Ghost Rider 2: Who owns your soul?

Posted: February 16, 2012 by John C. Kwasny, Ph.D. in Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
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Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way: Yes, it’s true, I am a huge Nicolas Cage fan.  I will pretty much see any movie he stars in, no matter how terrible it is.  And, yes, I know that Cage has probably never turned down a screenplay he’s read! Even more pathetic is the fact that I will watch many of his movies over and over again (especially National Treasure, Con-Air, and The Rock, to name just a few). To me, Cage’s films epitomize the old-school mindless “popcorn” matinee genre.

So, yes, I even saw the first Ghost Rider movie (several times, actually).  It also helped that the movie was based on a comic book–hard to turn that down! As you can guess, it received terrible reviews as corny, silly, and downright idiotic. That may be fairly accurate; but that movie, and it’s sequel, certainly provide great discussion fodder for Christians. How can it not, since the whole plot of the series centers on a deal with the devil!

In case you missed the original Ghost Rider, let me summarize it for you (warning: spoilers from here on out). Johnny Blaze (Cage) is the son of motorcycle stuntman Barton Blaze. When Barton finds out he has terminal cancer, Johnny chooses to sell his soul to Mephistopheles (the devil) to save his dad. But the devil deceives Johnny and Barton dies in a motorcycle stunt.  In his grief, Johnny leaves the carnival, his family, and his girlfriend, pursuing a death-defying career of stuntriding.  Later, the devil meets Johnny again, proposing to release his soul if he will become his “Ghost Rider” and defeat his demonic son, Blackheart, who wants to produce all hell on earth. In the new Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Johnny continues to battle the devil who is now trying to take human form. Blaze still carries the “curse” of the Ghost Rider, but he attempts to use it against the devil instead of for him (more on this subject in the next post).

Stories about people selling their souls to the devil have been a part of Christian folklore for centuries. Faust, in the 16th century, most famously developed the idea of a person’s ability to exchange his soul for power, youth, wealth, or knowledge.  This plotline has become known in literature as a “Faustian bargain.”  In many of the stories, including Ghost Rider, the person who sells his soul finds a way to trick the devil and get out of the pact (typically on a technicality!).

Now you may scoff at the whole idea of selling one’s soul to the devil. But think with me for a moment about the real problem with this fantastical idea: the humanistic premise that WE own our souls in the first place!  Where the devil has deceived people throughout the ages is with the lie that we own ourselves.  Grounded in that lie, we end up believing that life is just a matter of whom WE choose to GIVE our soul to!  We are just free agents, dealing our souls to whomever makes us the best offer. So, if the devil offers more, we take it!

But the truth according to God’s Word is that our souls are condemned to hell from birth, due to Adam’s sin. We have souls that are absolutely dead to God–by nature we are “children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3). Our souls are enslaved to sin, held captive in darkness, and subject to God’s holy anger.  So to think that people are just “neutral” players who are free to either give their soul to Satan or to God totally ignores the Biblical view of humanity.

So the real devil’s goal is not to make a deal with you for your soul.  Instead, he thinks he is powerful enough to keep you from having your soul freed by the grace of God!  The devil seeks to keep you dead in your sins, entrapped in the world of darkness. And, yes, he does this by tempting and seducing people by the false promises of power, pleasure, wealth, and knowledge.  He strives to convince people that the only way to profit is to let him “keep” their souls.

These silly movies can and should force us back to the Bible to learn the truth of God, Satan, and our souls.  Jesus Himself  gives us a strong dose of reality in Matthew 16:26, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”  If only Johnny Blaze knew the immense worth of Jesue Christ!

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