Star Wars and Christianity; the Parallels
In order to engage with those who don't come to church, I thought I would write a sermon that would help connect a successful film franchise with that of the greatest story ever told.
Call to Worship: Isaiah 60:1-3 (NIV)
1“Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
2 See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the Lord rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
3 Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your dawn."
The story of Star Wars from episodes 1-6 is about a child called Anakin with special skills being adopted by a Jedi knight who, as Anakin grows, believes him to be the chosen one, which has been written in their legends. Jedi knights are there to protect the republic and democracy from all enemies and they do so using special powers, which they call the force. The force is available to everyone but not everyone can use it, it needs training.
Anakin grows up and because his own ambitions, is being held back by the Jedi knights. He is manipulated into turning to the Dark Side primarily to save his wife, who he believes would die in childbirth, as he saw in a dream. Anakin becomes the most evil person in the universe, controlled by a mysterious Sith Lord. The plot revolves round Darth Vader, who represents evil, and the Republic, which is defended by Jedi knights representing good. Knights must lead selfless lives and dedicate themselves to keeping the peace.
The films, containing lots of action, lots of fun and lots of escapism, have been seen by millions of people. This sermon is to show the parallels between Christianity and the films with the aim of spreading the word of Jesus using the Star Wars world, which people know about as a platform from which to explain why Jesus is so vital in todays world.
1. Anakin has no father. He was a midi-chlorian. Similarly, Jesus had no father. Isaiah 7:14 (NIV) "Therefore, the Lord himself with give you a sign; The Virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son ..."
2. Anakin is a slave in the desert hoping to set his people free. Compare to Moses. Exodus 1:11-14 (NIV) 11 So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites 13 and worked them ruthlessly. 14 They made their lives bitter with harsh labour in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.
3. Jedi knight Qii Gon Jinn believes Anakin to be the chosen one. Compare John the Baptist proclaiming Christ. In front of the Jedi council they ask, “Are you the one who is to come or are we to wait for another?” Compare Matthew 11:3 (NIV) “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
4. George Lukas says that people are reading too much into the movie but the original writer who started the Star Wars franchise was Joseph Campbell, a philosopher of religion and an ex-Catholic.
5. Yet, “May the Force be with you,” sometimes getting the response, “And also with you,” is more or less a direct echo of our “May the Lord be with you,” to which we also respond, "And also with you." Ruth 2:4 (NIV) 4 Just then Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters, “The Lord be with you!” “The Lord bless you!” they answered.
(Latin: dominus vobiscum). Sound familiar?
The story is a battle between good and evil; the Jedi Knights, guardians of justice and peace for the Democratic republic versus Sith Warriors, who are on the Dark side.
Anakin rose quickly to be a Jedi knight and was very special but he wanted too much too quickly and felt the other knights resented him and were holding him back. The weakness of his ambitions were manipulated by the Sith Lord, using lies and deceit. Anakin wanted the power of the Dark Side to save his wife, who he had seen in a dream die in childbirth, and the Sith Lord exploited this good intention. I now transport you to the Garden of Eden, Genesis 3, where the serpent asks innocent questions and manipulates Eve’s thinking by casting doubts. The Sith Lord uses exactly the same methodology as the serpent.
In 2 Corinthians 4:4, Satan is “the God of this age” and has blinded people so they cannot see the light of the Gospel. In Matthew 4:8-10, Satan tempts Jesus, offering the World if he would just bow down to him.
The Force, that is so evident in the story, could possibly be likened to the Holy Spirit, except that the Holy Spirit is used for Good, whereas, the Force can be used for good or evil. 1 John 1:5 (NIV) 5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
Anakin secretly marries because marriage is not allowed by Jedi knights, for attachment leads to jealousy and split loyalties. Compare the Catholic Church, which does not allow its priests to marry after ordination. Jedi knights must live a selfless life whose purpose is to protect and care for all other life and to dedicate themselves to keep the universe at peace. As Christians, we must lead selfless lives and be a living sacrifice just like those knights.
6. When Anakin went to the Dark Side, he slaughtered many children, which brings echoes of Herod’s slaughter of the innocents. Matthew 2:16 (NIV) 16 When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
One of the powers of Jedi knights is that they can move objects without touching them. When Luke Skywalker in training failed and Yoda his master showed how it was done, Luke said, “I don’t believe it,” and Yoda replied, “That’s why you can’t do it.” In Matthew 17:20, we are told that faith can move mountains. Is it because we don’t believe it, that our own personal mountains are still there?
On Anakin’s journey to the Dark Side, he is torn between being a spy for the Jedi knights and being a spy for the Chancellor; having to serve two masters is a real issue. Compare Matthew 6:24 or Luke 16:13. They state “What is good depends on your point of view,” but Matthew 19:17 and 1 Thessalonians 5:21 clearly tells us what is good in Gods eyes. Similarly, we are told truth depends on our point of view - what is truth? - and we go to John 18:38 to find the answer. We are told fear keeps people in their place, if we go to 1 John 4:18 we read that perfect love drives out fear.
The whole battle between good and evil introduces us to the idea of Lucifer and Satan. Tradition has a story of a rogue angel and that this angel was too ambitious, his heart became proud and he fell from grace and became Satan. Luke 10:18 (NIV) He replied, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
Ephesians 6:12 reminds us of our battle with cosmic powers in this present darkness and the spiritual forces of evil, which means we have to wear our own armour. Ezekiel 28:14 is directed to the fallen angel who we call Lucifer, as the anointed cherub. An interpretation of Isaiah 14:12-14 is about Lucifer, a fallen angel, making himself higher than God.
Could it be that the Cherubim, the mighty angels who are to serve as guardians, are our Jedi warriors? They, in Genesis 3:24, guarded the Tree of Life with a flaming sword flashing back and forth, was this the Jedi knight's lightsaber? 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. (NIV)
The whole background is set within the tension of oppression and with peace only happening because all opposition had been quashed. This seems very similar to Pax Romana where the Romans kept peace by ensuring that all opposition was removed.
In conclusion, the parallels between Star Wars and Christianity are:
© Copyright Martin Wheadon 2019
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Rev'd Martin Wheadon