Movie-going for Christians has always been a bit controversial. Should we avoid them altogether or take them in moderation? Should we carefully choose or sample all kinds? Do they truly add to us or take away? Are they a complete waste of time in a world where people are dying outside Christ?
And religious movies! Biblical films, to be exact. How proper is it to attempt to portray Deity? Many holy men and women of God resolutely resist viewing anything so blasphemous as a human representing Jesus Christ. Why, they say, how does this differ from Popery? Is it not forbidden by Moses himself?
I understand the conflict in all of the above, and have wrestled with issues concerning the media all my life. Without entering into the fray at present, I can say this much about some movies, whether or not I should have allowed myself to see them:
It was during a viewing of the Billy Graham film Shadow of the Boomerang , listening to Billy's preaching, when I first truly experienced the forgiveness of Christ, becoming fully aware of my wretched condition. Now it was the preached word that saved me. Going to a Billy Graham Crusade would have had the same effect. But I can't deny that it was the movie that got my attention.
Among other things, Graham's The Hiding Place motivated me to seek out and help those suffering in persecuted countries. Perhaps the other things would have been enough, but it was the movie that built the fire.
My wife and I both remember childhood viewings of Ben Hur and that last scene where the blood of Jesus is seen mingling with the rain and symbolically touching the lives of mankind. We were not theologically seasoned in those days, but a truth of Scripture found its way into our hearts through General Wallace's tale of the Christ. Yes, we could have read the book. But we didn't. We saw a movie.
Even The Sound of Music had a way of refreshing me and making me want to serve the Lord more, though in those days I had no educated idea of the dangers of Romanism.
The Jesus Movie is used around the world and reportedly is instrumental in bringing untold numbers of people to Christ. I found the movie somewhat refreshing if not perfectly accurate in all places.
I hope I make the point here, that in many lives, though perhaps God would have preferred simple presentations of the Gospel through preaching or personal testimony, nevertheless, "Christ is preached." And we must rejoice over every soul that comes to God.
The Mel Gibson case before us is somewhat in the same genre. Many will come to know Christ, or at least of Him. Questions will be raised. The true ministry can be performed after the movie, and servants of Christ should be at the ready for this unique opportunity. It still could be argued that our God would prefer the method He taught us, but one cannot disagree with persons using what is in their hand to glorify Christ. May Christ be uplifted in all things. And may all of us find our way to lift up Jesus in our world.
Why the controversy, then? What needs to be added to the above? If a project is being undertaken for God's glory and God gets that glory, can we not be content?
I would suggest that many things are attempted in our world and have been in every century, for the glory of God, and one way or another God got what He wanted from them, but to put His stamp of approval on these things would be to miss the mark. The Promise Keepers organization comes to mind. Many friendships in Christ were created. Many came to Christ. Christ was uplifted in the media. But then came those after-meetings of which we began to hear, where grown Christian men were sitting around and discussing their sex lives. Then the realization that there were strong ties to Romanist influence in the entire venture.
Similar issues arise in the movie project known as The Passion of Christ. With all the good stated above, there are several very serious problems with this multi-million dollar cinema. I pray that my readers will patiently and prayerfully examine the evidence regarding this and other Christian projects before selling out to what seems to be the inevitable.
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And who am I? A man found of God over 50 years ago, called to the ministry, serving the Lord as needed in my world. Married, member of a local church in the Chicago area, with full time work in public education. I love to write Scriptural works. Who are you? Would love to fellowship with believers who respond.