Bondage of the Will

17 06 2011

So it goes…at 12:01 am on 6/17/2011 we filed into the 2D version ($4 cheaper than 3D) of Green Lantern.  The story was familiar, the 21st Century Hollywood twist was not.  Action packed, thrills of dogfights with F35’s and the classic good v. evil.  In the end the super hero defends the planet, reconciles with the girl and everything is well with the world…then you watch the credits and find this was just an introduction of Green Lantern II where fear seems to be a better way to keep order than will.

To make it short, the immortals have harnessed the will of the author of the universe to overcome fear.  The will of the Green Lanterns keeps the universe intact and the established order of things prevails.  Until, it doesn’t.  Then we have the Green Lantern coming to save the day with their own unique ‘willingness’ to defeat the bad guys.  For example, to keep hundreds from being killed by an out of control helicopter, the Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) protecting earth and of course the passion of his desire (the girl) he ‘wills’ a large hot wheels track to appear and take the helicopter – now turned car – on a track away from certain mayhem.

So as always I unwittingly try to intellectualize the plot and the nuances of this film and story.  In this manner, I ruminated on the whole aspect of gathering one’s will to change the world for the better.  Personally, Luke Skywalker and The Force used a similar, but much better rendition of the will technique that spawned sequels and prequels.

As often the case, Martin Luther – who did a lot of ruminating and writing – wrote a paper called ‘The Bondage of the Will.’  In this seminal work, he goes on and on about the free will of creation.  Simply summarized this work states:  “free will is an erroneous, unscriptural doctrine which, ultimately, undermines the gospel itself.”  There is nothing we can do to save ourselves – we are always – even when we are doing good – captured by sin and have death working in us.  Further Luther writes: “Let all the ‘free-will’ in the world do all it can with all its strength; it will never give rise to a single instance of ability to avoid being hardened if God does not give the Spirit, or of meriting mercy if it is left to its own strength.”

So now the whole existence of the Green Lanterns – willing things to keep order – is bunk, rubbish, manure.  Super powers or not – no life form apart from the grace of God – creator, author of all life in the universe – can will God’s saving grace.  Only through Jesus are we saved.

Yes, I am comparing apples and oranges, but the human imagination (aka comic genius) is but a fleeting glimpse of what we really believe our reality to be.  If we are free and not bound by the will of God then why Jesus?  Most comic heroes are manifestations of our inability to truly believe that salvation – saving people – even people in galaxies far, far, away – is the work of the grace of God by the power of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ.

Finally, I share with you one of my favorite quotes from Luther in The Bondage of the Will: “All the passages in the Holy Scriptures that mention assistance are they that do away with “free-will”, and these are countless…For grace is needed, and the help of grace is given, because “free-will” can do nothing.”

So we will always fight the ‘bad guys’ of our own free-will and remain lost but with Jesus and the Holy Spirit we receive grace.  If only we can muster the courage to believe that grace is real we will not need to look to Green Lanterns to save us from despair and death.

***In case you are wondering…I rated the Green Lantern 3 stars since there was really no story line that warranted me to think about what will happen next – action for sure but no suspense.

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