Entertainment, Movies, Sanctification

Throwback Thursday ~ Don’t Get Your Theology from the Movies

I recently received the kindest e-mail from a sweet lady at a movie subscription service – sort of a “family-friendly” version of Netflix – asking me to write an article pointing my readers to the movie subscription service (hereafter: “MSS”) as a resource for whatever issue I was addressing in the article:

I am hoping to hear your advice on some ways to relay valuable lessons to others in a post on your page. Maybe you have used a book or a movie to help someone better understand how to deal with bullying. Or maybe you have used parables from the Bible to demonstrate how to deal with a tough situation. We would love our movies to be a resource for your readers to utilize as a tool, since we have many relevant Christian movies and shows.”

This is a brilliant and creative marketing/publicity strategy, and I really admire whoever it was at the MSS who came up with and implemented this idea. It’s grassroots, it reaches their target audience, they get to harness the creativity and energy of the bloggers they contact, and it’s free. Very smart.

Nice people, smart marketing, a variety of attractive products, the desire to help others, a company built on wholesome morality- what’s not to endorse, right? And if they were selling hand cream or light bulbs or waffle irons, I’d agree.

The thing is, when you sell something, that product is supposed to correctly fill a need your potential customers have. You sell hand cream to people with dry hands, light bulbs to people wondering why they’re sitting around in the dark, and waffle irons to people who want to enjoy breakfast in their jammies rather than driving across town to IHOP.

But this MSS is not selling you the right tool for your problem. Though I’m sure they have the noblest of intentions, they’re attempting to sell you a waffle iron to rake your yard with: movies as theology.

I like movies. I watch them all the time with my family (at home- have you seen the price of a movie ticket lately?!?!). But movies are for leisure time fun and entertainment, not for proper instruction on how to live a godly life or the way to solve personal problems, and certainly not for what to believe about God, as we’ve recently seen with The Shack debacle. When Christians have issues, questions, and problems, we don’t go to the movies, we go to the Bible.

God’s word is the primary source document for Christians. It is the authority that governs our thoughts, words, and deeds. It is the sufficient answer to any question we might have about life and godliness. Above any other advice, instruction, help, or input, we need the Bible, and we can rest assured that its counsel is always right and trustworthy since its words come straight from the lips of God.

But just for the sake of argument, let’s try it the MSS’s way. Let’s say you do have the problem of being bullied. And let’s say this MSS has a good movie about a character in similar life circumstances to yours who overcomes being bullied. So you watch it, hoping to get some advice on how to handle your own problem. You’re a Christian, so, by definition, you want to address the situation without sinning, in a way that pleases God, and, hopefully, in a way that is conducive to sharing the gospel with the bully.

How do you know whether or not the character in the movie overcame her bullying problem in a godly way? That’s right- you have to open your Bible, study it, and compare what she did in the movie with rightly handled, in context Scripture. So why not just go straight to the Source and spend the hour and a half you invested in the movie studying Scripture instead?

Another issue with watching movies to learn how to solve your problems or teach you how to live rightly is that doing so subtly trains you in poor hermeneutics. It trains you to follow the example of a character who is just as broken, sinful, and unwise as you are instead of looking directly to the perfect, holy, infallible instruction of God Himself. Which is often the way people incorrectly read the Bible.

As I’ve previously mentioned, there are two main types of Scripture: descriptive and prescriptive. Like a movie, descriptive passages describe something that happened: Noah built an ark. Esther became queen. Paul got shipwrecked. These passages simply tell us what happened to somebody. Prescriptive passages are commands or statements to obey. Don’t lie. Share the gospel. Forgive others.

If we wanted to know how to have a godly marriage, for example, we would look at passages like Ephesians 5:22-33, 1 Corinthians 7, and Exodus 20:14,17. These are all passages that clearly tell us what to do and what not to do in order to have a godly marriage.

