The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

Movies as Apologetic Training

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As we pick back up with our short series on apologetics, I am reminded of the usual Christian response to movies and the film industry in general. While these articles were not intended to be a series on Christian worldview, apologetics and worldview are inextricably linked. Your worldview informs your apololgetic and vice versa. This is why I find movies to be so helpful as both training tools and practical examples. They are virtually a self-contained apologetic for their particular worldview. And, as we discovered two weeks ago, films can be used effectively to illustrate points of connection and departure with the Christian worldview.

One of the primary reasons that I like to use movies as object lessons is because of their near universal consumption. You are more likely to find someone who has seen the same movie as you have then you are to find someone who has read the same book or newspaper article. Movies have become the literature of modern culture. More often than not, the Christian response is to curse this reality, instead of utilizing it or offering any alternative to it. In the area of Christian apologetics, movies can provide a great “classroom” in which to practice and sharpen apologetic skills and methods. Would-be apologists can benefit greatly by thinking through and interacting with the films (and TV shows) that they watch, instead of passively consuming the content and—more importantly—the message.

Movies are somewhat covert in their apologetic because they come to the marketplace of ideas dressed as “entertainment.” Even the scantily clad denizens of the marketplace—documentaries like An Inconvenient Truth or anything produced by Michael Moore—spend the large part of their time spelling out and exemplifying what they see as the “problem,” before they spring the “solution” on the viewer. In other words, a story is told about how things “really are.” Although this is accomplished in many different ways, every film does it. In terms of an apologetic, this is where the film lays out its “statement” behind its question. While some do this better than others, all films (and all stories for that matter) attempt to establish a relationship with the viewer through its characters and the problems that they face. The settings vary greatly—from a dark seedy bar in East Manhattan to the bright lush jungles of the Amazon—but the worldview of the film itself is told by the conflict and resolution of its characters. It is here that Christians need to pay attention and think biblically or else we will come away from the film as the ones being evangelized.

Although it is beyond the scope of this article to expound of how this type of analysis is done, it is not beyond the scope of this series. What we are trying to impart to readers is that everything is filtered through your worldview; movies are only a subset of a greater whole that informs our thinking. But, if we can train our minds to think critically and biblically about the media that we consume, we will soon find that it becomes a habit in all areas of life. “Renewing our minds” (Rom 12:2) is an act of the will and requires obedience. God doesn’t replace our mental fluids at the moment of conversion with “biblical worldview oil.” This takes work and patience. The apostle Paul continually wrestled with the “old man” as he called it (Rom. 6-7), and we should expect nothing different. One of the main frustrations that new Christians have is that they are taught what not to do, think, or say.[1] Christianity for them becomes a legalistic system of dos and don’ts, instead of the full and complete worldview that it is. Movies provide a great non-confrontational starting point for new (and old) Christians to exercise their brains and get the “worldview oil” flowing. More on this next week.
This was the main point of the book UnChristian, by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. In fact, they make the point that this has become the standard view among non-believers as well, that Christians are known more for what they oppose than what they are for.
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