How does the Justice League—a 2017 superhero-themed movie—remind us of our desperate need for salvation?
Batman the theologian
Just prior to the release of DC Comics’ biggest movie to date, the stars of the film had been making media rounds in an effort to promote the work. Speaking to Brian Truitt of USA Today, Ben Affleck (who played the role of Batman) said this:
We are certainly in need of heroes [today]. There’s a lot of stuff going on in the world, from natural to man-made disasters, and it’s really scary. Part of the appeal of this genre is wish fulfillment: Wouldn’t it be nice if there was somebody who can save us from all this, save us from ourselves, save us from the consequences of our actions and save us from people who are evil?
Interesting, no? Here’s a man who, as far as I can tell, has no significant or avert religious affiliations, speaking theologically. (Although, he probably didn’t mean to be doing so.)
According to Affleck, the world is falling apart, crumbling under the combined influences of both natural causes and human wickedness. He concludes, “it’s really scary.”
Indeed, it is scary. From viral pandemics to hurricanes to school shootings, from stabbings to genocides to racial tensions—it’s frightening. And it gets worse when we inevitably realize our relative powerlessness to do anything in response.
And that leads us to Batman’s second assertion: We need to be saved. Affleck recognizes the unpredictability and uncontrollability of life, admits he’s scared (admirably honest), and comes to the proper conclusion that we … need … help. We can’t get ourselves out of this mess. We need a Saviour. A Deliverer.
Filling in some blanks
This is where Big Ben’s theology hits a brick wall of uncertainty and mystery. So, allow me to take some liberties and fill in the blanks:
There’s Somebody who can save us from all of this.
“Salvation belongs to the Lord” (Psalm 3:8a)! “And there is salvation in no one else [aside from Jesus Christ]; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). There is, indeed, Somebody who can save us from all this!
There’s Somebody who can save us from ourselves.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (Eph. 2:4–5). Left to ourselves, Ben’s right, we’re lost. But there is, indeed, Somebody who has intervened!
There’s Somebody who can save us from the consequences of our actions.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). God, being holy, demands holiness for those who would be in his presence. We fall short of this standard and, thus, deserve wrath because of our infinite offence. But, there is Somebody who can save us from what we deserve … from the consequences of our rebellion! Praise the Lord!
There’s Somebody who can save us from people who are evil.
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom; to him be the glory forever and ever. Amen” (2 Tim. 4:18). Amen, indeed.
Thanks for the reminder, Batman.