Should Christians Be Excited About Star Wars: The Last Jedi?

I watched this teaser a while back when it came out. I needed to digest the few little tidbits. Watch it and then we’ll discuss…

 

 

The tease begins with a voice telling someone to “Breathe…. just breathe.” This is interspersed with darkness, suggesting the person’s (probably Rae’s) eyes are shut. Then the voice says, “Reach out!”

In pagan religion (which is any belief that attempts to appropriate God’s powers to us or for our purpose) this is standard for meditation.

Quick note, Christians are encouraged in God’s Word to meditate on God’s Law, or Scripture. We are never encouraged to engage in clearing our mind or giving ourselves to some random, blank nothing from which we’ll sense something leading us.

But, ever since Star Wars: A New Hope, this has been a blatant part of Star Wars. Clear your mind, let go of your conscious self… blah, blah, blah.

Of course, in Star Wars, this results in God-like power such–as knowing the future, flying through the air (?), moving objects with ‘the force,’ directing people’s minds to influence their actions, etc.

It’s clear from the latest trailer that this is a central part of the Star Wars fictional world. And, I’ll admit, I sort of scoffed at the Christian objection to the movies when they came out. I was pretty young and have had time to think about this as I grow in my walk with the Lord.

What has recently hit me is how subtly the enemy inserts false ideas into the culture. They don’t come to us overtly as some trumpet-blast with a statue of a false god where we’re ordered to bow down, or else! Not that such a thing is unheard of.

Instead, the enemy infiltrates our congregations introducing a bit more emphasis on a symbol like communion, then co-opting baptism to either be the thing that saves you, or binds some covenant to children. Then, he gets us to exalt priests as if they are the intermediary between us and God, rather than Christ.

The enemy inserts small things into our daily life that sound somewhat biblical. We pseudo-christian ideas in movies, making us accept little things that would suggest God is a safety-net for when we need supernatural help. Or, that God saves those who try really hard to be good, like Santa giving gifts to every good little girl and boy.

As a culture, we love entertainment. Movies and TV shows are very entertaining. With Star Wars, we were given an exceptional adventure tale with special effects that we’d never seen before. George Lucas wanted to make something akin to the Saturday serials that he had enjoyed as a kid.

Star Wars captured the culture’s imagination so much that it, along with Spielberg’s Jaws, pretty much created the Summer Blockbuster trend. From then on, movie studios have targeted Memorial Day and 4th of July for what they call “tent-pole” movies. I assume that represents the Big Top entertainment and the movie that holds it all up?

I’m not going to pretend that Star Wars isn’t entertaining (even the prequels had a few entertaining moments, though they were largely tedious, insulting messes).

With The Force Awakens, however, Disney has set out to recapture the essence of the first trilogy, and they did so very well. At the expense of a coherent plot or solid characterization, they managed to shoe-horn in every major entertaining scene from the first three movies into one.

They followed that billions of dollars profit with Rogue One and will release The Last Jedi this year.

Back to the teaser….

The viewer/character is encouraged to reach out (with their senses) and then tell the teacher what they see.

“Light”

oh, that’s good, right?

“Darkness”

Wait, that’s bad. It’s a threat! The person is perceiving a threat, so we’re still good, right?

“The balance!”

Okay, what’s that all about? Being that I’m a geek, I know where that fits in with Star Wars mythology. The “balance” is good. Supposedly, too much of the dark side, throws things out of balance and that needs correcting. According to random things stated in the series, “there is always two Sith”–those are the dark force guys.

The “prophecy” about Anakin Skywalker (in the prequels) is that he will “bring balance” to the force. So, he’s a promised one, born of a virgin, no less, and destined to …. bring balance?

See, the allusion to Jesus is bad enough, but we can assume this is just a fictional story that is shamelessly borrowing from Christianity. But, what it also does is shamelessly promote Hinduism. Balance, Karma, etc. There’s no such thing as evil, only dark and light. And there needs to be balance.

We see this in the Naturalists who believe humans have overpopulated the planet, and have thrown the ecosystem out of balance. There are actually those who believe that population limits are needed and extermination measures should be taken.

