WARNING: Spoiler Alert: This article contains information about the Star Wars series The Mandalorian, especially the recent third season.
A boy about 12 years old stands in the water on the edge of a lake. On the shore a group of people stand in formation wearing armor. A helmeted and armored woman approaches the boy and begins to recite a creed. The boy repeats each part of the creed. The woman, called The Armorer, places a helmet on the boy. She is given a bowl and scoops some water from the lake and is about to pour it on the boy’s helmet and stops. The scene erupts into a battle between the armored warriors and a giant crocodilian creature. The conflict ends when the Mandalorian in a fighter spaceship swoops in and destroys the reptile. Landing the spacecraft, we get the first glimpse of the Mandalorian, Din Djarin, and his ward Grogu (mistakenly known by most as baby Yoda).
The Star Wars spin-off series, “The Mandalorian” has captured audiences with appeal to both adults and children. Grogu is a global phenomenon. In 2020, the toy company Hasbro reported a 70% hike in Star Wars toys sales due to the cute green wrinkled “species unknown,” Grogu.
Star Wars’ religious themes
There are many religious overtones in Star Wars. George Lucas, creator of Star Wars, is a strange combination of Buddhist Methodist. In the Star Wars universe, the Jedi wield the Force, an all-encompassing energy that binds everything in the galaxy together. The Jedi emphasis on detachment has traits of Buddhism, but the energy of the Force is more akin to Taoism, which “teaches that all living creatures ought to live in a state of harmony with the universe, and the energy found in it. Ch’i, or qi, is the energy present in and guiding everything in the universe.”
Instead of a transcendent creating God that creates, redeems and sanctifies humanity, Master Yoda says that humans are “luminous beings. … not this (flesh) crude matter” (“The Empire Strikes Back”). While there is a sense of redemption, it is couched in false ideas regarding sin. Generally, characters do not see sin as full corruption of human nature, but as simply bad choices that could be atoned for by good deeds. Within the Star Wars universe there is a mishmash of eastern religion and self-determined work-righteousness.
Christians would do well to understand the differences between the Force religion of Star Wars and the reality of God who sent His only-begotten Son to die on the cross to pay the price for all sin. Christians do not look to themselves and their work for redemption and righteousness, but to the Savior Jesus Christ and His total work of salvation.
New religion in the Mandalorian
The Mandalorian series has brought with it a new religion. In an episode of “The Book of Boba Fett” (yet another spin-off), the Armorer tells the Mandalorian: “In order to master the ways of the Force a Jedi must forego all attachment.” Din Djarin responds, “That is the opposite of our creed: loyalty and solidarity are the way.” The Mandalorian religion appears to have some remarkably Christian themes. Themes such as living water, ritual washing, redemption, creedal formula and adoption are all found in Christianity.
Ritual cleansing with water is found in many religions, like the Hindu kumbha mela washing in the Indian Ganga River that is done every 12 years. However, water tied directly to the teaching of total redemption is analogous to Christian Baptism.
To be “redeemed” for his sin of removing his helmet and showing his face to a living being, Din Djarin had to bathe in the “living waters” of the mines of Mandalore. He stepped into the waters while reciting the Mandalorian creed.
Christian Baptism is also creedal in nature. In the baptismal rite, the Apostles’ Creed is recited by the baptized or spoken on their behalf. The baptized enters a special relationship with the triune God being baptized in His name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Christian Baptism, however, is predicated on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:1–5). The baptized is brought into Christ and made to share in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Thus, new spiritual birth and life are given in Baptism (Titus 3:4–7). A person is fully redeemed by water and the word in Baptism. Forgiveness of sins, rescue from death and the devil, and eternal salvation are all given freely in Baptism.
The third season of “The Mandalorian” also ends on the theme of adoption. The Mandalorian adopts baby Grogu as his son so that Grogu can be a Mandalorian apprentice. Grogu becomes Din Grogu. In Baptism a person is adopted into the family and people of God (Gal. 4:4–7). Baptized Christians call upon God as their loving Father who gave His Son so that they can be sons and daughters of God.
Star Wars is a fiction fantasy. While religious themes surface throughout the movies and spin-off series, they are entertainment. The redemption of the world by Jesus Christ is no fantasy. It is the reality of God’s salvation apprehended by faith. Christians can enjoy the Star Wars universe for the entertainment it gives. Christians live and rejoice in the reality of Christ’s redemption every day.
Photo: (L-R): Grogu and Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) in Lucasfilm’s THE MANDALORIAN, season three, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.