Ever ask someone to do your homework for you? Come on, be honest. I did once. Got turned down so I sucked it up and did it myself like I was supposed to. Even leaders sometimes do this under the guise of delegation. When there’s something they should do but don’t want to, they “delegate” it. But that’s another blog for another day.
I see this happening in the church world in an odd sort of way. Last Friday the movie “Son of God” (watch trailer here ) opened at theaters all over the country. Spliced together from “The Bible”miniseries that aired last year on The History Channel along with some deleted scenes, “Son of God” seeks to tell the story of Jesus to our generation in a non-threatening way. The movie, however, has come under intense scrutiny from within the Christian camp. Understandably so. Our faith rises and falls on the person and work of Christ. If He wasn’t who He claimed to be, and didn’t really rise from the dead we are truly delusional. (If you don’t believe me, consult the Apostle Paul. He said it before I did).
The criticism usually comes down to the Producers of the movie not sticking strictly to the narratives found in the gospels. Great creative license has been taken to 1) fill in gaps where the narratives leave out detail: 2) ignore the narrative all together in some places and 3) rewrite parts of the story however is seen fit.
While there are many such articles of criticism floating around on the internet, I will give you the link to one found in the Christian Post It’s a little scathing, but it will give you a feel for what’s out there.
While I haven’t seen “Son of God” yet, I fully intend to. I did, however watch The Bible Miniseries in its entirety and will be the first to admit that things done under the banner of “creative license” sometimes went to far (like Ninja angels and the over-assumed presence of Mary Magdalene). But here’s the question I’ve been chewing on as I watch this movie get torched in blogs and reviews by Christians. In some strange sort of way, are we asking Hollywood to do our homework for us? Let me explain.
The church has been entrusted with the assignment of declaring the message of the gospel to our generation and a vast majority of Christ-followers (myself included) believe it’s the greatest story ever told. In truth, however, many local churches and believers struggle with evangelism even though we know it’s our responsibility. The thought of sharing our faith with someone is quite intimidating. Then when a movie like “Son of God” or the soon to be released “Noah” hits the big screen, a twinge of excitement comes to the church because some, if not many, see it as a possible tool of evangelism.
The thought is “Maybe people could see this and be convinced,” or “If I could take a group of my unsaved friends to this movie, maybe they’ll want to build an altar in the theater and give their lives to Christ, revival will break out and the moral erosion of our nation will somehow cease.” (OK, I stretched that a little, but you get the point).
So if that is the idea, no wonder we feel let down a little bit when the movie doesn’t quite do the job, or in this case tell the story the way we think it needs to be told. Reality check: it’s Hollywood’s job to provide entertainment and spark conversation. It’s our job to engage people in dialogue, and evangelize. Maybe instead of ripping these kind of movies apart for the theological errors in the screenplay we should view them as a chance to capitalize on the interest it sparks and fuel the curiosity people are showing in our Lord and Savior and other biblical topics.
At our church The Fountain we have blocked off 5 weeks in April and early May to do a series called “Son of God” not based on the movie per se, but grounded in who Jesus is, what he accomplished on behalf of humanity and what He is still doing in the lives of those who choose to forsake their sin and follow Him. What a golden opportunity! But here’s the deal: No movie can substitute for a follower of Jesus who has embraced the gospel and the assignment contained therein to BE the good news to our generation.
Sorry, we can’t ask Hollywood to do our homework.