Is Biblical discernment at an all-time low in the Christian church today? Is the ability of Western Christians to think critically, carefully and logically at a premium today? Any incisive Christian observer would have to offer an unambiguous “yes” to both questions, regrettably.
We know, according to Scripture, that fallen man has a fallen mind. Indeed, sinful man in rebellion against God is said to have a “reprobate” mind, a mind that fails to honor and acknowledge God (see Romans 1:18–32). Without Christ, our mind is darkened and unable to perceive spiritual truth.
But we expect believers to be different. We are to have a renewed mind which transforms us (Romans 12:2). Indeed, we are said to “have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). We are to renounce worldly, fleshly thinking, and think God’s thoughts after him.
Yet regrettably so many believers simply do not do this. They still think like the pagans do, and have never developed a Biblical worldview. As a result, as R.C. Sproul says, we “live in the most anti-intellectual era of church history.” That is a damning indictment — but true.
I seem to be documenting examples of this all the time here. There is never a shortage of material, I am afraid. Just take any current controversy and watch how many clueless and Biblically illiterate Christians come out of the woodwork, pontificating on matters just like any secularist would.
Consider for example what so many rather uninformed and gullible Noahphiles have been saying about the new pagan film. I have been interacting with these folks for some time now. The level of unBiblical thinking masquerading as Biblical thinking here is quite astounding.
Of course many of them mean well, and many want to see if an opening for the gospel is available here. Many have spoken about witnessing opportunities, and how we can find “talking points” in this film, and so on. Well. yes and no. Of course one can find “talking points” in anything, but a bit of caution is still needed.
You can take your non-Christian friend with you to a porn film with sleazy sex scenes, then afterwards compare and contrast that with Biblical sexuality, etc. But I don’t recommend it! Nor do I recommend wasting our money on such endeavors. If we are looking for a way to share with non-Christians, why not just open our mouths and share the gospel? Why must we depend on godless Hollywood for our evangelism!?
While there is nothing wrong with building bridges to non-believers, and looking for creative ways to share with others, there are clearly limits to this. I have been asked by some what the solution is then. I said it is the same solution Jesus and the disciples used: It is called the Great Commission. They did not need pagan movies to reach the masses.
They shared the gospel. Why can’t we? Why must we hide behind atheistic Hollywood to do our evangelising? And as I also warned, we may have blood on our hands if we use this as a “witnessing tool” and end up deceiving and turning away more people than we help. I don’t want to be in that place.
Yes, we should seek to build bridges to non-Christians, as Paul did in Acts 17, e.g. But of course Paul framed the debate there from the outset, utilizing pagan elements for his own purposes. He did not begin with a pagan, anti-Christian film and try to “Christianize” it, or use it for possible gospel openings.
But there has been plenty of sloppy thinking here as well. Perhaps one of the silliest things I have read so far is from an article that has been recommended by some Christians. It is a really foolish piece, and I am surprised any believer could write such drivel, or that any Christian leader could recommend it.
In this piece the rather confused writer said this: “How can I criticize a filmmaker for not representing a story from the Bible perfectly, when as a Christian I do not represent Christ perfectly?” But wait, there’s more: “I’m uncomfortable with criticizing a filmmaker for not being faithful to the Bible when, as a Christian, I am unfaithful to the Bible each and every day.”
Puh-leeese! Give me a break. One might as well say we can’t criticize Hitler because we are not perfect. We might as well say that since we are not foolproof as witnesses for Christ, we cannot critique anyone, be it Richard Dawkins or the devil. Really! Are there any Christians with brains and discernment left out there?
And then there is this rather typical remark offered by so many believers: “If you don’t see the movie you are not entitled to comment.” The only sensible reply to something like that is this: “If you don’t go to a strip club or a satanist church you are not entitled to comment.” There is plenty of stuff I do not have first-hand experience of and do not intend to.
As another commentator said about this lame line: “So based on your comment, I can’t advocate against porn (because I don’t watch it so how can I know it’s bad), I can’t advocate against abortion because I’ve never had one, I can’t advocate against anything I’ve never experienced because I clearly have to be doing it, seeing it, part of it to have an opinion on it. Come on people. We have to be better than this!”
Still others claim someone can still get saved through a film like this. Can they? It is entirely possible. Just as it is entirely possible for a person in a strip club or a Muslim mosque to get saved. But I don’t recommend it. The fact that a person might get some Holy Ghost conviction while watching a pole dancer does not mean we should push this means.
