In this week’s episode, we take a look at the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense’s most famous agent, Hellboy. So what does a story about Catholic demon fighting Nazis and a Russian mystic named Rasputin have to do with theology?
The core of the story revolves around Hellboy’s destiny. In Rasputin’s reckoning, Hellboy’s destiny is to summon some Cthulhuesque entities, the Ogdru Jahad, and bring about the Apocalypse. Professor Bruttenholm, Hellboy’s surrogate father, sees destiny as something that Hellboy can ultimately choose. Destiny is a critical theme in a lot of the stories, movies and shows that we look at. The theme of destiny shows up so frequently because it resonates with us both in its negative and positive aspects.
As a negative, destiny carries more of the idea of fate, something inevitable that we can’t escape. We see this in stories with a villain seeking to prevent a prophecy of their demise or fall from coming true. This rings true in real life. Without Christ, we are all doomed to judgment. “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment”1. Hellboy illustrates this as he is the one that is destined to bring about the apocalypse. It is that seemingly inevitable fate that constantly follows him.
As a positive, destiny gives us the feeling that there is that on thing, that one purpose that we are meant to accomplish in our lives. We are drawn to this kind of story (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Ender’s Game) because it has something that we desire in our own lives. And as believers it is something that is a part of our lives. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”2. In Christ we have a destiny. We have things that we are destined to accomplish. Acts that have been laid out specifically for us. We see this in Hellboy as well. He is the one that can protect humanity from the “things that go bump in the night”3.
Biblically, we see in our reality that destiny is not just something that is outside of our control- it requires our control. The works that are prepared in advance for us to do will not be fulfilled until we choose to do them. Hellboy’s fate is to bring about the apocalypse, Hellboy’s destiny is to bring about good works, but he must make a choice. Our fate as sinners is Hell 4. Our destiny in Jesus is eternal life 5.We must also make a choice.
Eventually, somewhere down the road in the silence of a paralyzing moment, we have to decide what voice will define us and what story we will choose to be in- which is the narrative that guides- Erwin McManus