What we would not do is look at David’s and Solomon’s lives and conclude that polygamy is God’s design for marriage. We would not read about Hosea and assume that God wants Christian men to marry prostitutes. We would not read the story of the woman at the well and think that being married five times and then shacking up with number six is OK with Jesus. All of which is the same reason we should not be watching movies – even “Christian” movies – as a resource for godly living.

“But,” the kind MSS lady would probably reassure me, “our MSS also has non-fiction videos of pastors and Bible teachers that could be helpful.” And indeed they do. There are a handful of documentaries on missionaries, some of the Reformers, current moral and societal issues, and Bible teaching that look like they could be solid. The problem is, they’re mixed in with the likes of Joyce Meyer, John Hagee, Henri Nouwen, Greg Laurie, a plethora of Catholic leaders, and even those who don’t claim to be Christians like Betty White, Frank Sinatra, and Liberace. The few videos with good teaching are combined with many that teach worldly ideas, signs and wonders, mysticism, Bible “codes” and “secrets,” false prophecy, faulty eschatology, and other false doctrine.

It’s a great example of why God tells Christians we’re not to receive false teachers nor to partner with them, as, sadly, this MSS has chosen to do. Mixing biblical truth with false teaching confuses people. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.

When a little bit of truth is mixed in with the false, how are we to know which is which? We have to do exactly what the Bereans did with Paul- examine the teachings against Scripture, accept what matches up and reject what doesn’t. Again, why spend the time and confusion searching for, hoping you’ve found, and watching a video you’re not sure will teach you biblical truth when you could simply pick up your Bible, study it, and confidently believe what God says about the issue instead?

There are some good, clean movies on this MSS that would make for an enjoyable evening of family fun, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But for instruction in holy living and resolving the dilemmas of life in a godly way, we need to use the right tool for the job: the Bible.

Rake your yard with a rake, not a waffle iron.

 

Entertainment, Guest Posts

Guest Post: Has the Bible Changed What You Watch?

If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com,
and let’s chat about it.

Has the Bible Changed What You Watch?
by Leslie

As a young married couple, my husband and I got in the habit of watching a particular TV show. Almost every week we tuned in to laugh at the antics of its characters for a half hour. We watched it without any conviction or qualms. At that time, it was simply a funny show.

Fast forward about fifteen years when this same show started to air again in re-runs. But now we were a little wiser. We were more grounded in Scripture. And we were more discerning. And so when we tuned in a few times for old times’ sake, we were most uncomfortable. We finally realized that the fornication and other sin that we were subjecting ourselves to for a few laughs was most definitely an offense to our Holy God. We turned it off and haven’t watched it since.

The same thing happened with a very popular 80’s movie. We had fond memories of watching it ourselves as teenagers and so one Sunday afternoon we turned it on for our kids. A few minutes into it–after listening to the characters take our precious Savior’s name in vain with appalling regularity– my husband turned it off.

This is a great example of how the Bible has changed us and what we watch. Has the Bible changed you and what you allow to enter your heart and mind through your television or the movie theater?

There has been a kind of strange dynamic over the past thirty or forty years with Christians and entertainment. This is probably due to a number of factors, including biblical illiteracy and our deep love for the world. But whatever the reason, most Christians have grown extremely comfortable watching sin on a screen with horrifying regularity.

If anyone dares to mention this trend as troublesome, they are immediately labeled a legalist. But is this legalism? Is the gray area of entertainment as gray as we would like to believe?

The more we study the Word, the more we understand that it is truly our grid for all of life. While we often focus on it being the grid through which we run pastors and Christian authors, it should also be what we use to evaluate all things worldly, as well.

God has made it clear in His word what is sinful. Passages like Galatians 5:19-21 help us to understand what God hates—

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

If God hates these things, why do we think it is okay to watch things that are filled with them? Sexual immorality and sorcery are two of the most popular things on TV and in movies today and yet many Christians enthusiastically watch them, claiming no conviction in this area.