But what is especially amazing is how so many non-believers are trashing this film while so many Christians are defending it. Even non-believer Andrew Bolt on his TV program yesterday was rightly noting the Green Gaia God of the Noah film. And as he says in his column on this really bad film:
AMAZING. Hollywood just killed God, and almost no critic noticed how it quietly slipped a green human-hater in his place. I never thought you could make a two-hour film about Noah and his ark without mentioning ‘God’ even once, but director Darren Aronofsky has managed it.
If pagans can get this right, how come Christians can be so utterly clueless? One Jewish reviewer put it this way:
Went to see Noah last night. Let me put it this way. There was a chap named Noah and he had three sons named Shem, Ham and Japheth. There was a flood. As for the animals trooping in two by two, in over two hours that part might have taken up three minutes of movie time. … I can only think a film like this is possible today because no one any longer actually knows the story. More evidence, as if it were needed, that our Judeo-Christian culture will not hold and something else will be arriving very soon.
So pagans and Jews are getting it right. Why can’t Christians? Well, some do. Let me conclude with the thoughts of just three of them. First, Matt Walsh:
Christians: you’ll hear people insist that you can’t criticize the movie until you’ve seen it. Noticeably, the loudest voices in this camp are the ones who will (rather coincidentally, I’m sure) profit immensely if you meet their challenge. Don’t. Don’t bother. You can hate this film without watching it, for the same reason that you can assume Citizen Kane is slightly superior to Need For Speed, without having seen either of them. Just use context clues. Use your judgment. Use your money on something else. …
I’ve also heard some “Christian leaders” endorse this steaming pile of heretical horse manure. I’m tempted to accuse them of being cowardly, dumb, or dishonest, but I’ll just give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they slept through the most troubling parts — like the part at the beginning, and the end, and all of the parts in between. …
As a film, it’s like the script for a Syfy Network miniseries got shoved into a blender with the treatment for a Lifetime channel made-for-TV movie and then mixed with enough moping nihilism and environmentalist sermonizing to fool pretentious elitists into using words like “daring” and “relevant” when describing it. In other words, it’s aggressively abysmal. But, as a money-making ploy, it’s a downright masterpiece. Final assessment: Four Stars for marketing. No Stars for quality, substance, coherence, meaning, or theological accuracy.
And a few words from Cyrus Janssen:
It saddens my heart to see a “Biblical” film twisted this much from the truth. It shows me how much America has sold its soul to make a quick dollar at the box office. I pray for the film’s director and every actor involved in this production. Taking a story like Noah’s and turning it into something like this can only be considered blasphemy. As a Christian who has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ it hurts my heart to realize how many people will see this film and be led astray because of it. … For all those wanting to see Noah this weekend, please reconsider. If you value the Bible and walk with the Lord it will only leave your heart hurting and in utter disbelief.
Finally, John Nolte:
The Message. The Message is everything. And this is where Aronofsky is the snake in the garden. Using $135 million, he and Paramount have brilliantly and deviously disguised the Pagan god Gaia as the God of the Old Testament … as THE God. And let’s give the Devil his due: using the story of Noah to twist Christianity into something it is not, is a genius piece of propagandizing that is sure to lead many away from God under the mistaken belief that through left-wing environmentalism they are coming closer to Him. Aronofsky is the anti-Michelangelo: a master craftsman using his talents to a dishonest and wicked end. …
Let me put it this way: According to Aronofsky’s mesmerizing multi-million dollar masterwork, God will later hand Moses only One Commandment: Thou Shalt Not Harm Mother Earth Beyond What Is Absolutely Necessary to Live In a Tent as a Vegetarian.
Aronofsky’s blasphemous claim that God is some kind of tree-hugger who wiped out humanity in the Flood to save the planet and punish Man for hunting animals is a bald-faced lie. We know this because saving the spotted owl is nowhere in what will later be revealed as God’s Law: The Ten Commandments. We especially know this because after the Flood God gave Noah, and therefore Man, a Covenant that included the okey-dokey to eat animals.
Now that is some Biblical discernment! And with a bit of humour thrown in as well. Please, God, we need many more such Christians who have brains, and who use them for your glory. Raise up an army of such folks soon.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.