Thanks to Hollywood, the Bible is trending.
Movies like Noah, God’s Not Dead, and Heaven Is For Real are packing in millions of moviegoers (and raking in millions of dollars). While some of these movies admit to taking artistic license, they all point to the Bible as their primary screenwriter.
Of course, as with any movie, each of these films has its share of adoring fans and frustrated critics. Should you watch these movies? Here are four big ideas to keep in mind as you decide.
They Are Not the Bible
Movies based on stories from the Bible or pointing to the God of the Bible are not the same as the Bible. No movie or worship song or camp experience is a good substitute for reading the Bible for yourself and getting to know the character of God through His Word.
Here are some promises about the Bible that could never be true about a Hollywood movie:
- God’s Word is flawless (Ps. 18:30).
- Every Word of God will prove true (Prov. 30:5).
- God’s Word is a lamp to our feet. It helps us see where we should go (Ps. 119:105).
- Scripture is God breathed (2 Tim. 3:16).
- All of the Bible is useful in teaching us how to live (2 Tim. 3:16).
- The Word is our offensive weapon against the enemy (Eph. 6:17).
At best, the current blockbusters are an inspirational alternative to the junk Hollywood usually churns out. They are not a substitute for God’s Word.
They Require Discernment
Discernment is a fancy word for making a judgment. Specifically, to be discerning means to make a call about whether something does or does not line up with the Word of God.
In Hebrews 5:13–14, Paul is talking about spiritual maturity when he writes:
For everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
None of us want to be spiritual babies. Discernment is a necessary part of growing in our faith. And Paul says that discernment comes through constantly practicing trying to figure out good and evil.
If you’re going to see these movies, consider it discernment practice. Look for parts of the movie that do line up with God’s Word, and try to spot parts that contradict God’s Word. These movies provide a great training ground to try to grow in spotting truth.
Be Wary of Experience Addiction
Let’s face it; most of us are more drawn to anything we can see on a screen than we are to anything we must read on the page. Our media habits have given us collective ADD, and we tend to respond best to something we can watch or click. This explains part of the popularity of these movies. They show us some truth about God in a way we like to digest it.
While watching the story of Noah on the big screen with a big ol’ tub of popcorn on your lap will almost certainly entertain you, it does not replace reading the story for yourself. In the same way a movie about heaven is sure to appeal to your senses, but it’s not a replacement for knowing how God describes heaven in His Word.
Moviemakers are experts at playing to our emotions. They know just when to cue the soundtrack or zoom in to make our hearts race.
But it’s easy to become addicted to experiential Christianity. We are excited about God when we can “feel Him.” We want a faith that keeps us as entertained as a blockbuster hit.
But faith is a journey. There will be moments of heightened feeling and experience, and there will be moments where loving and obeying God feels about as humdrum as algebra class. God is present in our lives whether we feel Him or not. He is worthy of our worship, even when we aren’t in a setting that tantalizes our senses. The Christian faith won’t always feel like watching a blockbuster movie. Rather than seeking to hop from one feel-good experience to the next, seek to get to know God daily through prayer and His Word.
You’re Not Called To Simply Buy A Ticket
Spending eight dollars on a movie ticket is not the same as sharing the gospel with your neighbor. Tweeting that you love a Christian movie is not the same as being salt and light in your school.
Simply supporting movies is not the same as actually taking a stand for your faith or sharing the gospel with the unsaved people in your world. It’s great to support movies that are overtly Christian, but keep in mind that God has called you to so much more!
Have you seen Noah, God’s Not Dead, or Heaven Is For Real? If, so I’d love for you to leave me a mini-review. What did you discern about whether these movies did or did not line up with God’s Word? In general, how do you make decisions about what movies you do and do not see? Leave me a comment below with your strategy.