Question: Whether Clark Kent, assuming he actually existed, ought to be baptized?
Objection 1: It seems that Clark Kent should not be baptized. He is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. He can even fly; like a bird, like a plane! These seem to be preternatural gifts characteristic of an unfallen creature who has no need for baptism.
Reply to Objection 1: If Clark were unfallen, his mature, unfallen reason would grasp that sexual activity outside of marriage is contrary to the natural law. Clark’s wrongdoing (regrettably present in Smallville season five and in the Superman films) reveals that his nature has been wounded by sin and has fallen short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
Objection 2: The proto-evangelium (or first Gospel) proclaimed in the Garden of Eden promised a savior for Adam and Eve’s descendants: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” (Genesis 3:15) However, Clark Kent is not descended from mankind’s first parents. Therefore, Christ’s saving baptism is not meant for Clark Kent.
Reply to Objection 2: Of the Savior, Scripture says, “Surely he did not help angels but rather the descendants of Abraham.” (Hebrews 2:16) The Apostle St. Paul also writes that “it is those who have faith who are children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7). Therefore, Jesus came to save those who have faith. It is faith, and not ancestry from Adam and Eve, which makes one an appropriate candidate for receiving Christ’s baptism. If, as St. John the Baptist said, “God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones” (Matthew 3:9) what is to prevent God from granting the faith needed for baptism to the Man of Steel?
Objection 3: Christ assumed a human nature in order to save humanity. But Clark’s Kryptonian nature is that of an alien race. As St. Gregory of Nazianzus taught, “what was not assumed [by Christ], was not healed.” Therefore, Clark Kent’s nature is not suitable for baptism.
Reply to Objection 3: The Philosopher Aristotle teaches that the higher contains the lower. The very title “Superman” implies that Clark’s nature possesses that which constitutes man. Inwardly and outwardly, Clark shares in every meaningful aspect of the human condition. He experiences joy and sorrow, strength and weakness, pleasure and pain, birth and (in the comics) even death. Though he can change the course of mighty rivers and bend steel in his bare hands, with just a change of clothes and a pair of glasses he can be entirely inconspicuous, living mild-manneredly among human beings. But what of Superman’s powers and abilities far beyond those of ordinary men? Jesus himself exhibited marvelous abilities according to his two natures. These included the power to walk on water, to calm violent weather, to cure physical ailments, and others. There is no power (or weakness) belonging to Superman which extends beyond Jesus’ person to image. Therefore, nothing in Clark Kent’s Kryponian nature is incompatible for union with the body of Christ through baptism.
In response to all objections, I say, on the contrary, “You shall not oppress an alien.” (Exodus 23:9)
I answer that Clark Kent is a created, fallen, and rational animal; a sinful man capable of receiving the gospel message in faith. “This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15) And Jesus said to his Apostles, “proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” (Mark 16:15-16) Provided that he is properly disposed to receive the sacrament, there is no reason why Clark Kent should not be baptized — apart from not being real.