The Shared Lore of Chainsaw Man & the Bible | Nerdy Sermon [Ep 1 Spoilers]
Look - I hear you. How on earth is there anything a church could say about Chainsaw Man? An anime literally about devils, chainsaws, gore, and one of the pervier MCs we’ve seen since Mushoku Tensei.
But make no mistake, Chainsaw Man is here to make waves and has already broken the Internet - er, at least, Crunchyroll’s servers - several times. But we don’t even need to dive very deep at all into the plot to see that Chainsaw Man’s lore provides us with unique insight into one of the less discussed aspects of the Bible. We’re talking demons, devils, and what’s the true power of fear in this nerdy deep dive.
What could a man fused with the chainsaw devil possibly do with Jesus? Let’s talk about it.
Welcome to Checkpoint Church - where nerds, geeks, and gamers come together to talk about faith, games, and Pochita being the unequivocal best boi. I’m your Nerd Pastor Nate. If you like these weekly deep-dives, be sure to sub and hit that bell to find out when our next one drops.
Mark 5:1-13 NRSVue
Reader: Danii G
They came to the other side of the sea, to the region of the Gerasenes. And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. He lived among the tombs, and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain, for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces, and no one had the strength to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him, and he shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the region. Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding, and the unclean spirits begged him, “Send us into the swine; let us enter them.” So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine, and the herd, numbering about two thousand, stampeded down the steep bank into the sea and were drowned in the sea.
I can’t imagine how much clearer it could be by the title, but Chainsaw Man is a manga and now anime series following a man who is fused with a chainsaw devil to become - you already know - a Chainsaw Man.
But of course, there is more to it than that - this series is set in a universe where devils are pretty regular occurrences - kind of like significant pests. By the way, this is set in an alternate reality earth in 1997 - so it’s at least somewhat grounded in reality, with personified devils out and about.
To set up the story to make any sense, let’s drop a spoiler alert for the first episode (and a brief moment of the third episode) here.
Denji, our MC, is a for-hire devil hunter who works with Pochita, who is definitely just a puppy and not a chainsaw devil in disguise dog. Denji rescued Pochita when it nearly died, and now the two have an unbreakable bond.
Uh, until Denji dies.
Denji is brutally dismembered by a trickster zombie devil who uses the yakuza to bombard him.
In pieces in the dumpster, Pochita sacrifices his body and fuses with Denji, weaving together his body and becoming neither Pochita nor Denji but Chainsaw Man, a devil version of Denji.
Chainsaw Man then wrecks everyone in the warehouse that murdered him and, just in time or too little too late, potential best girl Makima shows up as a representative of the professional devil hunting association, the Public Safety Division, and recruits Denji as a dog of their company to hunt high ranking devils.
It’s manipulative, cunning, and pretty gross, but she has mesmerizing eyes and pink hair, so it equals out.
Anyway - this series goes to some bonkers places and will be one to keep an eye on, and it will likely be in the top few anime of the year, at least the season.
But I want to focus on where the devils get their power from. In a quick aside in episode 3, we hear about why Makima recruited Denji and chose to keep him on hand as a good dog for the Public Safety Division.
She explains that devils get their powers from their names. All devils have a name, and, whatever that name is, determines the power they are given due to how feared their name is.
Coffee Devil, she says, wouldn’t be powerful because coffee isn’t very feared.
But Denji is the chainsaw devil, and well - not many weapons have a whole massacre in Texas.
So Denji’s power is pretty immense, and that’s what leads to Makima’s curiosity. Just what is he capable of?
Now, this idea of names being that which give power to the devils feels original. Not really - this concept is at least as old as the Bible, which brings us to our convo for this video.
Let’s acknowledge quickly that this is a weird passage - but it’s essential. I’m not comfy discussing demonology as I am far from an expert. But this story shows up in multiple gospels and is a big deal to Mark, so it’s there for some reason that I want to explore today.
This passage starts with Jesus, who has just passed into the land of the Gentiles to do some ministry.
They get fresh off the boat and are immediately confronted by this possessed man, who is well known in the area for his demoniac possession. He yells and self-harms daily and can only be kept down by chains.
Jesus is just like walking by, and the demon inside the man immediately knows who he is
This is already remarkable - countless times in the gospels, we see the disciples and the everyday people not recognize Jesus for who he truly is. This demon lunatic recognizes him FROM A DISTANCE.
The demon also pleads - please, Jesus, don’t torment me.
Jesus calls out the unclean spirit and asks what the name of the spirit is - it responds that its name is Legion.
Legion begs not to be sent out of the region but instead into the swine.
Jesus permits this to pass.
Then the spirits enter the pigs, and these two thousand pigs rush into the water and drown.
There is so much there that I do not understand. I don’t know why the demon wanted to be in the pigs. I don’t understand why the demon immediately seppuku’d the pigs.
Let’s get the best bits out of the mess.
First off, demons know Jesus’ name.
Second off, demons have names of their own
Third off, right after the passage, the possessed man is okay after this and goes to tell others about what Jesus has done.
We also know that the townspeople beg Jesus to leave, which I could relate to if that were how I first met Jesus.
Honestly, if I met someone and one pig drowned itself the second I met that person, it might be enough to get blocked on my phone.
Anyway, what is going on with this weird passage? Why should we care, and what does it have to do with Chainsaw Man?
One of the most important recurring themes of the Bible is the power of the name. We see this repeatedly from the earliest passages of the Hebraic writings of the Old Testament. Names have meaning. When Jacob wrestles with God, he is given a new name. Abram and Sarai are both renamed upon bearing the child that will hold the future of the nation of Israel.
There is power in the names that are given. This passage gives us two essential revelations about names - demons have them, and Jesus’ name is known.
This is critical information because it shows that with names come power. This is a powerful demon. He is many. This isn’t just a demon but a cluster of powerful ones that have banded together in force.
This demon is so powerful that he must be chained up. He is noisy, uncontrollable, and harmful.
Enter Jesus - this powerful demon trembles. Immediately, From a distance. There is no pause or dancing around in this scenario. The name of Jesus spooks this demon. This reveals that Jesus’ name, too, has power behind it.
We see this, as well, in the older scriptures. One of God’s many names, YHWH, is so well revered that it can’t even be spoken but is carried in the breath. It’s a revelation of a name; it’s so powerful.
This brings us to our Chainsaw Man concept again - what gives a devil in Chainsaw Man power is how feared it is in the world. Chainsaws are feared as a murder weapon, so the chainsaw devil is a big ol baddie.
When we think of the word fear, we usually attribute that as a negative term, but the truth is that there are many times when the name of God in the Bible evokes a kind of fear. Less out of being afraid and more out of reverence. To fear is to acknowledge the power and humble one’s self accordingly.
We don’t fear a chainsaw because it’s scary; we fear it because we acknowledge our weakness. The sharp whirring blade is objectively more powerful than our thin fleshy skin.
This is why we love the spooky elements of Halloween too - why else would we enjoy things like Horror Nights or scary festivals? We know they can’t harm us, so it’s a chance to mock that reverence and mess with our minds. We aren’t actually in a power differential in those spaces, so we laugh and go with friends because it’s a fun thing to do.
But in these actual instances of power differences, the answer is clear - these names are influential and worthy of being feared and revered.
It’s true in the hierarchy of devils in Chainsaw Man, and it’s true in the Biblical naming system too.
If demons know that Jesus’ name is worthy of being feared, we should consider what that means to us.
So what does that mean for us today?
What can we take away from this lesson?
Hopefully, this will be an interesting consideration as you consider the power of Denji throughout this season of Chainsaw Man. It’s always funny to hear people talk about Goku solo-ing Jesus or something like that. We just had a troll comment like that the other day.
But the truth of the power in these shows is that even the idea of these influential people is just a concept, but the name of Jesus walked among us and dwells today and evokes fear that makes the demons tremble.
And that name - is for you! If Jesus is for you - if you do matter - then who can possibly stand against you? Accept the affirmation that Jesus is more powerful than anything we can feasibly wrap our minds around. And that power said - I got this, and died for our sins so that we might be made clean and accessible.
Take heart, keep your head up, and boldly walk forward with the assurance of a name with way more power than yours.
So whether you’re a devil dog (pochita), a high-ranking public safety agent (makima), or a fiend (power), know that you’re always welcome here at Checkpoint Church.