Friday, March 7, 2014

"Son of God": Pretense or Truth?

I was surprised that there is quite a bit of controversy surrounding the movie, Son of God, recently premiered in theaters. So I've been doing some thinking and researching. Here is the result.
Before I share my thoughts on this topic, I want to lay a couple things out: first, I have not seen this movie; I have only seen The Bible miniseries which, from what I understand, has many of the same scenes used in the Son of God movie.  Second, if I may be allowed to say so, I am neither defending nor promoting this movie, I just want to make a few --what I believe are reasonable-- points.
I know Christians who were deeply touched by this film, and Christians who are deeply offended by it. This makes me curious, because I like a good theological debate. Having what I believe is a decent understanding of the content of this movie (after watching the portrayal of the gospel in the miniseries) and of the argument against it (after having read some reviews opposing it), here is my two cents.
The opposing view of this movie bases it's beliefs on the altered portrayal of many of the biblical scenes, as well as the belief that the film's husband-wife creators, Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, are New Age. Both of these points, to me, seem valid. I recognized many alterations from the biblical story, and I have not sufficient evidence to deny the religious status of it's creators, though I have no reason to doubt the claims I've read. Some criticism is also made against the "attractiveness" of the actor who plays Jesus.
Those who support the film were moved by it's portrayal of the gospel and draws from what truth the movie does present, either understanding enough of God's word to cast aside the inaccuracies or merely ignorant of them. Those who liked the movie were moved to desire a closer relationship with the Creator, and I see no problem with that.
What do I think? Simply put...
"What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice."
                                                                                             Philippians 1:18
To elaborate, God will judge the hearts of the people behind this film if they are indeed wicked and sinful, but no matter what their heart motive may be, God can still use this film to convict people and draw believers closer to Him. Surely, Satan himself thought he had the victory at the cross, but death itself was swallowed up in victory when Christ rose again (1 Cor. 15:54), and Satan cast forever from the presence of God in Heaven (Is. 14:12, Rev. 8:10). People can have all kinds of motives, but God, who is much more powerful, can use even a little bit of truth to draw people to Himself, and from there can lead you on to more sound doctrine. Those who do not believe and are moved by this film, if they are sincerely open, will be driven to seek out God through HIS WORD and they can learn the truth of Him through that. Those who have a good understanding of God's doctrine, can and should take this movie-- and ANY religious film, including The Passion (created by Mel Gibson who, according to, is a Roman Catholic)-- with a grain of salt. "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." 1 Thess. 5:21.
I wish not to be a stumblingblock to my brothers and sisters: if you believe it is wrong for you to view this film, then do not see it. If you believe it will help you draw closer to God, or simply have no qualms against seeing it, then see it. "To him who knows the good to do and does it not, it is sin." James 4:17.

And to briefly address Jesus' attractiveness: true, in scripture it is stated that he will not be anything spectacular to look upon, but how often do you see an ugly actor? This is Hollywood and what else do we expect? (Note that I, personally, did not find this Jesus attractive.) And, anyway, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, you can lust after someone no matter what they look like, so if silly women are lusting after this actor, or anybody, they will be judged for that.
If I wanted only 100% truth unaltered by the doctrine of man, I would very likely have to throw out literally every book and movie I own (including sincerely religious works) and read only the Bible; while that would not be a bad thing, my point is that we must always look first and foremost to God's word as standard, and take only from other materials those parts which align themselves with God's word and cast off the parts which do not. It us up to each of us to decide what holds enough truth to be worth our time and what does not.

So, in answer to my title question, "Pretense or Truth?" God knows, but, personally, I'd sooner make an argument against some of the botched up translations of the Bible, since they actually claim to be God's word, than a film that states clearly (at least in the miniseries) in the beginning that it strives only to be true to the spirit of the Bible. One thing that impressed me, which was not omitted from the miniseries, was Jesus' statement to the woman caught in the act of adultery, "Go and sin no more." (Jn. 8:11) To me, that is the spirit of God's message-- freedom from sin, through Jesus Christ.
"So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God." Romans 14:12
These are just my thoughts; as I said, I'm not seeking to defend nor condemn this movie, I just want to give people something to think about. Comments are always welcome.

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