Beware of This Movie – Paul Davis

I received an email from Paul making me aware of his post on the Golden Compass. By his request, I am going to post the content here as well. I really appreciate what he has to say and think it warrants some discussion rather than sticking our heads in the sand. Paul’s post has generated some really good comments and open dialogue regarding atheism that is worth more than a look. It is worth participating in personally as well. So when you get a chance go to the link above and read the comments there. As soon as I get caught up I intend to participate in the discussion as well. Well done Paul! To read more from Paul click here.

 

Should we boycott the upcoming release of “The Golden Compass”? Why are so many Christians giving so much attention to this movie? I know, I know…in the end, they “kill God.” The writer even said, “my books are about killing God.” I’ve gotten all the emails and am very prepared to go see it as soon as it comes out. What? Yes, I’m going to be there at the opening day of “The Golden Compass.” Why am I not boycotting it? Well, ultimately my $8.50 is really worth being able to have honest and open conversations with non-Christians and Christians alike about the movie and it’s messages. I saw the Da Vinci Code, too. Does that make me a sinner? No. What it makes me is prepared. With all of this hype, Christians have two options: (1) You can sit at home and feel good about the fact you’re not going to see a children’s movie about killing God and not giving your money to support a movie written by an atheist and when people try to talk to you about it, you’ll be able to say “I didn’t see it because I think it’s wrong.” or (2) You can go see the movie and watch all of the anti-religious themes and not become an atheist, but rather go out into your peer groups and neighborhoods and use the movie to share the true message about God’s love and salvation through Jesus Christ. This is what many people did when “The Da Vinci Code” came out. Instead of yelling at people to “STAY AWAY!”, some Christians started dialog with non-Christians about who the real Jesus Christ was. I’m sure more new converts were made with that approach than the “STAY AWAY” approach.

Furthermore, I have yet to receive a single email warning me about the graphic nudity, explicit language, and grisly violence that is in American Gangster. Why haven’t any Christians decided to warn their brothers and sisters in Christ about this movie? Is it because God is not threatened by it? Does this movie not challenge our religious beliefs? Is it okay for us to pay $8.50 to see a porno movie but not okay to pay $8.50 to see a kids movie? The fact of the matter is that Satan has tricked us into fighting a battle against the wrong things. We’re fighting against something that can easily be turned into an honest conversation about God’s love and grace (The Golden Compass) and totally ignoring the vast atrocity of American Gangster that contains material that is FAR MORE detrimental to a Christian’s spiritual life than that of the Golden Compass. Am I saying that we should ignore or “not worry about” the messages of The Golden Compass? Absolutely NOT! You have to be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have! (I think someone in the Bible said that.) So when people come up to you after being influenced by the Golden Compass and say “Why do you believe in a God like that?” You can say, “I believe in God almighty, the creator of the universe and giver of salvation through his unlimited love and ultimate sacrifice of his son Jesus Christ–Not the God that is portrayed in The Golden Compass: a God that is overbearing, controlling, unfair, unjust, and (whatever else the reviews said it portrayed God as). After seeing The Golden Compass, (if it even gets into dealing with the anti-God stuff–it’s not supposed to start until the third book) you can use examples of how God was portrayed incorrectly and talk with people about the God of Christianity and share with them verses that reveal God’s true love and divine nature. This movie can actually help Christians spread the Gospel!

What we should be doing with all of our “Beware of this movie” emails is writing about the hidden trash that is being released into theaters. After seeing the previews for American Gangster, I really wanted to see it. And I would have had it not been for screenit.com. Once I read the reviews to it, I can honestly say that I was so offended by the content that I had to start telling people to “Beware of this movie.” Not just “beware” but “boycott at all costs.” It is essentially a porno movie with 126 “F” words and tons of violence. While there’s nothing wrong with sending out emails warning people of the messages in The Golden Compass, you just need to realize that there are FAR MORE dangerous movies out there that posses a HIGHER threat level than a children’s movie with “anti-God” themes. We need to be warning our brothers in Christ to stay away from American Gangster and to not allow themselves to be pulled into Satan’s trap. (I doubt many sisters in Christ are dying to see that movie–but you get pulled into Satan’s trap for countless “girly movies” that are just as sexual and inappropriate.)

So should we boycott The Golden Compass? I don’t think so. It’s far too great of an opportunity to let it slip by. Should we boycott American Gangster? Absolutely! Will I receive a dozen more emails about The Golden Compass before it’s release in December? Oh yeah. Will I receive a single email warning me of the sinful and spiritually harmful material in American Gangster between now and when it goes into homes on DVD? Probably not. That’s the problem.

(NOTE: While I referred to The Golden Compass as a “children’s” movie, I do not know how “kid-friendly” it will be or if the content is suitable for younger children. The movie has been advertised as a “children’s” movie. Each parent needs to make a personal decision if the content and messages of this movie are appropriate for their kids.)

