Star Wars and Evangelical Revisionist History

An interesting take on evangelical nostalgia for a past that never was, especially important during an era in which Glenn Beck and the Teabaggers are constantly invoking this glorious version of America that never existed.

So what do Peter Marshall and Star Wars have in common? A lot. Most importantly, they show us that Americans are still searching for and finding faiths that affirm who they imagine themselves to be as a people rather than religions that challenge them to be better than they are. Marshall tells Christians that they are linked to a long line of holy predecessors just like them. Star Wars, in turn, helps viewers recognize their connection to an all-powerful, all-encompassing Force.

via 1977 Redux: Star Wars and Evangelical Revisionist History | Religion Dispatches.

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  • Kenton

    Your use of the slur “teabagger” is offensive, Tony.

  • Teabaggers, huh? More hypocrisy from Tony. What a surprise. Disgusting.

  • cjbiggs

    “tea-bagger” isn’t offensive. It’s just slang for sodomite. And gay is a-okay.
    What I’m really waiting for tony to talk about is the new series “sister wives” on TLC. They made Polygamy sound better than normal marriage.

  • Darius, I am genuinely curious about something. If you dislike Tony so much, why do you keep reading his blog? Respectfully I ask, what do you believe you are accomplishing? Tony believes what he believes, and you believe what you believe. You two are obviously irreconcilably different, so why keep reading?

  • I don’t dislike Tony so much as what he teaches here. I’m sure he is a decent guy in person (though this post and some of his recent comments are starting to make me wonder). I’m here to keep up on what the Emergent Cult is doing these days and to stand against the lies Tony tries to spread. Do I accomplish anything? Who knows. I do get positive feedback routinely from people in response to my comments on here, so I know there are some believers who appreciate hearing the truth defended and the Gospel promoted. Whether or not I accomplish anything by standing up against Satan is a secondary issue. We’re merely commanded to do it in the Bible… just as we are told to evangelize the world. Doesn’t really matter if it is hard to see fruit from our work. A Christian serving in a Muslim country and seeing only one convert in 30 years isn’t wasting his time.

  • Are there any readers who honestly want to defend Tony’s “teabagger” comment? Anyone?

  • So, given your comment:

    1. Because Tony has strong political opinions makes him a bad guy
    2. The emergent movement (a social movement not just within the church, by the way) is a cult
    3. Tony is a liar
    4. Your view of the gospel and truth is the right way
    5. Tony is doing the work of Satan
    6. You believe the Bible tells you to protect your version of the truth
    7. Christians needs to be converting Muslims

    I don’t defend everything Tony says, because he is human and has opinions. You seem to believe you aren’t human because you claim to hold the truth, as explicitly stated in the Bible. So you have no interpretive lens? What’s that like to see things so clearly?

    The difference between you and Tony is that Tony is at least willing to admit his biases of personal preference, and you aren’t.

  • 1. Not sure where you got this, but nope. Politics isn’t even in view here.
    2. The Emergent Church is a cult, yes.
    3. Someone who spreads lies is usually called a liar, yes.
    4. As much as you and Tony may try to obfuscate the truth, the Gospel is not up for an “to each his own” interpretation.
    5. Unfortunately, yes.
    6. No, it tells us to protect others from lies. The New Testament talks about how to handle false teachers quite a bit, in fact.
    7. Umm, yes. Kinda of a duh question. If you don’t think you should convert Muslims, you may not be a Christian. Or you may need to bone up on the end of Matthew: “Go into all the world and make disciples…” In fact, converting non-believers to Christ is kinda the point of the New Testament. If you missed that…

    No, I’ve said this before… I’m sure I don’t have all of my interpretation correct. But I do claim to know the Gospel, and what Tony preaches ain’t it. What’s funny is you claim that I’m wrong, yet you undermine your own argument by saying “it’s just your opinion.” You have no idea how silly you sound when you make those postmodern arguments. “There are absolutely no absolute truths… except this one.” Terribly self-refuting.

    And no, Tony isn’t able to admit his biases… he routinely claims to have the moral high road yet constantly belittles his opponents and calls them really disgusting names (teabagger, asshole, etc.).

  • Darius,

    You are a theological bully.

  • Well, ya convinced me. What a postmodern argument.

  • nathan

    the world has always been filled with competing opinions.

    that’s not post-modern. that’s just the reality humans have to navigate with each other.

    just say’n…

  • nathan

    one other thing…

    The emergent church is not a cult, because the word itself presupposes a coherence and uniformity in structure/belief.

    Regardless of how certain public voices speak and are critiqued/assessed, they are not popes. There is no mechanism to enforce the kind of uniformity necessary to really be a cult.

    The cult charge assumes that people who buy the books/attend the talks of certain voices somehow must have signed on to some kind of program.