The teaser continues with someone saying that it’s bigger than that, but we’ll have to wait to find out what that is about.

Then we’re given a voice that might be a bad guy saying, “I only know one truth.”

And, we’ve learned that “Only a Sith speaks in absolutes!” A laughable statement that is, itself an absolute.

But, this person who “knows” this “one truth” believes the Jedi (the guardians of truth(?) and justice in the galaxy) must come to an end.

Uh-oh, this bad person who holds to One Truth wants to disrupt the BALANCE!!

What’s dangerous about entertainment is how sly it is. Most people watch this teaser and either say, “Ugh, stupid Star Wars! They’re making another one??” Or, “Cool! I wonder if Luke is a good guy or a bad guy? Is Rae going to force levitate?” or something like that.

People don’t consider that while they’re munching on popcorn they are being fed the idea that our minds could have power. Or that the “force” is “within us.” Or that all that matters is “the balance.”

How does that affect us? Are Christians going to abandon the Bible for the Jedi religion? Probably not in any other way than the most casual, fun-loving sort of way. But, we have had churches have Star Wars-themed services on the opening weekend of The Force Awakens. We have articles and books drawing parallels between Star Wars and the Bible, such as when Paul writes that we are to “overcome evil with good.”

See, and that’s how the enemy works. We see a loose connection, then force that square peg into the round hole. Paul wasn’t talking about the balance, or a life of non-violence, etc. He was advocating repentance from worldly wisdom and methods and surrender to the Lord, Jesus and trust in the Father’s ability to defeat the enemies that assail us. We, meanwhile are to feed our enemy, and clothe them (not slice them up with a light-saber after they don’t take our warning not to attack us!). See Romans 12 for the Bible reference.

I have a lot of friends who love Star Wars. I have found them entertaining, too. But, all of this overt mystical language and pagan propaganda doesn’t seem like something my Lord would go to for entertainment.

It used to be that fiction–in itself–was considered to be a lie, and therefore sinful. Thus, writers like Daniel Defoe and others would include a moral to the story, as with Robinson Crusoe. Pilgrim’s Progress was a book-length parable.

While I disagree that all fiction is a lie, and thus sinful, I do think that presenting things that are openly contrary to Scripture is dangerous. This is  most important for Christians–and they’re not too good about it, frankly.

But, when we seek out entertainment during our leisure time, we should consider whether the media is eroding our understanding of God, or building it up. Most of the world’s entertainment will do something to erode it. We’re either treated to ideas of casual sex, foul language, cheating, lying, disregard for life …. the list goes on. As a professor in college used to say, there are “wheat and tares” in the movies. Sometimes we can parse them out. Sometimes there may be more wheat than tares.

Sometimes the tares are there, but we want them so much that we decide they’re really wheat.

And that’s the danger we face when we don’t exercise discernment with our entertainment. This includes Christian movies. I posted a review of War Room that shows how that movie does a lot to damage the importance of prayer, while supposedly encouraging prayer. It includes books written by so-called Christian authors such as Ted Dekker. Another “Christian” movie, The Shack, is a pagan movie that is tantamount to blasphemy, yet gets the endorsement from my friends at Focus On The Family.

We need to be aware of what the enemy is trying to do. It’s subtle. It’s gradual. And if we’re not grounded in God’s Word, we’ll be led astray.

Advertisements

Is The Shack Even A Christian Movie?

I applaud anyone who sets out to write a book. Particularly fiction. It’s hard work. When someone takes on the task of self-publishing, it’s an even bigger job, and my hat tips to them.

William P. Young did this with The Shack and, a year after publication, it started selling faster than lifeboat seats on the Titanic.

The book garnered support from Evangelical pop stars such as Michael W. Smith, and more. It grew to be a phenomenon selling 30 million copies. I’m not sure if that’s on par with 50 Shades, but it’s the same type of hype.

My wife tried to read it (The Shack, not 50 Shades) and couldn’t get far before laughing out loud and pitching the piece of crap (in fairness, her reaction to 50 Shades would probably be identical).

