Saturday, December 19, 2015

God and the Force: Star Wars Theology

There are commercial reasons for the release of the new Star Wars film to coincide with Christmas Holidays. However I think there is also a good opportunity for us to contrast the Biblical God with the Star Wars Force.

Superficially, one might consider the Force to be divine - an immanent, omnipotent concept. But the Christian understanding of God is very different.

God is Good

'The Lord is good' says Nahum. 'Jehovah, merciful and gracious ... abounding in goodness' says God to Moses. 'God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all' says John. In terms of morality, God is unambiguously good. 

The Force is different. While it can be channelled for good, it also has a Dark Side. So the Force appears to be morally ambivalent. Power without morality is a dangerous thing. 

God is Personal

God has attributes. He is Light and Love. He portrays his character as a shepherd, caring for us, as a potter, forming us, as a Father, loving us. Ultimately, God's character is revealed in human form - the Word made flesh - at Bethlehem when the Son of God comes into the world.

The Force never communicates, or conveys any personable characteristics. This mysticism, this lack of ability to be appreciated, makes the Force impersonal and abstract. It is not possible to have a meaningful relationship with a concept.

God is Available

God reaches out to us. He calls Moses with a burning bush, Elijah with a still, small voice, wise men with a wandering star. God is 'not far from every one of us', says Paul to the pagan philosophers at Athens. He is only a prayer away - as the dying thief found out at Calvary - Lord, remember me!

The Force is only available to a select few - Jedi or Sith. General members of the Star Wars public are passed over - the power of the Force is unavailable to them. 'Who(so)ever' is a great evangelical word, entirely unknown in the Star Wars universe.

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