Or perhaps Hollywood has gone… biblical?
Hollywood has a long history of digging into biblical story lines to come up with epic productions like Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, and The Passion of the Christ. And now, Hollywood mega couple Roma Downey and Mark Burnett (producer of popular shows like Survivor) have come up with the highly acclaimed and well reviewed miniseries “The Bible,” which will run this Spring on the History Channel.
The docudrama will present 10 episodes with major stories from the Old and the New Testament, and evangelicals like Rick Warren are not only endorsing it, but Rick Warren himself is presenting a preview and a behind-the-scenes look at the series.
Unlike Rick Warren, I personally do not endorse Hollywood efforts depicting aspects of the Judeo-Christian faith and stories from the Bible. This is a personal decision, and I understand that many Christians are eager to promote movies such as The Passion in an effort to extend the Kingdom of God.
There are several reasons why I do not get excited about these projects, and have serious reservations about recommending them:
1. I have a difficult time receiving a Bible story, especially one that encapsulates the gospel, told by directors and actors who do not know the LORD. Some may know the LORD, but I suspect that their numbers are very low, or perhaps almost non-existent. Again, this is a personal stumbling block for me. Generically speaking, how can an actor “become” a depraved character in one movie, and then turn around and depict Christ in the next movie? How can a depraved director depict for us the inspired word of Scripture in a film?
2. Every year around Easter and Christmas (I stopped watching TV for the last few years but I assume the trend continues) the Discovery Channel and History Channel present shows about Jesus and various aspects of our faith which are plain wrong. Various forms of heresies are presented mixed in with fragments of truth as was the case with the all the shows surrounding the Gospel of Judas and the Da Vinci Code a few years ago. Moreover, authorities from all kind of backgrounds are interviewed, from Universalists, to Catholics, to atheist historians who weigh in on Christian doctrine, and these are people who do not know the LORD. Having been illuminated by the Holy Spirit to understand God’s Word, it becomes a difficult exercise watching these “everyone-has-an-opinion” on the Bible shows.
3. Many of these shows and movies are not done with the intent of spreading the gospel message but with the intent to make money. Lots of money. The masses of Christians out there soak these projects up like they are supposed to soak up the real thing: God Word. For example, the Passion of the Christ is the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time (yes R-rated in the same sentence as Christ). It made $600 million just during its theatrical release, and many millions since then. Producers are getting very wealthy from these “Christian” films.
4. The gospel message and the Word of God as a form of entertainment is a turn-off for me. Many Christians do not have a problem with this aspect, but the Holy Spirit speaks to me when I read Scripture, and I feel that the Word is profaned when the depraved of this world take advantage of it to create films… whatever their motives are.
So, starting next week I will not hold my breath for “The Bible” miniseries to entertain me. “The Bible,” the real thing, is sitting right here on my desk ready to receive my delight. It’s a delight in truth.
That’s ironic Cornel 🙂 falling asleep during the Passion…. I found it very surprising when I was doing a little research for this post that Roger Ebert a famous film critic said that the Passion was the most violent film he has ever seen… Violence attracts viewers, as do good story lines like the ones found in the Bible
…exactly…was to much fake violence, controlling the eyes and the mind but Bible control the heart.
I completely agree with you here on all counts. I never did see the film “Passion of the Christ.” I did not think Christ could be adequately portrayed by an actor who depicted an array of characters in previous films. How can anyone show the fruits of the Spirit if the Spirit is not in them? All these “Christian” films try to not alienate its viewers (whatever their beliefs) by watering down the truth & over-emphasizing the “good parts” of the Christian faith without giving importance to the process of denying sin & “picking up the cross.” It’s like expecting a reward without actually doing anything to receive it. I would even go so far as to equate hollywood’s business-motivated depictions of the Christian faith to the money changers in God’s temple…mocking the house of the Lord.
I don’t think we should categorically dispense with Christian movies, although I do understand people’s objection to the problematic “graven image” issue in portraying Jesus.
One thing I have learned is that the Jesus film has been shown to hundreds, and in some cases thousands of people with particular dialects in which the Bible has not yet been translated. These folks watched the movie and could understand the Jesus narrative of his birth, works, death on the cross and resurrection.
Also, the same Jesus film, is reported on repeatedly by the persecution blogs to having been shown in islamic countries, where possession of a Bible is severely restricted, yet missionaries can carry the movie on their cell phones and iPads and show it to the muslims.
Would we want those 2 different evangelistic activities to cease, and not have the Gospel shown at all? I think we should use whatever method we can find, if we cannot put a Bible in their hands- then by all means, let’s show them the movie.
As for our own culture- I think we have to remember that in the US they used to teach the Bible in school, up until the 50’s. But, now kids are totally biblically illiterate. So, I used to have kids over with our kids and play the 6 hour Jesus of Nazareth DVD to them, and they were fascinated with the life of Jesus because they knew totally nothing about Him.
I think that film can be a very useful evangelistic tool, wherever the Bible is persecuted or when people reject Bible study, but will agree to watch a film with you.
just my thoughts 🙂
Valid points, Rodi. I do not stumble to much on the graven image issue. There may be some evangelistic value in some of these projects, but they are certainly not done with that scope in mind. Most of them at least. Some may be done with that scope. I just have a problem with Mel Gibson being an authority on telling the story of Jesus. 🙂