Posts tagged Movies

Apologetic Wednesday: Is the Bible Rated R or Just PG-13?

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Bible_Rated RMurder. Sexual references. Gratuitous amounts of violence. Scenes of rape. Frightening Imagery. Adult situations. Deceit. Scandals. Scenes of war.  Incest. Sounds like a description of content from just about any rated R movie, doesn’t it? But actually, all of this content comes straight from scripture.

I am always surprised when someone says, “Reading the Bible is boring.” Seriously? Have you even read it, I want to ask? Aside from the fact that I believe it is the divinely inspired word of God, it is also some incredibly enjoyable reading. Sure, it has its slow parts (Leviticus anyone), but so much of it is simply good reading.

Skeptics of Christianity will often point out the atrocities and shady places in the Bible and ask, “How can you live by a book that contains all of this stuff?” Yet, many Christians will ignore or minimize areas in scripture that are not G rated.  Some believers have only given God’s word a cursory look, focusing on passages like John 3:16, while being completely oblivious to much of what goes on in scripture. Others only hear what they expect to hear or see what falls in line with their preconceived notions.

So, how is the Bible different from majority of today’s motion pictures that serve up a smorgasbord of debauchery and carnality? For starters, majority of what is churned out of Hollywood is for entertainment. Many of today’s films are simply to entertain, but always with a worldview smuggled in, I might add. Much of what we see on the big screen is a means of escapism. The viewer is to leave his brain at the door, enjoy a story, and escape from the world for a couple of hours. During this time period the person is meant to be entertained, often, by sinful situations, images, or scenes that are morally questionable.

But, there are many times, where the viewer witnesses the moral shortcomings of the actors in a film, which are crucial to gaining a better insight into human nature. That is, what is witnessed on the screen is not simply meant to entertain, but it is meant to show man’s struggle with his own fallen nature. Thus a distinction must be made by the viewer. He must ask, “Am I being entertained by sin, or am I witnessing man’s nature being shown for what it really is?” There are many difficult things to witness during a movie like Schindler’s List, but we are taught so much about what the human heart is capable of. In movie’s like this, the end result is not to be entertained by what we see, though the story is enjoyable, but to be repulsed by the moral failures of the actors and perhaps change areas were we waver morally.

When it comes to scripture, nothing presented within the confines of this sacred text is meant to titillate the reader’s sinful appetite. In fact, it is just the opposite. The morally questionable aspects of the Bible are meant to inform the reader of the consequences of sin and its impact in the lives of men. We find in scripture evil painted with a dark brush, showing what man is truly capable of.

We will also do well to remember that what is reported in scripture is not necessarily condoned by God. There is a difference in something being reported and promoted. When we read the Bible and come to a troubling passage we must ask ourselves, “Why is this here?” “What can I learn from this?” “Is this simply being reported or is God condoning this behavior?” We can know ahead of time, however, that if something evil is happening; there is no way God is promoting it. We may need to adjust our understanding of God, what He allows, or gain insight into the historical context, but we can rest assured that God does not delight in evil.

As an aside, I would also mention there is a drastic difference between reading something and viewing it. Again, what we read in the Bible is for the benefit of seeing sin in action. When we read the story of David and Bathsheba, we understand what took place and later see the consequences. We do not need to see Bathsheba actually bathing to understand that David liked what he saw. I can imagine if this scene was filmed for the movies today, we would no doubt see a beautiful, bare-breasted woman bathing. This is meant to please the eye, which is sin, not promote an understanding of sin, which is what scripture so aptly does.

So should the Bible be “Rated R”? Probably. There are definitely parts I don’t want my children asking me to explain to them anytime soon. But, we would do well to remember that scripture presents to us man’s true nature, and how far we fall short of God’s perfection. Yet, even in all of the R rated scenes and morally abject characters, we see God’s redemptive plan for mankind. What a beautiful story, that while we were sinners, God still loved us. He continually seeks us with his love, a love that no film could ever come close to capturing the emotion of.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

God At The Movies

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Are you a movie watcher? There is something about the art of story that fascinates me. I get completely drawn in to the plot, watching in anticipation as the story unfolds.

