On this episode of Finding Christ in Cinema, we discuss what it means to Find Christ In Cinema. We’ll talk about the Apostle Paul using culture to spread the Good News, what it means to guard our hearts, and how we hope we are fulfilling the Great Commission. All that and more in 3…2…1!
Your Favorite Movies from a Christian Perspective
As we at Finding Christ In Cinema approach our six-month milestone, we want to take a step back from our regular approach and objectively discuss what we’re doing on this show. We feel that, while we’re only on Episode 14, we’ve put out enough material that we hope has gotten you to examine how you watch movies.
Today’s discussion is simple: we want to engage with culture enough to use it as a platform to share the good news of salvation through Jesus the Christ – and actively discern this culture so as to be a filter and not a sponge – so that we can use these films as the witnessing tools they can be.
Using Culture as a Platform
Watching movies has become an American pastime (equal to and arguably greater than baseball). It’s storytelling in a cool, controlled environment (be it a movie theater or your living room). This is opposed telling stories around the campfire (not that there’s anything wrong with that).
What wows us is that movie-going is now a pastime ingrained in the global fabric that it can now serve as a platform from which to proclaim the Gospel.
The Apostle Paul, for example, also used the culture around him spread the Good News while he was visiting in Athens. Michael discussed this in FCC 05: Christian Themes in Planet of the Apes.
The Athenian society was obsessed with gods and goddesses and the mythologies surrounding them. And they believed that if anything can be learned from the lives and actions of these deities, it could be best understood via philosophical discourse.
But Paul, as he is waiting for Silas and Timothy to leave Berea, begins to preach in the synagogue at Athens – much to the dismay of the local philosophers. Paul, after hearing of the local boys’ dismay, begins to preach from a cultural platform:
So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth,does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. (Acts 17:22-25)
Paul took that altar dedicated “to an unknown god” and put it in a Christian perspective. He took the momentum fronted by the Athenian society and turned it back on itself. Some non-believers watching Paul claimed that he and his spiritual brothers were “turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).
We now have the chance to do the same things via movies. How cool is that?
Guarding Our Hearts with Discernment
Some could argue that such close engagement with a culture so abysmal could make one weak. Surprisingly enough, Friedrich Nietzsche has a pretty good idea of how to put this:
He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
While we’re engaging in this culture, it is important to guard our hearts against its negative influences. One way to to guard the heart is to have a strong mind that is completely focused on the salvation that we have through Jesus. I touch on this in FCC 02: Finding Christ in Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace.
The keyword here becomes discernment. Or to use our favorite metaphoric phrase, be a filter and not a sponge. That is, don’t soak in everything you come in contact with.
witness: v. to see, hear, or know by personal presence and perception (Dictionary.com’s definition)
When we as humans want someone else to understand something in the same way we understand it, it’s best (at least, I think it’s best) not to try to share it objectively but subjectively. That it, instead of trying to explain it like we are the experts, we should just cool down and tell it like it is – whether we fully understand it ourselves or not.
That is, instead of trying to explain the the Gospel like we fully understand it, we should share it as it have saved us in our own affliction.
Once we’ve connected to someone through the films, we’ve established the foundation for a relationship that can ultimately lead to the salvation that Jesus brings.
This is all in order to fulfill the Great Commission: “go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”
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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