Okay, so you have a setting where various people in the modern day have all these amazing powers. Whether they're born as mutants, mages, wizards, or something else, they're able to perform miraculous feats that warp reality itself.
Hrm, weren't there some other historical people who performed miraculous feats? People who ended up being worshipped? If you have these wizards running around turning lead into gold, who is to say that in this universe, Jesus wasn't just a cultist wizard conning people over by turning water into wine?
Nope, Jesus was never a wizard. This will NEVER be brought up. You might get some talk about how, oh, the Greek Gods were really aliens or something, but if a character ever brings up a modern faith that people still practice widely—Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, or Islam—nobody will ever go, "Say, these people we're fighting can resurrect themselves. I wonder if that means Jesus was..." While Beethoven may have been an alien spy, Jesus never was.
Often one of the things that comes up during Fridge Logic, especially if say, there's a Christmas Episode or chapter during which the main characters, who have every ability Jesus ever displayed and more, still celebrate Christmas as if it's a big deal, when Larry has walked on water, can produce food from rocks, and has already come back from the dead several times.
And despite the trope name, this refers to all religious figures and prophets, e.g. Krishna, Moses, and Mohammed. This trope is for when half of the reason you're part of a religion is because of records of miracles performed by gods, prophets, or messiahs—a world where everyone is running around with superpowers and constantly coming back from death should dilute that, or at least be addressed in some way.
There is a pretty good reason why this trope is so prevalent. If you try to subvert it, and say that Jesus was, in fact, a wizard/mutant/shaman/psychic/alien, people WILL be offended (and if you say anything bad about L. Ron, you might get sued). It doesn't matter how perfect and kind and wonderful you might portray him as, there will be always the implication that he was either delusional, or a charlatan, because he went on to found a religion that portrays him as the son of God in a Verse where abilities such as his are rather common. It's pretty hard to Hand Wave that away without making him or the church look bad. Rather than take a side, many works will walk the line with a "Maybe Miracle, Maybe Magic" answer.
It should also be noted that many religious figures used their powers not as justification, but as advertisement. "Yes, I just turned water into wine, but while I have your attention why don't you stay and listen to what you can do about your soul?" If the religions in the universe have decided to worship these figures for their teachings instead of supernatural claims or whatever powers or origins they might have had, that's fine. The problem is that it never plays out that way. It instead becomes a cosmic version of the Elephant in the Living Room.
See also: No Such Thing as Space Jesus. That one is about how any powerful being that claims to be a god in Science Fiction clearly isn't and anyone who treats it as such is a gullible fool, whereas this one is that religious figures still get treated the same even if their magic powers are nothing special in the setting.
Contrast Religion is Magic. See also Jesus Was Way Cool.
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Anime and Manga
Saint Seiya is a Crossover Cosmology, and you literally have gods and goddesses in human form. And Hyoga, one of the reincarnated Athena's loyal saints, is catholic and completely unconflicted about it. No mention is ever made as to whether Christianity as a whole or Jesus in particular have had any impact in previous deific conflicts. It is averted though, in that the Virgo saint Shaka is the reincarnation of the Buddha... and also serves Athena (though it might be more of a Pals with Jesus type thing, where he's temping part time for her or something * shrug* ).
A Certain Magical Index is very close to the line; Religion is Magic, the Disciples were the most powerful wizards in history, the Saints’ magic powers are derived from possessing similar type and nature of body to Jesus, and there are spells that were either developed from his miracles or used by him. But no one doubts that Jesus really was the Son of God, capable of miracles and truly divine in nature. Except the Science Side, which is mostly made up of agnostics.
Enel from One Piece believes himself to be a Physical God (and he actually holds the title of "God" on Skypiea, though that is more like their word for "King" and several ordinary people have had it before him); though he is unquestionably phenomenally powerful, one of the strongest characters in the series (in a world where there are people who can destroy whole islands with ease), he is actually just a guy who ate the Lightning Logia Devil Fruit, and is thus no different from the dozens of others who have gained superpowers from eating a Devil Fruit, though again his is undoubtedly one of the most impressive.
In many Fantasy Kitchen Sink comics verses, Physical Godsare superheroes and nobody says boo. The closest they come is having these supergods occasionally inspire (small, fringe) worshippers.
X-Men: Mutants have been various important personages throughout history and have been around since the dawn of the Egyptian civilization at least. Try crucifying Wolverine and stuffing him in a cave for a couple of days and act surprised when he comes back to life. Also, during the House of M storyline, a teacher asks who the first mutant was… "and don't say Jesus, since he doesn't count".note Technically, the teacher in House of M said not to mention Jesus or Moses because she was looking for the first mutant to be recorded historically. She leaves plenty of openings for them to be poorly documented Mutants. Interestingly enough, a few modern storylines subvert this by revealing that some angels and demons were actually early mutants. Though as your standard Fantasy Kitchen Sink, the Marvel Universe also has real angels and demons.
Wolverine hasbeen crucified,- bolted to a big letter X by the Reavers and left to bake in the Australian outback. (They just had to Curb Stomp him with a surprise attack and eight-to-one odds, and he went up on the "cross" as docile as you please.) It even overloaded his Healing Factor for a time (couldn't do that these days), forcing him to run and hide instead of kill, and surprisingly, he never did get to give them the claws in return; changing writer syndrome deprived him of his sweet revenge.
Only adding to the confusion is the existence of any number of demons who claim to be THE Satan, with Mephisto being particularly prominent, but none of them really having much to back their claim up, and all of them being notorious liars.
The Eternals only make things more complicated. Having been created by the Celestials at the dawn of humanity as a separate race rather than anything divine, they were worshiped as gods, and their names reflect this - Makkari (Mercury) and Thena (Athena) are examples, and at least one has been worshipped by the Incans as well. Except that there is ALSO a pantheon of Greek gods, who are divine. This all led to some confusion recently when Hercules was claimed to be one of the Eternals with false memories of the actual Hercules (turns out to have been a mistranslation on the part of an Eternal conversing with a Celestial).