[After 10,000 views and almost a thousand comments between Facebook and wordpress, I feel compelled to add a few things to further clarify my statements above]

The main negative reaction to my thoughts above come in the form of saying I am contradicting myself by going to see The Golden Compass (TGC) and not seeing American Gangster. This is not a contradiction, and I will explain why. First of all, I do not look at TGC as immoral. While the “anti-religious” themes are not holy, the author and producer of the movie have a right to present an opposing view to Christianity. That does not mean it will cause me to sin by watching it. So many of the comments I have received have told me I was sinning and “not a Christian” for going to see this movie. I will say it again: It is not immoral (violating moral codes of the Bible). It does violate our Christian world view. It attacks the foundations of what we believe as Christians. So what does that make it? TGC is persecution; American Gangster is immoral; it is sinful-There is a HUGE difference in the two. So in response to the “so what is keeping [you] from smoking pot or having sex before marriage just to be able to relate to people who do that,” I must say that those with this thinking are doing what I just described. You’re assuming it’s sinful to see TGC and it’s not. Is it sinful to read the Koran or Book of Mormon? Absolutely not. God forbid we hide from the opposition because we’re afraid of it. The difference is that watching TGC is not sin. Watching nudity (by the way, nudity is pornography regardless of whether it’s sexual in nature) and listening to vulgarities (while it may not cause you to sin initially) does lead countless people to sin, and even if it doesn’t lead you to sin, it definitely has a subtle effect on your spirituality. (Read Part III, the link is at the bottom.)

As Christians, we need to rise up against the persecution and endure it. James writes, “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials…the testing of your faith develops perseverance…so you can be mature and complete not lacking anything.” How do people who boycott this movie and countless other types of persecution ever expect to have their faith challenged when they avoid every form of trial or opposition that comes their way? TGC is simply one man’s efforts at persecuting the church and Christianity. You can either run away from it or use it to strengthen your faith. If you never face opposing views to your Christianity and come out on top, you’re never going to become mature and complete. What if Jesus, when faced with the cross, decided that because it was going to hurt and it would be difficult, that he was just going to pass?

“But you don’t have to see a movie to be able to share the gospel!” (This is the other main argument against my viewpoint.) I never said you had to see a movie to share the gospel. I said you had to see TGC in order to have honest and open conversations about TGC and it’s views on Christianity. Obviously you can share the gospel without TGC. You just can’t talk about TGC without seeing TGC.

Every Christian needs to realize that things are not going to get any easier. The world is not going to come back to being a Christian-dominant society. We must face the trials and persecutions and be prepared to defend our views on all things. Face the persecutions and trials and allow the Holy Spirit to strengthen your faith through those opportunities.

For further thoughts on the immorality of movies and what is really “Killing God,” read Part III: CLICK HERE.

Posted by apostlepd

 

To read Part I click here.

0 Responses to Beware of This Movie – Paul Davis

  1. I understand what he’s saying here, but I still can’t justify paying money to see it. Whether we watch every secular, anti-christian movie in the world, or not, God’s Truth remains the same. It sounds to me like he just wants to be able to argue about God with someone, but that’s not how to win souls. Going up to someone and asking them if they believe in Jesus is a way to start a spiritual conversation…and it doesn’t cost $8.50..

  2. mattdabbs says:

    Justin,

    There is a part of me that feels exactly the same as you. I don’t really care to support such a movie and reward people who want to propagate such a horrible message. At the same time I think we need to be informed. You may decide to be informed by reading up on it on the web, talking to someone who has seen it, etc. I do appreciate the conversation that is taking place on his blog about his comments. Good things are coming out of that.

  3. Mark says:

    Yeah…I’m with Justin Jordan. I still can’t justify spending money on it. Someone suggested to me that I check out the book from the library, so I can be aware of what is going on without spending money on it.

    I also am a little bothered by the comments by our lack of community-wide e-mail forwards warning about American Gangster. This is comparing apples to oranges. TGC is meant to appeal to the type of people who like the Narnia stuff, and it is using deception to suck people in to something they aren’t expecting; hence a warning is appropriate. People who go see American Gangster know what they’re going to see. Surely we don’t need an e-mail about every filthy or pornographic movie that comes out. The deception being used is why I think we are justified in passing out warnings about TGC.

    I think Paul’s attempt to make a dichotomy between something thought-provoking and something sinful is flawed. Just because there are worse movies out doesn’t mean we should see this one. I don’t see him downplaying the potential impact of TGC, but at the same time, I don’t think we can fit the two movies into such clean cut categories. While Paul may think it’s ok for him to…why doesn’t the church go ahead and rent out a theater so we can all see it? Surely he wouldn’t go for that.

    By the way, this is in no way an attack on Paul, his pure motives, or on his good heart for evangelism. I want to see TGC, too…the trailer looks awesome!…I just don’t want any of my (God’s) money to go toward it.

    There’s my $0.02. 🙂

    P.S.
    Glad you’re on Facebook! Before long, I think there will be support groups for Facebook addicts. It’s quite captivating.

