Words from my father

10671385_10154646288390541_3492417953276015972_nOn Sept. 19, 2012, my dad, Larry Wayne Sanders Jr., committed suicide. He was a faithful father, husband, and pastor. Shortly after he died, I was looking through my Facebook correspondence with him and became overwhelmed at the compassionate care he used with me even on social media. Below is a sample of his pastoral care in the last few years of his life.

The profile photo in question.

The profile photo in question.

Jan. 17, 2009: My second semester of college. I was arguing with my dad to justify my Facebook profile photo, and told him how painful it was to see a family photo on his page excluding me.

Life does change fast. Our life is but a vapor. That is why I treasure the time we spent yesterday. If I can influence your life for Christ deeper, if I can strengthen you, if I can continue to teach you about being a real man, I will take what time, travel as far as I need to to do so.
It did hit me that you were not in [the picture]. You being my firstborn, it has been tough on me. Of all the children, I spent tons of time with you. I do not know why time with the girls was harder to find: they were drawn to your Mom; was my ministry demanding more time (remember as well at one point I had 3 positions to make ends meet); and competing with playtime with siblings? That is why I hug the girls now and drive Mikayla to things/let her drive, and take Caitlin hunting/ teach her how to mow the lawn, because I do not ever want them to forget how much I love them.
I did not mean to upset you. The typed word never expresses the spoken word at times. I think your “face in blue retro” is just the right one. It describes your creativity and your ability to make people laugh, among other things.
Never forget that I love you. Never.

2281_1084000106646_3849_nApril 25, 2009: My dad was offering feedback on a sermon I recently preached. He was also responding to an issue I struggled with at the time as to whether or not pastors should perform weddings for unbelievers.

I looked at 1 Timothy 5:8.

Your message and presentation was very good. I feel bad I even use notes. What is your secret besides prayer and the hand of God?

I got tickled and almost could not quit laughing after your video of “BFF Buddy Jesus” and you made a remark (and now I cannot remember) but my response was “Craig better watch out his BFF Buddy is watching”. If you saw me giggling it was not you.

Regarding marriage of unbelievers to one another, note this from Hebrews.
Heb 4:13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
True, marrying them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is meaningless if they are not living for Him. But at the same time, all people should be made aware that a day is coming when we must give an account to the One before whom our lives are lived out.
The gospel has been presented almost every time I have met with couples. I did what I could do, their decision to accept or reject is now their burden.
I have only had one couple approach me for marriage since I have been here – and they rejected my standard of moving out of the live in situation. They claimed to be believers yet stated it was for financial reasons they did not move out.
Years ago I lovingly confronted a man who had served as a deacon and had a woman living in his house with him – seperate rooms he claimed and he was on heart meds, so nothing could happen – he assured me. (Yeah, right) But I told him that the appearance of evil was sending the wrong message. Within two weeks, she moved out.
Yes, there are some weddings I wish I had not conducted. But at the time, not conducting the wedding made me feel that I would be condoning their sinful choice to continue living together apart from marriage. Yes, lost sinners act very good at being lost sinners.
At this point I cannot think of a comfortable way to conduct a wedding without invoking the Name of the One I serve. So I guess until then weddings for me will have to be believers only, but I would hate to miss the opportunity to lead unbelievers to Christ. So we will see.
Blessings my son,
Dad

26489_1353156596605_2496063_nFeb. 2, 2010: In the summer of 2010 I traveled to the West Coast for an internship at a multi-site megachurch. My father offered me sound encouragement early in the application process.

Craig, your Mom told me you heard back. Send me more info and a link. I know I could Google it, but I want to hear from you. How do you feel about it? Where do you sense the Lord has gifted you? Are you daily in the Word and in prayer?
What do you see down the road as to where God may use these experiences?
With all the love in the world,
Dad

July 17, 2010: An invitation to attend to a leadership conference.

Will let you know soon! Thanks son. I love you and I am VERY proud of you.

Aug. 2, 2010: When I briefly questioned believer’s baptism.

So the point is?
I believe baptism is to be by immersion. When one is saved and baptized in the Spirit, it is total, not a little dab here and a little dab there.
True, there are times when a person is physically unable to do so: a handicap, a region of the world (ice, desert), etc, but immersion is baptism. If not someone needs to go back in time and tell Adoniram Judson who worked alongside William Carey, that his decision on the ship ride over to India where he became convinced of immersion was in error.

