To be honest, Calvinism has gotten a bad rap over the years. So many people spin it into such an uberCalvinism (like more Calvinistic than Calvin was) that it turns God into some sadistic malevolent being who is using us for puppets and condemning so many people to hell. But that isn’t the idea behind Calvinism.
John Calvin, (not the boy and tiger but a theologian) was born in the 1509 and was part of the second generation of the great reformation. In other words, he was one of the people who carried the torch after Martin Luther. Calvin spoke about a God who, despite ourselves, strove to bring us back to himself. Some years after Calvin, a group of people in the Netherlands in a place called Dordtrech and put together a statement summarizing what Calvin said about the Bible, about God, about Jesus, etc. These are called the Canons of Dort.
What has always gotten me is the fact that in the Canons of Dort we read
In order that people may be brought to faith, God mercifully sends messengers of this very joyful message to the people and at the time he wills. By this ministry people are called to repentance and faith in Christ crucified. For “how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without someone preaching? And how shall they preach unless they have been sent?”
Okay, so I’m getting way too nerdy here when it comes to history. And what does this have to do with Palpatine in the first place?
I’ve been chewing on this for a while now ever since I’ve started really re-watching Star Wars episode 1-3. I’ve really come to the conclusion that Episodes 14-6 no longer make Luke Skywalker the one who brings balance to the Force but fulfills the prophecy that Master Windu claimed about Anakin back in The Phantom Menace. He truly was the one who brought balance to the Force.
But many of us might say that it was Palpatine (Darth Sidius) who who was pulling the strings the whole time with Anakin manipulating him to turning to the Dark Side. Yet in the end, Darth Vader made the decision to go against the Dark Side, to go against Darth Sidius, the Emperor and fulfill the prophecy.
Some might say that Palpatine manipulated him so that he really wouldn’t have a choice and some say that Anakin had free will to turn against the emperor.
What we have here is the debate between predeterminism and predestination. Predeterminism is the idea that God has laid out every since second of our day and that there’s nothing we could do whatsoever. Predestination is the idea that the end is known but there is free will within the confines of the final end. Have I lost you yet? Hold on, I might just do so in a second.
Palpatine had Anakin’s life planned out from his moment of conception. Palpatine told Anakin that his old mentor could even create life by manipulating the midichlorians. In other words, Palpatine planned for Anakin to be born. Yet in the Jedi temple, Yoda and Mace Windu debated if Anakin could be the one who would fulfill the prophecy and bring balance to the Force.
So, who created Anakin in the first place? Palpatine or the Force? Who directed Anakin? Palpatine or the Force? Was Anakin manipulated every moment of his life to fall to the Dark Side of the Force or did he have free will and finally chose to go the direction he did and fulfill what the prophecy said he would?
So, let’s break this down for a second for us. How do you see God? Are you frustrated with him because you see him as Emperor Palpatine, one who manipulates us for his own means and condemns some to hell and others to eternal life? Or is he a loving God who desires his people to come to him and fulfill what he has laid out for them?
God is calling you as a loving God, mercifully sending out his messengers of the Joy of Jesus Christ. He has a purpose for you.
And I’ll go into that more later.