Apologetics and Culture: Superheroes

Our culture has become infatuated with all things superhero. I have been a fan for a long time and now a young me can finally roam about freely because of this shift in the culture. Why is this a fad in our time? I think it is because superheroes and their stories relate to us at a deep level. It may sound strange to say this but I think that every time people watch a superhero movie, they have a profoundly spiritual experience. Now you need to hear me out. The movies and games and comics that come out make tons of money. People are spending their hard-earned cash to see these things and I wonder why that is? What are the elements that speak to us? I figure that there are three things that people relate to.

  1. There is something that is greater than humanity.

In cultures throughout the centuries, people have written and created stories about humans who were exceptional. Some were gods, some demigods, some from another world. The legends of our time are that of superheroes. From DC to Marvel we see heroes that come from the same places that the myths of old come from. Some heroes are even those pagan myths brought into our time to help with the troubles that we are in to today. In the end, I believe, we as humans like to think that there is something out there that is greater than us. We also like to think that these things are also good. These heroes are essentially a picture of God that we want to create for ourselves. The Bible tells us that the God of the universe is far greater than us, and that goodness is His character. In the Book of James, he writes that “there is no variation or shadow of turning.”(1:17) John also points to this when he says that “God is light and in Him there is not darkness at all.”(1 John 1:5) We must understand that every superhero, no matter how regular they may appear, is exceptional and superior in some way. Some are literally super human, but some are just higher intelligence or faster or more qualified in some way. These heroes also do what they do not for themselves but for a greater cause. They save the day knowing that they will never be able to be fully and properly thanked for everything that they have done. For most people this the epitome of good. God in the same way has done everything that needs to be done to reconcile the world to Himself. He is the ultimate force, form, and source of good in the universe. Deep down everyone knows that this is the truth, but because in our hearts we hate God, we exchange the truth for a fiction, and put merely a greater human in His place.

  1. Every superhero fights a supervillain.

In the universe of superheroes there are dark forces at work in the shadows. There are enemies that no ordinary man could possibly fight against and prevail. Although we may give out names like Lex Luthor, Dr. Doom, and The Joker, there really IS a force that is at work in the world. In the Bible it is called sin and death. They are the great destroyers of the creation and bring about corruption, destruction and doom wherever they go. We are not able to break free of sin no matter what we do. We are not strong enough to beat death, no matter how strong we think we are. We need someone to save us from these enemies that are against us. In fact, we can take it one step further and ask ourselves, “what is the goal of most super villains?” It is to enslave humanity and bring it to its knees. The thing is  sin  already has enslaved humanity. We are slaves unable to free ourselves from its ownership. (Romans 6) The world fell into slavery and there is only one that can save us. Jesus came down to pay the ransom to buy us from that ownership of sin. That is why we are to remember that we are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to Christ, which is the essence of being truly free. “While we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6) Because we are unable to save ourselves for we do not possess the strength required to do such a thing, Jesus became that hero for us. Another thing is that for most super villains there is a great cost to be paid if he/she is to be beaten. Most of the time the hero of the story must do something that will cost them more than they are willing to give up, but must for the greater cause. We call this a sacrifice. Whether this is the cost of a loved one or the cost of their own life they must be willing to sacrifice something for the sake of the people that they are trying to save, or the sake of the greater cause. I think you can see where I am going, for “…in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” One thing that some heroes have to struggle with is that sometimes the villain points out something that is true. For example, humanity, in the pain and suffering that causes upon itself, may not really be worth saving. This is true, but God loves His creation in spite of how it rebels against Him every chance that it gets. God does what He does for the greatest of all causes, which is His Glory. I think we are starting to see how this relates to what all people everywhere know about God that is manifest in them, but suppress that knowledge.

  1. Good Always Wins.

We can be honest with one another, our favorite part of these stories is that no matter how hard the fight is, the good always comes out on top. The bad guy may be able to do what he wants for a while but eventually the hero will save the day. It may be an uphill battle the entire time but the hero will eventually reach the top of that hill. It is fascinating that when we look at the entire story of the Bible that we see there will be a day that God himself is going to set everything right. All the things that are wrong with the world are going to be made right. Justice will finally be served to all those that are going to receive their due. Jesus is going vanquish all evil and everything that is against Him. In fact, Paul the Apostle told the men at Mars Hill, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by the Man Whom He has ordained.” (Acts 17:30-31a) I think that this is one of the greatest truths that all Christians can rejoice in. Knowing that God is going to set all things right allows us to endure the trials and tribulations that we face in our lives. It allows us to proclaim like Paul, “For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18) Satan, the Flesh, and the World are one day going to be done away with and cast into the outer darkness and God Himself will reign on the earth in complete and total victory.

If you are not in Christ and reading this I hope you see that this genre has come from something that is already known by you. This is why the Bible says that humanity “suppresses the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18) and it is because of this truth that you are under condemnation, and it is just. We all know enough to be condemned, but Christ has died for those who are in rebellion to Him so they can be reconciled in the best way possible. God the Father has sent Jesus Christ to die in your place so you can be saved. If you repent of your sins and put your faith in Christ, He will be the greatest hero that  you can ever know.

For God’s Glory,

Luke

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