Ghost Rider and some Thor stories have somewhat addressed this. A Ghost Rider story confirmed Lucifer, angels, heaven, the Antichrist, and God were all real. However, in story they come off as no different than other pantheons of gods with maybe some different labels. Of course, God spoke, but was never seen on panel and Jesus was not mentioned. Several Thor stories have implied Asgard is aware of the Monotheistic God, but have issues with the claim to be the only god.
The DCU: Superman is always compared to Jesus in subtle or blatant ways (Oddly enough, as his origin was based on Moses, and he was created by 2 Jewish men), but nobody in the entire body of work has ever even made the passing suggestion that maybe Jesus was an alien shot to earth, too.
Jesus was actually, canonically, the real deal in the DC-verse; he's part of the backstory of The Spectre, who serves as an agent of God's Divine Wrath in the form of The Spirit of Vengeance. He was absent at the time of Jesus for the specific reason that Jesus was the Spirit of Forgiveness and the Lord did not want the two of them on Earth at the same time, as it would seem like he was sending mixed messages.
There was also a storyline in Doctor Fate involving a vampire who believed he could turn back into a human by drinking Jesus's blood from the Holy Grail.
This taboo once literally derailed an entire comic book story arc. Writer/artist Rick Veitch was working on a storyline in Swamp Thing (after Alan Moore's famous run) where the title character was falling backwards through time, and encountering both real historical figures and DC characters of the past. The plan was to culminate the story during the time of Jesus (usually obliquely called "The Nazarene" in the DC Universe). Swamp Thing himself was to take the role of an angel who gives Jesus a drink of water on his way to Calvary. And yes, the story was going to reveal that The Nazarene was, yes, a wizard, no different from Doctor Fate or Zatanna or the other mystical characters in the DC Universe. DC management popped a head-gasket and killed the story long after it had received official approval, so Veitch and his collaborators quit, and the story was never resolved.
The writer of The Son Of Dracula once got in an argument with the head of The Comics Code over whether Christians would be offended if he put in a reference to the book's main character being powerless inside a church (both the writer and the head of The Comics Code were Jewish).
At one point in Impulse, Max Mercury tries to convince Impulse that Santa Claus isn't real, because his powers are implausible. Impulse quickly (how else?) debunks every objection by naming a superhero with the same power. (E.g., the Atom can get down small chimneys.)
In Coyote Blue, the Native American trickster god Coyote comments in passing how he met Jesus, and thought it was funny how he made such a big deal of coming back from the dead the one time. (Coyote's brother in this case happens to be Anubis, who is constantly having to bring his mischievous brother back to life.)
In Katherine Kurtz's Deryni novels there are factions within the Church that consider Deryni talents like healing to be the work of the devil because they imitate Jesus' miracles. On more than one occasion this leads to anti-Deryni pogroms.
The Arthurian fantasy novel The Forever King has a Double Subversion: The plot revolves around the history of the Grail, which traditionally gained its magical powers from an encounter with Jesus, but in this telling existed and had its powers — including the power to defeat death — long before he appeared on the scene. Late in the book, there's a flashback to the events surrounding Jesus' death and resurrection, from the point of view of a character who knows about the Grail; he initially assumes (rather smugly) that Jesus was just an ordinary man brought back to life by the Grail, but then is surprised and disturbed by the discovery that it couldn't have been the Grail, and so therefore must have been something else he doesn't understand, possibly even a genuine act of God.
There's a scene in The Dark Is Rising where Will protects a church and the members of it from an invasion of the Dark forces. Afterwards, the priest tries to ascribe the powers of the Old Ones of the Light as miracles derived from the Christian god, who he says came first and created all of existence. The narration says that Will thinks of saying something to correct the priest but doesn't say how he would have corrected him - did God come later? Does God even exist? Do the powers of the Old Ones come from a totally different source but the Christian God still exists? The text is about as purposefully vague as you can get in this part of the book.
The Nightside books and other series by Simon R. Green always make a point of saying that "only one man could ever bring the dead back to life" (and the resurrected Judas explicitly identifies Christ as that man) - completely ignoring that in the Bible, Elijah and Elisha could raise the dead as well, and some mediaeval saints were also said to have been capable of this. (Undead beings don't count.)
In The Unnatural Enquirer John Taylor says only one man ever came back from Hell, and that was Jesus. Perhaps a bit of a retcon?
Considering that John himself spent most of Hex and the City accompanied by Sinner, a man who was booted out of Hell for still feeling love, he was probably using hyperbole with that one.
Wizards and witches can do amazing things with their magic, yet are unable to bring back the dead. Harry was the only known person to have survived the Avada Kevadra curse - twice - although both times, it was because he was specially protected from it. There are pretty good imitations of bringing back the dead, but the real thing doesn't exist. They also celebrate Christmas, one of the Hogwart's ghosts is the Fat Friar and Harry's parents have a Bible quote on their graves, so it seems likely that the wizarding community accepts conventional religion.
Also, Ron spends a summer in Egypt and makes a mention in his postcard of the old spells the Egyptian wizards put on the sarcophogi and pyramids.
J. K. Rowling stated "Hogwarts is a multi-faith school." So, presumably, all the major religions are represented.
Voldemort is stated to not have died, but this is only true in the most technical of senses. After his attack on the baby Harry, he became something that was described as 'less than the meanest ghost', and was capable of possessing bodies. While he might not have died by the strictest definition of the Potterverse, he could easily trick people into thinking that he had come back from the dead. In this case, any wizard with Horcruxes (Or alternatives), could put on a quite convincing show of dying and coming back. There's the problem that dark magic ruins your body. You do NOT get a good following looking like a snake, and cursing and subjugating your followers. You might get a cult of power hungry crazies, but you probably wouldn't ever be mainstream.
The Dresden Files takes a Fantasy Kitchen Sink approach. The Christian God is no exception, and Harry's friend, Michael, owns a sword that contains one of the nails used to crucify Jesus.
Of course, the White Council is apparently incredibly old and keeps track of things like this. They probably know where Jesus' powers came from, and that it wasn't from being a wizard. Harry can detect Michael's power, and it's noted as being a different thing from the magic he uses.
The series does make a handful of explicit references to Jesus' miracles, though - in the novel Dead Beat, Harry is explaining how necromancers can bring people back from the dead. His audience, shocked, responds "Jesus Christ..." and Harry quickly quips "I don't think they had anything to do with that one." Butters takes him seriously, and Harry has to explain it was a joke.
