Book’s last words were refuted by his death: “I don’t care what you believe in, just believe in it.” These words are in line with this pastor’s ministry throughout the one season of Firefly. For example, when River tried to “fix his Bible” by rewriting parts of Genesis, he said “it’s not about it making sense. It’s about believing in something, and letting that belief be real enough to change you.” Does it not matter what you believe in, as long as you believe in something?
Refutation From Serenity
Shepherd Book was killed by an Alliance that strongly believes in something. They wanted to create a universe without sin. They believed in this strongly enough to kill children and pastors to make it a reality. They believed in this even though their first attempt at it accidentally killed an entire planet and unleashed destruction on surrounding planets. The mere fact that they believed in something did not make them better people.
Captain Mal chooses to fight the Alliance precisely because he does not hold the belief that people can be made better. In the end he is willing to die for his belief that everyone needs to know about the Alliance’s failed experiment. Mal has different beliefs than the Alliance, and that makes them mortal enemies.
Refutation From 2 John
John begins the letter by saying that “all who know the truth” love the church he is writing to (2 John 1). This is because this truth is objective and powerful, dwelling with us in the Person of the Holy Spirit (2 John 2, c.f. John 14:16–17). Faith in the truth inevitably makes one a better person.
John does not contrast love with hate, but with false teaching (2 John 6–7). When discussing men who deny the doctrine of the incarnation, John does not consider that their false beliefs might make them better people. Their ministry of deception is wicked works (2 John 11) that threaten to destroy the church (2 John 8).
Just as the different beliefs of Mal and the Alliance made them enemies, the false teachers are natural enemies of the true church. Whoever believes the false teachers “does not have God” (2 John 9). The church cannot receive these men as brothers, nor show hospitality that would support their ministry (2 John 10). This would be like harboring a mass murderer so he can continue his shooting spree.
The plot of Serenity and the Bible agree that false beliefs create enemies, and can send you to the Special Hell.
Can People Be Improved?
In the spirit of confronting false beliefs, I have to mention that Mal and the Alliance were both wrong. The Alliance thought that sin could be removed from the world by science and human power. Mal thought that people could not be improved at all, so they should be left alone. The truth taught in 2 John is that people can be improved, but only by the power of God by belief in the truth. The Bible only has transforming power because it is true. It is powerful because it was spoken by a very real God, who abides with His people forever.