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The Christian Application of the Incredible Hulk™

July 26th 2013 No comments yet  

The IncredibleConfession time: I’m a huge nerd. I just finished watching an Avengers™ cartoon series on Netflix, and I’ve seen all the recent superhero movies multiple times. Ask if I like Iron Man™ or War Machine™ better if you ever want to have an hour-long, one-sided conversation. However, it’s not just me; a Renaissance of the super-powered has come about over the past few years, as evidenced by the success of recent film adaptations.

Not all of these characters are paragons of virtue or a shining light called to protect society; some of my favorite characters are ones with deep internal struggles as dangerous to them as an evil nut with a death ray. So it stands to reason that I am absolutely fascinated by the concept of the Incredible Hulk™.

In case you’ve shut yourself off from geek culture for the last 60 years, the Hulk is a Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde- type of character who changes between a mild-mannered physicist named Bruce Banner and a giant, green, and infinitely strong monster. The transformation is triggered by emotional trauma, predominantly anger and stress.

As a result, Banner isolates himself physically and emotionally, always in a panic that he could erupt into the monster he can barely contain. When he does lose control, the Hulk goes on a rampage, destroying everything in sight and attempts to stop him only make him angrier, which in turn makes him stronger. When he transforms back, it is Banner that must deal with the guilt and consequences. It’s a fascinating character.

I’ll go out on a limb and guess I’m one of the first to put this out there: The Incredible Hulk is an uncanny metaphor for how anger and a quick temper affect our spiritual lives. Of all human emotions, anger is among the most destructive to yourself and those around you. While our temper tantrums may not enable us to rip a truck in half and throw it across the county, they wreak havoc on our relationships with God and people.

The Bible is full of warnings against unrighteous anger. “An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins” (Proverbs 29:22). “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior” (Ephesians 4:31).

I’ll tell you straight-up that this is an area I struggle with mightily, which may be why I’m so drawn to the character of the Hulk. I’ve lashed out with words more times than I can recall. I even got thrown out of an intramural football game in college once. It’s a personal battle I have to constantly monitor to make sure I don’t allow it to shape my life. Like Bruce Banner, I’m deathly afraid of losing containment on my “Hulk” and every time I do, the guilt and grief I feel afterward can be overwhelming.

Many folks, including myself, try to explain away their anger as something that can’t be controlled or helped. The Bible disagrees in Proverbs 14:29. People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness.

It’s laid out very clearly. A hot temper is the product of foolishness, not genetics or personality. A considerate person is one that can put a lid on unrighteous anger and recognize it for what it is: sin.

Be wary of letting anger control you. It can destroy the relationships with those around you, and it is a sin that distances you from the Lord. It can lead you down a path of isolation and ruin that a Christian is not meant to walk. Lean on God to help you control your urges to lose it, and seek guidance and help if necessary.

Unless you get hit with a dose of gamma radiation, anger is very much within your control. You don’t have to go through life fearing a beast inside you if you let God live there instead.

The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, War Machine, Bruce Banner and the Avengers are all property of Marvel Entertainment, LLC.


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