The news that Indiana Jones is to ride again makes me wonder if others have picked up on the ‘Christian quest’ reading of the famous film trilogy.
To understand this sub theme you have to put the films in chronological story order…not in the order in which they were made.
First of all we see the young Indiana Jones in an adventure to capture and restore an ancient Christian cross to its rightful place. This mini adventure makes up the back story and opening sequence of The Last Crusade. His encounter leaves him a little bit cynical, but with a taste for adventure.
The next film chronologically is Temple of Doom. In this picture Indy is seeking a pagan artifact. He’s just come from the sale of another pagan artifact to a crooked Chinese gangster. It seems that our hero is no better than the grave robber he first encountered as an idealistic boy scout. In fact, when she asks why he does what he does, Indy replies to the gal he rescues, “Fortune and glory, baby, fortune and glory.” By the end he has done more than rob graves for fortune and glory, he has destroyed a bloodthirsty cult and rescued children from slavery and returned them to their families.
The next film is the first one to have been made. In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones is pursuing a Hebrew artifact: Judaism being one step closer to the truth than paganism. He is also fighting the Nazi’s to save the world. More than that, he comes to an understanding about the mysterious power of the Hebrew God Jehovah, when he witnesses the power, the beauty and the justice when the Ark of the Covenant is opened.
Finally, Indy comes full circle. In The Last Crusade Indy is back in search of a Christian artifact–the Holy Grail. At they beginning of the story he says cynically to his students, “In treasure hunting ‘X’ never marks the spot.” Then, throughout the film he is proved wrong, and on maps, in an ancient library in Venice and wherever he turns ‘X’ or ‘a cross’ does mark the spot. The cross literally leads him to the grail. In the climax of the scene the bad guy points a revolver at Jones and says, “Its time to ask yourself what you believe Dr. Jones.”
Indiana then has to go through the three tests to get the grail to save his father, for the Christian quest has also been a search for his father, and the return of the prodigal. It is Dr Jones Snr. who has faith and has been on the true quest for his whole life. This is something Indy has ‘never understood’, but which he will soon understand.
In the three tests Indy has to learn penitence, to listen to the Word of God and to take the step of faith. Once he does he can enter into the cave to find the cup that bore the precious blood–the cup of eternal salvation. Furthermore, when he gets the cup he cannot use it for himself. He has to use it for the salvation of others. So he takes the cup full of living water and uses it for the healing and restoration of his father, and thus for the restoration and salvation of his own soul.
Tell me Hollywood doesn’t have some darned clever secret Christian screenwriters…