Sept. 5, 2010: My dad’s encouragement of my work as a sports photographer at WYFF in Greenville, S.C.

The guy that took out that receiver with that hit? Man, that was great. Great shot Craig.

March 11, 2011: My dad and I exchanged blogs after the 2011 tsunami in Japan. This was also three months before my wedding.

Thank you for sending this. I was just getting ready to find some blogs from other Christian leaders. This has been very helpful.
I love you son, and I am very proud of you. I am going to miss your solo trips home. I will treasure every day that we have ever had together. I am looking forward to welcoming you back home with your bride to be.
Love always, Dad
PS If you need my truck to help move stuff, give me some dates so I can best plan to be of any help.

July 26, 2011: My dad was raising support for a mission trip to Egypt.

Craig,
Would you and Kaitlyn feel offended if I sent you a support letter for my trip to Egypt?
I am coming up with other ideas for raising the funds. Will keep you posted.
I have been trying to put up the link, but having difficulty.
Love always,
Dad
http://www.baptistcourier.com/5319.article

457140_3817929816550_895327133_oApril 1, 2012: My dad was offended by several Facebook posts and tried to delete them. He responded similarly when he often called me for help using the DVD player to watch his favorite movie, Jeremiah Johnson.

It is working now. I am fixing them now. Love you.

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Real men read, and they read to others

This morning, I participated in the Real Men Read event as part of Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s Give a Day volunteer project. I was assigned an elementary school near my apartment to read Hewitt Anderson’s Great Big Life for a group of third-graders. For some reason, despite my developing laryngitis and the two sharp-dressed men who also volunteered, the principal assigned me to read in the library for the largest group of students.

My voice made it through the entire book, but more incredibly, all of the children were completely attentive and respectful the entire time. At first, I thought the kids mistakenly assumed I was a local celebrity (probably true). I then realized, however, that the school employed no male teachers aside from the principal.

And considering the state of fatherhood (and literacy) in today’s age, this may have been the first time a man read a story to some of these children. I walked into that school with a geeky excitement that I was volunteering as a reader, but left with a sobering reminder that real men do read, and they teach children of its lasting value.

Deadbeat fathers and idle mothers who never open a book in leisure or read to their children at night will root out and destroy the seeds of learning, especially reading.

These reminders bother and burden me to a great degree. My parents read to me so often as a child, that I can hardly remember a time in my elementary years when they neglected this task. I so treasured these moments that one of the most delightful nights of my childhood was when my father read Tarzan and the Lost Safari to me and my friends at a sleepover. Sure, he read these books to me each night, but now my closest friends had the opportunity to hear this jungle adventure read aloud.

If I could use 10 words to describe myself, bibliophile and bookworm would be among them, the redundancy best explained by how reading has permeated my life and habits. I owe to my parents not just the ability to read before I started school but all of my academic and professional accomplishments achieved because of a high proficiency in reading and writing.

Literacy can be taught in the classroom, but a love for literature can only be exemplified in the home.

A review of Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church

An excellent new resource on the doctrine of the church

An excellent new resource on the doctrine of the church

Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church (Crossway 2012, $40) Gregg R. Allison

Gifted theologians offer much guidance in areas like biblical theology, Christology and ethics, but resources that set forth ecclesiology are rarer, particularly from a robust Baptist perspective.

Gregg R. Allison, professor of Christian theology at Southern Seminary, fills that void with his latest book, Sojourners and Strangers.

“The church is the people of God who have been saved through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and have been incorporated into his body through baptism with the Holy Spirit,” he writes.

Though written for a wider evangelical audience, Allison maintains a firm commitment to Baptist ecclesiology in regard to the ordinances and church polity.

Observing that church experience often influences the development of ecclesiology, he examines the sufficiency of Scripture in forming this doctrine and offers helpful tips for distinguishing between normative and relative passages of instruction in the New Testament.

“The church of Jesus Christ itself is a necessary reality,” Allison writes. Emphasizing the role of the church in Christian life, he describes seven characteristics of the church’s origin and vision: doxological, logocentric, pneumadynamic, covenantal, confessional, missional and eschatological.

Implementing these seven characteristics is the mark of pure churches, and Allison affirms the reality of false churches and the need for evaluating pure churches.

Allison identified a lack of church discipline as the greatest problem in American evangelical churches and a hindrance to achieving purity. Allison urges churches to practice discipline as a future warning and reminds them of the presence of Christ through this difficult process.

