The Avengers are the Church in this stretchy little analogy

The Church is made up of losers who have been saved, who have been made aware of their failure and been brought into something much bigger by the work of someone else.

Christians see their sin. They are given life, though they don’t deserve it. And this life is granted to them because of the work of another: Jesus Christ. He died where we should have died and rose where we could not have risen.

Every one of the Avengers reflect this same premise.

Selfish womanizer becomes a knight in shining armor

Iron Man, the most interesting and best realized of the big-screen versions of these characters, was spiraling into a whirlpool of booze and partying. He had no purpose, no direction. At least, no good direction. And, by the work of his father, he was able to implement technologies that not only changed his attitude to one of charity for others, but also led to his own life being saved. He was brought from a position of selfishness and dying to one of sacrifice and life.

Weakling finds his strength

Captain America was a scrawny kid with no ability to help anyone. By the work of the army scientists, he was given great strength and the ability to do good. He was brought from a position of inability to one of super-ability.

Rich kid learns sacrifice

Unlike Captain America and Iron Man, Thor already had great power. He just didn’t know what to do with it. He was petulant and reckless, a rich kid blaring Van Halen from his swerving Lamborghini. In his own movie, he was shown the danger of his misuse of power and he was shown the value of his power used correctly. Meaning was also given to him, as he discovered the effects of power unchecked in Loki’s rebellion.

The Missionary

Each of these characters had a type of ‘salvation experience.’ They discovered that they were losers. Then they were given a great power, accompanied by some insight, which brought them into usefulness.

This is how churches form. Individuals acknowledge their failure to meet God’s standard. They discover that God has provided access to a great power that can save them. Taking this power, they join together. Perhaps they just wander into a church building. The way Christians used to find each other was when a missionary, like Paul, would preach, bringing the believers together. A little balding guy would go into dark places, quietly revealing the possibility for more and better.

What about the Hulk?

Hulk does not have a salvation-type experience before joining the team. The team brings him into purpose and usefulness and self control and all that by preaching to him. At least that’s how it worked in Ultimate Avengers. Hulk was the wild man in the wilderness that the Avengers reached out to and invited into their group.

The Mission

Now that the group is together, they continue to reach out for others like themselves. And they do good work. That’s what the Church is about. Tell others about what we’ve learned (about Jesus) and do good.

Of course, the big thematic difference between the Church and the Avengers is the clothing style worship. The Avengers tell others and do good, but they don’t worship…and that’s a good place for the analogy to end, I think. Nothing is worthy of worship besides the God of the universe and I have trouble imagining any fictional analogy that could be appropriate.

One other difference: Even though our God was murdered, the Church does not exist to avenge this crime! We’re here to shout about how wonderful it was that he did die. There’s something more unbelievable than guys flying around and being super-heroes!


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