The Theology of Dr. Strange


(system) #1
How Marvel Studio's newest box office hit echoes key themes of Christian theology.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/guest/the-theology-of-dr-strange

(Brad Kramer) #2

Thanks to @MikeBeidler for the great review.


(Noah White) #3

I absolutely loved every part of this review. I was ambivalent on seeing Dr. Strange (mostly due to blockbuster fatigue) but now I’ll have to check it out. I also must express my delight at finding out a Christian is creating horror movies, a genre I feel can be used powerfully if the right hands get a hold of it.

It’s good to be reminded that pat answers a la Sagan and Krauss are simply that–pat answers. Thanks @MikeBeidler, this was really encouraging to read as a film lover who wrestles with how to be a faithful Christian and still enjoy a medium that is quite tricky to navigate at times!


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #4

Derrickson’s good doctor will likely continue underscoring certain Christian principles—including those shared by Eastern mystical belief systems—as his journey within the spiritual realm continues. - See more at: http://biologos.org/blogs/guest/the-theology-of-dr-strange#sthash.kFTi5s6j.dpuf

I am afraid that I am puzzled by what Christian principles we share with eastern belief systems and whether Dr. Strange lives them because they are Christian or because they are mystical.

The first Christian principle is to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. The problem with this from a eastern mystical point of view is that they have no God to love. We have a God centered faith, not an other centered faith.

After we love God completely, then we love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus, quoting the OT did not say, love others more than oneself.

Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV2008)
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but, in humility consider others better than yourselves,
4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests of the others, but also to the interests of others.

NIV (2008) translates Phill 2:3-4 differently from NIV (2011.) 20011 makes both verses agree that others are better than oneself. 2008 says in v. 4 do not consider one’s own interests over the interests of others. I would the command is to respect the interests of all and put the interests of all first. This brings it into agreement to love your neighbor as yourself.

Jesus also said to Love others as I have loved you. Jesus loves everyone equally, so we are to love everyone equally including ourselves. The problem with eastern faiths is that they so not love themselves.

Christianity is not against the ego. Christianity is against putting the ego first, against selfishness. Jesus told the Father, “Not my will, but yours.” Even so we know that Jesus know in advance what would happen. He did not welcome the pain and suffering, but He accepted it because He know it was necessary for our salvation and to carry out God’s Plan which was also His plan.

Romans 6:5-10 (NIV2011)
5 For if we have been united with Him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with Him in a resurrection like His.
6 For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—
7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him.
9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, He cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over Him.
10 The death He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives, He lives to God.

In Romans Paul says that our old self dies with Jesus on the Cross so that our new born again self can be raised with Him through the Spirit.

Christianity calls us to reject selfishness and turn to the God of Love. It is does not preach self abnegation. Do not confuse it with eastern mysticism.


(Mike Beidler) #5

@Relates, good to hear from you again!

I don’t believe Derrickson transformed (or will transform) Dr. Strange into a Christian, nor do I believe Dr. Strange lives out these new (to him) principles because they’re Christian. But it’s clear throughout the movie that Strange believes these newfound principles (mystical or not) are stronger than his previous paradigm of self-centeredness. For a great example of where, say, Buddhism has common ground with Christianity, I highly recommend Thich Nhat Hanh’s Living Buddha, Living Christ. (NOTE: This is not me endorsing Buddhism by any stretch of the imagination.)

Granted, from a doctrinal perspective, Christianity shares little (if anything) with Eastern religious systems (Thomas Merton would agree), and I believe the two systems are ultimately irreconcilable. Perhaps my phrase “including those shared by Eastern mystical belief systems” is somewhat overstated. However, if the several areas of affinity that Christian moviegoers should have don’t possess any parallels in Eastern mysticism… well, Derrickson has truly performed a cinematic coup d’etat: the Christian parallels are even more blatant and I’m guilty of underplaying the film’s Christian elements.


(Dan Traxler) #6

It was interesting to see the idea of the multi verse issue. I mentioned that to my wife during the showing we viewed. There is a lot more to this movie then eastern mysticism. One needs to also study cosmology.