KINGDOM OF HEAVEN: Mercy and Virtue | FCC 73

Showing mercy because of a life of virtue is a prominent Christian theme in Ridley Scott’s film Kingdom of Heaven. In this episode of the Finding Christ In Cinema podcast, we’ll discuss how to use that theme as depicted throughout the film as a tool for talking about God and how He wants us to live while on earth.

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

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction
  • 00:06:40 Kingdom of Heaven Discussion 
  • 01:31:50 – Listener Feedback
  • 01:55:35 – Well-mannered Frivolity
  • 02:03:55 – Upcoming

I Desire Mercy, Not a Crusade

Two different kinds of people exist in Kingdom of Heaven: those who want to “practice” their religion on pretense, and those who actively seek out God and His true kingdom on earth. The first group wants mankind to acknowledge it, and the second wants God to acknowledge it.

Balian, because of a brief time with his father Godfrey, is of that latter ilk. Before Godfrey died, Balian was able to be disciplined in the ways of knighthood (a sentiment synonymous with true piety in the film). Whereas Reynald de Chatillion and Guy de Lusignan lived the free life, Balian swore an oath to a selfless life comprised of helping the innocent and defending the weak.

This image from KINGDOM OF HEAVEN shows Orlando Bloom as Balian and Liam Neeson as Godfrey.

This is also – and has always been – God’s call to those who would follow Him. He does not call us to put our piety above the people with whom we live, nor does He call us to wage wars of revenge in His name. Instead, all God asks is that we simply “do what is right, love mercy, and walk humbly” with Him.


Conquer the Big, Evil Things by Doing the Small, Good Things

Balian has the opportunity to do all of those things throughout the film and in one scene in particular, and it begins after Reynald has been publicly beaten as a punishment for razing a Muslim caravan. King Baldwin and Tiberius believe that more disciplinary actions are needed – more disciplinary actions meaning the death penalty.

If Guy were to die, then King Baldwin’s sister – the princess Sibylla, with whom Balian has already fallen in love – would be free to marry someone else. That someone else could be Balian if he agrees to go along with the plan. Let’s be honest, it’s like Jesus being tempted in the desert, but the devil is offering everything at once.

This image from KINGDOM OF HEAVEN shows Saladin.

Balian, however, believes that the new kingdom of God should be a kingdom with a clear conscience or it will not work at all. As much as a greater good it would be for Guy to die, Balian does not want that blood on his hands, so he refuses the offer, much to the dismay of the other parties involved.

By refusing to miss the mark in that small instance, Balian is then able to continue doing the right thing and is eventually able save the lives of an entire city. All because he chose “to conquer evil by doing good” and living out the life of virtue he wanted to live out.


Key Texts

Micah 6:8 NLT

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God.

Romans 12:21 NLT

Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.


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

    Hey guys, great job on Kingdom of Heaven. I like the idea of reviewing the theatrical as well as the director’s cut, and look forward to hearing you contrast the two. It seems that the theme of mercy triumphing over judgement keeps coming up lately, which is a good thing. Like Balian, that can be easier said than understood for us, I think. Perhaps because we are in such great need of mercy ourselves, eh?

    One thing I get is the scene you guys talked about where King Baldwin and Tiberius try to talk Balian into a scheme that will result in Guy’s death and him being married to his widow, the princess, and eventually having power over Jerusalem and it’s surrounding kingdom. This calls to mind Mark 8:36(NKJV) “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” While Balian had already committed adultery with Sibylla(yuck), this temptation to take his sin to the next level seemed to shine light upon darkness and prick his CONSCIENCE(which you guys alluded to). Admirably, at this point he did the right thing. Sin often has a snowball effect, and it was good to see Balian stop his snowball before it got even more out of hand.

    Lastly, my mind was indeed blown a while back when it was pointed out Ron’s wookie call was actually just him saying his name. Doesn’t work so great with Philip, I’m afraid. I’m pleased Michael has been watching Matt Smith’s Doctor Who, and it may interest Brenden to know that James Corden appears in 2 of my favorite episodes, The Lodger & Closing Time. His performances are delightful, charming, and funny! Love the show guys! #GaddyWillsIt #muhweeladgimli

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