The Fate of the World (and One Small Book)
by Pete Garcia
The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) continues its march toward cinematic history this month with their upcoming 19th project, Infinity War. The movie finally introduces the ultimate baddy (Thanos) from the planet Saturn who seeks to destroy the earth and her heroes. Thanos had been teased from the earliest Avenger’s film in post-credit scenes, and finally serves to unite the divided group once again to prevent the world from total calamity. Another “good vs. evil” film which finds its new nemesis in the person of Thanos.
The MCU frequently presents a reality in which multiple dimensions are simultaneously in play, but does not describe in any way, biblical creation or truth. Despite their overt effort to avoid controversial issues such as religion and politics, true biblical messages still manage to find its way through the sequenced action scenes and interwoven drama. The truth is, we are and have been in a war since the dawn of man. Our archenemy’s name is Lucifer, and he also hails from another dimension, the spiritual realm. While hardly an ‘infinite war,’ Lucifer’s usurpation has lasted from before the creation of the earth, and will continue until after the thousand year reign of Christ is complete.
Ironically, the slippage of biblical truths regarding the true nature of man and our nefarious nature actually comes from two of the film’s main antagonists. In the first Avenger’s movie, Loki (god of mischief and adopted-brother to Thor), tries to conquer earth with an alien army, but has this conversation earlier in the film with Thor.
I remember you tossing me into an abyss. I who was and should be king!” (Loki) “So you take the world I love as recompense for your imagined slights? No, the Earth is under my protection, Loki.” (Thor) “And you’re doing a marvelous job with that. The Humans slaughter each other in droves, while you ideally threat. I mean to rule them.” (Loki) (Marvel: The Avenger’s)
Loki has a point. I mean, if Thor was tasked with protecting the earth, he’s doing a pretty shoddy job. And from the most recent Avenger’s film, Age of Ultron, the bad guy (who is actually a sentient, artificially intelligent robot named Ultron), makes a statement that rings unbelievably true regarding the state of affairs here on Earth.
“I’m sorry, I know you mean well. You just didn’t think it through. You want to protect the world but you don’t want it to change. How is humanity saved if it’s not allowed to… evolve? (Ultron: Avenger’s Age of Ultron)
Unfortunately, superheroes do not even attempt to change the world, or deal with the world that is. They do not tackle the truly egregious and devastating effects that consumes the earth’s population like a life-sucking black hole: Poverty, war, abortion, hunger, disease, socialism, natural disasters, terrorism, violence, etc. Even still, these are only the symptoms of a far more devastating effect that was unleashed by man at the Garden of Eden, sin.
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—Romans 5:12
Humans are a complex yet uncomplicated beings. Mankind is uncomplicated in what motivates us. Mankind generally only ever works towards his or her own best interests, whatever those might be. Even still, there are sporadic altruistic moments when man does things seemingly at odds with this egocentric nature. Humans are complex in the sense that we function almost entirely under a system of free will (unless living in forced conditions such as slavery or servitude).
However, the story of man is even more complex, especially if you take into account each family’s ethnic history dating back into antiquity. Truth and legend are often intermingled when comprising ancient man’s history. Who and what can you trust? What is real, and what is myth? If we were to take a relativistic approach and give each origin story credence and authoritative legitimacy, then we end up with a series of seriously contradicting natures of both creation and apocalypse, and everything in between.
What I mean by that is if the Hindus version of creation were true, then that would, by necessity, invalidate the Nordic version, or Egyptian version of how we came to be. Now add in thousands of other origin-stories from every other civilization, and we have an enormous mess on our hands. To untangle that, requires a basic understanding of us as a race of beings. We all share the same planet, same moon, same sun, natural resources, etc., thus there must be a common origin story mankind. Furthermore, if humans are genetically the same (we are, aside from our cosmetic differences), then there must be a source document detailing our beginning.
Enter the Holy Bible.
The Bible is not just one book, but really one book comprised of sixty-six smaller books with a common narrative running through them all. An estimated forty authors wrote the Bible over a span of sixteen-hundred years. The first book chronologically written is believed to be the book of Job (suggested authors include Elihu, Abraham, Moses, David, or Solomon). The last book written was the book of Revelation circa 95AD. In its entirety, the Bible comprises the history of mankind from creation through eternity future.
While differing translations vary on the exact number of words, we shall (for today’s purposes) use the King James Authorized Bible. It contains exactly 783,137 words. In terms of word-length, the KJV Bible comfortably fits between Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged (at 645,000 words) and Luo Guanzhong’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms (800,000 words). The Bible is not a novel, and has various genres in which it deals with and in. However;
Although the Bible contains historical facts and accounts, it is not a history book.
Although the Bible deals with archeology, it is not an archeological book.
Although the Bible deals with science, it is not a scientific book.
Although the Bible contains poetry, wisdom (proverbs), apologetics, and theological doctrines, it is not any of these primarily.
It is (quoting Chuck Missler) “…an integrated message system from outside our time and space domain.” Even though the books contain all the aforementioned topics, yet is not defined exclusively by any one of them, all of these same genres validate and authenticate every subject it covers with precision. There is no other book like it in the world. Put another way, it is both a historical and futuristic narrative, divinely written through men, detailing the origin of mankind and their ongoing relationship with their Creator.