Angels and fallen angels both exist. Harry is granted the ability to use both Hellfire by a fallen angel and soulfire by an archangel, but the fact that he loses the Hellfire when his association with the fallen angel ends implies that it's not something mortals can naturally use. A set of major villains are empowered by fallen angels trapped in the 30 pieces of silver given to Judas. One of them even wears the noose Judas wore as an artifact. On the other hand, even artifacts that are fake, like the Shroud of Turin, are empowered because of the vast amount of belief in them.
It is basically implied that God is either as old as, or older than, the Outsiders. At some point, He drove them to the far reaches of "reality" such as it was and created the angels (though at least some of the angels may have been created to partake in the fight against the Outsiders). He then created the universe, with the assistance of the angels (two angels have claimed to have been present at the creation of the universe, and Bob claims that the original use of soulfire was in the creation), which the Outsiders were trapped beyond. Any other gods (who seem more like tremendously powerful beings from the furthest reaches of the Nevernever) probably came later (one of the books is based on the plot by a wizard to ascend to the level of a god). As for the attack on the fortress of the Winter Queen, that was done by only a small number of the Denarians (who, note, do not have the full powers of a Fallen angel), who were acting in secrecy to prevent the other Denarians from knowing of their involvement. Its likely that all of the active Denarians could take on Mab if they fought her at once. Which is about as likely as Harry going a year without someone trying to kill him.
Implied is putting it a bit strongly. Especially given that every creature outside of the ultimately-still-human wizards lives entirely according to the rules of its own mythology, and assumedly this includes mythological origin stories. It's highly probable from context that Uriel was hanging around during a more or less scientifically sound creation in accordance with modern Christianity from his perspective, and Odin helped carve the world from the bones of Ymir several hundred years ago from his perspective, and both are correct as far as how the universe behaves for them.
In the latest book, the angel Uriel states that he knows a fair amount about Odin because they're in the same line of work. It's unclear which is more powerful, but Uriel has appeared in previous stories and isn't shown as the type for overt, flashy displays of power anyway.
Princess of Wands by John Ringo has a kitchen sink approach to Religion, but The White God as he's known in the story is by far the most powerful. However the White God is said to be not only Yahweh and Jesus but also Allah and possibly all creator gods including that of Wicca.
In the second book, this is shown to be complicated. When the US is about to be eaten by a giant demon Blob, the only thing that saves everyone is the majority of the population praying to whatever deity they believe in, which convinces the White God they're worth saving. It made clear it doesn't matter what deity they pray to, so long as it's either one of the aspects of the White God or one of the other deities considered to be on the side of good.
The Night Watch series is extremely ambiguous on the matter. Jesus is given the title of the "greatest light magician ever" by virtue of being the "Light itself" - the incarnation of the Light, one half of the Twilight. In other words, a Messiah. However, most Others, knowing that their afterlife is to dissolve back into the Twilight, are atheists; they don't believe in God as a being separate to the Light.
Not all of them. There is mention of an Other who is an Orthodox priest. He even tries to do some missionary work among the Others. He's not particularly successful, but he's there.
In Day Watch there was even a Dark Other character who also happened to be a devout Christian, which shows either that there are some very conflicting interpretations of Jesus within the Night Watch verse, or simply that Dark Is Not Evil.
Then you have The Last Watch, which basically claims that zero-level Others are the most powerful ever (this is the first time this is mentioned) and that Merlin was one of them, as well as Anton and Svetlana's young daughter. What this, apparently, means is that Merlin was just as strong as Jesus. In fact, Nadya Gorodetskaya is specifically referred to as the next Light Messiah, equating her with Jesus.
In A Bad Spell In Yurt, it is specifically pointed out that there are certain things that Jesus did (as well as angels and demons) that wizards cannot do. This is actually a plot point, as it helps the protagonist figure out that somebody's been communicating with demons: They're using "magic" which is beyond the capabilities of any wizard.
John C. Wright's War of the Dreaming has deities from a plethora of pantheons but Jesus is never mentioned even though there are angels, specifically Uriel/Apollo and Lucifer. It is however hinted that Oberon had a hand in writing the Bible, at least the Old Testament and Prometheus admits to being one of the angels mentioned as "laying with thdaughters of men".
Live Action TV
Stargate SG-1 explained away pretty much every god or other powerful being in mythology as being Sufficiently Advanced Aliens but they were always hesitant to apply this to any religion with a decent number of modern followers.
They did it to a Captain Ersatz of that religion instead. Hallowed are the Ori! Though Daniel at one point does point out that many modern religions associate fire with evil. And what do the Ori manifest as? At most, they're suggesting that Jesus may have been secretly working for demons.
Abrahamic relgion very much gets this treatment; Eastern religion, however, not so much. We have Goau'ld for Nirti, Kalim, Ameterasu, and Yu. Moreover, Daniel Jackson outright says that Buddhism may be the result of Oma de Sala helping humans to ascend when he first encounters her.
It should be noted that even if Daniel is right, Buddhism would remain a viable religion. If anything, it would be strengthened by the knowledge that ascension is a viable path. Daniel himself could qualify as a boddhisattva, having achieved enlightenment and chosen to forsake it out of compassion.
They even handwave this one... they encounter a Goa'uld-run settlement that seems to follow medieval Christian rites (what with witch burning and stuff). Teal'c is quick to point out that unlike all the other ones, this particular Goa'uld can't be the original because a Goa'uld is "not capable of the acts of love and compassion depicted in the Bible". It ends up turning out the Goa'uld is impersonating Satan.
Its worth noting that the Goa'uld were driven away from Earth long before the time Jesus was supposed to have lived. However, the possibility that he was a human on the verge of Ascension (who have been shown to have strange powers) and then went all the way has never been addressed.
Amusingly, when Vala becomes pregnant without having sex (due to the Ori), she comments whether anyone has heard of such a thing ever happening before. Everyone looks around at each other awkwardly for a moment;
We aren't shown what the effects of the masquerade being unveiled on Doctor Who have been on the world's religions, but one can only imagine what the effects would be if the Time Lord's regeneration powers would be if revealed. As it is, it's a little suspicious that none of the Doctor's many, many companions has ever brought up the similarities.