    Are there people who agree with certain voices on certain points or even in large part? of course. And there are many who simply think for themselves and engage these voices for a plethora of reasons that remain largely unknown to people.

    furthermore, cults retain more than thought control over people…such things are not in play with respect to the discourse that is the emergent church.

    just say’n…

  • Lisa

    just say’n…

    now if we could only get someone like Peter Marshall to of all nations and not just America, because evidently God wants to only bless Americans.

    I suppose that would be like trying to bring peace to the entire Galactic Republic rather than to just one planet. heaven forbid!

    just say’n…

  • Chris

    The “Teabagger” and “cult” conversations seemed to get away from the intent of the blogpost, so I guess I’m not helping here but…

    Should we be sensitive when it comes to labels or should we not?
    If some small percentage of a group finds it insulting should it be stricken from the lexicon?

    Cleveland Indians anyone? Washington Redskins? Florida Seminoles?

    You can routinely find a small gathering of native Americans outside of these stadiums decrying these team names and mascots, believing them to be offensive. Should their view trump that of the majority that don’t really care, or believe it to be either inoffensive or even flattering?
    I hope those that are saying, “hey, lighten up, what’s the big deal, it’s not offensive because some source said so.” when it comes to the “teabagger” moniker are just as cavalier or charitable when it comes to the examples I’d mentioned.

    Make up your minds. Either it’s okay or it’s not.

    Sorry for the modern, binary either/or, but hypocrisy is hypocrisy.

  • Jim

    I think Sutton is wrong about why Star Wars is so popular. It’s not the sense of connection to an all encompassing force, it’s the lightsabers.

    Evangelicalism could definitely use more lightsabers.

  • nathan


    Especially double light sabres like that Sith dude in the Episode 1.

    hella cool.

  • carla jo

    Tony doesn’t need me to defend him, but if anyone is interested, here’s a nice review of the use of the term “teabagger” as it refers to Tea Party conservatives. Please note that the term continues to be used on T-shirts and other paraphernalia produced by the Tea Party and sold at Tea Party rallies.

  • Joey


    As somebody who grew up in a cult, I can assure you that referring to the EC as one is pure slander.

    Cults are dangerous, not just to beliefs, but to human life and health. Specifically, cults involve two aspects that the EC does not have: 1) a devotion to a particular leader who is usually seen as some sort of Messiah, and 2) some sort of mind control/conditioning (akin to requiring soldiers to repetitively thrust their bayonets into dummies dressed as an enemy while yelling “kill” for hours on end).

    You may believe that Emergent is heterodox. You may believe that their teachings are dangerous. But I assure you it is an insult to those who have suffered through cults to even place the EC anywhere near them.

    One of my closest friends came back to faith in Jesus, crucified and died for our salvation, because of Tony’s church. They are a thoughtful community of folks who happen to be comfortable challenging their embedded beliefs, and when they have taken a long hard (and quite educated) look at the scriptures they happen to come to different conclusions from yourself.

    I beg you, don’t lump them in a category with brainwashing, life threatening groups that crave money, power, and systematically take glory away from God.


  • That’s fair, Joey. What I meant by “cult” was this definition in the dictionary: “a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist…”

    I was not meaning Jim Jones or David Koresh.

  • Chris, there is a big difference between “teabagger” and “Seminole.” The latter is not an insult or obscene word but just a tribal name, while the former is both. It’s like saying what’s the difference between Nazi and Caucasian.

  • Gee, why didn’t you include the full definition Darius? “a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.”

    I suspect that you think that Roman Catholicism is a cult, too.

  • Parts of it clearly are.

  • nathan

    and some aspects of mega-churches, with otherwise impeccable doctrinal clarity, clearly are too…

    just say’n…

  • nathan

    by that definition we could say that some of the attitudes of John MacArthur’s church members in California would be cultic.

    some of their views are extremist and they self-consciously position themselves as being outside conventional society AND you wanna talk about an almost breathless commitment to their pastor/leader?

    My point is not to necessarily tear down said community, it’s just to show that a ton of circumspection is needed before we throw around the word “heretic” or “cult”.

    Just say’n…again.

  • Oh, I agree completely, Nathan. However, heresy doesn’t apply to how one lives, it applies to what one teaches/believes. The issue of lifestyle is an important one, but separate from beliefs. Paul and Jesus took on both pillars. If someone is in unrepentant sin, they are to be thrown out of the church (after a process of attempted renewal). Likewise, if someone is teaching false doctrine, they are to be shunned by the Church (after a period of attempted correction). The issue at hand is heretical teaching (along with some idle and perverse tongues)… we can slay the dragon of heteropraxy on another occasion. Orthodoxy is more important though, by the nature of the Gospel. The Gospel states that all people are sinful and evil. So it doesn’t come as much of a surprise when some Christians (or churches) fall into serious sin. There is One who never fell, and we turn to him as our mediator when we do. It’s more serious when we make Him out to be a liar in our false teaching.