But if we know God hates it, shouldn’t we hate it, too? Is our claim of having no conviction an honest one?

Inevitably, when this topic of entertainment comes up, the idea of Christian freedom comes up with it. And, yes, how wonderful it is that we are free in Christ! But Paul shows us what this freedom really means in I Corinthians 10:23—

All things are lawful for me,but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.

So just because we can do something does not mean we should do it. Is it helpful? Will it edify? These are important questions to ask ourselves regarding entertainment.

And in Romans 6:1-4, Paul explains this idea of Christian freedom for us even further-

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? 3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Grace means we walk in new life! Bound to sin no longer, we long to live a life that is pleasing to God.

This is not about a set of rules (legalism) but rather about how we go about pleasing the Lord with the choices we make every day. I Corinthians 10:31 gives us some insight—

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

And Colossians 3:17 says something very similar—

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Whatever we do. All things. Do you notice there is no exception for entertainment? Even our entertainment is to bring God glory.

And so these verses cause us to ask: Are we pleasing the Lord with the things we are watching?

If we are honest with ourselves, we will see that much of what passes as acceptable entertainment for Christians today does not fit under these guidelines.

The more I have studied the Word of God, the more I have come to understand how the Gospel affects all of my life. If we are approaching our Bible Study with a submissive heart and a desire to obey what we read, it should be changing us in a myriad of ways–including our entertainment choices.

While we do have great freedom under Christ, it is not the freedom to sin but instead it’s the freedom to break the chains of sin and to live a life of holiness. Why, as believers, do we long to keep this close contact with the sin that ensnares by putting it in front of our eyes and participating in it vicariously?

This is not a popular topic to write about and I confess that I don’t always like it myself. Honoring God with our entertainment is difficult in this day and age. But it can be done with some careful research of shows and movies before we watch them–along with the fortitude to turn the TV off or to walk out of the movie theater when we should.

May we have boldness and a heart to please God as we seek to honor Him with what we watch!


Leslie has been married to Eric for 29 years. They have four grown kids, three in-law kids, and are now enjoying being grandparents. Leslie’s desire is to develop a love for the Word of God in her readers, along with teaching them to run all of life’s experiences, challenges, and choices through its grid. You will find her at Growing4Life.net.


ALTHOUGH I DO MY BEST TO THOROUGHLY VET THE THEOLOGY OF THE BLOGGERS WHO SUBMIT GUEST POSTS, IT IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE FOR THINGS TO SLIP THROUGH THE CRACKS. PLEASE MAKE SURE ANY BLOGGER YOU FOLLOW, INCLUDING ME, RIGHTLY AND FAITHFULLY HANDLES GOD’S WORD AND HOLDS TO SOUND BIBLICAL DOCTRINE.
Entertainment, Movies, Sanctification

Don’t Get Your Theology from the Movies

I recently received the kindest e-mail from a sweet lady at a movie subscription service – sort of a “family-friendly” version of Netflix – asking me to write an article pointing my readers to the movie subscription service (hereafter: “MSS”) as a resource for whatever issue I was addressing in the article:

I am hoping to hear your advice on some ways to relay valuable lessons to others in a post on your page. Maybe you have used a book or a movie to help someone better understand how to deal with bullying. Or maybe you have used parables from the Bible to demonstrate how to deal with a tough situation. We would love our movies to be a resource for your readers to utilize as a tool, since we have many relevant Christian movies and shows.”

This is a brilliant and creative marketing/publicity strategy, and I really admire whoever it was at the MSS who came up with and implemented this idea. It’s grassroots, it reaches their target audience, they get to harness the creativity and energy of the bloggers they contact, and it’s free. Very smart.

Nice people, smart marketing, a variety of attractive products, the desire to help others, a company built on wholesome morality- what’s not to endorse, right? And if they were selling hand cream or light bulbs or waffle irons, I’d agree.

