I’m a movie watcher.
Of course, you know that by now. It’s not at all unusual for me to quote a line or even play a clip from a meaningful film during a sermon, if it helps move a thought forward, or at least provokes the imagination God-ward.
That is why I have been intrigued, if not baffled, by the number of “faith-based” films being released in 2014. Have you noticed the trend?
Son of God, (20th Century Fox)
Noah (Regency Enterprises)
Heaven is for Real (Sony Pictures)
God’s Not Dead (Pure Flix)
Exodus (to be released later this year, by 20th Century Fox)
Mary, Mother of Christ (also to be released later this year, by Lionsgate)
Lauded by some. Loathed by others. All of the movies are getting mixed reviews.
Depends on who’s holding the popcorn, I suppose.
The one thing possibly more curious to me than the sheer number of these films, is the passionate (albeit, predictable) public debate over their accuracy and even efficacy.
Take Noah. Please.
It’s been amusing to sit back and observe the posturing of critics on both the right and left, in anticipation of the film’s release. Some decried it as blasphemy, and refused to see it for a myriad of theological reasons. Others have celebrated and advocated, as if God were co-director. Or, at least key grip.
I plan on seeing it as soon as I can. I’ll see anything with Russell Crowe in it.
As long as he doesn’t sing again.
(No, really. No singing. I’m still not over what he did to Les Mis.)
Whether you cheer or jeer any of these films; or even see them at all, remember two things:
1.These are movies.
The purpose of most movies (whether stated or not) is to make money and entertain audiences. Aaaand pretty much in that order.
Sounds cynical, doesn’t it? But it’s not, really.
It’s just what the entertainment industry is supposed to do.
And while there are always some filmmakers who are rare exceptions to the rule, let’s not forget that Hollywood is not a church. It is not driven by the same truth-claims as we.
Hollywood makes movies. Sometimes, great movies. But that’s what they are. Movies.
2.Movies can inspire our faith, but it is OUR responsibility to nurture it.
Truth is, both of my boys have expressed an interest in a few of these films. And why wouldn’t they? The trailers look great. So, we’ll go to as many of them as possible.
But here’s the catch.
We will talk about what we see over dinner, or in the car, or wherever.
We will read and discuss the story of Noah together. Which, by the way, is found in Genesis 5:32 -10:1. (You probably already knew that. Just saying.) I will teach them to read for themselves what the Bible says (and doesn’t say). They will know. Because it is their responsibility to own their own faith.
Even the movies that may not be about the Bible, but appear to be faith-driven, will still require some unpacking. Some discerning. Some gut-checking, follow-up conversations about the assumptions being presented as faith on the silver screen. After seeing God’s Not Dead, for example, I fully anticipate talking with the boys about the relationship between faith and reason, and how both are required for this journey.
In the end, it requires that we do as Paul has instructed in Philippians 2:12. It requires that we responsibly “…work out our own salvation in fear and trembling.”
Johns Creek Baptist Church