  • Joey

    So Darius, can we agree that “cult” is probably a word that is not very accurate here?

  • Yep, sect would be more accurate. 🙂

  • nathan


    I understand what you’re saying.

    What’s the mechanism for “throwing people out of the Church” in a protestant “free church” congregational ecclesiology–the overwhelmingly dominant ecclesiology in North America?

    I mean, how does it actually work beyond a local, discrete community?

    Interested in how you think it would apply to someone like, say, the author of this blog? 😉

    Granted I’m being a bit mischievous, but I am half-serious too. Simply because I don’t see how “throwing out of the Church” actually works in any real sense anymore….or is really all that desirable. (but that’s a discussion for another day.)

  • Darius,

    Actually, the only real tradition is to question the tradition. The only orthodoxy, then, is being unorthodox. Which is why Jesus was killed.


  • Alex, the New Testament writers clearly wouldn’t have agreed with you. They spent a significant part of their writing attempting to battle heterodoxy… in fact, one could argue that almost the entire New Testament is aimed at fighting false teaching. Jesus and the Pharisees, Paul and the heretics of his day… Jesus was killed because He was throwing out the heretics and bringing the people back to God.

  • CD

    Using pornographic terminology to disparage an entire group of people–that’s what Jesus would do!

  • Nathan, a good question and one that probably has several reasonable answers depending on the circumstances. Obviously, when the Christian Church (even the real Church) is as splintered as it is in the West where one small town can have several different doctrinally orthodox Christian communities, the practice of church discipline can be very difficult. Kick a person out, and they end up at the church down the street. So there’s that issue…

    But I think more on point for our convo is how to deal with teachers and Christians who are public figures and don’t really answer to anyone in particular… in those cases, I think what true Bible-believing Christians need to do is follow a modified set of guidelines similar to those described in the NT. Obviously, with someone who is clearly heretical or someone who is openly living an immoral life, the first responsibility lies with that person’s local church body. But after that, it is the duty of every other Christian not to give “spiritual comfort” to those people as long as they are aware of said sin. Paul tells us to turn them over to Satan. I think what he meant is that by the Church standing firm against a person’s teaching or lifestyle, that person will not be affirmed in it and hopefully will reconsider and repent. Furthermore, this will work to keep other vulnerable young Christians from being led astray. If we don’t stand up to heresy or adultery or whatever, people start thinking that maybe it’s not such a big deal.

    In the case of false teachers like McLaren or Pagitt, what Christians should do is speak against them and their teaching and not commune with them as if they are brothers in the same Lord (until such a point that they repent). Jesus said to treat them as enemies or outcasts; Paul said not to even eat with them. Harsh words, but false teaching is a very serious offense. Jesus said that a false teacher was better drowned in the ocean than face Judgment Day unrepentantly.

  • nathan


  • Joey

    Darius, I’m sure you’ve vocalized them here before, but what exactly do you have conflict with in Tony’s teaching?

    From this post, you seem to think that Tony does not believe in sin? Is that correct? As an aside, I think a nuanced view would be that Tony does believe in sin but believes that things you think are sinful are not, in fact. Is that what worries you?

    What else?

    Tony, sorry to use you as a case study here. I am genuinely interested in why Darius is so zealous about all of this. My inclination is that he doesn’t understand (just being honest D), but I do want to hear him out.

  • Good question, Joey, and yes, I have vocalized this before, but for your benefit, I’ll mention it again. The issue of Tony denying as sin what the Bible clearly says is sin is a secondary issue, but a very serious and important one. As I said above, Jesus said a false teacher was better drowned in the ocean than to lead someone astray… more specifically, He said that about someone who causes a believer to sin. Tony supporting homosexuality (and other sin) is helping believers to sin. Jesus doesn’t have much patience with that. Tony, unless he repents, is heaping up a store of wrath come Judgment Day. I pray he does repent, cause I don’t want to see anyone come under the wrath of God. We saw how terrible it was when Jesus drank the cup of wrath. But whatever Tony does, God will still be glorified and Christ is still on the Throne. No one is “protecting God” or anything like that. God takes care of himself just fine and has done so for all eternity. I’m protecting the sheep from the wolves.

    But the more important thing is that Tony denies the Gospel once delivered. He has repeatedly denied that Jesus died for our sins in a substitutionary manner, or that God needs to be just and the justifier of men. There are other things as well, but that should suffice. Jesus didn’t JUST die as an example and we do NOT acquire eternal life on any merit of our own. We are saved by the merit and sacrifice of Jesus as the atoning Lamb who was slain. Everything we do are as menstrual rags (Isaiah) to God as far as our salvation is concerned. We have to repent of all our sin, including our attempts to earn our own salvation. Self-wrought righteousness is what the Pharisees preached… and made many a Jew a child of hell because of it.