The thing is, when you sell something, that product is supposed to correctly fill a need your potential customers have. You sell hand cream to people with dry hands, light bulbs to people wondering why they’re sitting around in the dark, and waffle irons to people who want to enjoy breakfast in their jammies rather than driving across town to IHOP.

But this MSS is not selling you the right tool for your problem. Though I’m sure they have the noblest of intentions, they’re attempting to sell you a waffle iron to rake your yard with: movies as theology.

I like movies. I watch them all the time with my family (at home- have you seen the price of a movie ticket lately?!?!). But movies are for leisure time fun and entertainment, not for proper instruction on how to live a godly life or the way to solve personal problems, and certainly not for what to believe about God, as we’ve recently seen with The Shack debacle. When Christians have issues, questions, and problems, we don’t go to the movies, we go to the Bible.

God’s word is the primary source document for Christians. It is the authority that governs our thoughts, words, and deeds. It is the sufficient answer to any question we might have about life and godliness. Above any other advice, instruction, help, or input, we need the Bible, and we can rest assured that its counsel is always right and trustworthy since its words come straight from the lips of God.

But just for the sake of argument, let’s try it the MSS’s way. Let’s say you do have the problem of being bullied. And let’s say this MSS has a good movie about a character in similar life circumstances to yours who overcomes being bullied. So you watch it, hoping to get some advice on how to handle your own problem. You’re a Christian, so, by definition, you want to address the situation without sinning, in a way that pleases God, and, hopefully, in a way that is conducive to sharing the gospel with the bully.

How do you know whether or not the character in the movie overcame her bullying problem in a godly way? That’s right- you have to open your Bible, study it, and compare what she did in the movie with rightly handled, in context Scripture. So why not just go straight to the Source and spend the hour and a half you invested in the movie studying Scripture instead?

Another issue with watching movies to learn how to solve your problems or teach you how to live rightly is that doing so subtly trains you in poor hermeneutics. It trains you to follow the example of a character who is just as broken, sinful, and unwise as you are instead of looking directly to the perfect, holy, infallible instruction of God Himself. Which is often the way people incorrectly read the Bible.

As I’ve previously mentioned, there are two main types of Scripture: descriptive and prescriptive. Like a movie, descriptive passages describe something that happened: Noah built an ark. Esther became queen. Paul got shipwrecked. These passages simply tell us what happened to somebody. Prescriptive passages are commands or statements to obey. Don’t lie. Share the gospel. Forgive others.

If we wanted to know how to have a godly marriage, for example, we would look at passages like Ephesians 5:22-33, 1 Corinthians 7, and Exodus 20:14,17. These are all passages that clearly tell us what to do and what not to do in order to have a godly marriage.

What we would not do is look at David’s and Solomon’s lives and conclude that polygamy is God’s design for marriage. We would not read about Hosea and assume that God wants Christian men to marry prostitutes. We would not read the story of the woman at the well and think that being married five times and then shacking up with number six is OK with Jesus. All of which is the same reason we should not be watching movies – even “Christian” movies – as a resource for godly living.

“But,” the kind MSS lady would probably reassure me, “our MSS also has non-fiction videos of pastors and Bible teachers that could be helpful.” And indeed they do. There are a handful of documentaries on missionaries, some of the Reformers, current moral and societal issues, and Bible teaching that look like they could be solid. The problem is, they’re mixed in with the likes of Joyce Meyer, John Hagee, Henri Nouwen, Greg Laurie, a plethora of Catholic leaders, and even those who don’t claim to be Christians like Betty White, Frank Sinatra, and Liberace. The few videos with good teaching are combined with many that teach worldly ideas, signs and wonders, mysticism, Bible “codes” and “secrets,” false prophecy, faulty eschatology, and other false doctrine.

It’s a great example of why God tells Christians we’re not to receive false teachers nor to partner with them, as, sadly, this MSS has chosen to do. Mixing biblical truth with false teaching confuses people. A little leaven leavens the whole lump.