“Failure on the part of Christ-followers to [pursue holiness] should lead to their being disciplined by the church as  proleptic and declarative sign of the divine eschatological judgment.”

Since church polity is a defining mark of Baptist ecclesiology, Allison surveys the various offices of the church and summarizes the main forms of church government. Allison advocates plural-elder-led congregationalism, which he argues has historical precedence in Baptist life.

Readers may be surprised to find an academic endorsement of multi-site churches, and should eagerly examine the biblical basis for Allison’s arguments; Allison is an elder at Sojourn Community Church, Louisville, Ky.

Countering the apathy in administering ordinances in many churches, Allison offers a theological basis for a careful and deliberate approach to baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

“To the church Christ has given two signs of this new covenant relationship: baptism, the sign of entrance into the new covenant relationship with God and into the covenant community, the church; and the Lord’s Supper, the sign of ongoing new covenant relationship with God and the covenant community, the church.”

The final section of the book handles the ministries of the church, which encompasses not only spiritual gifts but also worship, preaching, evangelism, discipleship and member care. Ultimately, according to Allison, “the church is a paradox,” loving her neighbors through culture-building while opposing the fallen world.

Sojourners and Strangers is an indispensable tonic for weary churches, and it will serve pastors and lay leaders as they learn from and administer its wisdom to their flocks.

An interview with Gregg R. Allison on his new book is available by clicking this link. To buy a copy of Allison’s book, click here.

Supertones: The gospel-infused ska that changed my life

I’m gonna do three things:
Preach the gospel
Reach your heart
And Ska Ska Ska Ska!
-“Found”

Oh, let my pride fall down…I’m a little man played through my stereo when, at 8 years old, I received a copy of the WOW 1999 compilation CD. I’m not sure I ever enjoyed listening to music before hearing the O.C. Supertones sing their hit song “Little Man.” Sure, that disc also featured dc Talk, Newsboys and Jars of Clay, but the ska preaching of the Supertones enraptured my heart to their music. The following summer, I listened to the song with my dad on the way to Carowinds (at which point he informed me I didn’t know the lyrics very well). And lo and behold, the speakers at the theme park were blaring the song throughout the day leading up to a Christian music festival.

This November, the Supertones released For the Glory, the band’s first album since the members parted ways in 2005. The band’s latest work is a return to the glory days of ska music. Lead singer and songwriter Matt Morginsky is a seminary graduate and pastor now, and his lyrics maintain the commitment to preaching the gospel loud and clear. Listen to Romans 8:38-39 in “Hey Hey Hey,” the recurring motif of God’s glory (“All the Way Alive,” “For the Glory,” “In the Warmth of the Sun”) and cultural engagement in “Fight On” (the song’s Babylon theme is reminiscent of “Dream of Two Cities” on the closing track of The Revenge of the O.C. Supertones).

As I listened with utmost joy to each wonderful track, something peculiar happened — I became overwhelmed with nostalgia as I realized how much the Supertones have influenced my life and thinking.

Loud and Clear, the band’s fourth studio album, fell into my hands when I was 10, offering me more than the single track I previously owned. The 50 minutes of ska I listened to in the 5th grade changed my life forever. For the first time, I learned of the Reformation (“Return of the Revolution”), Francis Schaeffer (“Escape from Reason”) and C.S. Lewis as a theologian (“Jury Duty”). The Supertones also explored the sympathy of Christ as our Great High Priest (Heb. 4:14-16) in their song “Wilderness.”

My parents certainly endowed me with a great heritage of faith, but the Supertones sparked my interest in studying Scripture, Reformed theology, apologetics and Christian literature.

The summer before high school, The Supertones released their “final” studio album, The Revenge of the O.C. Supertones. As I began experiencing struggles with my faith and how I would interact with my new peer group, songs like “Cult of Cool” and “I Will Follow” sustained my soul in a time of need.

But the kingdom began with the advent / He is reigning through his people / The first will be nothing compared to the sequel

Lyrics like this in “The Kingdom” played a vital role in my theology, and oddly influences my view on the millennium almost as much as any commentary has since. Indeed, the album also benefited my understanding of Christ as the new Adam (“Everything’s Broken), the mystery of the Incarnation (“Shepherd is the Lamb”) and messianic peace in eschatology (“Prince of Peace”).

