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Thoughts on World Vision and Christian and Biblical Movies March 24, 2014

Posted by thesociallyawkwardchristian in Christianity.

Every now and then Christians on the Internet get a little fired up. Today was one of those days. Two topics, one important and one more trivial, were the cause of the ruckus today. 

First, it was the announcement from orphan relief organization World Vision that stated they would now be hiring openly gay Christians who are in openly gay marriages. Depending on which side of the theological aisle you are on, this was cause for great celebration or massive disappointment. Having usually taken my seat squarely in the center aisle, I have some thoughts on this. I understand World Vision President Rich Stearns reasoning for this. In an interview with Christianity Today, he claimed that this was not about “compromise” but “unity.” I get that. Several churches (most of them mainline protestant) have begun accepting, marrying, and even ordaining gay people in their denominations. To allow people in those denominations to be able to be employed in their organization, this was a necessary step. Stearns also stated that he believes it is up to churches to figure out things like doctrine and theology and parachurch organizations to just mobilize those churches for mission. In essence, World Vision is not making a statement on if homosexuality is a sin or not. They are saying if you are apart of a church who does not think it is sin, however, you are welcome to partner with them and their mission. I think this is wise. You can be either for or against homosexuality and still believe that orphans deserve to be fed and taken care of. Moreover, this will create dialogue between World Vision employees who are on both sides of the issue. That is, if those that believe homosexuality is a sin do not withdraw their support from World Vision. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that will happen. Within minutes of the World Vision announcement, Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission blogged his disappointment with the decision. He even went so far as to say “We will see who’s a real evangelical now.” I think he was confusing the word “evangelical” with “fundamentalist.” His statement is another sad example of tribalism within Christianity. Moore basically says “You’re either with us or against us.” The mission of taking care of orphans certainly seems secondary to Moore, when looking at the language he uses. Can a true evangelical Christian partner with a gay Christian to take care of orphans, even if they disagree on what the Bible has to say about homosexuality? Moore does not seem to think so, and also seems to think that if you do think you can…well, then you’re not really an evangelical. Common mission is a wonderful catalyst for dialogue. I think Moore encouraged a lot of Christians to partake in either today. I hope many do not withdraw their help from World Vision. The children they are sponsoring need them, and Christians who are for and against homosexuality really need to talk to each other, instead of yell at each other across the internet.

The other hot topic on the Christian internet today is both the Noah movie and the movie, God’s Not Dead. Apparently, there’s quite a bit of creative license taken in the Noah movie, which is to be expected, but some Christians are pissed about it. Rick Warren encouraged Christians not to see it. A personal friend of mine shared a pastor she is close to’s warnings about the movie. When I commented that I would save my judgement until I saw it, she commented “I’ll trust my pastor’s judgement.” That’s a loaded statement, of course. I want my pastors to make me think, not think for me. And it is concerning that several Christians will take their pastors’ (most of whom, have not seen the movie and are just retelling what they have heard) warnings just as seriously. The trouble is that there is a double standard afoot here. A few weeks ago, many of the same pastors who are now blasting the Noah movie for it’s biblical inaccuracies, were encouraging their congregations to buy out theaters to watch the movie Son of God, a movie that is also full of biblical inaccuracies. So what’s the difference? It seems like Son of God was made by, for, and marketed to Christians. Noah was made by an atheist, for a broad audience, and marketed to that same broad audience. I think Christians feel spurned by this, not realizing that the Son of God producers really just want them to spend money on their movie more than they want to reach people for Christ (which they may want too, but if they really was the main concern, why not give the movie away for free? Oh right, they already did that because it was shown on cable the year before as apart of the “Bible” miniseries. That was popular…so why not monetize it?) The thing is, the Noah movie has a big budget, a prominent director, and an award winning actor. More nonbelievers will see this movie than any of the other biblical or Christian movies out there. And guess what? They will then talk about the source material. I don’t know if the Noah movie will be any good or not. And I’m sure there will be parts of it that I’ll have problems with, but if Christians don’t see it, who will the nonbelievers talk about the real story about? Christians could miss out on a great opportunity if they skip this one and choose to see God’s Not Dead instead. Many Christians are saying they are doing this very thing. God’s Not Dead is the other Christian movie out right now. The previews looked like the typical cheesy Christian fare to me, but several people seemed intrigued. I have not seen it, and just like Noah, I will reserve judgment until I do. But, I did see a review from the A.V. Club (the serious/legit branch of satirical webzine the Onion) that claimed it was horrible even for Christian movies. This was after it came in at a surprising number 5 at the box office over the weekend and several Facebook friends were singing it’s praises. That provides another of my points. The only people who will really enjoy a movie like God’s Not Dead are already people who accept it’s premise. It’s another movie made by Christians, for Christians, and marketed to Christians. Serious movie critics and nonbelievers will only see a poorly acted, poorly written, glorified church drama that made it’s way to the big screen. Worse than that, as the reviewer in the A.V. Club noted, it reinforces the negative stereotypes that Christians fight today. i will probably see God’s Not Dead one day, but I will definitely see Noah before it. I will save my official reviews after I see both. 



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