Although River comments that she hates hearing about kind wizards in fairytales, since they always turn out to be The Doctor.
He has met Jesus, in fact. When aliens got the entire history of Christmas wrong, he explains it was nothing like that, "I was there." Of course, we could never get to see that meeting on screen. Ten also mentions having been to the first Easter. We never do find out from him what really happened, though, due to his Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny! interrupting that train of thought.
The Doctor fights a being who claims to be Satan in "The Impossible Planet" / "The Satan Pit". Interestingly, the crisis of faith he suffers during the episode is not due to following any kind of religion, but because "Satan" asserts that it had been bound on that world since before our universe began. While the Time Lords mastered travel between parallel universes, pocket universe and had ventured from the beginning and end of our own, they never found any evidence that a universe could have existed before our own. The Doctor even goes so far to claim that even if one had, he believed it impossible that anything could have survived the collapse of reality before the Big Bang kickstarted it off again.
Torchwood: Children of Earth reference is made to a religious woman who committed suicide after the public revelation of the existence of aliens claiming that "Science has won".
In the Torchwood universe it seems to be canon that there's no existence after death, which suggests that Jesus/Christianity/many religions are fake, but the series it branched off from and all other adaptions of the series have never confirmed that this is the case. Most likely because Torchwood was made to be Darker and Edgier than it's parent show while Doctor Who usually leans towards optimism and All Myths Are True or Aliens Did It. So while fake!Jesus is implied in Torchwood, it's contradicted by the rest of the canon.
Charmed really liked to dance around the theological implications of the setting, especially with things like Leo being brought back to life with holy healing powers by the Powers That Be and using a Theme Park Version of Wicca religion whenever the plot called for something religious to take place. They once had Leo and Piper gain the powers of the Hindu Gods. Piper even gets six arms, and fights demons with her goddess powers. And, the Greek gods were revealed to be humans empowered by whitelighters.
Heroes, with the revelation that the "Heroes" have been around much longer than anyone thought and that regeneration/self-resurrection is a power that popped up in at least two individuals. And people like Peter, who can basically do anything as the plot demands. There are some religious scenes in the series, such as weddings and funerals that take place in churches or temples. Nobody really brings up how their myriad superpowers would relate to miracles, though.
The Haitian also sees his powers as a divine gift.
In one episode of Highlander, a priest who discovers the Immortals also learns about the Villain of the Week, who has a hobby of passing himself off as various gods, including in the present day, the Biblical one. But McLeod promptly assures the priest that the villain was born long after Jesus, and is the only immortal to have ever attempted this. Ever.
In Highlander: The Source, an Immortal Catholic priest is having an argument with Time Abyss Methos, and mentions something from scripture, prompting Methos to quip that he knew Jesus, and so the priest shouldn't try to pull that with him.
The television juggernaut Star Trek: The Original Series does actually mention Jesus directly in an episode called "Bread and Circuses." However, it does touch on this trope in the episode "Requiem for Methuselah." The episode stars a very long-lived human who turned out to have been many famous people in the past. However, rather than be Jesus, he was actually Lazarus. Sure, it undermines one of Jesus's miracles, but the show neatly avoids questioning whether Jesus was just another long-lived human.
Scion is a game about the children of gods developing divine powers, eventually becoming gods themselves. Though there is mention in Companion of a group of Abrahamic-religion believers trying to rewrite all other religions into their framework, there is no other mention of it. Given the theoretical uproar if they tried to stat out Jesus, this is probably for the best.
There's also the san greal (the Holy Grail). No-one's quite sure which pantheon it comes from; while it is part of Christian iconography, any Scion with a strong rating in the Piety Virtue can use it.
Another likely candidate for the Abrahamic God is Logos, Titan of Logic, Reason and Order. It is highly likely that the material World was created due to its power and the gods never bound Logos since it was considered to be a highly benign Titan.
Witch Girls Adventures doesn't even try to touch this one. Even though Witches, Immortals, or other supernatural creatures are the truth behind just about every other God or other major mythological figure, the idea that one might have been the Abrahamic deity or Jesus isn't addressed even to dismiss it.
In Mage: The Ascension, the characters are mages who can bend reality to their will to do some really insane stuff (as in, they will literally go insane). There is even a sub-type of mage that draw their abilities from their belief in religion (Celestial Chorus), making them literally religious mages. Even their poster character (depending on edition) is a Christian nun. However, there is not even the slightest insinuation that Jesus was a mage in any way, shape, or form. In fact, there's hardly any mention of Jesus at all, except for the occasional prayer by one of the Celestial Chorus to have lightning strike down the cybernetic zombie wielding a light saber that can cut apart your soul.
However, Mage operates on Clap Your Hands If You Believe, so religious figures could be genuine and powerful at the moment simply because people believe in them — even if they aren't real, historically.
More an aversion than the straight version of this trope. Basically every other oWoD setting references Christianity and Jesus quite frequently and speculates on his role in their slice of the supernatural world— Mages cannot be arsed to bother with him, because they know the true nature of reality and become gods themselves if they dump enough XP into arete. It's not avoiding the issue to avoid controversy, it's an active assertion that Jesus, Mohammed et al are just another unimportant side effect of the sleepers being unable to understand what's actually going on.
IIRC, one of the Tribebooks (Silent Striders) in the oWoD Werewolf: the Apocalypse game, speaks of the Strider's legends about Christ himself, stating that he warped the very nature of the Umbra around him—suggesting that whatever he was, he was the "real deal", and not just one of the supernatural types roaming about. This idea is further fleshed out in the oWoD game Demon: the Fallen, where the "History" section of the book mentions the demons planning, plotting, or forseeing the development of every faith on the planet except Christianity—"That one came out of nowhere."
The Xenosaga series focuses a plot point on Shion's past life- specifically that she was Mary Magdelyne, a follower of Jesus in her past lifetime. The real Jesus actually did exist, but he was simply an ordinary human. All his miracles were performed from behind the scenes by chaos. chaos himself was the real Jesus.
The flash game "Stick War" featured people who fought in wars mostly motivated by religion. Some of the fighters were mages, and it's unknown how that connects to their religion.
