I have been seeing something in recent days that is bewildering. It is not new, nor is it the first time it has come to the surface, but it is showing up big. And that is an unrealistic level of criticism being levied against Christian films. NOAH has done a lot draw this into the open, but it is not limited to any one film. It is an un-Christian epidemic that has spread through Christian culture.
Let me start by going on record as saying that I am about as big of a proponent of the Bible and scriptural teaching as you get. I think it is absolutely critical that we get it right. That said, I think we are holding movies to an impossible standard.
What Do We Mean by Exact?
Many of the comments sound like this If the movie is not exact to the Bible then they shouldn’t make it. Let’s examine this statement a little bit. Exact to what Bible? Even among the most prestigious translations there are enormous differences in wording, and sometimes in meaning as well. Are we saying it should be exact to our favorite translation? Take another step back. Exact to what language? English did not even exist when the scriptures were penned, so if you want it exact then it cannot be in English.
If you want to get really scholarly then we could ask which Greek and Hebrew source texts we want it to be exact to. The bottom line is that we are demanding more than realize, and more than is realistic.
Toss the First Stone
This however is the smaller issue. The bigger problem is that often our demands are hypocritical. We want a film that is exact to the scriptures. But how often are our lives an exact reflection of the scriptures? We want movies to be made to a higher standard than we hold ourselves to. Do you see it? There is some arrogance there, some pride that is blinding and dividing us.
How can we say that we want a Bible movie to be exactly like the scriptures when our lives are far from the scriptures in some areas? What kind of a witness is that? We are essentially saying I’m perfect so all Christian movies should be perfect. It’s a smoke screen though, an unjust complaint. We are stabbing one another in the back on the world stage.
The scriptures charge us to show grace to one another. Well, quite often there are a lot of one anothers involved in these films.
False Gospel or Un-Gospel-like Complaints
Others want to emphatically proclaim that these movies are contrary to the scriptures and proclaim a false gospel. And while I do get it, and I do realize there is a danger that we could be watering down the Word, it is not my movie and I am not charged with being the Holy Ghost police for everyone else. I have to look at the scriptures for guidelines in how I am supposed to deal with this. And The Bible gives us a plain example for situations such as these:
Test all things; hold fast what is good.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:21
This scripture tells us to be discerning, wise, and examining. But contrary to current cultural trends, it tells us to find what is good and hold onto it. It does not tell us to expel, criticize, shout, or complain about anything that we find that is not good. We just leave it behind.
When you are sifting through something looking for what you want and you find the prize, you take it and move on. This is the same idea. Use wisdom, examine the movies, and find every good thing you can and hold fast to it. As for the bad things, we should just leave those in the theater with the empty popcorn buckets and fountain drinks.
Image credit to jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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