Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Is Star Wars Demonic, and Should Christians See It?

I am reading Peter Jones’ The Other Worldview: Exposing Christianity’s Greatest Threat.  I received a complimentary review copy.  Not long ago, I linked to Jones’ critical article about Star Wars.

A key villain in Jones’ book, and article, is the psychologist Carl Jung.  In Jones’ portrayal, Jung was anti-Christian.  Jung also received guidance from a spirit guide, named Philemon.  Jung would have a profound impact on Joseph Campbell, who would influence George Lucas, the maker of Star Wars.

That gets me asking: Should I go see Star Wars, when some of its mythology could be based on demonic influence?

I do plan on seeing it.  I would regret not seeing it on the big screen, on account of some religious hang-up.  Still, the question does occur to me.

And it does not just occur to me in reference to Star Wars.  Should I stop watching Little House on the Prairie, Highway to Heaven, and Father Murphy, all of which were made by Michael Landon?  Consider this quote from Landon, which is on the Internet Movie Database:

“I felt my father’s presence with me, enlightening my memories, helping me to commit to paper the feelings I had. I really heard my father speaking to me from the other dimension, filling my mind with just the right words. The story came so fast and was so right. In three days, the script was complete.”

Did Michael Landon get some of his ideas from the beyond?  I suppose that a strict fundamentalist Christian could regard his shows as religiously deceptive, promoting a concept of salvation by works, apart from faith in Jesus Christ.

I am hesitant to link to this article, since it is on David Icke’s site, and I do not believe that lizard-people control the government.  Still, if what it says is true, then spiritualism has been pervasive within Hollywood.

How should a Christian respond to Hollywood or television?  Should a Christian not watch anything except for Christian movies?  Maybe a Christian should not watch anything at all and should simply read the Bible!  One can avoid demonic or Satanic deception that way.

Do the Scriptures offer guidance about this?  I think that one can see both sides in Scripture.  On the one hand, Deuteronomy 12:30 prohibits the Israelites from inquiring how the Canaanites worshiped their gods and imitating their worship.  There are orthodox Jews who conclude from this that they are not allowed to study other religions.  On the other hand, in many college classes about the Hebrew Bible and the ancient Near East, one hears that the ancient Israelites who wrote the Bible absorbed motifs from their ancient Near Eastern context.  How the God of the Bible is portrayed overlaps with how other ancient Near Easterners portrayed their gods.

There is the prohibition on consulting mediums (Leviticus 19:31).  Does that mean that one cannot see a movie or watch a show that may have been inspired by a spirit?  Or is that merely prohibiting consulting a medium for questions about one’s personal life, or decisions that one may make?

The apostle Paul seemed to regard the Greco-Roman religions of his day as demonic.  He states in I Corinthians 10:20 that the Gentiles are sacrificing to demons, not to God.  The church father Justin Martyr had a similar attitude towards pagan worship.  At the same time, Paul in Acts 17 appealed to pagan sources in trying to convince his audience to believe in Jesus Christ.  He found, and exploited, overlap between his own beliefs about God and a pagan belief system.  So did Justin Martyr, for that matter.

It can be a difficult issue, for Christians.  Some may feel that they are strong enough to withstand deception, to sift the wheat from the chaff.  I see myself as one who can appreciate a movie, a book, or a TV show, without adopting the entire belief system that is in that medium of communication.  At the same time, can anyone be too confident?  I know that my attitudes about sexuality have been shaped by what I have seen on television and in movies, and my attitudes are not entirely godly, from a Christian standpoint.

Star Wars was an avenue through which I learned about God.  It had lessons: about relying on the spiritual, calming down, not giving in to hate.  People in churches and in recovery groups draw from and pass on wisdom that they have learned from Star Wars: “You must UNLEARN what you have learned.”  “Do, or do not.  There is no try.”  “That is why you fail.”  Indeed, there are overlaps between Star Wars and Christianity.  “May the Force be with you” reminds me of Christians who desire that God be with them.  Still, notwithstanding the similarity, the Force in Star Wars is not like the Christian God.  It is an energy that flows from nature and binds the universe.

Most stories will be imperfect, in terms of their spiritual accuracy and worldview.  My approach is to accept what is edifying.  Throughout the New Testament, there seems to be an acknowledgment that Christians will hear a lot of things, from different perspectives.  They are to prove all things and hold fast to what is good, according to I Thessalonians 5:21.  Yet, the very next verse tells them to abstain from all appearance of evil.  Does that have to do with not watching Star Wars (or, in those days, not listening to false teaching or pagan stories), or is it an ethical exhortation: you, do not do evil things, or things that remotely appear evil?

At the same time, there are exhortations about not listening to false teachers, or even welcoming them into one’s home (I John 2:10).  There are teachings that can form a solid foundation for a spiritual life, and there are teachings that can lead in negative directions.  One should be discerning.  Christians may also see a need to determine for themselves if a person is imposing a false belief system on them, and if they find that this is compromising their own spiritual walk.  I am not talking about putting blinders on and refusing to hear other perspectives.  What I am saying is that there are times when, in a relationship, one has to determine what one believes and where one wants to go, and if that relationship is conducive to those goals or detrimental.

My post does make some religious assumptions.  I am assuming that Christianity is true, whereas spiritualists are getting their messages from demons.  Could I be wrong?  The Gnostics, after all, thought that their view was true, whereas the biblical God was a deceptive sub-deity.  Could Jung and Michael Landon have been receiving messages from the beyond that were not demonic?  I suppose that we can judge that by the fruits of what they produced.  But Star Wars and Michael Landon’s show teach good values.  They can also encourage interest in the spiritual, and perhaps Christianity.  Yet, Christians can come back and say that Satan can appear as an angel of light (II Corinthians 11:14).

There is also the missionary or evangelistic angle.  Some Christians say that Christians should see Star Wars because it is part of their culture, and they should be able to engage their culture if they are to bring people to Christ.  Maybe.  I guess I can go with that idea to make myself feel better about seeing Star Wars!  But I have issues with such a negative approach: Can I ever approach a source sympathetically, to learn from it, as opposed to judging it according to some fundamentalist Christian grid?

Feel free to share your thoughts.  It may take me a while (as in, a day) to publish them.  But I am interested in reading them.

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