BRIDGE OF SPIES: Jesus’ Golden Rule | FCC 94

Steven Spielberg’s latest film BRIDGE OF SPIES tells the story of a lawyer defending a Russian spy in the Cold War, and that story can be seen as a metaphor for how Christ advocates us to God and brings us near to Him when we were once far off.

For your convenience you will find each podcast segment at the time referenced below:

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction
  • 00:03:07 – Movie Discussion
  • 00:22:48 – Christian Themes in Bridge Of Spies
  • 00:50:21 – Listener Challenge and Feedback
  • 00:55:25 – Reel News
  • 00:56:50 – Well-mannered Frivolity
  • 01:04:35 – Lightning Round 
  • 01:06:04 – Upcoming

Rudolf Abel and the Golden Rule

From the very beginning of Bridge of Spies, Rudolf Abel reminds James Donovan of Jesus’s own Golden Rule. As he is initially detained in prison, Rudolf asks Donovan for a pencil and a piece of paper for drawing and a cigarette – things that would provide him with a little comfort. At first, Donovan is reluctant, but later and throughout the rest of the film, we see Abel being treated very well, considering his circumstances.

FCC - BRIDGE OF SPIES Tom Hanks Mark Rylance

This change comes about because Abel reminds Donovan that there are also American spies doing for America what Abel does for Russia and that if one of them were caught, Donovan and the rest of America would want them to be treated well. This notion of the Golden Rule, which Jesus originally discloses in the Sermon on the Mount, influences Donovan for the rest of film and enables him to be the virtuous character that he needs to be.


Tom Hanks is the Christian Advocate

Tom Hanks’ character is the metaphorical embodiment of the titular object; James Donovan is the “bridge of spies.” It is by him and by him alone that the main plot in this film pushes forward. He reconnects the gap between the opposing forces just long enough so that the agents in captivity can return home safely. By definition, a bridge is “a structure carrying a pathway or roadway over a depression or obstacle; a time, place, or means of connection or transition.” Again, Donovan is the bridge.

And to plug in the Christian parallel, he is the advocate (how fitting that he just happens to be a lawyer as well). He pleads the case for Abel’s survival (imprisonment instead of execution) and then later negotiates the exchange of Abel for the two American detainees. He brings Abel nearer and nearer and eventually all the way to justice when he was once far off away from it.

This image from BRIDGE OF SPIES shows Tom Hanks as James Donovan.

It reminds us of what the disciple John tells his audience when speaking about leading a sinless life:

My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous. (1 John 2:1 NLT)

As we have recently proven by the Back to the Future trilogy, one will not stop sinning immediately after one has been saved; the process of sanctification takes time. But when we do sin while under grace provided by Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit that will plead our case to the Father. Just as Rudolf Abel has an advocate in James Donovan, so we, too, have an advocate in the Holy Spirit.


Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes, including links to articles discussed, by clicking here.

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About Brenden Taylor

Brenden is a graduate student pursuing his Master in Theatre Arts degree with Regent University. He is an educational assistant and tutor by day and a theatre practitioner by night. You can find him live-tweeting his favorite movies on Twitter @LeviTheBeliever or posting poetry and unsolicited opinions at thebookofbrenden.com
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  • Philip Heard

    Good job with Bridge of Spies, guys! I knew a little about this story from hearing about it as a kid, and didn’t know that was what this film was about until I saw it. I enjoyed it quite a bit, and Tom Hanks did not disappoint my high expectations for him.
    One thing I got from the film was Jesus’ command to love our enemies in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:43-47(NET) “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they?” James Donovan’s commitment to justice and giving fair representation for Rudolf Abel is a great example of this principle. Like someone only loving those who love them, many people in the film gave lip service to the U.S. justice system, but seemed to disregard it when it came to a Soviet spy. Donovan did the right thing, and loved his enemy by simply adhering to values and principles he had already agreed with in the past. In the end, by being faithful to his beliefs his enemy became his friend.

    Well, I agree that The Aviator is a good film, and worth checking out. Blackfish has been on my to watch list for a long time, but due to it’s subject matter I need to be in a certain mood to watch it- sort of like The Act of Killing- a great documentary that I never want to see again.

    I was proud of myself that I caught the Anton Chekhov reference, it made me feel smart. I’m not sure what he’s got to do with theater, but I love how he would say “wessel” instead of “vessel” since he couldn’t pronounce the V- so funny!

    Anyways, thanks for the show guys- and a great review by J Dogg on iTunes! That dude is smart. #muhweeladgimli

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