In the South Park episode "Super Best Friends" Jesus loses out in a magic contest with David Blaine. Of course in South Park, Jesus really only has the ability to resurrect himself and super-carpentry. He's still most certainly the son of God in South Park, though, even if Christianity isn't portrayed as the "correct" religion (those would be Mormonism and Buddhism - God himself is a Buddhist and only Mormons get into heaven... likely so they wouldn't spoil Hell for everybody).
Gargoyles. The Children of Oberon have passed themselves off as gods to some humans in the past, such as Odin and Anubis. No mention of Jesus though. Word of God (heh) states that Jesus was in fact, NOT a Child of Oberon in the Gargoyles universe.
Though, in later comics, there a few allusions to biblical characters performing certain miracles with the Stone of Destiny-a magic slab of rock; Moses and Jacob among them.
Also from the later comics: The series had established that there are two types of magic. Human magic, that uses incantations, rituals, and mystical artifacts, and Avalon's Magic, which is the magic used by the various pagan gods and mystical folk heroes that make up Oberon's Children and is much more inherent and powerful, but still sometimes involves spoken spells and artifacts. When the Holy Grail is introduced in the comics, it is said to tap into a form of magic that is something else altogether.
Aversions and subversions:
Anime and Manga
Averted in the manga version of Shaman King- Jesus, Muhammad and Gautama Buddha are all listed as previous holders of the title "Shaman King". However, given that the Shaman King is actually a spirit-medium who communes directly with The GreatSpirit, he's far from being "just" a wizard. For those (Muslims and others) willing to accept that Jesus was merely communing with God, this could be a case of calling a prophet a shaman.
Averted in the first anime of Fullmetal Alchemist, in which it's strongly implied the discovery of alchemy pretty much killed off Christianity when anyone who studied for long enough could pull off miracles. Bumpkins in the sticks (for instance, in the first episode of the anime, or the first chapter of the manga) still mistake alchemy for miracles, though.
In the manga setting nothing has indicated Christianity has ever existed, though there's still local religious milieu with monotheistic beliefs. Alchemy may be related to the generally secular tone of Amestrian society. Fuehrer King Bradley is something of a militant atheist, which given his...family background...is understandable. The relation of 'God' and 'the Truth Guy,' who claims this as one of his identities, is addressed only in passing and only by our atheistic main character. The scientific world as understood by alchemists is not rigidly materialist in the way our scientific world is, since souls definitely exist, this surprises no one, and there is alchemy equipped to affect them, i.e. Al's blood seal. Ishbala's failure to protect his people in any way from the Amestrian genocide campaign is invoked on-site as a great reason not to convert. Bradley was promised that God would judge him; narration that might be either his or Roy's says, "God is something created by humans. Therefore, what will judge us is not God, but probably 'humans.'" Japan being an irreligious country, Arakawa didn't need to hold back much.
In the first anime it was implied a Christian society had existed and been destroyed and forgotten four hundred years previously, but only the trappings and none of the theology come up. On the other hand, in all versions the inability of alchemists to perform a successful resurrection when the soul of the original person 'does not exist in the world' is invoked as precisely why alchemists are not gods, even with the Philosopher's Stone. And that is the closest anyone really gets to a coherent eschatology in the setting.
The Saint King from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, a society of The Multiverse spanning Techno-Mages have a perfectly respectable religion that a large portion of the population are members. Yes, quite a few people can hurl lightning bolts and heal people with a touch; but that doesn't mean the lessons given shouldn't be revered. In the supplementary material its hinted that the title of "Belkan Saint King" is descriptive, a Belkan King who is revered as a saint because of exemplary character rather than divinity or extraordinary power (although there is that too...)
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Averted, given that the latest series has most of the characters and villains getting their Stand Ability from Jesus's dismembered remains. It turns out that the Stand abilities that come with the corpse parts are the result of Jesus's "wizard" powers remaining spiritually in the corpse parts. The powers will manifest differently in everyone who gets them, but once one person gets them all, they become impregnated with the corpse's head via Virgin Mary method, and will become a vessel for Jesus to be reformed inside thier body and eventually make their way outside the vessel in a rather gruesome way. This, of course, will kill the vessel, due to the damage that forcing itself out the body will do. Since the corpse parts manifest as Stands to those who absorb them, it is a very subtle implication that Jesus had a Stand.
Averted by a controversial Swamp Thing story by Rick Veitch... so controversial that DC Comics refused to publish it. The story would have shown Jesus as a white magician.
They did go so far as to publish a Hellblazer story which implied that Jesus was fathered by the archangel Gabriel through an act of rape, however. Despite this being an even more offensive concept from a Christian perspective.
Mr Terrific, in conversation with a man whose suit is made out of corrupted souls, on a team that holds a bona fide angel, and another that had the embodiment of God's wrath, declares himself an atheist. Because in the DCU, you can only stand in so much awe from the everyday.
In The Authority it's very heavily implied that Jesus was one of the people that held the title of The Doctor (not that one). The previous Doctors also confirm that (as far as they know) the Christian God does not exist.
BARAK: But we just saw him bring a dead man back to life. It was more than a bit reminiscent of Lazarus. SANTINI: Big Deal. We’ve got a guy locked inside Project Entry who managed to bring entire armies of dead people back to life. Not as well as de Molay did, but that’s the difference between retail and wholesale, isn’t it?
Not quite a "Jesus was one of us"-type thing, but PS238 has healer Vern managing to bring a recently-deceased Guardian Angel back to life. When the teachers discover what's happened, they realize they have to keep it under wraps because there would be global upset if the knowledge of a "Messiah-level" healer was made public.
The story "He Walked Among Us" in EC Comics' 'Weird Science #13' shows an astronaut marooned on a backward planet where he uses in medical kit to heal the sick, feeds the hungry with his instant rations, and publicly questions the status quo. When his colleagues eventually find the planet, people are wearing miniature replicas of the rack on which the astronaut was tortured to death.
The Schoolkids SagaFanfiction had a similar approach to Harry Potter, in that despite all the impressive powers being thrown around no one can bring someone back from the dead (without cheating) and healing serious medical problems is extremely difficult. Ironically L. Ron Hubbard is a Wizard Jesus in the canon funnily enough.
