The Gospel and the Multiverse
The multiverse is having a moment. After dipping its toes into the multiverse with Spider Man: No Way Home and the Disney+ show What If…?, Marvel will submerge itself fully with Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Warner Bros.’s DC Universe will take its shot with The Flash (if that film is ever released).
The multiverse sandbox isn’t limited to comic-book movies. One of this year’s most delightful and daring films is Everything Everywhere All at Once. In the film, Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh), a woman drowning in failure and familial frustration, is drafted into an interdimensional war. To save humanity, she must connect with alternative versions of herself. These different Evelyns were born out of every good or bad choice she has ever made.
In the multiverse, “what if” are words pregnant with possibilities. It’s fun to observe alternative versions of our favorite characters from the safety of our seats. We can scrutinize their decisions or non-decisions. We can see what choices made or unmade their character. But in real life, the words “what if” are born out of barren realities.
Faith & The Multiverse
Obedience and self-denial are tenets of Christianity (Matthew 16:24). We will have to sacrifice opportunities. It can be challenging to leave an apparent oasis to follow God into a desert. The inevitable second guessing creates fertile soil for “what ifs.” The Enemy turns on our inner movie projector, showing alternative lives we could have had if we followed our hearts and unfollowed God. Unfortunately, the credits don’t start rolling after accepting Christ.
The allurement of self isn’t exclusive to present-day Christians. In 1 Samuel 13, King Saul had two choices: wait for Samuel’s blessing ahead of an important battle or offer the offering himself to appease his fleeing soldiers. After waiting seven days for Samuel, Saul couldn’t bear it any longer and performed his own blessing. When Samuel arrived and found out what happened, he was livid. Samuel laid out the consequences of Saul’s choice in verses 13-14:
“‘How foolish!’ Samuel exclaimed. ‘You have disobeyed the command of the Lord your God. Had you obeyed, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your dynasty must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already chosen him to be king over his people, for you have not obeyed the Lord’s command.’”
Out there in the hypothetical multiverse, perhaps Saul obeyed and remained king. Faith is at its most turbulent when following God into the heart of pressure. There’s pressure when God leads us to quit a good job, to move away from family, or to give up a dream, identity, friendships, or romantic relationship.
Not even Jesus was exempt from being tempted by an alternative path. Matthew 4: 8-9 states,
“Next the Devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him the nations of the world and all their glory. ‘I will give it all to you,’ he said, ‘if you will only kneel down and worship me.’”
Choice is a tantalizing and terrifying thing. Jesus remained faithful because the cross was the only path to salvation in any possible universe. A different choice would have saved Him physical pain but doomed our souls.
Even though Christians should allow Christ to make our decisions and guide us, it’s normal for our imaginations to peek into different multiverses. Yet we don’t have the comfort of auditing God from our comfy seats before following Him. Humans have been given free will. The multiverse concept may belong to the realm of science-fiction, but real life is nevertheless filled with countless possibilities and diverging paths we might take.
The multiverse makes for captivating storytelling, and reminds viewers that the choices we make (or don’t make) can have significant consequences one way or another. In the end, however, there is only one possible path toward salvation, and many have regretted not choosing it sooner. The multiverse is fleeting, but only one path leads to eternity.