Only Sith’s Deal in Absolutes

The Star Wars prequels were pretty bad. Not bad enough that I won’t watch them occasionally, but bad enough that I don’t know that I want to infect Alex with them, though he has seen Revenge of the Sith. As bad as they are, they contain one of my favorite quotes. As Obi-Wan confronts the now evil Anakin Skywalker, and Anakin tells him that he is now his enemy, Obi-Wan retorts “only Sith’s deal in absolutes.” Its an interesting rejoinder when its clear there are clearly things Obi-Wan thinks are absolutely right and wrong (killing younglings for example). I like to think that Obi-Wan is hitting on a deeper principle, one that we can take and apply to life: don’t draw hard divisions when none exist.

We see this a lot in the world we live in: someone disagrees with me so not only do we not agree, that person is evil and must be lambasted. This is why Twitter is such a treasure trove of hate and insults, and maybe why our “Sith” side is fed by reading the drivel there that passes for discourse. While sad, this is not unexpected because with the power of the pen (or keyboard as it were), people have always eviscerated their foes with relative safety (check out the politics of the early Republic, it makes our time look tame).

Where I hate seeing this is in the arena of theology. We have incorporated the coldness of society into our intellectual pursuits of God. Calvinists question the salvation of Arminians, and vice-versa. Covenant Theology adherents are certain that Dispensationalists cannot possibly take the Bible seriously, and vice-versa. It’s almost unconscionable to believe that Protestants and Catholics have the same Savior, but very different ideas of how church should operate, and how grace is obtained. And please lets not bring up what is the right way to baptize someone.

As I get older, I tend to want to yell at everyone “only Sith’s deal in absolutes!” Meaning of course, that while there is much that we need to maintain absolute purity on, most of what we end up yelling about is outside the hard lines that we should draw. Now I believe that there is a “right” understanding when it comes to most positions in Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy, I just don’t feel like everyone who disagrees with me is hell bound. I don’t think I should deny communion to those who were sprinkled instead of dunked. I don’t feel comfortable condemning Roman Catholics to hell as a group. Our Sith nature tells us that we have to be right, and being right is more important than anything else, but Jesus said to deal with our brothers and sisters in love. In fact, John gave us a great assurance of salvation is the way we love fellow believers. Not how pure our doctrine is, or how many Facebook arguments we win. Sith’s deal in absolutes, let Christians deal in grace.