“And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church (Ephesians 1:22).”
A new religious force is arising, Jediism, and it is attracting scores of followers. In the UK there are now more Jedi than Jews, or Buddhists as there are now 400,000 Brits who identify as Jedi (1). In 2005 John Henry Phelan founded the Temple of the Jedi in Beaumont, Texas, and in 2015 it was granted tax exempt status by the U.S. Government (2). The organization posts a list of 16 teachings of the faith, which seem to be subjective based on Phelan’s interpretation of the way Jedi’s are portrayed in the Star Wars films and his personal moral convictions common to the culture of the day. In all likelihood, George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars franchise has not endorsed nor was he consulted on the governance of the Jedi Temple rules and organizational structure.
God made Himself known to the patriarchs and prophets (Hebrews 1:1) but men created for themselves their own religions (Joshua 24:2). Micah fashioned an ephod (Exodus 28:5-8), as the high priest wore in the tabernacle, and made a shrine for a carved image (Judges 17:1-13). When he took in a Levite to serve as his priest he presumed this would in some way legitimize his corrupt worship. King Jeroboam of Israel determined that God’s instructions for His people to appear in Jerusalem three times a year (Exodus 23:14-17, Deuteronomy 12:5, 2 Chronicles 6:6) were too great of an inconvenience so he created two more centers of regional worship (1 Kings 12:26-33) and had shrines and idols constructed and rejected the Levites as priests and took them from other tribes (1 Kings 13:33). Did he not have the authority to alter the terms of worship, after all he was the king? Clearly, he did not and 22 times the Bible states that he caused the entire nation to sin in taking such authority to himself (e.g. 1 Kings 14:16, 2 Kings 3:3). Even a good king such as Uzziah sinned by daring to do (2 Chronicles 26:16-18, Numbers 3:10) what Jesus, during his days on earth, would not presume to do without Scriptural authority (Hebrews 8:3-4). The syncretism of the Samaritans had so polluted their religion that Jesus said they worshipped what they did not know (John 4:22). In varying degrees, they all made amendments to their worship outside of biblical authority.
Nearly 500 years ago, another king, Henry the VIII of England, started his own church and appointed himself as its head. He appointed priests and leadership at his discretion. Today there are nearly 85 million adherents to the church that he established. Did he not have authority to found his own church and appoint himself as its head (Matthew 28:18, Colossians 1:18), after all he was the king?
In recent times it seems that every business park has a start-up church with a unique name. Billboards are prevalent portraying husband and wife pastors (1 Timothy 3:2-4, 1 Timothy 2:12-14). Some churches have established synods, councils, and conventions unknown in Scripture to govern them. Many teach a plan of salvation that differs from Jesus’s teachings (John 8:24, Luke 13:3, Matthew 10:32-33, Mark 16:16, Revelation 2:10). Several offer little transparency or accountability of where the collections are spent. A few of these religious bodies have even voted to allow homosexuality among the membership and even to openly serve in leadership. Is this really loving and tolerant, in light of Scripture (1 Corinthians 6:9-11), to condone what God has condemned in His word? Do these religious institutions truly have the authority to so dramatically alter these matters of faith? Are they following the authority of Scripture or just doing what is right in their own eyes and following their interpretation of the temporal morals of the culture?
Surely, we can recognize that the Jedi Temple is a man-made religion and invalid in God’s eyes (John 14:6). But Jesus taught that even when our traditions are elevated above Scripture our worship is as vain as these pitiable Jedi (Matthew 15:2-6, Mark 7:8-13). Cultural morals shift with time but God’s word is settled forever. May we continually strive to search the Scriptures to find out whether these things are so (Acts 17:11).
“Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son (2 John 9).”