It’s a unique privilege for a book to get that response. She never does that. She will usually slog through it. One other book got that treatment, The Harbinger. But that will be for another blog post.

It’s clear, however, that The Shack has captured the “Christian” market. But here’s the question: Does it even deserve to be called Christian?

Continue reading →

Ignorance is the New Sin: How Modern Heresy Works

I was shocked when Ted Dekker, a well-known Christian author–son of missionaries to Indonesia–ripped off the mask to reveal himself as a prophet of Baal.

I’ve written about it here for part 1 and here for part 2. Like all heretics, he declares that he received an audible-yet-not-audible word directly from God telling him to forget everything he knows about God and embrace the new way that God was going to reveal to him.

There’s a long list of people who will have similar stories. Some are more heretical than others, but they all bring strange fire before the Almighty. They all claim to have a New Way that nobody knows about. For Ted, it’s the ‘Forgotten Way.’ And it can be yours, for as low as …

Funny how that works. I’m fairly certain that Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul, and John never charged for their inspired works. How times have changed.

I continue to see Ted–in unrepentant fashion–promote his new cult. Here’s a quote:

Why are people leaving churches? We’ve lost sight of the power found in our true identity as the light which manifests in a radical love without which all else is found worthless, as Paul wrote. Ignorant of who we are, our own self-limiting beliefs sabotage us and keep us in darkness every day. But that can change today. Watch this eye-opening 2 minute video and see the only problem Christians face today. You don’t have a light. You ARE the light.

Good marketing always tells people what they want to believe.

This pill will shed all your excess fat without any exercise or special diet! 

Drinking beer will make you popular and sexy!

Drive this car and you’ll command respect from everyone around you! 

Wear this bracelet and you’ll have energy all day! 

You can write a novel in 3 days if you follow these two simple steps! 

I think we’ve all seen these types of things. The Superbowl is coming up and we’ll laugh, we’ll cry, we’ll … buy. We even know that it’s pure marketing, but we still really, really want to believe it.

Same with what Ted’s selling. It’s actually no different than what Rob Bell advanced in his book, Love Wins. The premise is that our ignorance of God’s love is our ‘hell’ or ‘darkness.’

Rob says that everyone is a child of God and are already in His family. They simply choose to leave, like the prodigal son. Or, like the older brother, when the prodigal’s father throws a party upon the younger son’s return, everyone is at God’s ‘party,’ though some create a ‘hell’ for themselves because they allow envy to get in the way of experiencing the Father’s love.

Ted’s doing exactly the same thing: Our ‘ignorance’ of ‘who we are’ is ‘keeping us in darkness.’

But that’s not the most startling thing. He goes on to say who we are is The Light.

You don’t have a light. You ARE the light.

Who knew?

Ted rips this from Luke 16:8, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”

Context is key. Just like Mr. Bell can offer a plausible twist to parables and other verses to support his universalism, so does Ted.

The context of Luke is the testimony of the believer. If we turn to John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Again in John 9:5, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

John the Baptist was sent as a forerunner to testify to the ‘light that shines in the darkness.’ John 1:5-8.

Ted and Rob’s message to the world is the same: We’re ignorant of who we are and we need to simply ‘wake up.’ In fact, that’s the title of Ted’s e-book promo for his Forgotten Way study. Once we let go of our “self-limiting beliefs,” we will be free to experience God the way we are meant to.

This message is appealing because it comes packaged in terms our culture loves. It’s a ‘cleanse,’ as if we need to clean out the toxins that have polluted us. Evidently, orthodox theology is one of those toxins!

It’s easy! 12 days, or 20, or 30, or, gasp, 40. Those are always the quick 12-step-program words that promise we’ll be kicked into high spiritual gear!

Do this study and in 20 days you’ll be experiencing heaven on earth, here and now! 

What if you could take a simple spiritual cleanse to free you from all the negative thoughts and beliefs that are keeping you from experiencing life to the fullest?–Ted Dekker

Sign me up! I don’t want to wait! I want my milk and cookies now!

