Diving Into the Theology of Star Wars

Diving into the Theology of Star Wars

If you’re like me, you enjoy a good, healthy, and robust discussion of theology every now and again.

Especially when said conversation means you get to break down what is, arguably, this generation’s most popular cultural myth: Star Wars.

As the release of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens looms large on the horizon, we’ve decided to dive deep into the chaotic mix that is the theology inside the Star Wars universe and unpack its implications for us as viewers.

(If theology isn’t necessarily your thing, don’t worry, there’s also a Stormtrooper rocking a double neck guitar.)

Who wrote this?

Jake Roberson is Plugged In’s social media manager and strategist. He’s the father of four children and husband of one wife, and he quite likes life that way. He also likes writing about entertainment, pop culture, dadhood … and food. He’s also a former Guinness World Record holder for participating in the largest hacky sack circle. Catch up with him on Twitter @jake_roberson

Have something to say? Leave a comment.

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love these so much!
ever since I've been very young, I've loved to pull little nuggets of truth out of things, and Star Wars is one I've always come back to. I've been a huge SW nerd for years, and I've always been awed with how, even when it's not clearly based on the Christian worldview and does have some odd religious issues that should be talked through with younger kids, so many great Christian lessons can be pulled out of it. Even with as much as the rest of the fandom hates them, I've always loved the prequels, and I think it's mainly because of their depth. There are SO MANY lessons that can be extracted from just those three movies alone. 
Not even to mention The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels TV shows. Most Christians seem to look over those two series when trying to find deeper meanings and Christian connections in the Star Wars franchise. But just in the first season of Rebels alone I found heaps of great truths, one of the strongest of which being that "I've found something stronger than my past, than my fear. Far stronger." Though Kanan Jarrus, rebel leader and Jedi-in-hiding, names the Force as his source of strength, the scene where he does so hit me deeply, and I realized that the exact same thing is true for Christains. There is a force so much stronger than anything is our pasts, or any fear that we may have: our God. All the way up to the end of season 3 where we are now, I've continued to see wonderful life lessons.
And even though Clone Wars isn't really my fav (particularly for the darkness of certain story arcs, such as those concerning the Nightsisters, and the pretty heavy immodesty seen through the entire run of the show,) Ahsoka's journey reminded me of myself, a young believer trying to find my place in the world. I've had a harder time pulling Christian parallels from that series than from Rebels and the movies, as well as the recent Rogue One (which had some fantastic lessons on faith and hope,) but they're still in there if you dig for them. 
Cj .J .R. More than 1 year ago
profound truth on discussing the theology of films .right on point. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
Cj .J .R. More than 1 year ago
Great insights 
Rory Downey More than 1 year ago
What's wrong with Avatar??? What if it touches on what the human heart is so desperately hungry for, that perfect Eden, perfect communion with Him who gives every good and perfect gift? I saw the movie moreso as an allegory of the war within the human soul, between manmade efforts that rust and fade and the already created natural that is too amazing for the human mind to concieve
Antilles58 More than 1 year ago
Guys - you missed the tremendous redemptive things and spiritual lessons that the prequels bring about! Just because they're bad movies (which, yes, I acknowledge) doesn't mean there aren't good lessons in there!

Specifically, how Palpatine tempts Anakin to the dark side is much the way the devil tempts us - half truths with some lies sprinkled in.  He appeals to Anakin's fear and selfishness to lead him down a dark road.  Then there's the "virgin birth" and "chosen one" bit about Anakin. The films basically explore "what happens if Jesus gives INTO the devil's temptation in the desert?" - and it shows that everything goes pretty badly. There's a lot more than that, too.

Ultimately, as you point out, Anakin is redeemed by the love of his son.  Then he himself makes a personal of himself to lay down his life out of that love.  We've used the end of Return of the Jedi, where Luke decides NOT to fight, as an example of how true heroes seek to serve and to love, not to hurt. 

I haven't thought much about it in awhile, but in the past I've been able to pull Christian parables out of Star Wars a lot more deeply than this. Much like you describe Paul doing with the altar to the unknown God. Maybe I should think about it more again.
Antilles58 More than 1 year ago
when I say "we've used the end of RotJ" i mean we've used them as teaching points with my son.
AsayPaul More than 1 year ago
Love those thoughts, Antilles58. I actually go a little deeper into Star Wars stuff over on my "other" blog, if you're interested ... http://www.patheos.com/blogs/watchinggod/2015/12/star-wars-the-force-awakens-gets-spiritual/ ... but while it's not very spoilery at all, you still might want to check it out after you see it. Tonight, right?
Antilles58 More than 1 year ago
Yep, tonight!! I'll definitely go check it out! I haven't avoided spoilers, myself - they're about the only way I can handle my excitement for this thing! But that's never ruined a movie for me before, and I don't expect it will this time either ;)

I've loved what you guys do here for years - glad there's finally a comment section I can contribute in!
jake_roberson More than 1 year ago
Interesting thoughts about the prequels. Although I've pondered on the dull prophecy muck from Episode I before, I hadn't ever considered the angle that finds Anakin's story being something of a fictional "darker timeline" to juxtapose against the Gospel and the temptation of Jesus. Very intriguing premise.

If only these vodcasts could be, like, an hour long or something. =D
AsayPaul More than 1 year ago
If only ... maybe for the Oscars, we can do a six-parter!
Antilles58 More than 1 year ago
Sadly so much of the prequels wasn't fleshed out as well as it could have been - I went on a bit of a rant on it the other day during a stream - might interest you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_WL_1FQfxJ8 (I don't get into the Gospel parables as much here, but my audience probably wouldn't have been as interested in that context)
[removed] More than 1 year ago
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seraph_unsung More than 1 year ago
Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side.
Antilles58 More than 1 year ago
I'll just respond to that with this quote from Christianity Today's review of the new movie:

"I'm gonna go ahead and head any in-principle objections to The Force off at the pass in saying that there's nothing objectionable about it. We just have to be, as a religion and a culture, more secure than to think that Space Magic constitutes a legitimate spiritual issue. It does not. Or, if it does, so do the spaceships—as the two are exactly as real as each other. It is 2015, so I imagine the vast majority of readers agree with this, but just so we're all on the same page: The Force, not problematic. Sweet."  - http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2015/december-web-only/star-wars-force-awakens.html?share=ok7A/CK4jqN8fjmG+0da5D4sjotRBhHO