I have heard mixed reviews over the weekend concerning the Son of God movie that was released. The work of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey has been anticipated by many following the History Channel’s The Bible series which was very successful. I have heard three camps of thought concerning the movie:
- “It’s the most incredible thing I have ever seen.”
- “The Book is better than the movie – why did they have to change things in the storyline?”
- “I don’t care that much about the plot changes, I just didn’t think it was that well done.”
Well, there you have it. Merica.
We all have our polarizing opinions. I haven’t seen it yet, the only 2 movies I have seen in a theater in the last 3 years have been from The Hobbit series.
I do hope to get a chance to see it soon. I liked many elements about The Bible series. Concerning other elements, I felt like I wanted to round-up our church and tell them what was inaccurate from the depiction. Nothing really offended me or changed the grand message from the Bible, but it changed biblical details in an attempt to tell the story through the medium of film.
Then, we have Noah coming down the stream (pun intended) shortly and many people are in an uproar over it concerning embellishment on the biblical text and some stuff that’s just simply made up to tell a story. It sounds like it uses the name of Noah, includes some of the main elements, but then deviates from the storyline.
You also may have heard about the upcoming God Is Not Dead movie that will be seen in theaters.
Hollywood has taken attention of the way that the evangelical community will flock to a “spiritual” movie.
And, so they are turning them out.
The phenomenon that was The Passion of the Christ, the shocking success of independent films like Courageous, and the loyal following and consumer commitment to Duck Dynasty has producers eyeing a captive audience of faith-based groups.
Even with my limited involvement with Courageous, I watched the complexity of this ministry environment. I watched as the Kendrick Brothers from Sherwood Pictures poured the Word, prayer, and their hearts over that project, and yet, they still have to deal with agents, distributors, marketing groups, etc. Film is a wonderful medium for ministry but it is layered with complexity because money and people’s job are involved. This process gave me more respect for Alex and Stephen seeing them deal with these situations and still be committed to ministry. It was inspiring to watch from my part in helping develop Bible studies from this movie and watch these men still be committed for the Kingdom’s sake.
The problem with a movie is it has to make money. You need people to come and see it. When you make a movie, you have a target audience in mind. There is a demographic you are anticipating which will purchase tickets. Hollywood is realizing that if you have a biblical story, hero, or concept in the movie, you have a natural, built-in demographic to fill in the seats. This applies to movies that are based on a biblical event or one that features a spiritual character.
There is a difference in a movie made for ministry and a movie made for money. Be careful. The difference isn’t always apparent, but it is worth considering.
I have been asked which movies people should go and see, and here are some practical thoughts for you:
- Don’t be afraid to attend a movie that causes you to think. I have never seen any type of Hollywood production of the Bible that is completely accurate, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t support it or enjoy it. If it causes you to dig in the Word and see how the event really happened, that’s actually a good thing.
- Point people to the Word when there are discrepancies. If you see something that is biblically inaccurate, shepherd the flock among you (1 Pet. 5:2) and help correct error (1 John 4:1).
- Correct unbiblical teaching. In movies that don’t retell the Bible story but have a character or scene that speaks for God poorly, help people see the truth. I have often viewed a movie that will have a spiritual character say that God wants you to do whatever it takes to be happy, let go of a spouse that doesn’t appreciate you, or pay someone back for their mistakes. These teachings are not biblical and they need to be addressed (2 Cor. 10:5).
- Beware of anti-Christ movies rather than just tweaked-Christ movies. I am amazed at how upset Christians get over movies that slightly alter a biblical narrative but they will watch worldly movies with no filter. Movies and shows that are obscene, pornographic, crass, demoralizing, raunchy, and blatantly against everything the Bible stands for are viewed without any thought of how this might alter our thoughts, habits, and worldview. This is ridiculous and dangerous. Do not be conformed to this world (Rom. 12:2)! Don’t mindlessly view garbage because “there just isn’t anything else to watch.” Read your Bible, take a walk, draw a picture, spend time with your family, play Scrabble for goodness sake, just stop viewing filth! Your views on family, sexuality, faith, language, media, and so much more have been significantly altered by the media that you have allowed into your soul.
We get upset over movies that alter a biblical narrative but watch worldly movies with no filter.
It amazes me that Christians will get in a doctrinal stance about certain movies and allow their children to view horrific media with no accountability. We laugh at silly movies with people sleeping around with each other with no signs of commitment. When you have to defend your movie choices by, “It only had a few bad words and one bad scene,” do you really need to watch it?
When you defend your movie choices by saying, “It’s not that bad,” is it worth watching?
Before boycotting Son of God and Noah, you might want to review some of the other trash you are watching. If you conviction is to boycott those movies, that’s fine by me, but just be consistent. I would personally rather watch a movie that deviates from details concerning the Bible and is clean than some of the filth we allow into our lives.
A clean movie that deviates from biblical details is much better than some of the filth we watch.
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.
1 thought on “The Bible According to Hollywood”
Nice piece. I thought it ironic that you mentioned the Hobbit movies. Peter Jackson appears to have worked very hard to be true to the text and still produce an entertaining movie. The fact that Burnett and Downey couldn’t do the same with the greatest story ever told is disappointing.
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