The Gospel According to “Prometheus”
I’m just home from the movies. A handful of saints from the church met at our local theater to check out the new movie Prometheus. On the strength of a recommendation from a pastor friend and fellow sci-fi movie buff, I thought I’d check it out. I needed this recommendation because, honestly, based upon the trailers, I couldn’t tell what the movie was about. And, frankly, 3-D movies are too expensive nowadays to risk two hours on a sub-par plot.
So, how was “Prometheus”? [Spoiler Alert] Well… I think I’ll let you decide. I will say this: Like a lot of people, I was most taken with the religious themes running through the movie. Unlike a lot of sci-fi films that either take a condescending attitude toward religion, scoffing at the very notion of God’s existence, or those films that use bright lighting and a little feng shui on the set to turn New Age, pantheistic, panentheistic, and squishy, I rather enjoyed the almost point-counterpoint exchanges dabbled throughout Prometheus. Here’s a movie that puts the question of origin and God’s existence center stage–perfect for an outing with that neighbor or friend that does not yet believe in the Lord.
I think the movie makes sharing the Good News easy because of the question it asks. Prometheus doesn’t simply ask, “Is there a God?” or “Where do we come from?”, the movie pushes further and dares us to ask, “What if you meet your Maker and he’s angry with you?”
Ahh… now there’s a question worth asking! And along the way, we meet some characters that illustrate for us all the wrong answers to that question.
There’s the eccentric multi-trillionaire who finances an expedition to another galaxy and planet in hopes of finding a way to stave off his imminent death. He wants to meet his ‘maker’ so that he might go on living the lavish lifestyle he’s created. But what happens when a rich man–young or old–finally meets his ‘maker’ but loves his money? Let’s just say “walking away sad because he had a lot of possessions” would be the easy button.
Then there are the scoffers and mockers, those who reject belief and believers with disdain. They’re scientists who love rocks and animal life but can’t bring themselves to seriously contemplate that the far flung galaxies and the microscopic alien life might actually be pointing to a ‘maker.’ Actually, they don’t have the privilege of meeting the ‘maker;’ they’re destroyed by his ‘angels’ long before seeing his face.
There’s the fella that tries to live off the faith of one close to him. He seems stoked, but then a little disappointment chokes out that life. His belly becomes his ‘god’ until his ‘god’ almost burst from his belly. Filled with alcohol, his false faith goes up in flames.
Finally, we might consider those noble souls who sacrifice themselves on behalf of others. They appear to live for themselves, seeking petty pleasures while maintaining religious festivals. But when the chips are down, they man up and go all in to protect others. ”Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). And yet, their own sacrificial love cannot save them. They perish and their deeds must soon be forgotten. Even those who benefit from so noble a sacrifice cannot long ponder it and do not really reap any lasting benefit.
You see, if you meet your ‘maker’ and he is angry with you, you really don’t stand a chance against him. How often the psalmist teaches us this: “Who can stand before you when you are angry?” (Ps. 76:7) ”No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence” (Ps. 101:7). ”If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?” (Ps. 130:3) Or as the prophet asked and proclaimed: “Who can withstand his indignation? Who can endure his fierce anger? His wrath is poured out like fire; the rocks are shattered before him.” (Nah. 1:6). Great and terrible is the anger of God Almighty! Everyone faces the fierce anger of this great God unless His wrath can be turned away.
Prometheus surprises us. We’re not sure what will be found, or if anything will be found at all. But there, in the barren rock of a dark planet, lives a ‘maker’ who “welcomes” the self-interested seeker, the scoffer, and the self-righteous do-gooder with the same stunning outcome: swift and violent death. They were taken in surprise, like those in Noah’s day who were marrying and giving in marriage when the floods came, like those on the last Day who will find that the end has come in stealth like a thief in the night.
Only one escapes. And in that one we nearly see a parable of the Scripture: The ark of safety protects and carries only those who believe, like righteous Noah in the day of the flood (1 Pet. 3:20-21; 2 Pet. 2:5). Ridiculed for her faith, question even by those with no soul, and brought face to face with the “Engineer” of her life, this one chooses to believe. Her belief strengthens her and shields her until the day of her salvation, the day she enters the “ark” and flies into the heavens rather than sails in the flood. Broken and battered, she’s “justified” by her faith.
And so in the end we’re left with a slightly different question: What happens when you meet your ‘maker’ trusting and believing in him? Believing in the “Engineers” didn’t matter much in the movie. Yet only the one who believed escaped the wrath of the ‘maker.’ Kinda reminds you again of the psalmist’s declaration: “Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit” (Ps. 32:2). Or as the Master himself put, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall never perish but have everlasting life.” Seems to me that’s the lesson of Prometheus. That and don’t judge a movie by its trailer.