ and then maturing in faith, there are some shortcomings in the allegory as well. To provide a healthier picture of Christianity, here are some of the shortcomings:
* CHRIST WAS DEPERSONALIZED. Although Morpheus or Trinity may at times represent God in the allegory of Neo as a lost man who becomes a Christian, there was only a red pill to represent the blood of Christ. Christ is not a thing, but a living Being. Salvation is an act of embracing Christ by faith; it is a direct relationship with Him. "To as many as received Him, to those who believed in His name, to them gave the right to become children of God." (John 1:12). Because there was only a red pill instead of a Person, 'salvation' therefore seemed impersonal and formulaic. To be saved from sin, there is no 'magic red pill' a certain act of penance, a ritual, a 'magic or special prayer', etc that a person must do. Instead, salvation comes from a personal, relational faith transaction between a lost man and the living Christ, as man repentantly trusts Christ alone as his only means of escape from sin and death to righteousness and life. A Christian's walk is then a constant reliance on God, not on a lifeless set of concepts or dogma. It is a close relationship. God is Father; the Christian is child.
* NO REAL CONCEPT OF SIN. 'Salvation' in the film (taking the red pill) had nothing to do with a change in morality. There was no transformation from 'sin' to 'righteousness', or from 'wrong' to 'right', but merely from illusion to reality. If Neo lived immorally in the Matrix world, he might still do the same in the real world. The concept of true repentance and moral purification from sin is absent, shown most clearly by Mouse, who pimps his lady in red to Neo.
* NO TRUE CONCEPT OF ATONEMENT. If someone were going to get hit by a car, and you pushed him out of harm's way, but were struck and killed by the car, you have saved the person's life. But you have not atoned for wrong things he had done, or made payments for debts that he owed. 'Atonement' is the full payment of a due penalty; a reparation for a wrong done; the satisfying of rightful judgment. God's holiness demands a death penalty for sin. Christ paid that penalty, offering justification through Him as a free gift for all who will believe. Christ didn't merely offer a way from this world into another there's much more to it than that. The main thing He did was to atone for our fallen, sinful condition so that we could be forgiven by faith in Him and be spiritually reborn. Christ came "to give His life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:28).
* NO ETERNITY IN FIRE. The concept of eternity in heaven can be paralleled by Zion - the place where the 'party would be' if the war was over. But there seemed to be no counterpart of hell. In the Matrix, once a human died, existence was over. Because of this, it was logical for Cypher - or anyone - to return to the temporary pleasures of the Matrix rather than face the 'desert of the real', as there was no eternal penalty (lake of fire) afterward for his choice, nor paradise for choosing the truth (Zion was probably not a paradise in The Matrix). In another contrast, when a Christian comes into truth, it is the fallen world that is the desert, and the truth is a constant oasis that carries the Christian through that desert.
* NO HOLY SPIRIT. When a person is saved by faith in Christ, God's Spirit then literally takes up residence in that believer. The Holy Spirit indwells, empowers, convicts, controls, teaches and guides the believer in Christ from within. There were external characters such as Tank and the Oracle that had some of these properties, but no direct parallel. In the film, Neo relied on himself, not on the power of another Being within him. Neo was humanistic in that sense.
* GOD IS NOT AN 'UNDERDOG'. In the film, evil (machines) rules the world, and good (man) is a desperate underdog. In truth, God is all-powerful, and has fully won the victory. God is simply allowing Satan some leeway for a time, just as he still allows man to sin in his free will. Christians are by no means 'underdogs' or desperate.