Monday, June 4, 2018

Dr. Strange's Ways Are Higher Than Our Ways

Dr. Strange. Image source.
[content note: spoilers for “Avengers: Infinity War”]

Ever since the movie “Avengers: Infinity War” came out, fans all over the internet have been asking questions and making theories about it. Much has been made of the fact that Dr. Strange saw millions of hypothetical futures. For example, I saw a video addressing the fact that we are all mad at Peter Quill (Star-Lord) because of that scene where Mantis has Thanos in a trance, everybody is trying to pull the infinity gauntlet off him, and Star-Lord realizes that Thanos killed Gamora, so he starts punching Thanos in the face, breaking him out of the trance and ruining everything. This video said that actually, it’s okay, we shouldn’t be mad at Star-Lord. Because Dr. Strange already knew this would happen, and he didn’t intervene and stop Star-Lord. So actually this is how it’s supposed to be. It’s all okay.

And besides that example, I’ve seen a lot of people asking questions about “why didn’t Dr. Strange do THIS” and “why didn’t Dr. Strange do THAT” and the answer is always “he saw all the hypothetical futures resulting from those actions and they weren’t good.” Whatever Dr. Strange chooses to do, we can’t question it, because he knows things we don’t.

And I say, well that’s AWFULLY CONVENIENT.

In the type of Christianity I used to believe, God always “had a plan.” If something bad happened, we trusted that “God is in control” and that it was all part of the plan. Even if it seemed bad, we had faith that God would “use it for good.” Everything is okay.

God has seen all the possible hypothetical futures. God is all-powerful and involved in every tiny detail of your life, making sure everything goes according to plan. So it’s not possible that anything truly bad could ever happen. Just keep waiting and believing- you’ll see that actually it was a good thing.

There’s no way to disprove this line of thinking. If everything seems bad and you think God can’t possibly have really planned for things to happen this way, well, you’re wrong. God knows things you don’t know. He won’t say a word, he won’t give any explanation- you just have to trust him.

Yes, very convenient.

I saw this theology on display in a tweet from Tim Keller recently:

[Tweet from @timkellernyc from 3/16/18 that says "God always answers your prayers in precisely the way you want them to be answered if you knew everything he knew. Prayer."]

Yes, no matter what happens, Tim Keller is SURE that we would all agree that the reality we live in is the ideal version of reality, if only we knew what God knows. If something terrible happens, Tim Keller trusts that it's not actually terrible- in some mysterious way that only God can understand, it's part of God's good plan. If it doesn’t seem like that’s true, well, we just have to trust God. His ways are higher than ours. Reality is the best reality there could be, the problem is just that our minds are too small to *get* that.

Yeah, I’m not a fan.

It’s too easy. Too convenient. This line of thinking can be used to excuse any kind of atrocity. It tells us that we can’t trust our own senses and our own emotions. It’s heartless and callous towards people who are suffering.

So here’s the deal, Dr. Strange. I will give you a chance to prove yourself. I will give you time- one more movie. “Avengers 4” will tell us whether we were right to put our faith in Stephen Strange.

And that’s it. That’s all. One movie. No more chances after that. If we don’t see any evidence in “Avengers 4” that justifies Dr. Strange’s actions in “Infinity War,” then I will tear him apart on the internet. I’m not going to have any tolerance for “just keep waiting for the next movie- surely he really does have a plan!” or “must be that in some mysterious way, it’s actually NOT bad that character XYZ died- after all, Dr. Strange could have prevented it and he chose not to- there must be a reason.” No. None of that. No more faith after that.

… but I’m not actually talking about Marvel.

I don’t actually think we’re going to come out of “Avengers 4” with no evidence to justify what Dr. Strange did. I don’t actually think that fans will be told they’re wrong to criticize Strange because “just keep waiting, he has a plan.” I’m not talking about Marvel, I’m talking about the God I used to believe in. I don’t expect I will actually “tear [Dr. Strange] apart on the internet.” But… well, you know why I write this blog.

For now, I trust Dr. Strange. I’m willing to give him a chance to prove himself. But if he doesn’t prove himself in the next movie, then that’s it. I’m not going to stand for any crap about how I just can’t comprehend his grand plan. He doesn’t get infinite chances. And neither does Jesus.


Thanos Tested
It Was Beautiful When Star-Lord Rejected the Gospel

And this post from Samantha Field is extremely good:
for Thanos loved the world

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