Christians at the Movies

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but it seems like Christian movies (or at least Christian-based or Bible-based movies) are taking over our movie theaters this year.  Right now there are four of them – “Noah,” “Son of God,” “God’s Not Dead”, and “Heaven is for Real.”  Focus on the Family’s “Irreplaceable” and “Mom’s Night Out” are set to come out in the next couple of weeks.  In future months we will see “Persecuted” and a reboot of “Left Behind” starring Nicholas Cage.  2014 will end with “Exodus: Gods and Kings”, a Hollywood epic directed by Ridley Scott & starring Christian Bale as Moses. 
 
We’ve come a long way from the days when Christians were warned to stay away from the wickedness of movies.  (Yet in many cases, the wickedness has certainly increased!)
 
And much of this is due to the success of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” 10 yrs ago.  At the time, Hollywood moviemakers’ interests were piqued by the $600 million the film made, but they had no Biblical movies in the works to capitalize on it with.  It has taken them this long to produce a big budget Biblically-based film, & they are watching to see how they are received.
 
Yet how do we as Christians regard these movies?  Sometimes, it seems like we are expected to applaud Christian movies if they relate true Christian ideals, even if they are poorly made, poorly acted, and unchallenging to the audience.  These are movies made by Christians for Christians that we all wish would appeal to our lost culture, but never do.  On the other hand, we are expected to decry entertaining & challenging movies when they stray too far from the Truth.  Noah is a great example.  Well-written, challenging, suspenseful, and starring Russell Crowe who is definitely channeling his inner Maximus here – but at times disturbingly inaccurate.
 
Do we boycott?  Do we support them hoping they will get better?  Do we simply ignore?  And how do we respond to the talk around the water cooler when someone mentions how Noah was grievous about the sinfulness of humanity, but also thinks rock monsters helped him build the ark?
 
As prominent as Hollywood is in our culture today, we cannot afford to ignore it.  For good or evil, our society is becoming more & more dependent on social media & entertainment.  It’s where the big money is being made.  It’s where our children are learning world views, history (or pseudo-history), & morality.  It’s what people are talking about, & it’s how many people relate to one another.  It’s not uncommon for us to quote movies or TV shows to one another in regular conversation now.  And have you noticed how many communities (sub-cultures) are created around the love of a particular genre or movie series (Twilight, Hunger Games, Super heroes, etc).  It’s not going away.  So we need to be smart in how we engage it.
 
So what do you think?  How do we relate to Hollywood’s version of the Bible or Christianity in the movies?  How much artistic license can they take with narratives from the Bible?  How can we use Hollywood’s movies to speak to our lost friends & neighbors about the Truth?
 
This Sunday my message will be on this very subject.  It’s been a great excuse to go to the movies as “sermon research”!  Yesterday, I went and saw “Noah”.  I will try not to give too many spoilers.  And yes, even if you know the Biblical story frontwards & backwards, there are plenty of spoilers!  Tonight, I’m going to see “Son of God.”  I don’t think I’ll have time to see the others that are out, but if any of you have seen “God’s Not Dead” or “Heaven is for Real”, I’d love to hear your impressions of it.
 
See you Sunday,
Pastor Travis
Copyright 2014, Canyon Ridge Baptist Church
4608 Rist Canyon Road, PO Box 294, Bellvue, CO 80512-0294