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Pinocchio: A Portrait of Salvation?

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

Paul Miles examines Christian doctrines of sin, salvation, and the human condition as presented in Pinocchio, as the film offers a picture of origins, fall, and redemption. In the Bible, he argues, when people live as the Blue Fairy suggests (letting conscience be one’s guide) things often do not go well. This is because conscience is not meant to be the authority for action, but rather, to lead people to realize their shortcomings, to recalibrate their sense of goodness, and to look to God for moral guidance. Sin involves an estrangement from the fullness of identity, and Pinocchio presents a portrait of spiritual deadness and the need for salvation—the need for a new body and a greater sense of realness. Alas, this story presents a works-driven path to salvation which lies contrary to a biblical view. Our condition, he argues, is actually worse than Pinocchio presents it, while Pinocchio’s reward of realness pales in comparison to that of the Gospel.

"Justification is the first phase of salvation and it occurs at that moment when someone first believes in Christ alone for eternal life. The Blue Fairy requires Pinocchio to conform to the virtues of a real boy while he is still a puppet, but God does not expect a person to behave like a Christian when he is still dead in trespasses and sin. The Eastern Orthodox theologian, Vigen Guroian, summarizes Pinocchio’s path to righteousness: 'In the Disney animation, real boyhood is bestowed on Pinocchio as a reward for being good by the Blue Fairy with a touch of her magic wand; or, as the Blue Fairy herself says, because Pinocchio has proven himself "brave, truthful, and unselfish." In Disney’s imagination this is magic. In theological terms this is works righteousness.' The notion of works-righteousness is entirely foreign to the Bible, which states, 'Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness.'"
"Justification is called a past-tense salvation because it is a salvation that has already happened for those who have believed in Christ, hence Paul’s words to the believers in Ephesus: 'For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.' Justification is only the beginning of the Christian’s new life in Christ and it carries ramifications for the present and future. On the significant soteriological issue of faith vs. works, then, Disney’s Pinocchio falls short because it implies that the second birth is contingent upon a person’s own works as opposed to the biblical view that the only thing that a person can and must do to be born again is to believe in God’s Son for eternal life."


This post is meant simply to offer a glimpse into our Disney & Apologetics project. Excerpts alone, however, cannot stand for an entire chapter, nor can they stand as representative for all the other ideas to be explored and arguments to be made in this 500-pp, two-volume work. There is much more to ponder within these pages! If you want to think more carefully about morality, about using the formative artifacts of pop-culture to approach Christian apologetics, and about the connections between imagination, aesthetics, and theology, buy this book! You can see what others say about it here and here.


Paul Miles holds a DMin in Bible and Theology from Tyndale Theological Seminary, an MA in Theological Studies, and a BA in Russian. He is the executive director of Grace Abroad Ministries, a ministry he began with his wife, Lena, in 2016 in order to serve the Church through translation, teaching, and outreach. The Miles family lives in Kyiv, Ukraine, and you can read their blog at

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