Was the Gospel Left Behind?

I began this blog simply because on my down time I like to research what Christian movies are on their way.  I often find bits of information that I think would be interesting to my friends and family.  I am not a good writer.  I am not good with grammar or typing as many of my friends and family have known for decades.  Good writing was not why I started this blog.  I started this blog to share my reviews of Christian movies coming out, share the news that I find on Christian projects in the works and to give my opinion on Christian movies as a whole. This is what I am about to do.

Now, if you read any of my other posts you will know that I did not care for the new Left Behind movie starring Nicholas Cage.  It was a project I was extremely excited about but it really disappointed me.  The other day I went on Facebook and saw that Paul Lalonde had posted an encouragement to purchase the Blu-ray or DVD if you would like to see more films in the series.  I will not be buying it any time soon as I did not like the film, but I do encourage you, if you liked it, BY ALL MEANS GO BUY IT! And buy one for a friend or family member.  This is how you support a film.  However, this is not what caught my attention.  At the end of the post Paul writes, “I’ve got a few minutes here, anyone have any questions they’ve been dying to ask?”  I read these words and had a sinking feeling in my stomach.  Not because I didn’t like the movie.  Not because I don’t like Paul… in fact, I had a sinking feeling in my stomach because I love Paul Lalonde and his brother Peter.  I credit them as pioneers.  If not for the work they did we would not have had the year we did with the success of God’s Not Dead and Heaven is for Real.  They had nothing to do with those movies but they paved the way for wider releases of Christian movies.

As I read down the list of comments, some comments began to stand out to me… because they were repeated over and over again.  The comments began to reveal some misunderstandings that the general Christian public has about this Left Behind movie.  You might see several comments like “The movie was horrible! I’ll stick to the one Hollywood didn’t ruin!” What do they mean by “Hollywood?” I use that term (much to the dislike of one of my good friends, sorry Eric.) I don’t see anything wrong with using that term.  However, when I do use it, I am referring to the giants in the industry.  I am using it as a collective term for Fox, WB, Sony, Disney, etc.  The funny thing about these comments in regards to the Left Behind reboot is, the driving force behind the project is the same as “the one Hollywood didn’t ruin.”  It was still an independent project headed by Paul LaLonde.  It was not backed by a major studio, it was not backed by Nicholas Cage, he just acted in it… or, in my opinion… he… kind of… showed up… As Christians, shouldn’t we speak truth? How can we when we talk about things we don’t know anything about? How can we say things like, Hollywood ruined it if we don’t even define what we mean by “Hollywood.” (I am not saying that the people who used this as criticism are not Christians, I am just saying that we need to watch what we say and how we say it.)

There was another criticism though, this one is the one that spurred me to write this post.  It was said in many ways at many times.  “no doctrine in the movie at all!” or “The Gospel was not shared!” or “no scripture references!” And as I read these comments I shook my head.  Paul responded to one of these comments by sharing that in his office he has hanging two articles.  The headline of one (and I am paraphrasing because I can’t find the comment again) is “Left Behind, Not a Christian Movie” and the other headline “Left Behind, Nothing but Heavy Handed Christian Propaganda.” He points out that these are two articles about the same movie that have completely different views on what the Left Behind movie was like.  The Christian article thought it was not Christian enough, the secular review saw it as very heavy propaganda.  There is a line to walk there.

I liked Paul’s response to this accusation.  It got me thinking.  I am a Pastor, it is not just the title of my blog.  I began to wonder why some Christians demand scripture references in movies.  You see, as a Pastor I work very hard to focus completely on Scripture.  I have been accused of not being a Preacher but more like a Biblical teacher.  Some say it in a negative way but I take it as a positive.  Some people, when they say this mean they want to hear more personal stories or more jokes but I refuse to change.  Teaching scripture is what I do and I am doing it in an age where Biblical illiteracy is at an all time high. So why should I stop? Biblical teaching is needed now more than ever.

With all that said, you might be tempted to say “That is exactly why the movie needs more!” and I would say that you are wrong! That is exactly why it is important to make a movie that is not a sermon or a Bible lesson.  My job is to teach scripture and encourage my congregation to further their study on scripture.  A movie maker’s job is to make a movie that entertains.  A Christian movie maker’s job is to make a movie that entertains and makes you ponder Christ. A Christian movie is something that allows me to sit down and have a fun time with a non-Christian friend that will lead to a conversation about God and about Christ after the movie ends.  It is during that time after the movie that scripture is shared.  Not by the movie but by the fully equipped and prepared Christian.  It takes time.  It takes preparation.  It takes commitment.  It takes learning.  It takes work…. And that is why we would rather have the movie do it for us.  We would love it if the movie did all the work and then when the movie is over we say a prayer with our Non-Christian friend, He becomes our New Christian friend, we send him home without a meaningful, relationship building conversation and we go to bed feeling like we just won a battle for the Kingdom.  When the reality is we just stayed home during “the time Kings go to war” if I can make a comparison to the fall of David.  We didn’t fight, we allowed others to do the research, the equipping, the work. We have become lazy Christians. Movies that act as a springboard for Christians to share create opportunities for Christians to grow in their knowledge of Scripture.  What good would it be if parents did their children’s homework for them? Would they every learn themselves?

Mr. Lalonde, I may not have liked this Left Behind movie but I am a fan of yours.  I will be seeing the follow up, if there is one.  I will be seeing whatever project you do next.  Personally, I would like to see you expand from the “End Times Thriller” genre but it doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate what you have done already.  I propose we stick to our jobs.  My job as a Pastor is to teach the Word.  Your Job as a Christian film maker is to make movies that allow us to build a conversation around (it is not your job to do the work for us.) My fellow Christian brothers and sisters, your job is to prepare yourselves for battle, study scripture, build relationships with non-believes, live lives that point to Jesus. Be kind. Be positive.  Don’t attack fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  Do everything to build each other up…. (to add scripture reference or not… ummm…. Look it up, why should I do all the work for you.)

And to all, Grace and Peace from our Heavenly Father!

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