Thursday, December 08, 2005

Missing The "BreakPoint"
-HOLLYWOOD doesn't define Christianity even on its best day

I love good books, good TV, good music, and good movies. I like to feel inspired, challenged, entertained, stirred in my emotions and uplifted. But then at some point I must turn off the iPod, put the computer on sleep mode, turn off the Tele, and exit the movie theater. For when the short-lived exciting emotions fade, I return to live in the real world of five kids, public school, neighbors, local church, and ministry.

Chuck Colson in his current BreakPoint speaking of Lewis’s “Narnia…” comes near to praising Hollywood for its focus on faith-based films. This last year, has been a banner year for this kind of movie: "The Passion"; "Lord of the Rings"; and now "Narnia, The Lion, The Witch, and Wardrobe.”

But as brilliant of a mind that Mr. Colson has been blessed with, he completely misses the point here as he has on other occasions (i.e., Mr. Colson supported ECT (Evangelicals and Catholics Together) in promoting an unbiblical ecumenism.)

Let me illustrate:

CC: “The film, which opens tomorrow, is being touted by some Christians as a sort of “magic bullet” that will change the way Hollywood goes about its business. Well, that would be good, and one thing you should do is brave the long lines and see this film.

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. If Christians should have learned anything about movies and their impact on culture, the first question that needs to be answered is the most important one: Is the movie any good?

Well, the critics have spoken. Their answer is a resounding “yes!” And I agree.”


How “Access Hollywood” of him to say so.

Listen, the most important question that Mr. Colson should be encouraging believers in the Lord to ask about any “Christianly” messaged film being promoted is… “is it biblically true?” Good is in the eye of beholder – it is wonderfully subjective and rightly so. That is why I liked “The Man from Snowy River” and one of my dear friends preferred “Rainman.” But truth by its very nature is not subjective, but objective – it is “forever settled in heaven.” Colson knows this; I assume he believes this; he just didn’t say this. So here’s the question he should have asked (but forgot to), “is ‘Narnia…’ biblical in its truth claims within the context of Lewis’s use of allegory?”

And contrary to what brother Colson asserts when saying, “Of course, Christians want to know if the film remains faithful to Lewis’s book”; most Christians I've spoken with want to know if it remains faithful to THE BOOK - the Scriptures? And the answer to that question has already been answered by Lewis’s theology itself - it does not.

Lewis is a brilliant writer and storyteller. He stretches the imagination and is a gifted wordsmith. But if anyone thinks that the “most important theological fact about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is its Christological focus... the salvation history is told with theological precision and with a continuous eye on the Gospel accounts of the life and death of Jesus” is gravely mistaken. (quote: by Leland Ryken).

When the world enthusiastically embraces fictionalized representations of Christianity, one must ask, “is it genuine Christianity that is being represented at all?” Has evangelicalism so bought into a fantasy approach to Bible telling and devotional instruction that it has dumbed-down the very essence of THE FAITH to longs to proclaim?

Can this film be used as a conversation touchstone for sharing the gospel with another? Absolutely; yes. But so can “The Exorcist.” Can this film teach some helpful lessons of a moral nature? Yes – without question. But so can “The Godfather Trilogy.” Can this film inspire, encourage, and stir up the human spirit giving needed hope in the trials of life? Most definitely! But so can “Seabiscuit”, “The Sound of Music”, “Rocky”, “The Patriot”, “Remember the Titans”, etc. Film doesn't have to be "christianly" in nature for those feelings to be tapped into.

The “breakpoint” is this: don’t go because Mr. Colson says you are to “brave the long lines and see this film” or for the reason that there is hidden biblical meaning in the allegory to explain the Christian faith. Go, simply because you want to enjoy a nice film with your family— and there is nothing wrong with that.

It is obvious that the church today has an unhealthy obsession with fiction to define their devotional life in Christ; and with the needed celebrity/popularity to represent the faith to give it a fresh relevency to the culture because it will give us the the greatest opportunity in contemporary times to share the gospel. No. Here’s the hard reality: if it takes “Narnia…” to motivate and give reason for you to tell someone else about the Lord Jesus Christ, then may I ask lovingly and humbly, “do you really know the Christ of Scripture at all?”