By no means am I trying to make the case that the Supertones are the greatest band in the history of Christian music, nor am I suggesting that the theology presented in their music is substantial on its own or even a primary influence in my thinking. But by God’s providence, the Supertones provided a doorway to greater understanding of my faith by entering my life at a formative stage, a time when no one thought I was interested in pursuing studies in theology.

I often heard Christian bands sing about being unashamed of the Gospel during my childhood, but none proclaimed the good news quite like the Supertones.

How I became The Man Who Was Thursday

Why am I so fearful of God’s peace?

Since my father’s suicide in September, the pain and suffering encompassing my grief have instilled in the seat of my affection a fear of approaching God’s peace. I possess a mental assurance of rest, but my soul wrestles with restlessness.

During this time I have found solace, an escape route, in the works of G.K. Chesterton.

The Man Who Was Thursday, first editionChesterton, the master of all things paradoxical, explored man’s rejection of God’s reconciliation in the fantasy-suspense novel The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare.

Published in 1907, this surprising twist on the detective novel offers an allegorical approach to understanding God’s acquaintance with suffering. Chesterton had also been studying the Book of Job around this time, the theme of which is evident in the journey of Thursday’s protagonist Gabriel Syme.

“If you were from the first our father and our friend, why were you also our greatest enemy? We wept, we fled in terror; the iron entered into our souls—and you are the peace of God! Oh, I can forgive God His anger, though it destroyed nations; but I cannot forgive Him His peace.”

The accusations leveled against the “antagonist” Sunday in the climax of the novel reflect the clever paradox Chesterton designed in this narrative: those who sought to uphold order were, in fact, attempting to destroy ultimate peace.

Confronted with the revelation that their enemy was indeed their greatest ally, each of the undercover detectives expresses resentment and pain, even childlike hurt, as they come to terms with reality. Then the accuser par excellence approaches to slander Sunday for his alleged inability to suffer.

But it is the paranoia of Gabriel Syme that I found most captivating as I read the novel. As an undercover detective posing as an anarchist, Syme found himself isolated and afraid of death. He could trust no one, and the person he set out to defeat was his greatest comfort.

“It is not true that we have never been broken. We have been broken upon the wheel. It is not true that we have never descended from these thrones. We have descended into hell.”

Syme’s chief occupation was a poet, communicating thoughts and ideals in abstract. This obscure nightmare, on the other hand, offered him the concrete reality of human suffering.

“The central idea of the great part of the Old Testament may be called the idea of the loneliness of God,” writes Chesterton in his introduction to the Book of Job. In this essay, Chesterton explores the role of human suffering in the divine and unbending purpose of God. Or, as Chesterton said, “the book is so intent upon asserting the personality of God that it almost asserts the impersonality of man.”

But what are the purposes of God in Job’s suffering? The account of Job does not answer this question, despite the fact that God rebukes both Job’s accusations and his friends’ defenses. Chesterton uses this omission to draw a typology between Job and Christ.

“In the prologue we see Job tormented not because he was the worst of men, but because he was the best…I need not suggest what high and strange history awaited this paradox of the best man in the worst fortune,” Chesterton concludes.

Chesterton himself would never expound on the meaning of Thursday, too humble to admit his genius and his ability to craft a soul-wrenching allegory on the suffering Messiah.

What is clear in the nightmarish haze of Thursday, however, is that the loneliness of God described in Job’s suffering is reversed in the loneliness of the Incarnation — God’s suffering. This loneliness accomplished peace for his people, so that in our pain and suffering we have an Advocate.

The year following the publication of The Man Who Was Thursday, Chesterton released his most important work, Orthodoxy. In some ways his spiritual autobiography, Chesterton explored the various paradoxes of the Christian faith.

In the closing chapter, Chesterton marveled over the paradox of joy in the Christian faith. Suffering and sorrow is commonplace for the Christian, but everlasting joy is unique and extraordinary. In Jesus, Chesterton points out the visibility of his sadness and imagines the source of his joy.

“There was some one thing that was too great for God to show us when He walked upon our earth; and I have sometimes fancied that it was His mirth,” Chesterton ponders in the closing words of Orthodoxy.

Jesus, my source of peace and rest. The God-Man who bears my affliction.

Only in the blackness before it entirely destroyed his brain he seemed to hear a distant voice saying a commonplace text that he had heard somewhere, “Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of?”

The loneliness of suffering forces us to reckon with ourselves, naked and bare. The horror of self-realization and temptation of pity cause us, and have caused me, to resist reconciliation. Sabbath with God only comes through abandoning the notion that we have everything figured out and running toward the One we used to hate.

