On November 12, 2018, a comics legend – THE comics legend – died at the ripe old age of 95. Stan Lee created many memorable characters such as Spider-Man, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Black Panther, the X-Men, Ant-Man, Iron Man, and Thor. Needlesss to say, Stan Lee was loved by comic book fans everywhere.
More recently, he was known for his many cameo appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Lee’s first appearance in a Marvel movie or TV project is as a jury foreman in the trial of Dr. David Banner in the TV movie The Trial of the Incredible Hulk (1989). I just watched his final MCU cameo, created before his death, in Avengers:Endgame.
When someone dies, a Christian’s natural thought goes to the soul’s eternal destiny, but our primary concern should be the comfort of those who mourn. The Bible reminds us to “mourn with those who mourn” [Romans 12:14]. Funerals are very much about those who yet remain.
Of course, there’s always someone who supposes that such occasions require a different response. For example, in an article noting that Stan Lee was on record as a non-practicing Jewish agnostic, a fellow named Robert Clifton Robinson wrote the following comment:
“What does a man profit if he gains the whole world but loses his soul? What will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Another soul lost for eternity because he loved this world but not the Only God who made this world, who gave His Son so that anyone could be saved.
If we tread the Christ underfoot and count His death for our sins as worthless, we will suffer an eternal loss and our life on earth will be worthless.”
It’s worth noting that the article was written back in 2013, but Robinson’s comment was made 3 hours after the news of Stan Lee’s death broke. So Robinson likely knew Lee was dead and was looking for Lee’s religious views. And that is how he responded.
Wow. I apologize on behalf of all Christianity, especially to my fellow Christian geeks. As I responded to Robinson:
Thank you for that unnecessary condemnation. Do you feel better now? Have you never read Romans 12:15? Or better yet, Ephesians 4:15? Do you suppose anyone sees the love of Christ reflected in such self-righteous speech? Do you suppose even one soul would listen to the warning of a man who disrespects the dead by such ill-timed words?
There is most certainly a God, but is He who wept at His friend’s funeral, knowing all the time he would raise him from the dead, Someone who approves of such crassness, Robert?”
Frankly, the entire reason I waited this long to talk about this is because it wasn’t the right time. It even still felt too soon after his Captain Marvel cameo.
Robinson responded by openly denying my salvation:
Praying for your salvation, Tony; that you come to a knowledge of the truth, turn from your sins and receive Christ. I saw your FB page and read your book. You know scripture but don’t understand the Gospel.
I doubt he read any of my books in a mere 2 hours. My books are an average 315 pages. My nonfiction books, which I presume he actually refers to, are 270 and 328 pages respectively. The average person takes about 5 hours to read 300 pages. You do the math.
And I know he didn’t bother to tell me exactly where I erred, good saint that he is. His response is a vague charge of error without substantiation. An ad hominem. I’ve seen this sort of spiritual abuse as a glass-chinned response to criticism before.
Nevertheless, I responded:
“Robert Clifton Robinson I’m a Christian. I’m a conservative Bible-affirming fundamentalist preacher. I’m saved and you have no say in the matter. Just another thing you’re out of line with.
You wrote a devotional recently, entitled, “Know When To Say Nothing.” Would to God you’d practiced what you preach!”
The bottom line is that no man knows the state of Stan Lee’s soul or mine or anyone else’s. That is something that God alone knows.
It is true that Stan Lee is on record as being an agnostic. In a 2002 survey, however, Lee was asked, “Is there a God?”
He responded, “Well, let me put it on like this … No, I will not try to be smart. I really do not know. I just do not know.”
Views change over time. A more accurate assessment of Stan Lee’s religious views comes from Jim Mclauchlin, who shared over two decades of lunches with him:
Stan believed in God and an afterlife, no doubt. But he was skeptical about channeling those beliefs through a religion. He examined various faiths, charting their strengths and weaknesses. Stan believed that if religion made someone a better person, then he was all for it—but he wasn’t sure of it for himself.
He thought that “golden rule” was the key, and he really couldn’t understand why people couldn’t just take a few seconds out of their day to be nice to others. He counted on a reward. “I don’t believe you get wings,” he once told me. “I don’t think you sit on a cloud and play a harp. But I believe if you live a good life, there’s something for you.”
Stan saw God not as perfect, but as a flawed being, just like man.
Not everyone has a perfect view of God, but He knows our hearts. I don’t know if I will see Stan Lee in heaven or not. That issue was between Stan Lee and his Creator and whether he responded to the Gospel in saving faith.
What I do know is that Stan Lee brought joy and inspiration to millions, and I would love it if he made one last cameo on the other side of those Pearly Gates, where I hope to hear his catchphrase, “Excelsior!”