Harry Potter fanfiction averts this quite often, actually, whenever it cares to expand the universe far enough to get there. Jesus is most common, but other important religious figures can sometimes come up.
In A History Of Magic Jesus is clearly stated to have been an Anomaly, a human whose latent magical abilities awakened independently of contracting with Incubators.
In The Man from Earth, Jesus was an immortal man who had listened to Buddha's teachings and then went on to spread them. He survived the crucifixion using meditation techniques he had learned in India, but his disciples didn't believe him when he tried to explain it. He remarks on how his teachings were distorted over the centuries; even the name Jesus was a byproduct of several consecutive retranslations.
In John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness, Jesus was an alien who left behind advanced instructions for dealing with the eponymous menace, also an alien entity. Unfortunately, the Church made the instructions secret and humanity was left unprepared. This is pretty sure to offend someone...
Averted and played straight in John Carter. The Therns state pretty clearly that the Martian religion was fake and they were behind it all. On the other hand, let's take a look. They can shapeshift, appear to have magic (or some super advanced technology), have been to Earth and are quite familiar with it (the leader talks about Carter's home state of Virginia). You get the idea.
Possibly averted and played straight in Prometheus. In one interview, Ridley Scott claimed that Jesus may have been an engineer, and the reason engineers don't like mankind much anymore is that humans killed their representative. It's unknown as to whether he was serious or not. Played straight in that it was an idea taken seriously, but left out of the movie.
Isaac Asimov seems to avert this trope quite a bit. In The Last Question, for example, the ending shows AC becoming the equivalent of God, reversing heat-death, and creating a new universe.
Since each country has its own instance of every god ever worshiped there, this isn't always the case. There is one anecdote of another character encountering Jesus as a poor hitch-hiker in Afghanistan, where he has virtually no worshipers and is thus left in roughly the same boat as most of the more obscure American gods.
Averted in Young Wizards: While Jesus is never directly mentioned, God definitely exists (though they call It "the One") and it's been established that the Powers That Be are capable both of breeding with and incarnating themselves as mortals (something that seems to work out to a cross between the avatars of Hindu mythology and Sharing a Body). One of the recurring characters, in fact, is the avatar of the One's Champion, and the Team Pet is revealed to be an avatar of the One. Even though it's never stated directly, it seems likely that Jesus was an avatar of some Power or other, and possibly even the One Itself. It certainly fits the facts of both canons.
An entry in the Dune Encyclopedia claimed the Bene Gesserit existed millennia before humanity developed spaceflight, and more-or-less specifically stated that Jesus was nothing more than a premature — and, therefore, failed — Kwisatz Haderach.
Of course, the Dune Encyclopedia also deconstructs Paul Atreides as a mythic figure and comes to the conclusion that he never truly existed, so the Encyclopedia is considered an in-universe work rather than Word of God.
As Frank Herbert notes in the foreword, the Dune Encyclopedia is a work of Fanon that he appreciated, but reserved the right to overrule at any time.
Also, according to Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson's prequels about Butlerian Jyhad, Bene Gesserit were created long after humans went into space.
Double Subverted in Tad Williams's The Burning Man. An old and embittered nobleman doubts whether the JesusExpy Usires Aedon is a son of God - or just a half-sithi, because presumably all his miracles could be performed by a strong sithi magician. The nobleman contacts an ancient sithi to know the answer. However, the sithi doesn't know - and points out that it doesn't really matter, because a half-sithi could be a son of God just as well as a human.
In his Arthurian trilogy, Peter David brings up the possibility that Jesus got his powers from the Grail, instead of the other way around. And then Jesus also shows up as a Secret Service agent…
An implied aversion in Dave Duncan'sThe Great Game trilogy, in which travelers from other dimensions automatically gain supernatural charisma and the ability to collect "mana" from worshippers to perform miracles. It's pretty clear from the similarity of Nextdoor's languages to ancient Greek that many "strangers" were active at the time of Christ and earlier, and the protagonist becomes a Messianic Archetype by the end.
Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos books are an extreme aversion — the Messiah in the final book spends a fair amount of time discussing how she's just trying to get everyone to tap into the same power source / cosmic principle Jesus stumbled onto by genetic accident...and then attempted to pass on to his followers by having them ingest his DNA with some bread and wine...
In Joe Haldeman's Camouflage, an alien with the ability to change shape and heal from seemingly fatal injuries who was on Earth at Jesus' time hears of him and wonders if he was another of the same species, but never manages to find out anything for sure.
In Carrie Vaughn's Golden Apple two immortals, one of them a survivor of the Trojan War, the other, the Wandering Jew, discuss having met Jesus who, like all other deities was simply a very powerful wizard.
In Orson Scott Card's The Lost Gate it is speculated that, like the various Indo-European pantheons the gods of other cultures, including Judaism, Christianity and Islam are also wizards from other worlds.
In the sequel The Gate Thief it is all but explicitly stated that Jesus was a gatemage.
In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Percy finds out that the Greek gods actually exist. He then proceeds to ask about the Judeo-Christian God. Chiron then dismisses that question as "metaphysical" and claims that the existence of the Greek gods is a "much smaller matter." However, later in the same book, when we see a corrupt televangelist in the Underworld:
"But if he's a preacher," [Percy] said, "and he believes in a different hell...."
Grover shrugged. "Who says he's seeing this place the way we're seeing it? Humans see what they want to see. You're very stubborn—er, persistent, that way."
In The Kane Chronicles (also by Rick Riordan) it is made very clear that Moses was actually a magician. On top of that, a comment from Bes in The Throne of Fire suggests that one of his miracles, the parting of the Red Sea, was something any magician from Ancient Egypt could've done.
Although gods are manifestly real, All Myths Are True, and Moses was apparently a badass enough wizard that he's the only outsider ever to best the House of Life, so it certainly be said to work anyway.
In addition, the story "The Son of Magic," from the Demigod Diaries, shows Hecate, the goddess of magic, praying in a Christian Church. Though what exactly she was doing is never told, it's implied she is praying to God.
Averted in Future Eden in which Jesus is explicitly stated to be an alien, and not even a particularly impressive one.
At the end of Jennifer Fallon's Tide Lords quadrology it's strongly hinted that Jesus was actually Cayal.