  4. J. says:

    Speaking of movies (and theaters) here is a thought-provoking track that I would encourage all to take a few moments to read:
    http://www.gracegems.org/ATS/theater.htm

    Here is the first paragraph:
    The theater is an amusement which occupies much of the time and attention of multitudes in our large cities and populous towns; and, unhappily, attendance on this place of resort is not by any means confined to such as are commonly called the dissipated and licentious. Many sober citizens think themselves justified in appearing within its walls; and even some professed Christians are seen in that school of vice and debauchery; and a few of them openly and systematically attempt to vindicate the practice. How this has happened, it may be a point of some difficulty to ascertain; for nothing is more certain than that the ancient pagans always condemned theatrical exhibitions, as immoral in their character, and as utterly improper to be countenanced by the virtuous and decent part of the community. And it is equally certain that the Christian church, in all ages in which even a tolerable adherence to Christian principle was maintained, has still more pointedly condemned and denounced them. Nay, in early times, all who frequented the theater were excluded from the communion of the church, without respect of persons.

  5. mattdabbs says:

    Mark,

    You make some really good points. I think what it comes down to is the fact that by spending money on it you are basically sending them the message of, “Make more things just like this one.” That is troubling to me. What I like about what Paul wrote is that we do need to be informed. That may mean that if someone asks you about it that you might run to your local library and borrow it in order to help that person out. I have so much reading on my plate and not being a “preaching minister” to speak much about it from the pulpit, I probably won’t go out and see it. But if it comes up and people want to know my take on it, I am willing to find out.

    Boycotting – I have some problems with boycotts. Scripture makes it abundantly clear that we need to stay away from unwholesome things. Yet when it came to buying meat bought in pagan temples that had been offered to pagan gods, Paul said it was a matter of conscience. He recognized that the “gods” they were offered to were fictional. They were just dumb ideas that people had made up and therefore nothing unwholesome was being done by buying and eating that meat. Can anyone tell me how this is any different? If you buy tickets to a movie that propagates made up myths about God, etc. Is it the fact that it is saying untruths about the real God?

    See this post for more elaborated thoughts on boycotting.

  6. apostlepd says:

    [I apologize in advance for a long comment.]
    Mark said, “I think Paul’s attempt to make a dichotomy between something thought-provoking and something sinful is flawed. Just because there are worse movies out doesn’t mean we should see this one.”

    I didn’t intend to use (and don’t think I did use) logic implying that because there are worse movies, we should see TGC. As I tried to clarify, I in no way compared the two as moral equals or even in the same playing field. All I was trying to do is establish that TGC is not a morally inappropriate film like American Gangster.

    Mark said, “While Paul may think it’s ok for him to…why doesn’t the church go ahead and rent out a theater so we can all see it? Surely he wouldn’t go for that.””

    Hey, if my church actually would do that, I think it would send an amazing message to our community. It would open the eyes of all the non-believers who see the church as a “boycotting” “condemning” group of people (many of whom have directly said this to me about Christians on my blog) and show them the church is not afraid of oppressive views and we’re out there making a difference by using this movie to reach people with the true message of Christ instead of letting everybody see it and just agree with it. What a blessing that would be!

    By the way, think about this: every movie you see is either made by an atheist (non-believer) or a Christian. Based on the content of the movies out there, how many times have you given your $8.50 to an atheist to support their beliefs? Maybe they weren’t “anti-God” in script (which I’m saying isn’t wrong to see), but they were “anti-God” morally (which I’m saying you should avoid), right?

  7. Mark says:

    Matt & Paul,

    Good responses. (BTW, Paul, please don’t take anything I said personal, because I mean all of it in a spirit of Christian love.)

    Matt:
    The meat sacrificed to idols passage is an interesting one to think about. Especially since in one chapter Paul says, “Really, the idols are nothing”, but then a couple of chapters later says, “They’re nothing, but if you eat that meat you’re fellowshipping with demons.” How do we know which approach is the correct one in which situation? Pretty tough!

    Paul:
    I think what we’re both doing with our posts/responses is pointing out that nearly anything taken ad infinitum can become a bit absurd.

    Yes, if we never see anything in which a sinner is involved, we’d have to leave the world. But also yes, we don’t want to encourage the production of anything that is a direct attack on God. Thirdly, yes, we need to be informed of what culture is facing or we’re ill-prepared to give an answer; hence we really become irrelevant. Fourth, yes, we need to be careful not to get so mixed up in learning about the world that we drift from Christ. I think we’re both striving for how to balance several principles that we care about.

    I had a couple at a church I preached at who were staunchly and vocally anti-gay (of course, I doubt either of them had ever personally known a homosexual). I remember watching him try to boycott every company that did anything remotely favorable toward gay rights. Basically, you can’t go anywhere or buy anything, because if you get back to suppliers and partners, somewhere in there you’ll find something that doesn’t meet your approval. In the end, you can’t completely avoid ever supporting anything that you don’t agree with to some degree.

    I don’t think the issue of how to be a Christian in a worldly culture is one that we’ll be solving any time soon, but thank you both for letting me wrestle with it a bit on here. 🙂 I’m reminded again that we can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to every situation we come across.

    Paul, when you do see the movie, I hope you’ll be sure to fill us in with your thoughts about it.

    Mark <

  8. apostlepd says:

    Thanks Mark. I will do that. I appreciate your thoughts. Very well said.

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