And just as Gabriel Syme, fear captures my heart as I approach from behind the peace of God, yet I know joy will overcome me when I look back upon his face.

My father, my pastor

Saturday, Sept. 22, I delivered the following message at my father’s funeral. Larry Wayne Sanders, Jr. took his own life, Sept. 19. He was a faithful husband, loving father and minister of the gospel. Below is a revised transcription of the message from the funeral, but I will be posting periodically on reflections from my father’s life and tragic death. 

Image“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” My grandmother recited Hebrews 13:8 to my father as he rebelled against his parents and walked waywardly from the Lord. My father came to know the Lord through the persistent faithfulness of my grandmother. But as I’ve reflected on this verse, I’m reminded even more of the constant faithfulness of my Lord Jesus Christ.

My earliest memories of my life were spent in church listening to my father’s preaching. At the end of every service I would run down the aisle and stand proudly next to my father the pastor. Sometimes I like to brag about how I learned how to read when I was 3, but I can assure you that I learned the gospel of Jesus Christ from my father even earlier. As I think about how God used my father to bring me into his kingdom, I also looked around me in the days following his death. His brother, sister, cousins, aunts and uncles, even his late father, believed in the Lord Jesus because of my father’s testimony to them. And as I look at my father’s legacy, I know that all who supported our family testified that he shaped their faith story in some way, whether it was sharing the gospel, discipleship or just strengthening their faith in Christ. But most of all, he raised three children and instructed them in the gospel. Not many pastors, no matter how successful their churches, can rejoice in the salvation of all of their children.

My father loved me. The day following his death, I was browsing his bookshelves and noticed a few bookmarks sticking out of the books. Let me preface this by saying my father didn’t use regular bookmarks and he didn’t use them to signify where he left off. He used sentimental items — pictures of his children, old bulletins and flyers, and birthday cards — and he placed them in passages that were meaningful to him. My father told me a story through those passages. The first, in a book by his friend and local hero Dr. Don Wilton, was placed in a passage where Dr. Wilton described his pride and joy in the birth of his firstborn son. I looked through a few of the other books, finding places that described his own suffering, offered me guidance for forgiveness and comforted me in my pain. I’m not entirely certain that my father intended for me to find those books and passages, although he knows my love for reading and probably rightly assumed I would end up looking through them. But even if he did not intend to communicate to me through those books, he didn’t have to. That’s because he never stopped telling me that he loved me. His sandpapery kisses and warm embraces were always accompanied by his reminders that he loved me and was proud of me.

During the endless 7 ½ hour drive from Louisville, my wife asked me a question that had briefly crossed my mind after I heard the news of my father’s death. She asked, “Does this change your call to ministry?” After moments of reflection, I answered her and myself, and said, “It certainly does not change my call. I did not call myself. I certainly don’t feel like it right now, but that does not change the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

And that truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which my father shared with me, is this: Almighty God created the world around us and fashioned two people in the likeness of his image so that they could rule over the earth. Instead of ruling, Adam and Eve bought into a lie from a creature they were supposed to control, breaking an agreement made with God. This brought evil into the world, evil we have experienced this week, causing every single human born on this earth to live apart from God – such a life is truly death. The Lord, who is merciful, continued pursuing relationships so that he could have a people to rule the earth for him. No one was faithful to God’s promises. But God the Father’s promises to his people were unconditional, so he sent his Son Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, to fulfill the promises of his plan. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” This was truly unconditional. God’s people could not hold up the end of their deal, they could not save themselves, so God came in the flesh and redeemed them from bondage. And how did he do this? Jesus lived a perfect life, withstanding every temptation and sharing our suffering. Jesus took our sins upon himself on a cross meant for criminals and died, paying the penalty for our sins. But this is not the end of the story. It would appear that Jesus had suffered defeat. On the third day after his death, Jesus rose up the grave, defeating death and giving victory to all those who believe in him. This not only makes salvation possible, it secures salvation for those that believe. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

I stand proudly beside my father the pastor, my friend, my brother in Christ and my hero. Repent and believe in Jesus Christ. This does not require good moral living, but a heartfelt devotion to Almighty God. My father sought after Jesus Christ with his entire heart. Salvation comes from God alone, and by his power alone. It does not require any effort of our own nor is it negated by anything we do. I am assured my father is rejoicing in heaven because of God’s enduring faithfulness. The Christian life, however, is not just about a place we go when we die. It is about peace with God and our fellow man, and a hope that God can provide us victory in all things.