Cayal: It's not my fault they saw me after I was supposed to have died.
Jason: I don't know who Lazarus was, but he sure as hell was not the first vampire. Everybody knows it was Dracula.
Luke: It's in the Bible, moron. Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead.
Jason: So Jesus made the first vampire? Maybe Jesus was the first vampire. Man, he rose from the dead too, and he told people, "Hey y'all, drink my blood, it'll give you special powers."
Note, however, that that's a Cloud Cuckoolander talking to a Right Wing Militia Fanatic. Thus, unreliable narrators both. The only vampire seen on the show until the third season who claimed to be over 2,000 years old said he had no personal knowledge of Jesus but wished he had.
Russell Edgington, who is 3,000 years old and the Big Bad, later said that he personally met Jesus, who according to him was "just a dirty hippie." Of course, he is likely an Unreliable Narrator too...
One episode of The Outer Limits has a cult attempting to clone Jesus from a strand of DNA on an ancient relic. The scientist they hire to do this hypothesizes that Jesus was simply a person with strong telekinetic ability—a trait shared with the newly-born clone. The minister she's working for is not amused, telling her she was hired for scientific, not theological, knowledge. Later it gets pretty well disproven by the parallels of the clone being conceived without sex, born in a barn, and spirited away from a madman.
Brought up in the Misfits Christmas special, where a local priest buys multiple super powers and claims to be the reincarnation of Jesus to get rich.
With some hilarity added through Kelly's comment of "What would God say?!"
In Iced Earth's Something Wicked Saga, Jesus was a man with precognition, and was assassinated by Anti-HeroSet Abomine. You really have to know the whole story to fully understand, and that would take a very long time to explain here.
Mythology and Religion
Buddhism has a rather peculiar way with this trope. According to the Buddha, anyone who is shaping themselves for enlightenment will eventually gain supernatural powers, but it's actually a worldly distraction which prevents one from reaching true enlightenment. Therefore: If Wizard, Then Not Buddha.
Averted by the Real-life faith the Raelians, who believe that Jesus and all other prophets were in fact human emissaries of the highly advanced race of aliens, the 'Elohim', who created humanity.
In Ian Wilson's book Jesus: The Evidence, it is speculated that many of the miracles Jesus is said to have performed may have been accomplished by hypnosis (note that Wilson is arguing Jesus really was God, he just posits that some had natural causes).
Prior to the 1800s and the age of rationality, attempting to explain miracles in the context of the developing fields of chemistry (alchemy) or tricks/hoaxes demonstrated to be possible later was carefully avoided, primarily due to the Church's tendency to set people on fire for doing so.
Though this is perhaps more on the order of "No such thing as science Jesus".
To a degree this is still true. It's alright to point out some bearded man in India is "turning sticks into snakes" by holding his hand over the snake's eyes, which causes them to freeze. It's something else altogether to suggest Moses might have used the same trick.
Averted in the Paragons setting of Mutants & Masterminds, where the Church of Jesus Christ, Paragon holds that Jesus of Nazareth was an early paragon, and that many of the Saints followed in his footsteps.
One of the sourcebooks in Unknown Armies mentions that a particular powerful immortal figure has no idea what was up with Jesus, since he was in China around that time.
In Warhammer 40,000, it is implied that Jesus was none other than the Immortal God-Emperor of Mankind, who was also Saint George and several other historical figures.
Other sources state that he co-opted "certain ancient myths": by performing Jesus-like miracles, he passed himself off as Jesus; by having defeated something which might be the C'tan Void Dragon, that shows he was the basis of Saint George; etc. The fact that he was militantly anti-religious (ostensibly to deny the Chaos Gods worshippers, but maybe so he wouldn't have any competition) could point to the fact that he was trying to discredit whatever religions still had some foothold on Earth before he expanded his reach to the stars.
In the Steve Jackson Games version, the Game Master's Guide said that the game would never have Jesus appear or explain his nature. It also said that (a) The Archangel Gabriel prophesied his birth (b) Jesus performed miracles, similar to other prophets, and attracted some celestial attention (c) By the time he came to the attention of the Divine Inquisition he had already died (d) Most of the Archangels themselves don't know whether he was the Messiah or not (e) The Archangel Yves said he was important and encouraged other angels to support Christianity (f) Neither Gabriel nor Yves has said whether he was the Messiah or not.
There are some 'suggestions' for what Jesus was. Most popular is that Jesus was a role of the Archangel Eli, with evidence being that some of Eli's attunements are similar to Jesus' miracles. In game canon, Eli has abandoned heaven to roam the Earth, and Eli being Jesus would suggest he's getting ready to stage the second coming.
In Nomine also addresses Islam, and it's acknowledged it is another attempt to introduce a monotheistic religion to humanity at a time Christianity and Judaism were weak, and the Archangel of Fire, Gabriel, literally appeared to dictate it to Muhammad. However, the version of the Koran that is in Heaven as 'the original' conflicts with the version of the Koran that appears on Earth written by Muhammad (exactly how is not said). Whether these changes were an accident, a manipulation by Muhammad, or deliberate changes made by the Archangel Gabriel (which would be grossly heretical) lead Dominic, the Archangel of Judgment, to put Gabriel on trial for potential heresy. The trial was inconclusive as Gabriel refused/could not tell what had happened and fled for her own domain. To attempt to bring Gabriel back would be civil war in heaven, so the trial was indefinitely postponed. Servitor angels of Fire and Judgment usually do not get along.
Played with in Old World of Darkness. Sometime around 30 AD, a group of Malkavian grave robbers may or may not have pulled off a "prank" of epic proportions. Of course, this is deliberately left vague: very few take the suggestion at face value, and all those who would have hypothetically been present are insane anyway, so...
A couple of notes on the Old World of Darkness: In Dark Ages: Vampire it was revealed that every vampire present in the Holy Land during the time Jesus was meant to be about mysteriously vanished. However Demon: The Fallen revealed in one sourcebook that Christianity was created by Lucifer. If Jesus did exist he was empowered by Lucifer, not God (who had been absent for some time), or was Lucifer.
