We have all heard the statement before, “there is no such thing as a dumb question” or “the only dumb question is the one you don’t ask.” I certainly agree with those statements, because it is through questions and experiences that we learn and grow. 2014 has been called “The Year of the Christian movie.” There are currently three faith-based movies out currently (Son of God, Noah, and God Is Not Dead), and there are slated to be more released later this year. As I was sitting down Sunday night reading a few blogs and articles on websites, I came across an interesting question. The question was, “Is it better to have bad theology/loosely based Scripture movies or none at all” (via foxnews.com)? I thought to myself, that is a really good question and certainly one that should be discussed in Christian circles across the country.
Let me say at the outset that I believe there are pros and cons to both sides. (Spoiler alert) However, I believe it is more slanted to the con side. On the one hand you at least have people making films that are conscious of making a movie that would appeal to faith-based audiences. You also have the benefit of it being another avenue in which Scripture can be put in front of those who would not otherwise read it. I’m sure there are other pros, but those are the two that stand out in my mind.
On the other hand, bad theology is not helpful in furthering the building up of the kingdom of God. In the day and age when the average church-goer is passive in their faith, that is they go to church, listen to the preacher for 30-45 minutes, and seldom if ever pick up their Bible during the week. For the average church member my fear is that they will not recognize Scriptural error when it is presented. Therefore, based on what they have seen, they believe that the director of the movie is presenting the truth of Scripture, without ever verifying it with the Bible. Then concerning the unsaved, by going and watching these movies, they will get preconceived notions of what the Bible teaches, and if they are presented with a conflicting view, this will breed confusion which is never helpful. My general thought is this, if you are going to take the time and spend the money to make a Scripture film, make sure that you stick with what Scripture says, and not our own thoughts or interpretations of Scripture. We are told in the New Testament to be careful not to be a stumblingblock to others. Therefore, my general thought would be, if we are not going to have correct theology, then we are better off not having the movie. I do realize that that opinion will most likely not sit well with many of my beloved brethren. I am not trying to be controversial or antagonistic. I believe that the Bible calls us to present the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. We must resist the temptation to water down the truth of the Bible in order to make it appeal more to the unsaved. A watered down Gospel of presentation of the Bible will not save anyone, it will only lead to confusion, false teaching, and false teachers. None of these things are from God. One disagreement that my brethren may have with this is the notion that I am saying that God cannot use something bad for His good. To that I want you to know that I believe that God can use anything He desires for His purpose. However, that doesn’t mean that we should act or live irresponsibly and sat “well God can use it or fix it.” Others will say, “well we can use the movie as a conversation starter and share the truth afterward in a Bible study or small group.” Certainly we have that option, and I would encourage churches and Christians to do that. However, the vast majority of people who will see these movies will not ask questions, they will simply believe what they have seen. Yet another argument is, we need to see what we are up against and learn how to defend our faith. We absolutely must be able to defend our faith, however, if I know the truth of the Scripture, then I don’t have to spend my time learning the various other arguments raised by others, I can point them to the truth.
Let me close this post by saying once again, God is sovereign and as such He can use anything and anyone in anyway He desires to bring about His good. I am not arguing against that. I am simply concerned that we are getting swept away from the truth by satan who masquerades as an angel of light. False teachers and false teachings many times have just enough truth in them to draw people away while at the same time feeding the people lies that go unsuspected and unquestioned, and this is never a good thing. 2 Timothy 2:15 tells us to “study to shew thyself approved, a workman unto God that needed not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Handling the Word of God is a dangerous thing, in fact something that still terrifies me to this day that I might lead someone astray. Therefore, if we are going to handle the Word, let us make sure it is with humility, prayerful dependence upon the Spirit, and presented accurately. If we aren’t willing to do this, then we are better off leaving it alone.
By His grace and through His strength may we live for Him