I’m not much of a movie goer and so it should not be surprising that I have yet to view the recent offering of Biblical films at the cinema. Son of God, nope. God is not Dead, agreed, but haven’t seen it. Noah, negative.
What I have seen is the recent reaction to these films in the Christian community. God is Not Dead seems to be doing well amongst church goers, but Son of God and Noah seem to be drawing quite a bit of flack. To surmise the argument the beef with the films is that they are not Biblical. The arguments range from omissions to additions to the Biblical story. In the case of Noah the argument is that it is horribly un-Biblical not only in its story line but in its exegesis of the spirit of the story of Noah all together. The call to boycott in Jesus’ name abounds.
I have but one question to ask, the other movies we watch and enjoy, how Biblical are they?
I know that with a Bible based film we have some expectation that it should be Biblical, but when it comes to film should we really hold it to the same accountability as a sermon, a Sunday School lesson, or a lecture in a Christian University? Those types of media we certainly hold to the measure of Scripture, but how far does this scrutiny go?
The church drama where the bus crashes and the cast of characters are left on stage in a dark room to have a conversation about their choices in life, half of them eventually to be dragged away kicking and screaming by a demon to Hell, half of them to ascend by some clever rope system to Heaven; Biblical? It certainly helps communicate a message, but I’m not sure there is any Scriptural text that suggests that after death we get a few minutes to talk about things in a dark room. Furthermore, these dramas we insist upon, how well do they actually communicate the gospel or are we merely trying to scare the literal Hell out of people?
So now let’s run the list of themes in movies we enjoy and assess their Biblical worth. The love story where there is no commitment to marriage. The horror flick filled with demonism, spiritism, and witchcraft. Slashers? Samuel did hack Agag to pieces in 1 Samuel 15. How about cursing? How many words cross the line of enough is enough? Ephesians 4:29 says to allow no corrupt speech to come out of your mouth.
We could go on and on, but I think you see the point. Let’s be careful before we sink Noah only to walk down the hall of the cineplex and cash in on another film that takes the Lord’s name in vain, flaunts fornication and adultery, laughs at homosexuality, and we are once again slashed in the gut by a demon possessed kid that resurrected from the lake in a hockey mask.
Perhaps I need to offer a post at some point on how we as Christians should handle film. Yet that is not my primary purpose here. Also understand that with this post I certainly do not wish to advocate some legalistic veil of self-righteousness telling you that to live for Jesus you have to go G. What I would like, however, to endorse amongst Christendom, is a little bit of thought before you judge. Jesus said in Matthew 7:2, “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” And from here he launched that whole talk about the beam in your own eye thing. What an uncomfortable lecture from our Lord indeed.
So here I offer a few measures of thought:
- If we judge the Son of God film Biblically inconsistent, let us also be willing to search our own souls for Biblical inconsistencies. Why is anyone shocked that Hollywood didn’t get Jesus right? What should shock us is when the church doesn’t do a much better job.
- If Noah is too pagan for us, perhaps we need to clean up holistically on all of the other blatantly pagan films we would choose to see without any measure of Biblical discernment.
- If we have a level of righteousness and Biblical accuracy to which we would hold Hollywood filmmakers, who may or may not be Christ followers, we should understand that what is expected of those of us who do profess Christ should be much greater. If Jesus told his audience in Matthew 5:20 that their righteousness had to exceed that of the Pharisees, I promise you Jesus is also aiming much higher for your soul than Hollywood.
- Do not mistake protest for evangelism. No one will be born again this weekend because you won’t go to the movies. Saying you will not view something for the sake of Christ sometimes disqualifies you from a fruitful conversation with an unbeliever who did see the film. Be willing to fill in the gaps. Offer a discerning and wise assessment of the film. Now you have a common point for conversation. Watch the Noah film blow it, then lead a moviegoer to Jesus.
- If the film is not good, be so versed on the actual Bible story that you can show the world why the Holy Spirit inspired version is so much better.
- Don’t concentrate only on what the film didn’t say, discern what it said. When I do go to movies or watch television, I don’t watch what happens as much as I watch for what it means. Every film says something. Have a redemptive conversation with it.
- Don’t expect Hollywood to lead anyone to Christ. The world has been going in the other direction since the dawn of Babylon. Perhaps you can use the film to help you get a better understanding of how lost people view Scripture. Discern in the film not so much what is missing or overblown, but be willing to feel and feed the thirst and hunger for righteousness that may actually be there. Perhaps Noah and the Son of God are screams in the dark for someone of the light to step in and reveal the true story of the gospel.
As sheep amongst wolves, let us be wise. Say less about the film and more TO the film and TO those who go and return searching for answers. Let’s think before we speak.