Thoughts on Christians, movies and film making.
I won’t belabor the point about a homosexual activist pretending to be a Bible believing Christian. Others can articulate it way better than myself. I can say I am disgusted that Focus on the Family and other Pro-family groups who usually carry on about gays taking over the world and eating our children, are strangely silent. Why hasn’t James Dobson gone to the airwaves to interrupt his normal programming schedule with a special Focus on the Family broadcast addressing this issue? Why haven’t I received an hysterical letter condemning this movie from the American Family Association? Perhaps they are forth coming.
Those things aside, what I always shake my head at is how evangelical Christians believe that in order to gain an audience and find an appeal with the heathen film goers, they have to produce a film that has Christianized themes running through it, but stops way short of presenting any kind of genuine gospel presentation. In my opinion, Christians and film making don’t mix.
Apparently, it is assumed the heathen film goer will utterly turn away from an outward and blatant film with an openly gospel presentation. So, what evangelicals do instead is produce movies with “christianized themes” in them. The heathen film goer is then lured (some my say “tricked”) into watching the movie and it is believed he or she will catch on to the christianized themes and then be interested in going to Church, where the heathen can then hear a “smashmouth” outright gospel presentation, be convicted of his or her sin and become a Christian. At least that is the idea. Churches, in turn, produce literature in conjunction with the film that ask pertinent questions pertaining to the christianized themes that is suppose to open a dialog with the heathen film goer to sneak the gospel in through the back door, as it were.
Christians can be such dopes sometimes. Evangelical suckers. Do they really believe movies with subliminal Christian themes will be a catalyst to move an unbeliever hostile to religion down an aisle to make a decision for Jesus?
I was told the movie “To End All Wars” was suppose to be a powerful film presenting the gospel. At least that is how it was sold on Hank’s BAM show when he interviewed the writer for the screen play, Brian Godawa. Apart from one scene in which a main character is crucified by the Japanese soldiers, the movie was hardly a film portraying the gospel. It presented morality, but not necessarily Christian morality.
And what about Christians who try to hunt down Christian ideas in regular secular movies? Take for instance “The Matrix.” The film has a few allusions to Christian ideas, but to suggest that it was a movie with overt Christian themes is ridiculous. It had allusions to several world religions. And to think about all the youth group leaders who took their junior high schoolers to the Saturday afternoon showing of the sequel to the Matrix, The Matrix: Reloaded, believing the movie would be this big conversation starter to present a four spiritual laws tract out in the theater lobby, only to be scandalized by the orgy scene 20 minutes into the film. I could laugh if it were not so serious.
Christians need to realize Hollywood does not care for them, nor their values. All evangelicals are to Hollywood is another means to make a buck, so they throw them a few sugar sticks with these allegedly wholesome religious films designed to just present enough of what Christians are familiar with, but hold back so as not to offend everyone else. And sadly, the Christian community laps it up.
Why is that? Let me suggest a couple of reasons:
First, a good portion of American evangelicals are theologically and biblically illiterate. They don’t have a correct understanding of man’s sin and how it impacts the totality of his thinking. A “christianized movie” that lacks any genuine gospel presentation will not convince the sinner of his sin and his need to repent and turn to Christ. Yet, these illiterate Christians truly believe that if a TV program or movie has a character reading a Bible verse or a character making a comment about his faith, that is a clear gospel presentation.
Secondly, Christians hold to the erroneous idea that in order to gain an audience with today’s world, they have to give the appearance of being relevant with our culture. In relation to movies, this is manifested in at least two ways:
1) The Christians who make what really amounts to a secular movie with subtle christianized themes. Again, the movie “To End All Wars” is a good example. The film is basically a WW 2 prison film about British and American soldiers held captive in a Japanese camp who were forced to build a railroad through the Burmese jungle. It is full of brutality and cursing. But running through the film is a thread of forgiveness and personal sacrifice for others. In the mind of the film makers, they really believe this film presents Christian morality, even though there is no gospel presentation and if you were to watch the “making of” documentary on the DVD, none of the actors saw the movie in this way.
2) Those Christians who think they have to see every movie made so they can comment upon it from a “Christian worldview.” This is a trend I see among many evangelicals who want to be culturally relevant. They believe that in order to be taken serious in the eyes of the secular world as a cultural critic, they have to subject themselves to every filthy and violent film vomited out by Hollywood while quoting Francis Schaffer at the same time. Personally, I don’t see why I need to subject myself to the bloodsoaked, pornographic snuf film, Hostel, in order to frame it with my Christian worldview as a bloodsoaked pornographic snuf film. Do I really need to go watch the sodomy of Brokeback Mountain before I can talk with a worldly person as to the film’s detriment upon our society?
Believe me, I like movies. I own several favorites on DVD. I don’t tell Christians to not go to movies or rent films; I allow them to discern and make that decision for themselves. And, I occasionally like some evangelical films that do make an attempt to present the gospel, even if they are painfully embarrassing to watch. But please, let the American evangelical public stop pretending to think Hollywood is going to release a truly Christian film. It is not going to happen, even from independent film makers like the one who made End of the Spear.