anarchy, pacifism and the theology of Captain America

18 thoughts on “anarchy, pacifism and the theology of Captain America”

  1. I love reading this sort of theological thinking, especially how this was applied to works of fiction and rooting for the good guy even thou violence is used. It’s hard to figure out how to stand on certain issues as a (new) Christian pacifist.
    By the way, the “love your enemys” part is Matthew 5:38-48. Not Matthew 3. Just a heads up.

  2. Great and encouraging post, Josh. I’m a youth pastor and I’ve faced the same dilemma over the last couple years as I’ve developed a pacifistic attitude and yet still love Spider-Man, Optimus, etc. Interestingly, pacifism has drawn me away from being entertained by the stylized violence and narrowed my focus more on the characters and stories and mythology.

    In his book “Planet Narnia,” Michael Ward described how C.S. Lewis loved mythology and cosmology before following Jesus. Instead of abandoning those things as unclean, Lewis allowed them to be baptized as well, and they became integral parts of his allegorical fiction. I try to take similar approaches in my own life.

  3. thanks josh for talking about “christian pacifism”, that takes more bravery than walking around with your gun ready to kill people in “jesus name”

  4. As a huge Cap fan myself I was ecstatic to read this post. One thing that I found interesting about Captain America when I first began following him (back during Civil War) was that Captain America does not necessarily stand for America. I mean this in the way that when the government passed the Super Hero Registration Act into law, he led the resistance against it even though it had passed through the proper channels (with some help from Tony Stark) to become law. I took this to exemplify that his values come not from the government and what they believe is right, but from the ideology that America (in a perfect world) stands for. So although he may be America’s Super Soldier, he is not under any pretenses that the American government is anything but fallible.

  5. Another interesting thing to note is that Jesus tells parables in which a character performs acts he does not condone, particularly when a human character in the parable cuts somebody into pieces.

    He uses fiction to represent greater moral realities in the really real world.

  6. His attempt to compare reading comic books to pornography really misses the point here for two reasons:

    1) He hasn’t considered the intent of men like Stan Lee and other authors who created the Marvel Universe. Men who direct porno films seek to bring out lustful emotions in viewers. They’re purposefully drawing out sinful thoughts, emotions, and motives in their work and calling it art.

    I don’t think Stan Lee wants people to run around in costumes with a heavy shield beating the crap out of people. He definitely presents at least a few moral views within his work (aside from violence).

    2) What we’re touching on here cannot be painted as sinful or saintly, but must be viewed as a matter of personal morals, or to put it Paul’s way, a food sacrificed to idols matter. In the same way, Josh, that you opt not to drink (read the autobiography; nice stuff!), I am allowed to do so insofar as I find it permissible and do not cause a brother to fall. The same is true here. If seeing the new Captain America movie inspired someone to join the Army, I’m going to have to help them reconsider what violence really is and what God has to say about it. Fiction is indeed a powerful weapon we must wield carefully, but to not wield it at all is just as destructive.

    Thanks, Josh. Keep being awesome, man!

  7. God bless you. I read this entire article and it really made me think about a lot of things. It makes you wander why we choose to look for ways to bring each other down instead of fasting for what God wants.

  8. Alright, I am huge fan of Jesus’ pacifist teachings, and I hold that if some one were holding a gun in my face, I would not hate or try to kill this person because my salvation is secure and I know nothing about theirs, also I believe that God has the complete power to jam that gun, change the persons heart, even make me bulletproof if necessary etc., this situation I hope never arises. However last weekend my mother and I walked in on my dad and (one of) his mistresses, the other woman hit my mom over the head with a wine bottle causing my mom to bleed profusely. I grabbed said woman, slung her away from the situation went outside and called 911. Since this I have been quite distraught that I, a pretty fit 20 year old guy, would near throw a very drunk, fairly small woman. but, in me doing this what ever fighting was going on was stopped, and the situation was tuned from hate to trying to figure things out. I know this strays from the topic somewhat, but in this specific situation, was what I did an act of violence? and by no stretch of the truth, had I just watched, or called 911 and waited, some one could have been killed. How does this sort of thing fall into non-violent Christian pacifism?

    1. a common misconception about non-violence is that it implies total passivity. it doesn’t. while not all pacifists (Christian or otherwise) agree on an exact standard of when violence begins and ends, i would hold that what you did was a disarming act that was not violent. there are physical ways to disarm attackers without bringing harm to them, some martial arts are even designed for this very purpose. some folks seem to assume that the non-violent way of Jesus leads to standing by with a sigh as an attacker murders your family but I don’t know of any non-violent individuals that would do so.

  9. I think war, fighting for “honor”, and/or entertainment(UFC, boxing, professional wrestling) is wrong. With that in mind, if a women pulls out the pepper spray to prevent herself form being raped I can’t say that’s wrong.

    Even thou I’m not a Captain America fan, I liked your post. I prefer indie and Vertigo comics. When I do decide to give super hero stuff a chance I’ll go with FF4, Batman, Super Man, Spider Man, and Iron Man.

  10. I’ve been following you via Showbread on formspring and other social media for quite a while now, and through this have been exposed to Christian pacifism for the first time. I grew up in a military family and always intended on joining the military myself. It turns out I can’t pass muster physically no matter how fit I am (I have Asperger’s Syndrome, so I fatigue easier than the average person), but I still value the military tradition–respect, honor, integrity, order, etc.
    I say all that to say this: when I first read your posts on pacifism, I just blew it off as a “meat offered to idols” kind of decision. But the more I read the more I realized I was in the wrong. I still value the military tradition but I’m starting to see the value and the godliness of non-violence and that military tradition doesn’t have to be, well, military. So thanks, I guess.

  11. i stumbled upon your page trying to find a copy of each of your novels, and am very much enjoying what is here… your thought processes and arguments are brilliant, as i shouldn’t be surprised because your lyrics are too. thanks

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