(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

The Christ Clone Trilogy begins with the first of James BeauSeigneur’s novels, In His Image. The image is that of Jesus Christ on the Shroud of Turin, which reporter Decker Hawthorne is invited to investigate with a team of scientists and scholars in the late 1970’s. Years later, scientist Harry Goodman tells his former student, Hawthorne, that he has cloned skin cells from the Shroud and implanted them in his son, Christopher. Instead of seeing the boy as Christ, though, Harry sees him as an evidence of alien life come to earth, an example of what can be done by humankind regardless of the existence of God. These ideas are later used by those following Christopher to promote his authority.

Christopher seems like a wonderful person—caring, considerate, intelligent, and charismatic but humble. When the Disaster results in millions of deaths around the world and both lose their families, Hawthorne accepts Christopher as his stepson. No explanation can be found for the Disaster and the deaths that result, and religious and political leaders start attacking each other around the world. A world in need of leaders allows Christopher to advance politically; as head of the United Nations’ World Food Organization, he promotes the cause of fighting hunger around the world. While he is working and Hawthorne is supportive, forces from the Lucius Trust have learned about him and are working to move into position and gain influence over the young Goodman.

With money from David Bragford and the outreach of Lucius Trust member Robert Milner, the Lucius Trust gains Christopher’s and Hawthorne’s confidence and starts to direct their lives. Around them the world is spinning out of control. Israel is invaded by Russia, then leaves the United Nations. Illegal arms dealing gives Pakistani and Indian extremists the weapons that begin a nuclear war, which China enters. Droughts and radiation cause millions of deaths throughout the Middle East and Asia.

This series of wars, natural disasters, and political corruption force Christopher to make a forty-day journey into the desert, as Jesus did (related in the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke), to find his true identity and reason for being. After communing with his Father for this time, Christopher returns to the United Nations and makes a powerful bid for the position of secretary-general. The humility has left Christopher, who now believes he is indeed Jesus Christ, but with a much different mission this time.

The second novel, Birth of an Age, presents a world torn apart by continuing war and disaster. Two prophets, John and Cohen, preach in the politically isolated city of Jerusalem. The natural and supernatural disasters are shown in great detail as the world, under the guidance of Christopher, works to avert and then cope with each one. While some people believe that these events are a call to worship God, others see the United Nations and Christopher’s ability to cope as signs of humanity’s strength.

A new series of supernatural disasters strikes the world in the form of strange infestations and plagues (corresponding to those predicted in the Book of Revelation). Christopher heals some, especially those who have political power, but seems afraid of letting too many people discover who he...

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(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Sources for Further Study

Allitt, Patrick. Religion in America Since 1945: A History. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003. Looks at various trends in religion, including millennium fiction such as the Christ Clone Trilogy.

D’Ammassa, Don. Review of Acts of God. Radford Chronicle 27, no. 2 (February, 2005): 35. A brief review that concludes the third volume of the trilogy is “well enough written.”

Frykholm, Amy Johnson. Rapture Culture: Left Behind in Evangelical America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. Examines the rising popularity of evangelical fiction and depictions of the Antichrist and Armageddon.

Hartshorn, Laurie. “Sacred Thoughts.” Booklist 98, nos. 19/20 (June 1, 2002). Includes a review of In His Image.

Kirkus Reviews. Review of Birth of an Age. 71, no. 10 (May 15, 2003): 694. Comments on the trilogy as a whole (self-published in the 1990’s), as well as this volume, considering it “astoundingly intelligent.”

Kirkus Reviews. Review of In His Image. 70, no. 23 (December 1, 2002): 1711. Review of the trilogy’s first installment, calling it “silly, cheap, fun” and a potboiler.

Madsen, Niles J. “At the Libraries: Thrillers with a Biblical Flavor.” The Providence Journal, December 8, 2003, p. B5. Notes that the trilogy describes the “calamitous afflictions” of Christ’s cloning “in such scientific detail and accuracy as to require footnotes.”

Seed, David. Imagining Apocalypse: Studies in Cultural Crisis. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000. Several articles focus on different aspects of Christian science fiction, especially those that examine modern attitudes toward sex, science, and government.

Smietana, Bob. “Cloning of Christ Powers Three Plots.” The Patriot, January 17, 2003, p. E4. Review of three novels, including the first installment of BeauSeigneur’s Christ Clone trilogy, in the context of the cloning debate.

Zaleski, Jeff. Review of In His Image. Publishers Weekly 250, no. 1 (January 6, 2003): 38. Considers the first volume awkward and “rickety.”