Over at 22Words, John Piper’s son Abraham’s site of wonderful aggregate cultural goodness, there is a post about 30 of the most misquoted lines in Western culture. One misquote that stands out is the line where Darth Vader reveals his identity to Luke in Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back.
Now, anyone who is a fan of Star Wars and found themselves near a spinning fan blade can admit to pulling the fan close to their mouth whilst exclaiming in a low voice — a la Tommy Boy — “Luke, I am your father.” Every time we meet someone named Luke we inevitably make this joke. Any father who wants to reinforce his authority over his children jokes in this manner. We all say it — “Luke, I am your father.”
Here is the problem — Darth Vader doesn’t say, “Luke, I am your father.” He says, “I am your father.” But everyone who has seen that seen summarizes it with the line, “Luke, I am your father” because we all essentially understand the thrust of the logic of that scene. Darth Vader is revealing himself not to simply be a father, but to be Luke’s father — which means that Luke is the son of Darth Vader. Pretty basic exegetical analysis of that scene.
How This Scene Helps Us In Apologetics
Often times in conversations with my non-Christian friends and neighbors, I will hear someone make the assertion that Jesus never claimed to be God. They will look to texts like John 10:30 “I and the Father are one” and take the straightforward literal translation and conclude that Jesus did not claim to be God. My Mormon friends make such an accusation. My atheist friends make a similar allegation. My Bahá’í friends justify this claim with similar logic.
And, let me say, that I understand the basis for such counter-claims. After all, evangelical Christians claim to be people of the Book who use a straightforward literal interpretation of scripture. So when we look to passages like John 10:30 and then begin to interpret it using a more sophisticated interpretive approach, we set ourselves up for such comebacks from our non-Christian friends. I will admit my own inconsistencies in this matter.
But lets get to the truth at hand here. Everyone who watches Darth Vader’s confession knows what he is claiming — that He is Luke’s father — despite the fact that he never says the exact wording, “Luke, I am your father.” His intent is clearly understood by the audience.
Likewise, when Jesus says “The Father and I are one” His intent is clearly understood by the audience. We can have exegetical side conversations about straightforward verses nuanced meaning in interpretation until we are red in the face. But that doesn’t change the reality that we can confidently know that Darth is Luke’s father and we can confidently know that Jesus is God based on the evidence of language and authorial intent.
So, the next time your Mormon friends knock on the door, invite them in, offer them some non-caffeinated drinks, and show them The Empire Strikes Back. Then start up that conversation about John 10:30 and see where it leads. You may be able to argue about exegetical technicality, but you can’t argue with Darth Vader.