By the time the final credits begin, Jewish and Christian viewers of Raiders of the Lost Ark will probably be wondering why the producers of the film brought God into all this. And in a box at that.

Raiders is the latest production of Lucasfilm, Limited, a movie company owned by George Lucas, the man who created Star Wars. The director, Steven Spielberg, is a friend of Lucas, and the director of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Both have specialized in fast-paced adventure films, and the result of this, their first collaboration, is an exhilarating story of suspense.

The film is set in 1936. Archaeology professor Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) is commissioned to locate the lost ark of the covenant. It seems that Hitler is determined to acquire the ark, convinced that it will make him invincible. The Nazis are on the verge of finding it. Jones must find it first.

The story moves from Nepal to Egypt to a secret Nazi base in the Mediterranean as Jones chases his prize. At every stop there are new opponents, new dangers. Jones faces certain death even few minutes, but he always manages to outwit or outfight his enemies. In its concentrated excitement, Raiders almost makes Star Wars seem dull.

Yes, the film is immensely entertaining, and the kids will love it. And yet—what is God doing here? And in a box, at that?

George Lucas is the most religiously oriented of American filmmakers. The Star Wars epics have an explicit theological content. Of course, Christians have frequently complained about the grab-bag theology of The Force, and rightly so. It’s there, though, an inseparable part of these films.

It is also worth noting that Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters lends itself to theological interpretation. It is easy to see images ...

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