I‘m going to see “Narnia” tomorrow evening and am expecting to have a wonderful time of entertainment (to engage a person or audience by providing amusing or interesting material) like if I was seeing “Braveheart”; “What About Bob”; “Something’s Gotta Give”; or “The Natural.” I am not going with the hidden expectation to be moved deeply in my faith by some allegorical fictionalized imagery about atonement, resurrection, Christology, or sotierology. That would be imaginative, whimsical fantasy, playfully humorous, and disneyesque. That would be… “Narnia.”

If you’re looking to be inspired with the substance of authentic Christianity, may I recommend to you the most exciting, accurate, account ever told to man… read your Bibles. It will impact your life.

From the land of Narshvillia,
Steve
Colossians 2:8-9

7 comments:

Shawn L said...

Steve,

I agree to some degree and disagree a bit as well, however I haven't read your article below about C.S. Lewis and his theology. I agree that his theology was bad on many counts (substitutionary atonement/evolution/no talk of justification/inerrancy etc)

When I play with my kids who are 2, 3, and 5 we tend to sometimes play out books that we read or listen to on audio.

I think our two primary things we play together as is when we play Narnia and Pilgrim's Progress.

Some of my discussion about things with my kids focuses on the greatness of God and I think this kind of play sometimes assists in that. Of course structured family worship is so critical as well.

My oldest child was so fascinated with the creation of Naria in Magician's Nephew that she was quoting the book very well and then trying to apply biblical language in her wording. It was so fascinating as I was thinking about the creation with her for some time probably about 30 minutes. They all like to pick and play as Aslan.

We also play Pilgrim's Progress and what a great way to act out some of the scenes from that book and help them see the wonderful story of the allegory of the Christian Faith. There some neat stories of this as well. When I told the story of the first thanksgiving this has happened as well. We also play out the parable of the prodigal son.

I think as adults when we can focus on the wonder and majesty and greatness of God in our play and I think sometimes allegory helps with that and makes our devotion with our kids a richer time.

littlegal_66 said...

Campi,

The Exorcist? :-) You are having more fun than you should be allowed to, LOL! Enjoy the flick; barring any unlikely occurance of the forecast actually being correct for freezing conditions on our roads, I'll be attending my son's Christmas program tomorrow night. I'll probably wait for DVD or PPV, anyway. So, may we expect a review of the film from you later on, or are you wiping your hands of the topic?

--littlegal
P.S. Will you please delete two of those links I made to this article, if you can? It's the first time I've needed to link, and I didn't exactly know how it worked. (Now I see that it worked 3 times). Sorry!

Bhedr said...

Steve,

Thanks for your thoughts. I'm kinda in agreement with Shawn. It's always good to be cautioned though and thank you for waking me up to some of this.

Shawn,

Again, you bless my heart bro. You are a good influence on me. Of all bloggers out here I would call you the most objective as well as most charitable. you are indeed well rounded and I think many of us could learn much from you.

Shawn

Doug E. said...

Steve Camp! Wow I've struck gold. I found Philip Johnsons blog and yours in one night. I'll be adding it to my favorites also.

I've been listening to your music since the doing my best vol. 1 cassette hit my boom box in the 80's. I also had the privilage of representing your music during the few years I worked for diamante distribution.

God Bless, Looking forward to future posts, and digging into some of the archives.

Doug

David said...

Amen Brother,
I am always discouraged and frustrated when God's people rush to find Him in some movie or book instead of seeking Him in THE BOOK. I love the Chronicles and encourage my children to read them. My oldest son saw the first showing last night and now is interested in reading the series. For that I am happy. But if the movie or the books become a substitute for the Scripture, than a pox on them. All we read should be read in light of the Scripture, for it is to be our guide and light.

Let us wait and see if Hollywood really does get the movie message. Families go see movies. If you want to make money in film, make family movies. I look forward to seeing this family film this evening. I look even more forward to my time with the family of God on Sunday worshipping and proclaiming the truthes of Scripture.

Steve Weaver said...

Shawn,

Was that you pretending to be Brian and complimenting yourself? Just wondering.

Shawn

Bhedr said...

LOL