The following is a response to a very important question from a reader after The Barean Call published an article, “The Bible According to Hollywood 2”
Question: I’ve spent countless hours talking to those who support biblical movies, and no matter what concerns I raise that are abundantly clear from the Scriptures, the final word on their part is, “I hear what you’re saying, but I still feel that God can use such movies to win people to Jesus.” What do you say to those who respond based upon what they feel?
Response: God, in His abundant mercy, can certainly bring conviction of sin and draw a person to Himself in ways and means that seem to be an exception to what we would normally see. Consider these scenarios: 1) A Roman Catholic at Mass hears a verse quoted from Scripture during the priest’s homily. The verse speaks to the person’s heart and leads him to the biblical gospel and salvation. 2) Some of the writings in the Book of Mormon (which were plagiarized from the King James Version of the Bible) are read by a Mormon, who is then convicted by those words; they help lead him out of the cult, and to salvation. God’s Word, as we know, will not return void but will accomplish what He intends (Isaiah 55:11)
Can we then say that the Mass and the Book of Mormon are legitimate means of bringing the lost to Christ? No…God cannot support such things for evangelizing that contradict or corrupt His Word, and He does not. Again, in His mercy He may use such things even when they contain only a slight hint of truth to help deliver a person from spiritual bondage.
Biblical movies are similar to the above examples because in the attempt to translate the Bible to the screen, the content must be altered to fit the medium. That involves adding dialogue to the Scriptures not found in the Bible, scenes not found there, characters who are portrayed out of their biblical context, emotions and drama not indicated in Scripture, and the list goes on. In other words, they are a major distortion of God’s Word. For those who still cling to the belief that God, nevertheless, is using such errors to draw multitudes of the lost to Himself, we appeal to them to consider these two words: damage control.
Although God may use whatever truth may be gleaned from any medium, the unsaved meanwhile will have been subjected to a truckload of unbiblical teaching. God’s objective would not be to have people partake of the errors but rather that the lost would respond to the truth. Those evangelical Christians who know the Lord, however, and who watched movies such as The Passion of the Christ and Son of God have consequently been fed imagery that confuses their biblical literacy at best and corrupts the truth of what they have already been taught at worst. This is damage that has serious consequences and must be dealt with for the sake of both the lost as well as believers. (thebereancall.org)
The following is a Survey by George Barna
cited in Gary Gilley’s “Think On These Things” Newsletter, July 2004
THE IMPACT OF “THE PASSION”
Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion,” was the eighth highest-grossing domestic film of all-time, viewed by over 60 million Americans. This success was due largely to the efforts of many prominent evangelicals who touted “The Passion” as possibly the best evangelistic tool since Pentecost. Some were proclaiming that the movie would win millions to Christ and usher in a new Reformation. What is the verdict? What impact has “The Passion” had?
The anticipated Barna survey is out, and he and his researchers are “startled.” The impact is virtually nonexistent. Only 16% who view the film said that it had any affect at all on their religious beliefs. Of those [only] 8% said they are going to church more. But it gets worse. The startling part, according to Barna was, “Despite marketing campaigns labeling the movie the ‘greatest evangelistic tool’ of our era, less than one-tenth of one percent (.1 %) of those who saw the film stated they had made a profession of faith or accepted Jesus Christ as their savior in reaction to the film’s content.”
Barna’s explanation: “One of the lessons from this situation is that major transformation is not a likely result from onetime exposure to a specific media product.” Exactly! The gospel is not a media event – it is not declared well in the form of entertainment. It was meant to be proclaimed, preached, lived out before unbelievers, and carefully explained with an opened Bible. http://www.deceptioninthechurch.com/passionimpact.html
HOW CAN WE SAFELY GO TO A “CHRISTIAN” MOVIE?
Over and over in matters of discernment we return to 1Thessalonians 5:21: Prove all things.
Yet there is another, equally simple-to-follow verse of primary importance that will keep us safe:
11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
– Acts 17:11 New International Version (NIV)
The Book of Acts was written by Luke, the Physician. He commends the Bereans as being “more noble” because they diligently examined the Scriptures to ascertain the validity of Paul’s teachings. Yes, this took dedication and time; but for God’s commendation they decided it was worth it.
…AND WE’RE DONE!
I feel as if I’ve taught a course we shall call “Christians and the Movie Industry: How to Be Safe.” However, if any of you want to truly explore this topic, I would go to an expert in the matter: T.A.McMahon who wrote the book Showtime for the Sheep. That book will truly give you the heart of a Berean.
Comments? We don’t publish comments on the blog directly but would love your feedback! Click here to submit your questions and comments and I will respond at my earliest opportunity!
I would like to thank my fellow consultants for all their assistance in getting this blog published: Hannah Hall, Michelle Arrington, Ariel Mcgarry, Carol White, J.P.Wilhelm, and Tracy Yoder. Their encouragement and patience have been invaluable to me.
“The Bible According to Hollywood” by Michelle Arrington