Movies are inextricably linked with our culture.  It is extremely commonplace to settle into a movie when one has some discretionary time. As Christians, we must be mindful that every film is either promoting a worldview, critiquing a worldview, or attacking a worldview. Each film that we watch has something to say about how we see the world and attempts to answer certain questions about life.

Majority of the time when we watch movies, we simply want to escape for a while and take in a story. It is often a rather mindless event, simply for the sake of entertainment. The problem with this is that we are often fed ideas that are inconsistent or detrimental to a Christian worldview. Over time these ideas affect us individually, and that spills over into our culture. Movies, along with other art forms, shape ideas.

So what do movies have to do with Christianity? Theologian, Gresham Machen states, “False ideas are the greatest obstacle to the reception of the gospel.” That is a pretty monumental claim. That is, the ideas that culture absorbs impacts Christianity and what people believe about God, life, and morality. It is our duty as believers to examine what is being communicated through the arts.

Every time I sit down to watch a movie I ask myself a few questions: 1. What worldview or belief system is being promoted, critiqued, or attacked? 2. What big questions about God or life is the film answering? 3. How consistent are the answers to the big questions with Biblical Christianity? I am not saying that we must turn into an overly critical movie watcher and ascribe meaning to every nuance throughout the film. I am saying that every film is promoting or attacking a certain worldview or set of ideas, and that it is our job to identify what these are and put them in their proper place.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 reminds us that “we are to demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” We are to challenge false ideas and promote correct ones. There are so many competing ideas in our culture. People look for answers and are, more often than not, disappointed with what they find. We must correct false ideas and keep them from being perpetuated. The arts are one of the greatest arenas for the dispersion of incorrect ideas and beliefs, so let’s watch with a critical eye.

Can you name a movie and spot the worldview being communicated in it? 100 cool points if you can. Let’s turn this into a game.

Walk good. Live wise. Be blessed.
Josh

Guess who’s back (echo echo echo)….Back Again

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Ok, so here is the deal. Writing is something that I have always been interested in and wanted to explore in greater detail. I have started blogs before. I started this one last year, made a few clever (in my own mind) posts and then that was that. I wanted to keep writing, but life got in the way. I would find myself saying, “I will get to writing when things slow down.” I have now decided that things don’t slow down, short of dying, and I have no intention of dying for at least another 50-60 years. I do hope I die before my wife, but that is a whole separate issue. Recently I read a tweet by Jon Acuff (if you don’t know who that is you really should so go check him out http://www.jonacuff.com/stuffchristianslike/) that said, “If I wrote only when I felt like it I would never write.” Thanks Jon, point well taken. So I have decided to force myself to write even when I can think of a laundry list of other things that I could be doing.

In the past, I had generally tried to keep most of my post related to life, Christianity, and theology. These topics will still be examined pretty heavily, but I have decided that no topic is off limits. I hope this doesn’t create a problem for my fan base, which at the moment probably consists anywhere of 1-3 people (Mom…Devon….you reading this?). So, some of my posts might interest you, some may not, but I thank you for stopping by from time to time to see what kind of musings my brain is squeezing out. While I would love it if someone out there in the blogosphere actually enjoyed my writing, the main intent is for me to get better at this craft and put on paper what I am learning

This past week I have been on vacation. I didn’t travel anywhere or do anything of special significance. I just stayed home and got caught up on some stuff I have been needing/wanting to do and spend time with my family and some friends. During the past week I have watched about ten movies and read close to three books. This, my friends, is what I call glorious. My addiction for the week has been reading Stuff Christians Like by Jon Acuff and listening the the new album by Owl City All Things Bright and Beautiful, which is the musical equivalent of Crack Cocaine.

So there it is. My pledge to do more writing…more varied writing. If I do not at least post a few times each month you have the write (pun, not typo, you have to clarify these things) to SPAM my inbox with hate mail. I encourage it. Thanks for letting me bring this mini update as well.

Walk Good. Live Wise. Be Blessed.

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