Learning Theology from Hollywood?

Hollywood Sign

I am a Christian . . . an evangelical even. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, I’m sure you know that.

Depending on who you follow on Twitter and who your Facebook friends are, you may have seen a number of comments about the biblical inaccuracies of movies such as Noah, Son of God, and God’s Not Dead.

Before I share my thoughts on the matter, I want to tell you a story from 30 or so years ago. I was teaching a Sunday School class and asking the students questions about Moses. I guarantee most of the answers came from Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments. I found myself correcting a lot of misconceptions.

Sure, more money is now poured into these films. The special effects can be spectacular and the acting outstanding. Plus, fans and naysayers have more of a platform thanks to social media. However, things really haven’t changed all that much.

We don’t learn about forensic science from CSI. We don’t learn about medicine from Grey’s Anatomy. We don’t learn about solving crimes and writing novels from Castle. And we certainly can’t expect to learn what the Bible teaches from a Hollywood production.

Does that mean I don’t watch any of these shows and won’t attend any of these movies? It does not.

Why do I think the production of Bible-based movies is a good thing?

While Christians and what we believe is often maligned in the media and by society, the book we base our beliefs on is still being used as a springboard for big screen productions.

It gets people talking. And that’s not a bad thing, as long as we respect one another.

I’m all about relationships, so I will not bash those who think differently than I do and I appreciate it when they show me – and others like me – the same courtesy.

Would I invite a non-Christian to a Bible-based movie for the same reason I would invite him or her to church? Of course not.

If they had questions about the movie, I would share what I liked and what I viewed as inaccurate. But the point is we would be talking about it. And that’s a very good thing.

Do Hollywood producers, writers, and directors have a personal agendas? Maybe. But bottom line, Hollywood produces movies to draw huge crowds and make big bucks. That’s what they do. That’s what they’ve always done.

I enjoy TV show and movies, but I don’t base my theology on them. I don’t expect many people do.

In all likelihood, I will watch these movies when they come to DVD or are carried on Netflix.

What is your favourite movie, Bible-based or otherwise?

8 thoughts on “Learning Theology from Hollywood?

  1. ramonafurst

    Good questions and thoughts Stephanie!

    My daughter and granddaughter invited me out to the matinee performance of Noah.

    Yes, there were lots of things wrong with it. BUT the concept of sin, love, mercy and redemption was in the story line.

    I don’t want to bury my head in the sand. I want to know what my seeking but unsaved daughter and granddaughter are watching and reading. I want to be able to direct their ideas and thoughts and maybe opinions more by asking questions than preaching. Jesus seemed to have spent a great deal of time beginning or ending conversations with a question.

    Because of the movie, I’ve had a number a good conversations with friends family and total strangers. Encounters, I hope, that will be a stepping stone to their acknowledging God for who He is and to see the God moments in their lives.

    Ramona

  2. Very good way of thinking about the issues. I was recently asked by my pastor if we should invite the church to see Noah. My answer was a quick, “Not as a church event.”

    Would I go see the movie? Of course, but I would remember what it is, who is directing it and who paid for it. The director has specifically stated that his intention was to make an unbiblical, Biblical themed movie.

    Unfortunately, at least here in Japan, most people don’t know what Genesis (Hebrews and other books) have to say about Noah. They will in fact base their opinion of the Bible on the movie. But, the movie will do something important if we let it, and that is give us an opportunity, as you said, to talk about the differences.

    Its no different than movies such as The Book of Eli, Left Behind, or even Fireproof. They aren’t reality, they were made to sell. But they can be springboards to fruitful discussion.

    1. I really appreciate you taking the time to read my blog and comment. Thanks much! It’s too bad people actually think any movie is an accurate reflection of what the Bible says, but at least these movies can open the doors to good conversations.

  3. Steph,

    I am spiritual rather than religious, but I agree. Entertainment is entertainment – and the Bible is filled with great stories that seem perfect for big-screen interpretation…

    And maybe that’s the key. It is interpretation.

    I hold my beliefs based upon who I am; I’m not interested in attempting to convince anyone else to believe as I do, because I believe that these are deeply personal matters.

    I tend instead to believe in the Vulcan concept of IDIC – Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.

    That makes room for all the faiths, and all the movies.

    Favorite movie…..hmmmn. There are so many. I do love Star Trek IV – The Voyage Home (the one with time travel and whales). I’m sure there are others; right now, I can’t think of them.

    I don’t really understand the flap about the movie version of Noah. in the end, it’s a movie, and not intending to be an authority on religion.

    If you watch when it comes round to you, may you enjoy it greatly! =D

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