Captian America’s Shield (of Faith)

When you think of a shield, what comes to mind? A wooden shield used by vikings?  A nearly body length shield used by Roman soldiers, like the ones used in the arena in Gladiator? The global security agency in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)?

For most, it’s likely that their mental imagine of a shield coincides with the vibranium shield used by Steve Rogers – Captain America – in the Marvel films.  It helps that said shield and character are a prominent piece of present popular culture since the Captain America sequel, The Winter Soldier, recently released.  When I consider this shield, it is more than it appears.

Cap’s shield is two things: a weapon and a symbol.  The vibranium disc is a defensive and offensive weapon. Throughout the three films in which Captain America appears, the shield is used to block bullets, blows, and shield individuals from explosion.  It’s also used as a up-close and ranged offensive weapon throughout the films to take down enemy soldiers, ground vehicles, and aerial fighters.

It’s also a symbol: a symbol of who he is, who he works with, and what he is about.  Steve Rogers is both a hero and misfit, a man out of time.  He’s a hero of a past time and is brought back when America  (and the world) need some of that “old-fashioned Stars and Stripes” moral fortitude – sense of right and wrong – that the Greatest Generation possessed and subsequent ones had strayed from; he represents the best of America.  Much like Superman in the DC Comics universe, when others waver from their convictions and values, Cap doesn’t.  Conversely, he is also a man adjusting to a time, country, and culture unfamiliar to him (highlighted by his discussion with Black Widow in The Winter Solider about “all the guys in my barbershop quartet are dead” and his visit to an aging Peggy Carter).  Being a shield, it’s also associated – in the MCU – with the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division (SHIELD) as a symbol of safety and security.  Nevertheless, it’s also a symbol of freedom and faith in something bigger than oneself because of its prominence of use by Rogers during his involvement in combating and overthrowing Hydra and the Nazi regime in World War II and working to defeat the Chitauri invasion of New York to subjugate Earth under Loki in the Avengers.  When Steve Rogers throws that shield, his action is essentially saying, “I believe in the things that this shield symbolizes and you can too”

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul does something similar.  In Ephesians 6:10-18 Paul discusses the reality of spiritual combat and the sort of armor needed to contend in that struggle.  Minding his surroundings and audience, he likens certain facets of the Christian life – such as truth, salvation, righteousness, peace, and faith – to pieces of armor worn by Roman soldiers.  While the idea of the Shield of Faith is tied to the Roman image of a massive shield – like the ones in Gladiator – as a defensive implement, as I consider this in light of Captain America, I wonder if it isn’t an instrument of offense as well.  Cap’s shield doesn’t just protect and defend, it’s also a weapon that is thrown; an active use meant to disarm opponents and embolden allies through what it symbolizes.

Faith in something, or Someone, indicates a level of trust, an allegiance, to the object of said faith.  For Cap it’s faith in freedom and ordered liberty vs. safety and security; the unwavering moral fortitude inherent in the causes that he fights for.  I’d also suspect that there still exists for him faith in God too (as highlighted by the throwaway line in Avengers distinguishing Loki from Jesus).  For Christians, it’s faith in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – the trustworthiness the Trinity’s character – and the finished work of Christ on the cross and his resurrection to both defeat the power of sin, Death and the Devil and offer redemption by grace through faith.  Acceptance of such fosters trust and allegiance – faith in – the One who accomplished it (or should).

Paul writes in Ephesians that, defensively, the Shield of Faith can extinguish the attacks of the Evil One but there’s not much in the offensive department.  That comes more into play in Revelation when the Apostle John hears a loud voice from heaven and the voice says:  “…and they overcame him (Satan, the Dragon) by the Blood of the Lamb (Jesus Christ) and the word of their testimony…”  What’s conveyed here is that perseverance/overcoming against the greatest of villains (far greater than Loki, Red Skull, the Winter Solider, or Thanos combined…) happens via what Jesus did for us – the completed work of his crucifixion and resurrection –  and sharing the stories of what He is doing IN and through us (it should be noted that these come in a specific order that cannot be reverse engineered).

When an individual shares their story – what God has done for them and/or is doing in them and through them – they are loaning out the faith built up in them and throwing it to others for wider – hopefully multiplied – use to encourage and inspire others to give God glory in a similar way.  In sharing my own story with others via video and occasional speaking opportunities, this act of launching faith can certainly embolden allies and disarm enemies, functioning in a similar manner as Captain America’s iconic shield and revealing an additional dimension to Paul’s classic passage on spiritual combat.

Posted on by Aaron in Uncategorized

About Aaron

Author, Speaker, and Super Nerd. Aaron Welty speaks and writes regularly connecting the dots of life, faith, and science fiction. Originally from Michigan, he now lives and works in the Washington, D.C. Metro area.

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