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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1358

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...

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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 is too soon. The Lucius Trust tells both Christopher and Hawthorne that there is a time for such things, but the Christ Clone can hardly refuse to heal when approached by various ambassadors in the United Nations. Soon he has made allies he will later need.

In Jerusalem itself, three factions are competing to explain the events: the traditional Jews, the KDP (a radical messianic group), and the Jewish Christians. Having been kidnapped earlier by the KDP, Hawthorne is hostile to their message and suspicious of anyone in that region. His good friend Tom Donafin has been rescued and helped by Jewish Christians, who reveal to Donafin Christopher and Hawthorne’s roles in the events around him.

As the world blames the two prophets in Jerusalem for its problems, Donafin uses his friendship with Hawthorne to get into the United Nations, where he kills Christopher on international television before being shot himself. This confusing event is merely a ploy that allows Christopher to be resurrected on international television, which makes his authority even greater. Christopher’s desecration of the Temple and his murder of the two prophets were prophesied but ignored by all but the KDP and some Christians.

Christopher and Milner use their new visibility to promote their view of a New Age, where humanity will become like gods and leave behind the need to worship one deity. They do this using Gnostic ideas of the world god as Satan, pointing out contradictions in the Bible and asking whether a loving god would say and do the things they cite. They also draw on religious texts and philosophies from around the world, notably Eastern ones, that teach the idea of cycles of reincarnation until one achieves higher stages of development.

Everything is exposed and explained in the third book, Acts of God. Instead of fighting the prophecies of those unable to embrace Christopher’s vision of humanity’s final stage of evolution, Hawthorne encourages Christopher to play up to them. They create laws and use language that support the images of the Antichrist, though Christopher himself seems to need convincing of the correctness of these steps. They construct a new U.N. building on the site of the ancient city of Babylon, and Hawthorne designs a mark (the Mark) that will be required to take a new medication made from Christopher’s healing blood.

Christopher preaches that his ability to heal the sick and injured is not limited to him; people must reach inside themselves to advance spiritually, and as they do, they too will be able to heal and be healed. People start to exhibit their own supernatural abilities for short periods of time as they turn toward Christopher. All of this adds more weight to Christopher’s argument that humankind is on the verge of a great evolutionary step and the trauma killing millions is an attack from a jealous God.

Kidnapped again by the KDP, Hawthorne hears the other side of the argument from their leader, Scott Rosen, and Rhoda, the wife of his former friend Tom Donafin. Hawthorne has been too busy or too unsure to take the Mark he designed. Now he is confronted with the opposing argument, and in confusion he witnesses a world suffering through a series of plagues, again predicted in the Book of Revelation. Hawthorne is torn between the destruction he sees, Christopher’s words, and those of his kidnappers.

It is only by confronting Christopher that Hawthorne learns the truth from the mouth of the Antichrist himself, who points out that he has never outright lied about who he is to Hawthorne. Refusing to accept the Mark, Hawthorne meets his death at Christopher’s own hand. With his stepfather dead, Christopher the Antichrist is now surrounded only by those who fully embrace his message, who allow and encourage him to kill anyone who refuses the Mark.

The rest of the novel presents the final battle between good and evil, a battle not of weapons but of minds, hearts, and souls. Many have come to Megiddo, where the KDP and those with them in Petra will face off against the New Age in a battle of spirits and wills. The cities of the world are destroyed as the Petra camp repents and cites biblical passages. In the end, Jesus Christ and the Antichrist Christopher confront each other. The world watches on television as the Antichrist reveals himself, and everything falls into hellfire.

BeauSeigneur gives us a brief glimpse of the Millennial Kingdom when Hawthorne wakes up not in Hell as he had imagined but in the arms of his Raptured wife, Elizabeth, on a revitalized Earth. They look forward to eternal life, but with the knowledge that human beings will always have the choice to follow God’s path or not, a foreshadowing of the true end of the Earth a thousand years in the future.

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