I don’t leave comments on social media a lot when it comes to hot button issues or cultural trends.
It’s not that I have no position, or don’t feel strongly enough about whatever new crisis is being spoken to. But honestly, I don’t think it adds to the discussion. At least not gracefully.
When I posted a blog a while back about Aronofsky’s Noah, it was my way of dealing with something that everyone was taking to social media to write angry rants about in my own way. I said something to the tune of Christian people should be better, even when we disagree with the way something was done or how we felt our faith was represented, belligerent, angsty Facebook rants are not the way to solve it. In fact, that only makes us look stupid. Like, “you’re really going to make some big-budget action flick your hill to die on?”
That said, another movie has been ‘taking the world by storm’ so to speak. It had a whopping critics score of 2% on RottenTomatoes.com. That movie is “Left Behind.”
I’m not going to do a review, because I have not seen this particular rendition of the movie (nor do I really intend to.) I did read the teen iteration of the novels and I did see the ones starring Kirk Cameron. (Yes, they are as abysmal as they sound.)
A lot of people have written about this movie, the old ones, and the books and pointed out how they are downright heretical from a reasoned, and even biblical perspective. I’ve read several of those posts and articles and, for the most part, I agree.
A pre-tribulation rapture theology is one that many people just assume that everyone sees when they crack open the book of Revelation. And, i’m sorry to inform you, but that is simply not the case for everyone.
I posit that pre-tribulation rapture is an idea born out of a very selfish Christian-ish idea that God would never let his church suffer. Oh, heaven forbid words like martyrdom and suffering ever become common language in American Christendom!
But that is not the point of this post. Sorry for chasing rabbits.
Back to what I said earlier about not leaving comments on controversial posts.
Well, I broke my own rule the other day and I did. The creator of the new Left Behind movie posted a status about his movie being attacked by sites like ChristianityToday and others as “not Christian.”
The implication is that the word “Jesus” is never used. There is never even a realization of what the ‘why’. There is no portrayal of the Gospel. And, you know. I don’t fault them for that. Good movies ask lots of questions, but aren’t always so keen on shoving answers down your throat. And that is good. Good movies open the door for conversations about the subject matter.
So, cool. Not a problem, right? But something about the books and the movies bother me.
So I commented, against my better judgment. I didn’t lambaste the pre-trib rapture ideology, I didn’t really even say anything to the theology (or lack thereof) of the franchise itself. I simply stated that sometimes we worship ideas more than Jesus himself. And people need Jesus, not…this. Also, I think Nic Cage is the worst actor I’ve ever seen.
And, lo and behold, a lady told me I need to “read my Bible” and that I was a false prophet and a scoffer.
I wasn’t sure what to say to that.
It really just perplexes me that we are so quick to yell “read your Bible” at someone and not even think to do that ourselves. Is it possible that we’ve, for so long, just read our Bibles the way its been told to us, instead of actually looking into it ourselves?
(Author’s note: I am a Christian. I am a southern Baptist. I fall in line, for the most part, with the tenants of orthodox Christianity. I believe that the Bible is God’s word, written by men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and applicable for all people. I believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to God, and so on and so forth.)
See, so many times, Christian culture has latched on to an idea simply because they’re told it’s “Christian.” They say “read your Bible” when what they really mean is “think back to all the sermons you’ve heard and Christian fiction you’ve read over the years and splice that with an ethnocentric view of the book of Revelation and then maybe you’ll come out on the right side of this argument.”
The issue for me is that we’ve taken to accepting someone else’s word for it, rather than studying scripture ourselves. We’ve fused American culture and easy-believism with Christian doctrine and made theology more about “the end times” than about Jesus himself.
As a guy named Chad Bailey says, “‘Are you ready?’ is not the right question. ‘Do you know Jesus?’ is. Let’s point people to Jesus, not away from hell.”
My prayer is that when Christians approach culture, lets not water down the powerful, life-giving message we are charged with to “Oh, man! Nicholas Cage is trying to understand why people are disappearing off his plane and the world is crazy and did aliens do this? Oh, yeah, here’s a pillow with the word “pray” on it and that one character is wearing a cross necklace. That’ll preach.”
Because many people have said Christ isn’t mentioned to help people spark conversations with unbelievers. Well, guess what…this movie was marketed to Christians. Christians who grew up in a cultural bubble. Christians who believe the best way to witness is to drag their non believing friends to a movie theater and have a come to Jesus meeting right there, instead of patiently being infused into that friend’s life and exemplifying Christ and sharing your struggles and where you find your hope (Jesus) openly with them.
This is not an attack on people who enjoyed the movie, and certainly not an attack on those who came to Christ after seeing it. If that is the case, then praise God! But saying it won people to Jesus as justification for poor art is like saying the Crusades were great because it produced Christians.
My prayer is that Christians will rise up to the challenge and make good art, quality art that attracts unbelievers not because it doesn’t talk about Jesus, but because it’s real. (An author whose blog I frequently read, Nate Fleming, wrote a blog on good Christian art over here. So check that out.)
Good Christian art is also art that doesn’t have to stifle the message of the Gospel to get people thinking. While it’s okay for a film not to have an altar call at the end of it (and probably better most of the time when it doesn’t,) Christians shouldn’t sacrifice their unique platform to be accepted. And just who is the target market here? Even that is very vague. (Which, judging by the scathing reviews both from Christian and non-Christian critics and the %2 score on Rotten tomatoes, we aren’t reaching the target audience.)
So, I say again: As Christians, we should be better. Jesus is the center of our message, the most attractive part of it, the one without whom our entire faith would fall apart.