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What would it look like if Jesus entered Jerusalem today?

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Happy Easter! Like many others, I’m fascinated and a bit terrified by the quick development of artificial intelligence (AI). But just like the internet, I believe that Christians should do their best to use tools that can cause a lot of harm to promote the Kingdom of God instead. So, when I heard that the latest version of the AI art generator Midjourney could produce photorealistic images, I was eager to give it a try.

As Easter was approaching, I decided to generate images of Jesus entering modern-day Jerusalem to help people of today picture what it could be like for people 2,000 years ago to experience the arrival of the Messiah. I was blown away by the results.

As you can tell, Midjourney version 5 was able to create stunningly vivid images that truly brought the story to life. I was thrilled to share these images with others, as they can be a powerful tool to help people visualize the Bible stories and connect with them on a deeper level. Before long, the images were shared over 1,000 times on Facebook.

Admittedly, many shared them just because they found them funny. They also stirred a lot of debate, since many complained that this Jesus was too white compared to the original. Others pointed out that several people in Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria doesn’t have much darker skin tone than this. As for me, I make no claim that this represents a historically accurate portrayal of the Savior – rather, it portrays the common Western conception of him which makes him recognizable to most of us.

Some also pointed out that a motorcycle really isn’t a good modern equivalent to a donkey, both in terms of cost and environmental destruction. So I generated new images in which Jesus chooses a cheaper, more climate-friendly mode of transportation into the holy city:

With the ability to generate photorealistic images so easily, the risk of deception and manipulation becomes a very real concern. In a world where deepfakes and fake news are becoming increasingly common, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks of technology like this.

In fact, I experienced this firsthand when I also decided to generate images of the pope getting married as a playful experiment. AI generations of Francis had already gone viral, and I generated these images to contribute to the meme as well as providing subtle criticism of Catholic priests and bishops not being able to marry despite there not being any biblical command of that sort (on the contrary, the apostle Peter had a mother-in-law!).

Even though I shared the images in a group called “Midjourney AI”, they quickly found a life of their own in which their AI origins were shrouded in darkness. After a few days, they went viral in Nigeria and Congo, with many people believing that they were genuine as influential people on social media claimed that they were photos and some even gave the “wife” a name! If one looks closely at the images, it is clear that the face of the “wife” changes from picture to picture, and hands and other details are far from perfect. But who has time to look closely in an age of instant gratification and quick shares? Fortunately, a Congolese paper eventually clarified that the images were generated by AI. Unfortunately, this led to Facebook labelling all uploads of the images as “disinformation” – even when posted in AI groups!

This experience was a stark reminder of just how easily technology can be used to deceive and manipulate people. As Christians, it’s important for us to approach technology with caution and discernment. While tools like Midjourney version 5 can be powerful tools for creating meaningful and inspiring art, we must also be aware of the potential dangers they can pose. We must use these tools responsibly and with integrity, always keeping in mind the potential impact they can have on those who view them.

While my experience with Midjourney version 5 has been both exciting and eye-opening, it’s important to remember that technology is a powerful tool that must be used responsibly. As Christians, we must remain vigilant and discerning, using our creativity to glorify God and uplift others, while avoiding the pitfalls of deception and manipulation that can accompany technology like this.


1 Comment

  1. […] Samtidigt visar också detta hur lätt det kommer vara framöver att skapa inlevelse i såväl predikningar som konfirmationsundervisning. Vi pastorer uppmanar ofta våra församlingsmedlemmar att föreställa sig hur det var att följa Jesus på Nya Testamentets tid – nu kommer man kunna skapa bilder av sig själv i bibliska kläder tillsammans med Jesus och apostlarna, eller se hur det hade varit om Jesus inkarnerades i modern tid. […]

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The author

Micael Grenholm, a Swedish charismactivist, apologist and author.

Micael Grenholm, a Swedish charismactivist, apologist and author.

Check out my YouTube channel!

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