In Nephilim, Jesus is stated to have been a Nephilim (an Elemental Embodiment from Atlantis) that reincarnated in a human embryo as part of a plan by the FoolArcanum, which granted him enlightenment and mystical knowledge far in excess of his peers. He's listed as the reason why the Fool Arcanum were all hunted down and killed by the other conspiracies.
In Assassin's Creed I the Templar researcher speculates that the Piece of Eden, along other artifacts like it, was the effector behind such miracles as the Parting of the Red Sea, the success of the Trojan Horse, the miracles surrounding 'the Christ-figure' and the plagues of Egypt, among other things.
The sequel reveals that all gods in human mythologies were actually a Precursor race and were the creators of these artifacts.
Confusing things is the fact that if you access his Dummied Out job description, it says that he is an "Agitator who misleads people with lies and masks. Don't underestimate him, although he cannot match the power of a genuine saint." Which implies that there are genuine saints, even though as far as we're shown the setting has a Devil but No God.
Ramza himself makes for an excellent Messiah, though, and can be a wizard.
This is a running gag in the World of Warcraft community. Shamans can self-resurrect, they go around healing people, they walk on water, etc. Is it any wonder World of Warcraft players frequently joke that "Jesus was a Shammie!"?
Averted in Bizarre Uprising. Vampires claim to trace their blood line back to Jesus, and their dependency on blood is caused by Jesus's perfect being DNA not working so well with Mary Magdalene's human DNA.
Played with when Brent chose what his novel for Nanowrimo would be about. He declared that Jesus's absence between his teenage and adult years was explained by Jesus going to Hogwarts.
Some of Jesus' appearances in Cyanide and Happiness (particularly those made around Easter) tend to show that he actually is a mindless zombie, but has all of his powers (for example, one person hid from zombie Jesus by going under water).
The Bugle frequently makes reference to Jesus as an "early Palestinian magician" or similar; and at least once referred to his "magic donkey". They do pride themselves on being prime bullshitters, however.
The Salvation War had an interesting version. Jesus was just a human possessed by the angel Elhmas, who is the son of Yahweh, to make humans more peaceful race, since Elhmas saw that they could be more powerful than the Angels or even God. Of course, once the whole "nailed to the cross" was over with, the human was thrown into the Hell like the vast majority of other humans.
In the The Tales of Alvin Maker series, Alvin is the first Maker in two thousand years, a power he received from being the seventh son of a seventh son and the thirteenth child of a thirteenth child. It's strongly implied that Jesus Christ was the last Maker. But there is no mention if Jesus had six sisters and six brothers, or if he got his power a different way, say being the child of a virgin. Similarly, it's strongly implied that Alvin's powers are beyond the magic seen in the world and that they go into holy as well. Alvin even faces a whispering corrupting force called the Unmaker.
Since Alvin is a Captain Ersatz of Joseph Smith, his origin story is an explanation for _prophets_, not the savior/second coming. Though the distinction may seem somewhat trivial to a non-Christian, Jesus being actually significantly less overtly powerful than several of the prophets preceding him in the Bible.
In John C. Wright's Orphans of Chaos, Thelxiepia the siren — who lives side by side with Greek gods, Titans and such — is capable of actually observing (with her multidimensional senses) a divine force reaching down "from above" when an early Christian saint performed a miracle, which led to her conversion to Christianity. Although, since this was in the first few centuries AD, it was to Donatism — a now extinct Christian group - except for herself (being immortal). She also states that some of the other Greek myth types believe Jesus was a little-g god rather like themselves.
In Matilda, Miss Honey speculates that Matilda's Psychic Powers may be divine in origin. We never really find out.
Live Action TV
In a 5th season episode of Supernatural, the boys encounter an "anti christ", a very powerful being who was born of a mother who was impregnated by the demon who was possessing her. Considering Angels also possess people and that Castiel even states the Bible gets more wrong than it gets right...
Supernatural also has a weird twist on this trope in the form of Archangel Gabriel going into hiding as the Trickster god Loki. Since pagan gods still exist and have some form of power in this universe, even though much of the major mythology the show is based on is Christian, it's unknown if Loki was always Gabriel in hiding or if Gabriel took over the role from the original Loki somehow.
In Dragon Age, events that might be miracles occur on a couple of occasions, but there's always a possible mundane explanation for them. In keeping with the game's theme, it's always ultimately left up to the player to decide whether to believe the mundane or the miraculous explanation.
At one point the character Wynne speculates that the Jesus-equivalent Andraste might have secretly been a mage as mages were capable of routinely performing all the various miracles that were attributed to her. (You can also find a book making this claim in Orzammar, whose description says it was saved from a fire.) Since the Chantry was founded as a rebellion against an oppressive magocracy and has very strict rules to keep mages from ever ruling over non-mages again, this is considered a rather drastic heresy.
The Urn of Sacred Ashes can restore the dying to perfect health with just a pinch of Andraste's ashes. This could be the Maker acting in the world...or it could be because the Urn has rested for centuries on a giant vein of lyrium.
Leliana receives a vision of the Grey Warden's coming, prompting her to join up with him/her. It could have been a message from the Maker...or it could have just been a lucky hallucination. When she describes the vision it's incredibly vague, she just interpreted it that way.
In Dragon Age II, the Big Bad of the Legacy DLC is Corypheus, an Ancient Tevinter Magister and one of the first Darkspawn. It's heavily implied that he was one of those responsible for entering the Golden City of the Maker, but rather than corrupting it with their evil as stated by the Chantry, he claims that the Black City was already abandoned and tainted by unknown forces before they arrived. While (apparently) confirming that at least some of the story was true, this leaves the mystery of what caused the Black City and the creation of the Darkspawn even more ambiguous, as well as whether the Maker supposedly abandoning humanity was even His choice?
Played with in Thunderstruck. A strong Christian character has realized she always had magical powers and just overlooked them. Praying for guidance one day she asks outright if he was like her, but she still prays to him. Indeed she could be argued to pray even more ardently when she realizes that perhaps he understands what she's going through all too well.
Discussed in It's Walky!. Alien abducted SEMME agents were given a variety of superhuman powers, and martian technology can do things like resurrect the dead. Joyce remains a devoted Christian despite the fact that, as her boss points out, Jesus didn't do anything they couldn't do.
Linda: If you can still find awe after all you've seen... well, I envy you.