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FIRST-PERSON: Obi-Wan, George Will and the courts: Why worldview matters

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)–Worldview matters; it is inescapable and inevitable. Worldview — a comprehensive understanding of reality — determines how we order our lives, govern our decisions and shape our actions.

It’s not surprising, therefore, that worldview shows up in our daily lives -– sometimes, subtly, other times, not so nuanced. And the existence of non-biblical worldviews calls for a Christian response offered in the person of Jesus Christ and His Gospel.

The importance of worldview is illustrated in three recent, seemingly unrelated examples: the latest “Star Wars” movie, a political columnist and the courts. In each case, however, various positions advocated are based in worldviews, and, in each case, they are worldviews which are contrary to a biblical understanding of life.

The final episode in the “Star Wars” film saga, “Revenge of the Sith,” opened in theaters in mid-May to record-breaking audiences. Creator George Lucas’ six-part story clearly has advanced a non-Christian worldview throughout each film. And this is no less true in “Revenge.”

In the climatic scene in a hell-like molten lava pit, Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi battles his now former apprentice Anakin Skywalker who has succumbed to the “Dark Side” of “The Force,” casting his allegiance with the evil Sith Lord Darth Sidious.

Before they begin their light-saber duel, Anakin -– newly renamed Darth Vader by his new master -– declares to Obi-Wan, “If you’re not with me, you’re my enemy.” Obi-Wan replies, “Only a Sith deals in absolutes.”

There it is: worldview. In this case, it’s pluralism –- the belief that there is more than one understanding of ultimate reality.

Emblematic of the confused religion of Lucas and the hodge-podge of New Age and Eastern philosophies that “Star Wars” is wrapped around, in the mouth of Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi is the assertion that absolutes -– definitive truth — can be associated only with the Sith -– the bad guys. Never mind that the very claim itself is an absolute!

Some see in this and other statements in “Revenge” criticisms of George W. Bush and his war on terror. Whether or not that is accurate, there’s no doubt the “Star Wars” franchise has been used to propagate a worldview that is contrary to the one found in the Bible. “The Force” is an impersonal, god-like reality which has good and bad attributes that are subject to manipulation by human agents; in contrast, Scripture tells us God is personal, good, just, omnipotent and omniscient.

“Revenge” opens with the now-familiar scrolling text explaining the current state of affairs: “War! The Republic is crumbling under attacks by the ruthless Sith Lord Count Dooku. There are heroes on both sides. Evil is everywhere.”

The bad guys (the Sith) are not entirely bad, and the good guys (the Jedi) are not always good. All this fits with the notion that absolute truth cannot be ascertained and only those who partake in the “Dark Side” of “The Force” entertain such ideas.

Obi-Wan’s anti-absolutes statement is strikingly similar to assertions made recently by conservative political commentator George Will.

In a May 23 column for Newsweek, “The Oddness of Everything,” Will recounted a recent commencement address he gave at the University of Miami. Noting the incredible complexity of the universe — including our own earth and the makeup of human beings — Will concludes that such reality is the result of “accidents, contingencies and luck” which should cause the graduates to “understand the vast and mysterious indeterminacy of things” in their participation of the human story.

Will’s worldview -– naturalism –- is evident in his assertion, “really: we are all residues of the Big Bang.”

Perhaps with militant Islam in mind, Will claims the “greatest threat to civility –- and ultimately to civilization -– is an excess of certitude.” Obi-Wan Kenobi couldn’t have said it any better!

Will adds, “It has been well said that the spirit of liberty is the spirit of not being too sure that you are right. One way to immunize ourselves against misplaced certitude is to contemplate -– even to savor – the unfathomable strangeness of everything, including ourselves.”

While Christian humility dictates that believers not think too highly of ourselves or be dogmatic on peripheral matters of faith and life, Will’s rejection of certitude goes too far. In and of ourselves, we cannot be certain of anything. But because the Creator of all things has spoken to all of humanity for all time in His living Word (Jesus Christ), and His written Word (the Bible), the truth about the ultimate matters of life can be discovered.

But not according to the Colorado Supreme Court. The Source of certitude — the Bible –- was the cause of its March 28 decision upholding a lower court’s ruling that a convicted murderer’s ordered execution had to be overturned because one of the jurors consulted his Bible in the jury room.

Including the Bible with other “extraneous prejudicial materials,” the Colorado high court argued, “In a community where ‘Holy Scripture’ has factual and legal import for many citizens and the actual text introduced into the deliberations without authorization by the trial court plainly instructs mandatory imposition of the death penalty, contrary to state law, its use in the jury room prior to the penalty phase verdict was prejudicial” to the accused.

This action –- based in secularism –- is completely contrary to the worldview of most of America’s founders who understood that human law has meaning only in its relationship to divine law, as found in the Bible.

Writing nearly 30 years ago in his six-volume masterpiece, “God, Revelation and Authority,” theologian Carl F.H. Henry, who died in 2003, warned of the rising pagan worldview and the need for a serious evangelical response. The greatest evangelical theologian of the 20th century, Henry clearly outlines the challenge of worldviews and its inevitability: “Metaphysics tomorrow will be either Christian or non-Christian, but metaphysics there will be.”

Henry’s challenge to evangelicals three decades ago is no less true today, and his call for the Christian worldview answers the false ideas of Lucas, Will and the courts.

“The task of Christian leadership is to confront modern man with the Christian world-life view as the revealed conceptuality for understanding reality and experience, and to recall reason once again from the vagabondage of irrationalism and the arrogance of autonomy to the service of true faith. That does not imply modern man’s return to the medieval mind. It implies, rather, a reaching for the eternal mind, for the mind of Christ, for the truth of revelation, for the Logos as transcendent source of the orders and structures of being, for the Logos incarnate in Jesus Christ, for the Logos as divine agent in creation, redemption and judgment, for the Logos who stands invisibly but identifiably as the true center of nature, history, ethics, philosophy and religion.”

Indeed, worldview matters. Let us be prepared to give an answer when the aberrant worldviews of our day are proffered by Hollywood, the news media, the courts -– and our neighbors.
James A. Smith Sr. is executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness, online at www.floridabaptistwitness.com

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  • James A. Smith Sr.