But even when we fail, I am reminded of 2 Timothy 2:10-13: “Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;

if we endure, we will also reign with him;

if we deny him, he also will deny us;

if we are faithless, he remains faithful—

for he cannot deny himself.”

My father faced immense suffering and turmoil, mentally and spiritually, in recent months. On Wednesday, September 19, my father took his own life. It would appear that my father lost the battle. But the truth of the gospel is that Jesus Christ was victorious in my father’s place, and Jesus will receive glory and honor as my father lives eternally in his presence. Jesus Christ is our faithful Victor.

Christology & Mythology: Finding Jesus In Thor

All myths point to Jesus. Whether correct in their understanding or not, myths have been derived from humanity’s attempt at understanding the Divine.

This past weekend, Marvel’s latest blockbuster, Thor, opened worldwide. Despite its subpar performance in theaters (compared to other superhero flicks), the film was certainly one of the best Marvel has produced leading up to the highly anticipated release of The Avengers next summer.

One of the movie’s greatest strengths was not just the special effects or exceptional acting, but the compelling storyline. Thor may just be the most unique superhero ever “created” — in reality, he was merely adapted from Norse mythology. Rather than receiving his powers from a spider bite, gamma radiation, or monetary resources, Thor has always possessed his powers because he is divine.

Finding Jesus

In the first half of Thor, the audience discovers that the hero was banished to Earth without his supernatural powers because of his arrogance and disobedience. In essence, his father Odin’s purpose was to force Thor to learn humility and obedience before being found worthy of royal reign. After Thor fulfilled this duty, he even saved his worst enemies at the expense of never seeing his true love.

Scripture tells us that Jesus willingly forsook his place as God to become weak and human (Phil. 2:6-10).  The author of Hebrews also wrote that Jesus “learned obedience,” an obedience that qualified him as Savior of the world (Heb. 5:8). Furthermore, Jesus offered his life for his enemies in order to make them his own (Rom. 5:8).

The original storyline in the comics portrayed Thor’s earthly existence in the form of disabled medical student Donald Blake. In the movie, however, Thor still retains an element of superhuman strength, but does not receive his full supernatural powers until he sacrifices his life for his friends.

In a similar fashion, Jesus emptied himself of divine status. Jesus, however, did this willingly, and shows a greater love by sacrificing himself for those who hate him (Thor later sacrifices something of great worth on behalf of his enemies).

Redeeming Film & Mythology

Thor wields a mighty hammer. Jesus was the object of a hammer. Although sharing some qualities in the roles of son and savior, Thor falls drastically short of the perfect life and reign of Jesus.

According to the movie’s review on Plugged In, the film felt “at times almost Christian,” but drawing “too many parallels between Christ and Thor would be pointless.”

In order to embark on a redemption of film and its use of mythology, both of these statements should be disqualified. If Thor in any sense felt “Christian,” then the person’s understanding of Jesus and Christianity  is shallow to say the least. The fact that the reviewer labeled the task of drawing parallels between Thor and Jesus as “pointless” or “a tad sacrilegious” shows that he certainly does not understand the ultimate purpose of mythology. Besides, the only reason the reviewer sensed a “Christian” element in the film was because of these parallels.

While mythology offers no redemptive work, the history of stories about mysterious deities testifies to the driving impulse of humans to understand God. Paul referenced Psalm 19 in his treatise concerning unbelief in Romans 1:18-25, arguing that all humans are given some knowledge of God despite corrupting it in their sin.

The reason parallels between Thor and Jesus come so naturally is because Thor was a futile Norse attempt at understanding the need for a mediator between God and man. Drawing these parallels is not “sacrilegious,” but a heartfelt attempt to bridge the gap between Norse understanding and the person of Jesus Christ (maybe even the same way Paul bridged the gap between the unknown god of Athens and the true God of the universe).

By offering these statements concerning Thor’s resemblance to the Christian message, Plugged In reveals its complacency as an active voice against the film industry rather than an active participant for redeeming the film industry.

Conclusion

If you’ve yet to see Thor, definitely make time in the near future to see it in theaters or home entertainment. As a superhero flick, Thor carries a unique tone that focuses on something beyond natural reality.

Rather than complaining from a distance about the fallen nature of the film industry, Christians should be active in understanding the power of the film industry to communicate these messages about divine realities.

Even big summer blockbusters can hammer heavy messages.