Thursday, April 3, 2014

Why I don't plan on seeing any of these movies

The already released Noah, Son of God, and God's Not Dead alongside the upcoming Heaven is for Real, have gained a lot of attention lately.  Noah released with an impressive 40+million dollar opening weekend. Son of God got attention for the devil looking eerily like President Obama, before the scene was edited.  I had many friends on social media yelling at the top of their lungs in all caps, "GOD'S NOT DEAD!!!!" after watching the film.  I saw my first preview of Heaven is for Real and it looks okay.

I have to admit I have no plans on seeing any of them.  The reasons are numerous.  Most people have pointed them out already. Feel free to do a search on any one of them an you will find people lifting up the films as the greatest form of evangelism or the worst thing to happen to the world since Gnosticism was deemed unorthodox.  

Mostly I feel we just put to much stock in such things as these films.  Despite others telling me how amazing God's Not Dead was, I have to be honest and say I didn't even know it existed until my Facebook lit up with all caps.  So I would venture nobody outside of conservative evangelicals even know the movie exists, much less will go watch it to be converted.  Also the whole premise is disappointing and based on a faulty mindset.  The website has a preview for pastors where the director's first comments about the film are from a very Christendom point of view, "Three words launched a movement against God and attacked everything we Christians hold sacred.  Three powerful words changed America, our freedom of speech, our freedom of faith..."  The makers of the film are acting as if Nietzsche was the first person to ever have atheistic thoughts.  I think we give too much power to one person's philosophy and if we spend all our energy battling against it we have lost the point of the Kingdom of God.  We no longer live in a world of Christendom.  However, vast majority of American churches still rest on the assumptions of Christendom, meaning they believe that Christianity still occupies a central and influential place in society, when this is no longer true. A brief survey of American culture should quickly and thoroughly convince anyone that Christianity is no longer the central informing influence. The result of this mindset is that the church seeks change its approach to evangelism or outreach or preaching and people will once again come to our church.  These ecclesiological solutions are based on a Christendom mindset and that is why they put so much trust in movies like God's Not Dead and get so upset by movies like Noah that don't meet their standards.

I won't watch Son of God or Noah for many of the same reasons.  People are all up in arms that a movie changed the Biblical version.  I can't help but feel people making these claims sound a lot like those who complained that the movie versions of Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Lord of the Rings, took out their favorite parts, embellished other parts, or created whole new scenes to make the movie work better in film.

In the end movies like God's Not Dead and Son of God and Heaven is for Real are for already believers. It makes them feel better about the beliefs they already have.  Movie makers are making a mint off a religious demographic, they are not as concerned about actually proclaiming faith to a lost and dying world, even if that is a tag line.  Because the movie approach only works in Christendom and Christendom is gone.  Here's the proof, Churches by the droves are buying out entire theaters where these films are shown and encouraging already Christians to buy tickets to support the film. There is no chance for a non-believer to go because all the Christians have the tickets!  Noah is for people who plan on watching an action flick loosely based on a biblical character.  But nowhere do the movie makers ever claim the story is the biblical account or even a Genesis account. Its not a documentary or a biography, its a fictional action film.

I don't plan on seeing these films. I read the book, I have already met the Burpo family because I happen to have ministered in the town the event took place, and I don't believe college's primary goal is to create atheists.  I am positive these movies are not the best way to share the Kingdom of God with the world. Outside of certain Christian communities 3 of the 4 of them will be but very small blips on the movie viewing world this year.  I hope they impact somebody but I wouldn't put any hope on any large scale conversions coming as a result of these films.


  1. Good post. Though I'd like to see them for curiosity's sake, I agree with your thoughts. A church in our community rented out and closed down the local theater for a night so they could watch "Son of God" together. Seemed odd to me to keep non-church members from seeing the movie that is supposedly such an evangelism tool. (Not that non-churched people were beating down the doors for that movie anyway.)

  2. Thanks Regan. I might someday in the future watch one out of curiosity also, but I have no burning desire to see one in a theater.