Higher Movies: Cowabunga My Lutheran Dudes and Dudettes

by Nathan Fischer

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!  Woohoo!  Yes, I went and I saw the new movie out in theaters.  And I have to say – it was incredibly awesome.  The action should be enough to enrapture any male child, and the jokes were funny enough for any adult.  The CGI Animation was absolutely incredible, too.  Yes, that movie rocked.  It might help that I've been a TMNT fan since my early childhood but, regardless, I think most people looking for a good, clean, funny, outlandish, action film will have a good time at this one.

At this point, I have to say, spoilers follow.  But so do some theological insights about the movie!

The basic plot is this: A guy 3,000 years ago managed to gain immortality.  In the process, he unleashed a terrible group of monsters on the earth and he froze his family (brothers and sister) in stone.  He did gain immortality, but it was not what he expected.  He lived the next 3,000 years (to the present day) in regret, lamenting the release of the monsters and the loss of his siblings.  So he sets out to make things right.  In the process, he knows he will lose his immortality - but it is more than worth it to accomplish what needs to be done, and he is ready to give it up.

I found this interesting.  We live in a culture where death is the end of the line, and people do not want to come to that line.  We do whatever it takes to avoid dying.  During the 70's and 80's there was even talk of downloading our brains into computers so we could "live forever" that way.  Today, still, people will go to insane measures to put off the inevitable – even if it means living in intense suffering and pain for themselves and those around them.  Anything to push off that final day!  People are willing to take "immortality" at any cost.

Another literary example of this is seen in the ring wraiths of Lord of the Rings.  These men sold their souls to Sauron for eternal life, and the one ring that Sauron forged corrupts even the wisest and best people of the world.  There is no escaping it.  Immortality always comes with a price.

What these people seek is not what they find.  This is an unnatural immortality – an immortality that was never meant to be.  In fact, the sad reality is that all people are already immortal.  C.S. Lewis points this out in his sermon "The Weight of Glory" when he writes, "There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendours."

What so many people seek, they already have.  Unfortunately, many will spend immortality in "immortal horrors" while others will spend it in "everlasting splendours".  There is no escaping it, though.  We are all immortal.

So what is the point of this?  What of Mr. Winters in TMNT?  What are they really looking for and seeking?

The answer is simple: Christ.  What we mistake for the search for immortality is really the search for the Creator of immortality.  We want Him who created the Heavens and the earth and will forever sustain them, refine them, and refine us as well.  What we seek is there for us in the baptismal Waters of life, there in the Body and Blood of the everlasting Supper, there in the Word of Truth that the pastor speaks forth in Absolution.

What a sad state it is when we seek for ourselves what God has already granted us!  But praise be to Christ for making death not a gate to eternal torment, but a gate to everlasting life!  That which was once the great curse of our fallen state has been flipped around and made into the great door to heaven, for those who have already died with Christ in their baptism cannot truly die.  We are immortal in the very true sense of the word, and our destination is immortal bliss of the new creation, where Christ will be our Light, and there will be no darkness and no end.

Nathan Fischer is a  junior at Concordia University Wisconsin, planning to attend Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, IN.  He is also a Higher Things Blogger.

Created: April 18th, 2007