Monday, February 13, 2012

Redeem the Movies, Indeed

"And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good." Genesis 1:31

A CRUCIAL theological doctrine for us as Christians is the 'doctrine of creation'. This doctrine is not something about what we believe about evolution and the age of the Earth (although that might be connected). No, it is far more important and central to how we view this world and the things in it.

The doctrine of Creation basically says that everything in this world, at its core, is good.

Why is this crucial to our faith? Well, I'm glad you asked.

This is crucial because it (should) dictate our view on virtually every created thing that we have...which is everything. For instance, it applies to drama, story telling, entertainment and enjoyment. More specifically, it applies to Films/movies. Movies are nothing more than stories being told. Movies have effectively replaced the stage that stories used to be told on (they still are, but much less compared to the modern day cinema).

So the question a Christian should ask is, "Is it right and God-honoring for me to watch a movie?". Again, good question, thank you for asking it.
The answer, of course, depends. It depends on what is being done and what is being told. A movie with a clear exaltation of immorality in the vien of nudity or something similar might be virtually impossible for a Christian to watch and still be edified and glorifying to God.

This is often the case, and consequently I would argue there are many many films that Christians simply should not watch. However, here is the important point to be made: films are, at their root, stories being told for a particular purpose. Stories and drama and entertainment are, at their root, created by God and are therefore good. We humans simply are bent towards perverting them. But we are perverting something that is first good...then is perverted in various ways. The same can be said for virtually all forms of drama and story telling. So, at risk of trying to say too much, I will simply say that as Christians, our approach towards movies should not be to "avoid" them, nor to completely "embrace" them, but rather to "redeem" them. Lets consider them in light that all things are created by God. Lets approach them in light of the fact that God desires for us to enjoy story, and that all stories are ultimately a reflection of the story of redemption that God has placed us in.

In the book "The Screwtape Letters", C.S. Lewis teaches about created pleasures. Through the mouths of a demon (in the book), Lewis explains how it is been God ("The Enemy", in the view of the demons) who created all pleasure, and all Satan has been able to do is distort and pervert them.

“Never forget that when we [demons] are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the Enemy’s [God's] ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the same, it is His invention, not ours. He made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is to encourage the humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy [God] has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden.” -The Demon 'Screwtape' - In the Screwtape Letters.

Why talk about all of this? Because it is fun...and, because we are currently starting to watch some films. We call them "Film and Theology", which isn't our idea, we stole it from Mars Hill, which is the only ones we are picking from at the moment.

We watch a movie, then spend a good hour discussing the themes, characters and plot. Most importantly, we discuss it from a Christian worldview. Where the film makers go astray, where they seem to be accurately reflecting truth, where the gospel answers rightly when man's opinion answers wrongly, etc.

Please pray for these times, and pray that equippers would be bringing their unbelieving friends. These times can serve as a terrific opportunity to discuss God and the gospel further.


  1. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

    -- The apostle Paul, Philippians 4:8

  2. Also, surely there is a distinction to be made between those things that GOD has DIRECTLY made, all of which is "good," and those things that are made more directly by human hands, such as movies. Should we be so quick to call movie-making (storytelling) "good," and lump it under God's creation, or should we be more careful and nuanced, knowing that the created thing in this case comes more directly through a sinful, created being, and not directly from the Creator?

    Food for thought, anyway...

  3. I would argue that everything, besides inanimate objects, comes through sinful, created beings. Everything that we are able to do is meant to be good and is at the root of it, good. This, I think, includes virtually everything capacity that we have. Of course we distort and pollute these capacities, but the image of the creator is always still there, even if in small amounts and very perverted amounts. I think this is the reason why we are called to 'redeem' such things and not run away from them.

    This is one reason I don't think it is a quick thing to call story telling "good", because God is the ultimate story teller/creator. We are imaging our creator when we do so, in broken ways of course. I think that is what I meant by nuancing it and briefly describing the process of the image of God being perverted in the ways that we pervert it. The Screwtape quote does an excellent job of nuancing what this reality is. Moviemaking/story-telling is of course not automatically good, but the form and substance of it IS, evidenced by 'Screwtape" admitting that all pleasures are God's pleasures.