Culture At Large

Why Green Lantern is just as ‘Christian’ as Superman

Tim Fall

They found Krypton! Just in time, too, since we have the new Superman movie, Man of Steel, right around the corner.

Last year, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, working with DC Comics, found a spot in the universe that fits the general parameters for the location of Krypton, Superman's home planet. It would be hard to prove, seeing as how Krypton blew up decades ago. You could go there and check it out if you want, though. It's only 27.1 light years away.*

I read a lot of comic books when I was a kid. Superman, Batman, Archie, Richie Rich, Little Lotta, Wonder Woman, Justice League, Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos, Supergirl. If it was in a comic book in the ’60s and ’70s, I probably read it at one time or another.

Superman was fine, of course. After all, he has all those great powers: flying, x-ray vision, super strength and more. Yet my favorite superhero of them all was Green Lantern. Not Superman, not Batman, but Green Lantern. You see, he had something neither of those other heroes had: Green Lantern was a regular guy.

Superman came from another planet. No matter how hard I tried, I could never be a person who came from another planet. Batman had brains, a great physique and a vast family fortune at his disposal. Even if I were as smart and as strong as he (and I'm not), that family fortune thing was never going to happen to me.

Our heavenly Father is the Father of the heavenly lights and there is nothing His light cannot shine on.

Hal Jordan, on the other hand, was a regular guy when one of the interplanetary members of the Green Lantern Corps crash-landed on earth and with his dying breath passed on the secret of being a celestial crime fighter, peace keeper and superhero: the light of the Green Lantern itself. Hal took up the mantle, taking the Green Lantern oath that appeared in every comic:

In Darkest Day, in blackest night
No evil shall escape my sight
Let those who worship evil's might
Beware my power, Green Lantern's light!

I could never be from Superman's planet, I could never muster all the personal and family resources Batman had, but I could always hope someone would come from far away and give me super powers of my own. Does that sound so unlikely? I don't think so.

One of the big things I like about Green Lantern is his oath and its focus on light - especially the unreserved assurance that no evil can escape that light. It's almost Biblical.

How can a superhero comic book be like the Bible? Well, Superman is often pointed to as a Christ figure, and those comparisons will certainly be revived when Man of Steel opens on Friday. Yet Green Lantern is an equally compelling reflection of Christianity.

Consider that our heavenly Father is the Father of the heavenly lights and that there is nothing His light cannot shine on:

Woe to those who go to great depths
to hide their plans from the Lord,
who do their work in darkness and think,
“Who sees us? Who will know?”
(Isaiah 29:15)

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
(Psalm 139:11-12)

Here's how all this plays out in the light of Jesus: He came to us from a place much further removed than the Green Lantern Corps' home planet (Ephesians 4:9-10) and He came in order to makes us like Him (1 John 3:2), to seat us with Himself in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6). And all of this comes to us as a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9), free of any charge (Isaiah 55:1-2).

Gift means gift, and free means free. It's no comic-book story, but it is super.

*1.59307345 × 1014 miles. That's really far.

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