It also appeals to us because we all crave acceptance, but we loath repentance. We desire love, but hate truth that allows intimacy.

Ted and Rob’s version of the gospel offers a mirage of love. It’s actually more like infatuation, or puppy love. It’s self-centered and experience-based. It sits and dreams of an image of our ‘loved one,’ but knows that when we get to know the actual person, things will fall apart.

Hence the term “fall out of love.”

I thank God that His version of love is not this insipid, gooey Valentine’s Day box of chocolate love. God didn’t send us a glittery, cheesy card with Hallmark sentiments.

No, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ who had to bear the weight of our sinful rebellion against the demands of God’s Righteousness. It was a burden you and I could not carry or pay. Not in a thousand lifetimes could we compensate for the offense against an eternal God.

Puppy love knows nothing of the demands of true Love. Puppy love doesn’t look at our sinfulness and die to redeem us from it!

This is why it can be so sugary-sweet and then so desperately empty. It’s the donut compared to the true meal. We may prefer the pastry, but our bodies will waste away.

True Love required a heavy price. True Love depended on God, not us. For He loved us while we were still in open rebellion to Him. Romans 5:8.

Love demands we turn from our sin and make Jesus our Lord because he bought us on the cross. Love will then show itself in our obedience to Him, as our Lord.

Dekker references “radical love,” as evidence that we’ve found our true identity as “the light.” His version of love, however, doesn’t cross paths with obedience. It simply “holds no account of wrong,” and is the genial non-judgmental acceptance of everyone.

This is where heresy gets it’s power. It sometimes has 90% truth to it. It’s true that we must forgive those who sin against us. We are to turn the other cheek. We are to go two miles when someone compels us to go one. We are to love our enemies. We are to do good to those who hurt us and despitefully use us.

But, how are we to love them? Though we don’t strike back, but turn the other cheek, we should wonder, why do they keep striking us? Why would they be enemies to us if we go extra miles and love them?

Because, what we love more than the acceptance of our fellow man is the acceptance of God. And God calls us to run the race, put to death the things of the flesh, and grow the fruit of the spirit through obedience to Him.

Paul compared his spiritual life to an athlete in severe training, working his body so that he’d find favor from God at the end of his course. He’d rather die than deny his Lord through disobedience or hypocrisy.

We are to hold every thought captive to God. Each attitude must be passed under God’s gaze to burn away our self-life (pride, selfishness, greed, envy, etc.).

The Christian life is not about letting go our ignorance or our ‘self-limiting beliefs.’ It’s about putting to death the works of the flesh.

Apart from Christ, and His life within us, we most certainly are not the light.

Where Do You Stand For Christ?

I was recently told that “We should focus our Spiritual energy … on the right battles.” This was in response to my blog questioning whether Christians should find sorcery entertaining, as in the Doctor Strange movie. The question I have is, what is our “spiritual energy” and what are the “right battles?”

Continue reading →

Don’t Be Fooled by “I Am Second”

Charles Spurgeon said that wisdom is not only knowing right from wrong, but knowing right from almost right. A case in point is the growing number of “I Am Second” videos in which various celebrities give their testimonies. The only problem is, they are waterless testimonies … accounts that lack any of what John The Baptist called Repentance!

Continue reading →

The Gospel Of Self

“When God says don’t he means, what? …. He means don’t HURT yourself!” —James MacDonald

I liked that. When I first heard James say that, I liked it a lot. I thought, that’s right. Sin hurts us! It brings all sorts of bad consequences, not to mention spiritual death!

But maybe that’s a bit misleading. Perhaps it’s only partly true.

Continue reading →

Does Heresy Matter? Part 2 of Ted Dekker’s Cult of the Forgotten Way

I recently read Ted Dekker’s book, Waking Up (to who you really are, if you dare). Aside from the overly mystical and cheesy title, it contains some very troubling heresy. Namely, that the “Ted Dekker” that he sees in the mirror is the false Ted, the one that is passing away, while the “spiritual” Ted is the “real” one.