This particular DVD is a talk Louie gave on astronomy and the greatness of God. It is chuck full of all sorts of way cool space photos of stars and galaxies and stuff. Louie also presents a bunch of interesting factoids about astronomy and space, like how light can travel around the Earth 7 times in a second! That’s like really fast.
The video is well done, I must honestly say. Giglio is a passionate, compelling speaker and it is clear he has a heart to proclaim the good news of the Lord he loves to those who will listen to him.
There is always a “But” with these kinds of presentations.
There are two sniggling problems I had with the video.
First, as I noted in my critique of his use of the Laminin molecule as apologetic evidence, Giglio exaggerates the nature of the evidence he presents, thus misappropriating what could otherwise be praise worthy of God’s glory on display.
The biggest example: take a look at the picture above.
Toward the end of his presentation, after he has shown many of his way cool pictures, Giglio excitedly draws our attention to Psalm 19 where the Psalmist writes how the heavens declare the glory of God. He then talks about the power of the Hubble Space Telescope to peer deeper into space beyond the distance of our earth bound telescopes. He then tells how the HST took a picture of the center of the Whirlpool galaxy, M51, and then he shows the above picture. I could distinctly hear the gasps of awe from the audience when he gives the big reveal. “Isn’t God awesome!” Giglio gushes, and everyone applauds and shouts “Amen!” He goes on to exclaim, “In the middle of the Whirlpool galaxy God has put the cross of Jesus!” He goes on to say thanks to NASA and the HST and says, “Keep the pictures coming” because God’s handiwork is on all of them.
I sat there with my nose crinkled and glanced over at my wife and said, “huh?” Giglio sees images of crosses in everything. In a manner of speaking, its like the evangelical equivalent of Mary appearing in tortillas. Being a person who has been around livestock before, I personally see a goat’s eye, but hey, that’s just me. Seriously, why does one think this helps God? I mean, the Whirlpool galaxy is pretty awesome, eliciting praise from my lips, even without a cross stuck in the middle of it. I think there is a danger of trivializing the hand of God at work when we attempt to draw our own interpretation from such pictures.
And then a second, more important problem: I think he missed a fabulous opportunity to hammer home the gospel. As I reflected upon my own criticism of this part of his presentation, I was personally convicted at the times I have failed in this way, so I am not finger wagging self-righteously here against Giglio. Thinking on how I believed he missed the mark caused me to re-evaluate myself, so I too have much to consider.
Where I think he fell short is as he wrapped up his talk, he flashes a picture of Jesus dying on the cross. Jesus is depicted as severely bloodied and beaten, and was probably a more accurate picture of what the crucifixion looked like. Giglio then talks about how this big God who created the heavens sent His son to die for our sins, take away our shame, guilty, and other aliments which plague our human existence.
“That sounds good to me, Fred, what exactly was wrong with his gospel presentation?”
There was no fear of judgment or God’s wrath to grip the hearts of the hearers so the gospel he presented would be precious.
In other words, Giglio gave us the solution with out telling us about the problem. If there were unbelievers present, they left that talk with out the sense of urgency of being an offender of God. The God who created the Whirlpool galaxy, who created all the stars and calls them by name, who has made light to travel so fast as to go around the earth seven times in a second, is the God Who will be your judge, Who will righteously condemn you to hell for eternity, Who sees you as a rebellious law breaker and deserving only of His wrath. That is where Giglio fell short. He should have told his audience that the God who created these celestial objects seen in these images is the same God you shake your fist at every day when you flagrantly break His laws with your sin, and with a God that powerful, no one should think they can escape Him.
And then, talk about God’s grace in making a way of salvation by sending Jesus to die on the cross for our sin.
Instead, I got to see a whole lot of pretty pictures and heard about how Jesus is a good guy to take away our sin. An autonomous minded teenager will go away thinking he is either OK, think the pictures are neat-o, or maybe think about going to church when he has some time. I don’t believe anyone would have walked away feeling the crushing weight of God’s severe hand of judgment pressing down upon their soul. We should hang our heads in shame when we present such an anemic gospel.
A few days later I returned the DVD back to our friend and we had just a brief time to chat, so I didn’t get to share with him all my observations about the presentation. I did tell him truthfully that I liked it (which I do) and appreciated him sharing with us. Before we parted, he told me about a bonus section on the DVD I should watch where Giglio talks about how the Laminin molecule looks like a cross. I couldn’t let that pass, so I told him that Giglio’s take on Laminin is a tad exaggerated and shared with him some of the things I mentioned in my previous article on the subject. He had a look of disappointment in his eyes and said, “Why would he say that if it weren’t true? Why didn’t he make some clarifying comment during his talk?” All I could say was, “I don’t know.”
Now, before I close up, I would recommend folks to see the DVD. Don’t avoid it because Giglio stumbles at places. Like I stated above, it is extremely well done and Giglio is, apart from those inadequacies I wrote about, a sound teacher. He keeps himself tethered to the scripture which is good. The DVD would be worth showing a Sunday school class or on a Wednesday night. My one exhortation is to be alert to these problems and take some time afterward to discuss the talk. It is a good opportunity to teach on apologetic methodology and the most accurate, concise way to present the gospel message.