It’s Worse Than Universalism

I hate Superman.  I think he’s a terrible superhero and here are three ironclad reasons:

1.)  Superman isn’t actually super.
He’s just powerful, too powerful to be exact.  When you posses capabilities far beyond that of any of your opponents, and the only thing that can actually harm you isn’t even found on our planet, you aren’t taking any risks to do what is right.  Worse yet, your victory is never in doubt because you are never in any credible danger.  As a comic book character Superman is way too potent to actually build any dramatic tension around.

2.)  Superman isn’t actually a man.
He’s an alien.

3.)  Superman is the ultimate individualist. 
Whenever he’s around, there’s no need for anyone else.  The police, the army, and other Superheroes are a complete waste of time and effort in the presence of Superman.  He is completely self-sufficient and if you don’t think so consider this: When Superman needs to think or pout where does he go? To his Fortress of Solitude so he can be alone with his principles.

As a hero, Superman is the Narcissist’s fantasy come to life.

Do you remember the Superfriends cartoon?  It was a show centered around a “Hall of Justice” where various D.C. Comics characters sat around waiting for crimes to happen… so they could teach kids about cooperation.

The first thing that happened in every episode was that Superman had to leave right away to do something very important (away from the action) so that he could return in the nick of time to save all of the other superheroes who just failed miserably in their attempt to stop the super villain.

The Superfriends cartoon was terrible because the writers had to work around Superman to make the show exciting.  Lex Luthor and the Riddler may have been the enemies of mankind, but the enemy of the Superfriends show was Superman.

You probably didn’t notice this because you were so focused on the random bad guy that the heroes battled each week, which brings me to this;  While having a common enemy is a fantastic way to make friends and get cooperation, it’s also a great way to keep people from noticing your own flaws.

Christians wring our hands quite a lot about the spiritual threat of Universalism, the Idea that “all spiritual roads lead to the same place” and that a “Loving God” accepts us as we are.  Recently Universalism made the headlines as Christians debated the reality of a hell that no one goes to… not even Hitler, Stalin, or the secret government cabal that created the Teletubbies.

If we are being honest though, Universalism is just the next in a long line of “common enemies” that Christians prop up to maintain a tenuous unity.  Whether it’s Alchohol, Rock & Roll, Communism, Gay Marriage, or Barak Obama, a Christianity united against a “figurehead of evil” not only ensures homogeny, but it also keeps us from working on the only flaws we actually have Godly power over… our own.

Universalism is actually the corporate name that we give to a group of people practicing an age old sin, and that sin is individualism.

As a theory, Universalism allows us to each revel in our our own personal fantasies of power and irresponsibility while maintaining a positive outlook on the final destination of our souls.

You don’t battle universalism by demonizing it, you battle it by attacking individualism.

This is where the battle comes home to roost because Individualism isn’t a sin limited to non-Christians.  Individualism is alive and well within the rank and file of the local church; clearly demonstrated in the battles fought over personal preference in worship style and the desire for congregants to exercise authority over church elders.

Church hopping, church shopping, and attending multiple churches while giving to and serving at none is the presence of individualism, while behaving as if membership entitles us to privileges is it’s essence.

When we recognize that the behavior of the modern American Church-goer is actually a great deal closer to the modern American consumer than it is to the disciples of Jesus Christ, we understand that the manifestation of “Christian Individualism” is significantly more dangerous for the souls of humanity than any doctrine of Universalism.  “Christian Individualism” means that we can assert our opinions because God is on our side.

 Christian Individualism is the Spiritual Narcissist’s fantasy come to life.

This means that the most important, and feasible, battle Christians can fight is the battle for individual submission to the will of Christ, and the unity of the body of Christ which grows out of that submission.

The individual Christian isn’t an all powerful Superman fighting a giant villain on behalf of the world …out of the goodness of his heart. They are more like a Batman, battling their inner demons while empowered by the infinite resources of the almighty God.

As we become grounded in this, our desire to win the inward war grows alongside the strength and unity it takes to win the outward battle.

While focusing on the outward battle creates a false homogeny centered around sin and human belief, focusing on the inward battle creates a “must submit” situation centered around Jesus and our dependence on his righteousness.

Because unlike Superman, this isn’t all about us.

Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths)

8 Responses to “It’s Worse Than Universalism”

  1. Meg August 3, 2011 at 2:23 pm #

    Hey Jon,
    I love this:
    “The individual Christian isn’t an all powerful Superman fighting a giant villain on behalf of the world …out of the goodness of his heart. They are more like a Batman, battling their inner demons while empowered by the infinite resources of the almighty God.”
    I just spent a week at my mom and dad’s house. My dad is an athiest. I always feel like I need to be Superman and change him. And then I remember that is not my job. So I spent my week being Batman. It worked out a lot better.
    Your writing is always so intelligent and enjoyable. Thanks Jon.

    • Jon August 3, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

      Thanks Meg. So glad you spent the week with them, your witness is the purest Gospel they can receive. It’s awesome that you are a Batman.

  2. John August 3, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    So true: biggest evil is the consumption of church rather than service to it and Him. But, the church needs to be just as careful that we don’t feed the monster by trying to cater to all the individual needs out there. We can take confidence that authentic is always attractive.

    • Jon August 3, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

      “We can take confidence that authentic is always attractive.” – John Wooley

      A statement of authentic Genius.

  3. Joe August 3, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

    Individualism is a form of selfishness, isn’t it? Aren’t almost all the “don’ts” in the scripture related to selfishness? All the “dos” are related to selflessness. Isn’t that the point of “Any that want to follow will loser their life?”

  4. Joe August 3, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

    um – lose their life. sorry

    • Jon August 3, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

      Absolutely Joe. Absolutely.

      PS. Absolutely Joe is a good brand name if you start a corporation.

  5. Joe August 4, 2011 at 7:00 pm #

    In Mandarin, the symbol for wine is pronounced “Joe”

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