A long time ago, back in the mid-’80s, I took a university class called “The American Character.” It was part of the Liberal Studies program. (The first of four majors I would go through.) I remember writing a paper about how our Judeo-Christian values appeared in American pop culture. I compared the Superman mythos to that of Jesus.
I wasn’t the first person to notice the similarities between Jesus and Superman. A quick google search will reveal dozens of pages devoted to comparisons. Think about it: a father who sends his only son to earth, and then the son becomes earth’s savior. In the comic books, Superman dies but is resurrected. In the movies, Superman leaves earth and then returns. (Holy Parousia Batman!)
There have been books and articles published on these parallel stories. I remember reading John T. Galloway Jr.’s book The Gospel According to Superman. As I wrote in my paper long ago, Superman, although not intended to be a Christ-figure at his creation, was infused with our Judeo-Christian story. Moviemakers did this because it tapped into our collective cultural frame and made him more popular and marketable. Superman was wholesome entertainment for the whole family.
I was reminded of this long-forgotten piece of writing while watching two Amazon Prime series. The first was called The Boys, and the second Invincible. Both of these are derived from comic book series. Both are deconstructions of superhero mythology. Not only do they answer the question of what would the world be like if superheroes lived in the real world and not just in fantasy? They both answer the question, what if Superman (Represented by Homelander and Omni Man) were masquerading as good, but in reality, were evil.
Then it struck me that with the current Exvangelical movement and so many people deconstructing away from the Evangelical brand of Christianity, are we answering the same questions? Is our Judeo-Christian faith presented by Evangelicals now being unmasked in the real world as evil?
Another way to ask the question is this: is the Jesus presented by the Evangelicals being deconstructed? Does Evangelical Jesus wear a mask of benevolence? In the New Testament, even though Jesus repeatedly preaches love, in the Evangelical version, Jesus is going to come back to earth one day and “judge” the world.
According to Evangelicals, one day soon, there will be seven years of worldwide destruction, followed by Jesus returning and sending everyone who isn’t an Evangelical to Hell to be tortured forever. I mean, sure, Jesus healed people; He even raised the dead. However, ultimately, He is going to torture people forever. The Evangelical gospel tells us that if we don’t love Jesus, if we don’t swear to love him and obey him forever, then He will torture us forever. Evangelicals tell us we have a choice, that Jesus doesn’t really want to do it, that he has to do it for reasons. (Righteousness, justice, holiness, pick one.) However, he will do it. Many Fundagelicals, mimicking Evangelical Jesus, tell me how happy they will be when I’m rotting in Hell for eternity. Unfortunately for them, people realize that any god who would torture people for eternity is evil.
In Invincible, the character of Omni man, Superman’s stand-in, helps people, saves people, but ultimately, he offers humanity a choice, either serve under his empire or die. That choice sounds like the one offered by Evangelical Jesus. Omni Man even says he’ll burn the whole planet down to accomplish his goal. Sound a lot like the whole rapture-tribulation thing. It makes me wonder if pop culture is being influenced again by our religious culture.
Fundamentalists and Evangelicals are having a rough time lately. Their fantasy world is being dragged into reality and getting deconstructed. Old Testament myths, which they read literally, are shown to be false. Instead of reading them as myths and extracting the truth the stories try to communicate, Fundagelicals scream that we are going to Hell if we don’t agree with their fantasy world.
The Sothern Baptist Convention, which used to be one of the largest and most powerful denominations in the US, is having a hard time holding it together. Their fantasy world of patriarchy, complementarianism, purity culture, and segregation are not working in the real world. The Southern Baptist Convention is being torn apart by those who wish to double down on promoting their fantasy and those wishing to step into reality.
I grew up reading comic books in the 1970s; it was the “silver age” of comics. At the same time, I was told by my Fundagelical teachers that we were the terminal generation. We were all going to be raptured by 1988. Now, my childhood heroes have been deconstructed. They are a great fantasy for kids; when they are brought into adult reality, they are unmasked for how dangerous and potentially evil they are. Evangelicals are being unmasked. Their theology born and bred in the roots of racism and segregation has born evil fruit. Their Jesus bears little resemblance to the Jesus of the New Testament. The false Jesus of the Evangelicals is being deconstructed, and he is evil.
Thanks for reading! Please take a moment to like and share this post. Don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already. You can watch my vlog at Rev’s Reels on YouTube. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Join me and a bunch of other former Fundagelicals at Open Door Ministries OC at the Westminster Mall. Yep, I left Fundamentalism. I took the fun and left them with the mental.