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 an educational assistant and tutor by day and a theatre practitioner by night. He has his M.A. in Theatre Arts and is always looking for a good way to use stories to soften peoples' hearts. Find him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @LeviTheBeliever.
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