Theological Truths in TV Series: Get Smart

Theological Truths in TV Series: Get Smart

by Rector Jim Murphy

Does anyone remember the old TV series that ran from the mid 1960’s through mid 1970, entitled “Get Smart?” For those of you who were not around back then or who may have forgotten, Get Smart was a spy-era spoof of a bungling secret agent, Maxwell Smart, and his savvy female side-kick, Agent 99. Max was also known as Agent 86. He and 99 worked for the good guys, known as Control, in opposition to Chaos (Kaos), the always-up-to-no-good, bent on evil guys. The series produced some good laughs even if it was a bit on the silly side.

Get Smart is not necessarily noteworthy as an example of good drama, cinematic success, sublime acting or technological sophistication. However, it is noteworthy for the theological premise, intended or not, that was at its core. The series title, along with the ongoing battle between Control and Chaos, good and evil, is, biblically speaking, spot on.  We can learn a lot, we can “get smart,” if we gain a better understanding of the ever-raging war between godly control and satanic chaos. Indeed, such knowledge can “save” us, humanity, and the world.

At the beginning of Creation, recounted for us in the first two verses of Genesis chapter one, we are given a picture of initial chaos. The earth was formless, empty and dark—it was the epitome of chaos. Who could live, what could live in total darkness and without substance or matter? Who would want to attempt to live in such a situation? The picture is further “filled-in” for us as the Spirit of God is described as hovering over the tempestuous, chaotic waters. The pre-creation waters had no order, no place to go or settle. In view of the havoc wrecked by Hurricane Florence and the chaotic seas that it spawned we have a reasonably good picture of that chaos.

What is the creative, loving God of the universe going to do in the face of life inhibiting Chaos? He will bring order to creation, he will bring it under his benevolent, sovereign, and powerful Control. And such is the substance of the following verses from the first two chapters of Genesis. The Master or Lord of Control brought life giving, life enhancing order from the dangerous, chaotic mess.

But, that state of garden-like bliss didn’t last long. Reading on in the Bible we find that this heaven-sent peace lasted only until Adam and Eve, acting on behalf of all humanity, decided to wrest Control from the Lord of Creation. They sinned. We sinned. We wanted control of our lives and we thought that being in the driver’s seat, as it were, would accomplish that for us. How short-sighted we were! Satan gained control through our sin and uses that leverage today to keep us in an unending, chaotic mess.

In an attempt to order human behavior in the only safe-mode possible, God had declared the fruit of a single tree to be off limits. Our Almighty Father did so because he knew that with anyone else “in charge” we would wind up right back in the very chaotic mess we chose when we took the fruit. Look at the world around us and discern, if you will, who or what rules the roost: Control or Chaos?

Thanks be to God that his love is more powerful than satan and our proclivity to sin or control. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to wrest back ultimate Control from the hands of Chaos, the devil. And this he accomplished by paying the price for our sin, surrendering his own life. He paid the price so that we could choose to refuse that forbidden fruit from this day forward. That is, if we will but “Get Smart” we can cancel the death dealing decisions of the past by saying yes to God, to his Son, Jesus Christ. Chaos will get the message and God’s Holy Spirit will supply the power to be free from the ultimate mess.

Originally published in The Highlander, September 2018.