Why do Christians take Bible-based movies so seriously?
I feel like the answer is obvious and deserves a big “duh…,” but this question came up a lot in 2014.
In a lot of ways, 2014 was the year of “Bible movies.” We had Son of God, Heaven is for Real, Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings.
While Son of God didn’t generate too much criticism, the others did to varying degrees.
Heaven is for Real generated a lot of talk around theology, revelation (as in getting God’s Word, not “the book of”), and, of course, heaven. I did not see it so I cannot speak intelligently about it. I just know that most people that I respect and follow online did not care for it.
I did see Noah. Oh boy… Noah… I don’t think any other Bible movie has caused this much of a stink since the Last Temptation of Christ (1988). In my opinion, Noah was more divisive in Christian circles than any other Bible movie. Most Christians I follow online said, “avoid it like the plague!” They labeled it heresy, a work of the Devil, New Age, etc. Others that I respect, however, that said go see it! While they admitted that it wasn’t an accurate or “true” retelling of the Biblical story, they suggested that it was not that bad. Instead of avoiding it, they argued, we should embrace it and then use it to engage our world with the true story of Noah.
I also saw Exodus: Gods and Kings. While not as bad a Noah, it was not nearly as good – or as faithful to the Old Testament – as it should have been. What was with the Lake Placid giant crocs?
So why do we tend to get so bent out of shape when a Bible-based movies miss the mark?
Here is my answer in this open letter to filmmakers.
With very few exceptions, most Christians see the same movies that our non-Christian friends see. We geek out with Star Wars and the Avengers. We like to use movie clips as sermon and Bible study illustrations.
We appreciate when you try, when you throw us a bone. We loved when Captain America said, “Ma’am, there’s only one God, and I’m pretty sure He doesn’t dress like that.” We dig it.
What we don’t dig, however, is when you screw up a Bible story. Yes, we take the Bible pretty seriously. Here’s why.
We Believe the Bible is God’s Story
Those of us who believe the Bible don’t just like the Bible.
We don’t even just love the Bible.
We believe that the Bible is God’s Word.
We believe that the Bible is God’s direct revelation to us.
It isn’t just a book – or even a religious book – but it is actually the Word of God.
So why do we take Bible-based movies so seriously? We believe that the Bible is God’s Word.
So, why go messing with God’s Word?
We Believe the Bible is a True Story
We also believe it to be a true story.
Yes, there are poems and parables and metaphors, but we believe that the overall story of the Bible is a true story.
Sure, we don’t always agree on how it is true – think Creation and the Book of Revelation – but we believe that it is more than just a bunch of make-believe stories that teach a good moral lesson.
Simply put, we believe the Bible is true.
We Believe the Bible is a Good Story
Not only is the Bible God’s Word and true, it is also a good story!
The Bible has everything you could want in a good story!
Its got passion, suspense, intrigue, romance (and a fair amount of sex!), fighting, heroes, chases, etc.
You name it, chances are the Bible has it.
We get it. We know that the Bible can’t really be turned into a movie that would do it justice. It is too vast, too big, too grand.
And, if we are honest, we wouldn’t want to see all of it on the big screen. So much violence and sex – we couldn’t go see it just on principle!
But we do want you to try.
We will forgive some artistic license and creative embellishments. Remember, we already know that you can’t do it justice. That doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t at least try to do it justice.
Think about, why would you make a Bible-based movie and then stray so far from the Bible? Why alienate the very audience that is likely to go see the movie?
Simon L Smith (www.reelparables.com)
Be sure to check out Sharing God’s Story with Disney’s Frozen – a new movie based Bible study. While not a quite a Bible-based movie, Frozen does tell a *very* biblical story! Check it out!