Archive for April, 2014

April 1, 2014

The Bible in Film (April)

Today, if someone wants to learn more about Jesus or Noah, they are more likely to go to the movies than open the Bible. Just within the last month, movies about these men have been released in theatres throughout the United States. How are we to think about this as Christians? Recently, I had a great conversation with some members about this. Here are some of my thoughts.

I have not seen either “Son of God” or “Noah,” but I am always excited and intrigued when movies are made from the Bible. It means people are thinking and talking about Jesus! Imagine the millions of conversations across the country that have been spurred by these movies. What a great opportunity we have to start spiritual conversations with our friends and acquaintances. Here is an opportunity for us to invite someone to the movies and then talk about it afterwards. You can share how the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus has changed your life.

Also, isn’t it great that Hollywood is spending millions of dollars on remaking Biblical stories instead of just another movie glorifying destructive and immoral behaviors? It tires me to see so many Hollywood heroes pursuing justice and peace through unjust acts and violence. Jesus calls us to seek justice through acts of justice and peace through acts of peace. We need more movies where the main character exemplifies this, and the Bible is a great place to start in making these movies.

We must remind ourselves that these are movies, not documentaries. The Bible is not a collection of screenplays ready for the silver screen. The Bible is written media. If one is going to make parts of it into movies, there must be room for imagination. I am glad that at the end of a “Noah” trailer, we are reminded that (1) this movie was inspired by the original story, and (2) you can read the original story in Genesis. I do hope many crack open their Bible after watching this movie and discover the similarities and differences in the story of Noah.

Have you ever watched The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston? It is a great movie, one inspired by the story of Moses in Exodus, but certainly not a substitute for reading the story in Exodus. I suspect many Americans know more about Moses through that movie than through the Bible. The movie adds a romance between Moses and Princess Nefretiri. It also portrays Moses as being surprised that he is Jewish, though the Bible suggests otherwise. At a subtler level, Moses looks more like a White European than an Egyptian Jew. Despite these differences, the movie is a masterpiece and has inspired many to look to God.

Yet we must be careful to welcome with open arms movies based on the Bible. With a few changes, one can fundamentally change a story’s message. Another movie I love is Jesus Christ Superstar. One powerful scene is of Simon the Zealot trying to convince Jesus to begin a violent revolution against the Romans. Jesus responds by singing that power and glory is not achieved through killing the enemy, but by giving one’s life for the enemy. Simon gives Jesus a confounded look not too similar to looks that we Christians would give if Jesus said this to us today.

Nevertheless, Jesus Christ Superstar gets Jesus wrong. How? Because it ends with the crucifixion! The resurrection of Jesus is the key that opens the door to understanding the life and death of Jesus. Without it, we have a story that makes no sense. I have not seen the latest films, but when I do, I will be looking for the messages they are communicating.

A movie can be a beautiful piece of art. And like any art, it can point us to our Creator God, the source of all beauty. This is my prayer and hope for these movies. What do you think? Write me an email or give me a call. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Pastor Rich