When a little bit of truth is mixed in with the false, how are we to know which is which? We have to do exactly what the Bereans did with Paul- examine the teachings against Scripture, accept what matches up and reject what doesn’t. Again, why spend the time and confusion searching for, hoping you’ve found, and watching a video you’re not sure will teach you biblical truth when you could simply pick up your Bible, study it, and confidently believe what God says about the issue instead?

There are some good, clean movies on this MSS that would make for an enjoyable evening of family fun, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But for instruction in holy living and resolving the dilemmas of life in a godly way, we need to use the right tool for the job: the Bible.

Rake your yard with a rake, not a waffle iron.

 

Entertainment, Marriage, Movies, Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday ~ “No Greater Love”– Movie Review

Originally published March 21, 2011

I stumbled across this movie at my local library a few days ago, and, boy am I glad I did.

Jeff and Heather were the “lucky ones”.  Best friends from childhood, high school sweethearts, and married by 22, they were inseperable soul mates.

After the birth of her first and only child, Heather Baker (Danielle Bisutti) fell into a deep depression.  Hopelessly lost, she did the unthinkable– she abandoned her husband and her infant son –and vanished.  Jeff Baker (Anthony Tyler Quinn) was forced to raise their son Ethan as a single father.

Ten years after his wife’s disapperance, Jeff is finally ready to move on and is on the verge of marrying his new girlfriend.  His world, however, is dramatically rocked when Heather shockingly reappears in the most unusual place.
(From the “No Greater Love” web site.)

If you liked the movie Fireproof, you’ll almost certainly like No Greater Love.  The acting is much better, and so is the production quality.  Of course, that’s to be expected when a movie is made by a professional studio hiring professional actors rather than by a church using mostly church members as actors.  (That’s certainly not a dig at Sherwood Baptist Church.  They did a fantastic and admirable job with both Fireproof and Facing the Giants –both of which you should see, if you haven’t already –it’s just that professional studios and production companies have the resources and budget to put together a more polished product.)

The storyline of No Greater Love is unique and endearing, but believable.  The only thing I found to be a bit of a stretch was, well, how do I say this without giving too much away?  Let’s just put it like this: It can take a long time and a lot of difficult, painful emotional work for the most Godly among Christians to forgive someone who has wounded them unfathomably.  Generally speaking, one would expect that, for a similarly wounded unsaved person, forgiveness would probably come much more slowly and with even greater difficulty.  But I suppose there are exceptions to the rule.

Theologically, this movie is right on target.  Director, Brad Silverman, says in his commentary on the movie that his goal was to be as theologically correct as possible, and I think he nailed it.  To be honest, one of the reasons I picked up this movie was to see if there were any false doctrine or theology in it, so I was on the lookout for Biblical error.  None to be found as far as I could tell.

Does No Greater Love overtly share the Gospel, spelling it out step by step?  No.  That’s your job and mine, not the job of a movie.  I think, primarily, this is an entertaining movie which reinforces Biblical truth that Christian viewers (should) already know.  But it would also be a great movie to share with unsaved friends as a conversation starter for sharing the Gospel in detail.

For more information on No Greater Love, visit the web site and “like” the Facebook page.

No Greater Love is available for purchase at:
Lionsgate Studios
ChristianBook.com
Amazon.com

Entertainment, Movies

50 Alternatives to “Fifty Shades” ~ at Satisfaction Through Christ

50shadesAs you’ve probably heard, the movie Fifty Shades of Grey is opening in theaters tomorrow. It’s not a movie we at Satisfaction Through Christ recommend you see, so we thought we’d provide you with some ideas of things you and your husband, kids, friends, or church family can do together instead.

Here are 50 alternatives to seeing Fifty Shades of Grey. Have fun!

Ladies, smut does not a happy Valentine’s Day make. Try one of these fun alternatives from my new article over at Satisfaction Through Christ instead!

What are your plans for this weekend?