The Bible starts large by dealing with humanity as a whole from Genesis 1-11 (macro-view), but then narrows itself down to a micro-view of a particular people (the Israelites) by whom the Creator would come through and become part of His creation. He did this in order to do for us, what we could not do for ourselves. The Bible also highlights particular start and stop points for humanity, as well as overlapping ages that bring us through to today. This author identifies these as dispensations, which comes from the Greek word oikonomia which means economy or law of the house.
In terms of total volume, Christian literature has produced more written literature in the world than any other belief system. Simply look at the total number of translations we have versus any other “sacred text.” Though Christianity may have generated the most in terms of volume, orthodox Christians do not hold non-canonical books, letters, gnostic gospels, apocryphal writings, pseudepigrapha works, etc. as authoritative.
The Old Testament was established by the time Jesus Christ walked the earth, and even He did not authenticate the intertestamental writings that we call the apocrypha today (Matthew 23:35, Genesis 4:8, 2 Chronicles 24:20). Nor do orthodox Christian’s accept as authoritative anything else that falls outside the confines set forth for divine inspiration. The criteria for the New Testament books was that it must have been written either by an apostle, or an eyewitness to Christ (such as Luke or James) to be considered canon. By definition, an apostle would need to meet the following criteria;
This specific type of apostle is not present in the church today. The qualifications of this type of apostle were: (1) to have been a witness of the resurrected Christ (1 Corinthians 9:1), (2) to have been explicitly chosen by the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:15), and (3) to have the ability to perform signs and wonders (Acts 2:43; 2 Corinthians 12:12). The role of the twelve apostles, laying the foundation of the church, would also argue for their uniqueness. Two thousand years later, we are not still working on the foundation. (Source)
Even still, there were other writings that established apostles such as Peter, John, and Paul wrote, that still did not make their way into Biblical canon. Not only did God the Holy Spirit empower which men would write, what to write, but also guided the direction and overall shape of our Holy Scripture as well as preserving it over these last two-thousand years.
But the one definable and distinguishable difference between the Holy Bible and all the other so called sacred texts, (i.e., the Koran, Hindu Vedas, writings of Confucius, Buddha, Joseph Smith, etc.) is the Bible’s prophetic messages. Because God declares the end from the beginning (Isa. 46:9-10), and since the testimony of Jesus Christ is the spirit of prophecy (Rev. 19:10), it is prophecy, which most powerfully serves as the eyewitness to events yet to come.
For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 2 Peter 1:16
Here are at the end of the age, the fate of the world hinges not upon fictitious superheroes and villains, nor of humanity’s progress, but upon a Book. This same Book has revealed to our generation many centuries later, the Man, Christ Jesus.
Jesus Christ was foretold and appeared hundreds and even thousands of years before His birth, as detailed (Exodus 6:2-3) in the Old Testament in prophetic word, type, and shadow. In the New Testament, Jesus’s life laid bare in the four Gospels. Just as the number four speaks to the earth centric nature of life (four seasons, four elements, four cardinal directions, etc.), the four Gospels were written with four different human audiences in mind.
Matthew to the Jews: portrayed Christ as the Lion of Judah and rightful heir to the throne of David with His lineage going back to Abraham. Contains Olivet Discourse.
Mark to the Romans: portrayed Christ as the Servant focusing on His actions, no lineage mentioned. Contains Olivet Discourse.
Luke to the Greeks: portrayed Christ as the Son of Man, focusing on His relationships and tracing His lineage back to Adam. Contains Olivet Discourse.
John to the Church: portrayed Christ as the Son of God, focusing on His divinity and claiming eternality as God. Contains Upper-Room Discourse.
The rest of the epistles and books likewise forecast His coming, first for His Bride the Church, and then after the 70th Week of Daniel, the triumphal return at His Second Coming. Here is why prophecy is so important; at the core of Scripture is the Gospel (or Good News). At the core of the Gospel is Jesus Christ. At the core of prophecy, is Jesus Christ. The Gospel tells us what Christ did at Calvary, defeating death and hell and making permanent sanctification (spiritual union) possible. Prophecy tells us what Christ will do, i.e., defeating evil forever and reestablishing the physical reunion between God and man for all of eternity.
Even though bible prophecy is considered secondary or tertiary in terms of doctrinal importance, without prophecy, the Bible becomes a series of disconnected stories put together in an incoherent fashion. Prophecy is interwoven throughout the entirety of Scripture to demonstrate the supernatural nature of the Book. Furthermore, prophecy paints a picture far more fantastic and hopeful than any superhero movie ever could. Christ not only deals with all the evil in the world, but deals with sin, and vanquishes the evil one for a thousand years (see Rev. 20:7-10). True peace finally comes to earth where God and man can dwell in harmony for the first time since the Garden of Eden.
All this to say that I am not knocking superhero movies, either as a past time or as a pleasure, but if I had to choose between superheroes in spandex fighting bad guys, only to provide temporary relief from horror, versus choosing Christ who has defeated death, hell, and evil in its every form forever, I choose Christ. From Revelation 19:11-16;
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Even so, Maranatha!