Church Wars!

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By Jeff Foerster

So, on my journey to the rebel outpost the other day, my transductor gives out. I pop the hood to take a look and unfasten my lightsaber from my utility belt to shine a little light on the problem, but, after a brief crackle, that too goes on the fritz—where is a repair drone when you need one? What a time to be stranded in a less-than-savory part of the galaxy!

Star-Wars-Force-AwakensStar Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens has catapulted itself, with a little help from some devoted fans and a devoted entertainment infrastructure, into the hearts and minds of millions of people across the globe.

Everyone loves a good story and Star Wars, like a cinematic buffet, provides narrative nourishment for varying tastes. Action, adventure, and excitement interwoven with character development tell a tale of good and evil, of courage and cowardice, of loyalty and treachery, of pride and prejudice … uh, sorry, that’s another story.

This latest installment of the Star Wars saga is true to its former tales at its core. We are prompted by the trailer, “The force; it’s calling to you. Just let it in.” Just what is this “force,” and how does one “let it in,” if we accept the encouragement of the characters? Though we see characters engage in “good” and “evil” actions in this film, its foundational philosophy does not align with a Christian worldview of either.

Instead, Buddhist philosophy gets a nod, as the force is largely an impersonal power that permeates the universe. However, the yin-yang symbol does more to illustrate the central struggle in this multi-episodic tale. Chinese religious thought is embedded with a duality of powers seeking to use the force for their own ends. There is no clear separation of good and evil, rather each (see Yin and Yang) contain elements of the other. However, we know that “God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). In Star Wars, the characters seek to bring balance to the force. Instead of the inevitable destruction of evil and the glorious and eternal reign of good through our Lord Jesus Christ, the greatest outcome is a ceasing of the struggle between light and dark and the peaceful coexistence of the two sides of the force.

Some sympathy may be given to the idea of struggle between “light” and “darkness” when we look at human tendencies to sin. We may rightly see the consequences of man’s fallen nature in our world, then wrongly understand the nature of darkness. We can see darkness as an opposing power to light, but present in man, and therefore we can suppose it to be present and equal in all the universe in similar fashion. This falsehood can extend its tendrils into Christian theology, seeing the struggle between the “old man” and the “new creation” of the believer in Christ Jesus as evidence of the continuity between film and reality. But this “sympathy” is misplaced and, if left unchecked, may lead one to embrace this ideology alongside Christian doctrine (if possible) or to replace it outright. The result: the sovereignty and absolute holiness of God is dismissed, and the foundations of truth are discarded.

Now, if these distinctive natures of Christian theology and Star Wars philosophy are clear to you, consider one more inroad to the Christian church. The condition of man’s heart is decidedly deceitful. The prophet Jeremiah cautions us that no one (aside from God) can fully know it (Jeremiah 17:9). Combine this disposition with an errant philosophy wrapped into an entertaining story filled with connectable characters encouraging people to access a supernatural force to achieve their own desires. Add a modicum of “Christian” vocabulary and you have just promulgated the “prosperity gospel.”

This ideology (also called the “Word of Faith” movement) claims that faith is a power in the universe that, when connected with and exercised (sound familiar?), will produce results, given the skill, in this case the strength of belief, of the individual in question. This “faith,” as it is promoted by many false teachers, is so great a power that even God Himself is in subjection to its authority. This belief system takes root when we as humans become the point of reference instead of a holy, perfect God. With misplaced focus, humanity and our many desires take center stage, resulting in the supplanting of God and the making of Man the epicenter around which all history dwells.

This is dangerous ground, to put it lightly; it is the same ground that Adam and Eve tread in the Garden that long-ago, tragic day. This belief is in contradiction to the truth that God is the supreme power in the universe, transcending all powers and authorities, even the vastness of the physical dimensions of all time and space. Without a watchman on the wall, a guard for your mind and heart, and a guard to the hearts and minds of your family and others placed in your care, serious damage may result.

“My people perish for lack of knowledge,” declares the Lord (Hosea 4:6). Don’t be one of them. Speak truth to yourself and speak truth into your relationships. We have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), but we are also cautioned to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Do this as you watch movies, as you read books, and as you live lives pleasing to God the Father in a world which rejects Him and seeks to nullify the truth of the gospel of Jesus our Lord and Savior!

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