Christianity and Hollywood Part 2
great article by Paul Proctor on the subject of Hollywood and the Church-
HOLLYWOOD GOES TO CHURCH
By Paul Proctor
March 17, 2007
From the March 12th edition of the Christian Post comes an article by Lillian Kwon entitled, Movies Making Way to the Pulpits.
She begins this way:
The growing phenomenon of "theater churches" and movie-like screens at the pulpits has more churches talking relevance in the 21st century.
Have you noticed that a rush to relevance has become the driving agenda in most churches today? - Not preaching repentance, faith or obedience to God's Word - all the things that Jesus demanded of His followers - only a never-ending quest to be relevant to the culture - something the Lord never taught. In fact, He referred to "friendship of the world" as a form of adultery - spiritual adultery:
"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." - James 4:4
Relevance, you see, requires common ground - a place to connect or unite - the very foundation friendships are built on. That common ground and the kinship it yields forms bonds from shared experiences and ensuing values that can, not only affect our behavior, but also last a lifetime.
Unfortunately, when we bond with the enemies of Christ, we betray Him - having first tolerated, then accepted and ultimately embraced the unscriptural standards, ideals and agendas of those to which we have willingly yoked ourselves. And like a lonely and awkward teen desperately seeking to fit in, today's adolescent church shuns her biblical upbringing in order to be loved and accepted by rebellious friends - unaware that tragedy waits, which is why the Word of God gives this warning:
"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" - 2nd Corinthians 6:14
Even so, the Christian Post article goes on to say:
The latest survey by the Leadership Network, which fosters church innovation, revealed at least 250 churches are meeting in theaters in at least 36 states. These theater churches are one of the latest popularized trends integrating culture and the gospel message to bring in the unchurched.
Whatever happened to simply preaching the Gospel? Must it now be cunningly "integrated into the culture" with actors, scripts and high-tech imagery for the fostering of friendships before the Truth can be revealed? One might call that "evangelistic," but the evidence points to the contrary.
"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God…For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." - 1st Corinthians 1:18, 21
The article continues:
And with films more influential today than churches, according to the Barna Research Group, movies have made it to church jumbo screens to start off many of America's pastors' sermons.
One would think that in light of this, God is now pleased by the foolishness of cinematography to save them that have a hard time believing.
"So, churches have become movie theaters and movie theaters have become churches where crowds gather to lay their silver down and behold the glorious image…"
I wrote that in a March 2004 article entitled Big Screen Jesus (Part 2) in an effort to make the point that even though one might be brought to tears or to laughter with dramatic or humorous portrayals and media manipulation, they will not be brought to repentance and faith in Christ without the convicting power of God's Word from a faithful witness.
Yet, when I read about movies being utilized by today's churches as an essential evangelistic tool of persuasion, I am reminded of the religious leaders who faithlessly approached Jesus demanding to see a sign - a visual presentation that might impress and render His Word more credible to skeptics.
The Lord's response to them was, shall we say, less than cordial:
"Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:"- Matthew 12:38-3
What was the "sign of the prophet Jonas?"
"Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." - Jonah 3:4b
That's it? - A one-sentence warning? - Nothing more?
You'll never make friends that way!
Jonas (or Jonah), you see, didn't wow the folks in Nineveh with signs and wonders. No, God's Word was all that was offered. Yet, it was enough to cause an entire city to repent of its rebellion from the king on down.
John the Baptist and Jesus had a one-sentence warning for the doomed, as well:
"…Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." - Matthew 3:2
"…Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." - Matthew 4:17b
Have you ever wondered why Jesus was so hard on those who simply asked for a sign?
It is because they didn't believe Him. His Word was not enough. They doubted because they had no real faith in Who He is or what He had to say - and seeing a sign wouldn't change that one bit.
Did the Apostle Paul say: "So then faith cometh by seeing, and seeing by the movies of men?"
Of course not!
He said: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. - Romans 10:17
But today's church has been persuaded by perdition that something else is required - so we fill the eyes of the lost with everything they want and nothing they need.
Why do you suppose that is?
Here's a clue:
"Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied."- Proverbs 27:20
And so they keep coming back for more, only to receive less - thereby causing the numbers grow exponentially and the church to celebrate the illusion of success.
Christian Newswire credits George Lucas, producer of the Star Wars movies, as having once said, "the church, which used to be all powerful, has been usurped by film."
I think he's onto something.
But is it film that saves or faith?
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" - Ephesians 2:8
And faith is what? - The evidence of things seen?
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." - Hebrews 11:1
Maybe that's why the Christian Examiner reported the following in November of 2004:
Despite predictions that it would become one of the greatest evangelistic tools of its time, Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" failed to capitalize on the opportunity, even though ticket sales made it the eighth highest-grossing domestic film of all time… One of the lessons from this situation, Barna said, is that major transformation is not likely to result from a one-time exposure to a specific media product."
I've got news for Mr. Barna: Watching The Passion of the Christ movie a hundred times won't transform one's life either. A cast of pretenders is simply not capable of saving anyone.
It is not more actors and scripts that the church is in need of - but only more faithful witnesses to proclaim the Word of God.
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." - Hebrews 4:12
1, Movies Making Way to the Pulpits
2, Big Screen Jesus (Part 1)
3, Big Screen Jesus (Part 2)
4, Barna survey shows 'Passion' had little evangelicalistic effect
5, The Menace of the Religious Movie
© 2007 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved