Friday, May 19, 2006

Watching The DaVinci Code: Good Stewardship?

After sending out the announcement earlier today about my DaVinci Code review, a friend wrote to me in a private email, questioning why I would even spend a dime to see that movie. The writer went on to explain that the only reason these kinds of movies are made is to put money in the hands of Hollywood's producers and investors, and to confuse young Christians.

I responded that, first of all, I got into the movie for free because a friend runs the theater, but regardless I would have paid to see it because I want to know what's going on. A cultural event of this magnitude needs to be addressed by the body of Christ. I cannot talk to others about it, if I myself have not seen it, or read the book.

It's a story that deals with the core of our faith, questioning the very Divinity of Christ. That's why I went to see it. I don't think that God wants us to bury our heads in the sand.

I want to know where I need to prepare and learn so I can be ready, like Peter tells us ...

"... Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have ..." (I Peter 3:15)

Is viewing a film like this good stewardship of our time and money? Or is it poor stewardship, giving over to the devil what belongs to God (those are my words now, not the original emailer I noted above)?

Comments welcomed.

7 Comments:

At 7:49 AM, Anonymous Ellie said...

The History Channel has had numerous documentories from different viewpoints with international input. They have also reviewed the movie. Your excuse in support of viewing the movie is very, "of this world". Spin it anyway you like. There are also many books available on the subject, again with diverse point of view.The last thing a person who is walking by faith with the Lord needs, is to run to the theater to make him a better or more aware and educated christian. Hollywood has you, isn't it scary how smooth Satan works?

 
At 9:11 AM, Blogger weave said...

Ellie,

There are also many books by Christian leaders who have written and refuted the book's claims. Here are three:

The Truth Behind the DaVinci Code by Richard Abanes

The Davinci Code Fact or Fiction? by Hank Hanegraaff and Paul Maier

Cracking DaVinci's Code: You've Read the Fiction, Now Read the Facts by James L. Garlow and Peter Jones

And Dr. Kennedy's ministry has produced a DVD titled The DaVinci Delusion.

How could these refutations have been written without reading The DaVinci Code? Are you telling me that all of these Christians' excuses are very "of this world," too? I don't buy your reasoning at all.

In my view, the cause behind the alarm in the Church over the DaVinci phenomena is present because the Church has done a poor job of instructing and discipling believers in the core elements of our faith. The advent of this film and the Church's reaction to it exposes a weaknesses in both the American evangelical church and the Catholic church. For the one who is rooted in Christ, there is nothing in this film to be afraid of.

Having said that, I am certainly not implying that every Christian should see it. I am not pushing this film. I went to see it for the reasons I explained in my posting. But each of us must determine how God is leading us and respond accordingly. Some of us may have the liberty to do so, and others may not.

Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog. I invite you to return and read more of my stuff.

 
At 12:47 PM, Blogger George said...

Although I understand and appreciate Ellie's view and the perspective it's coming from (and I'm sure there is no small segment among Christians who would agree with her 100%), it appears she is projecting her own conviction on the matter of the film (and "Hollywood products" in general) into a set of "rules" that ought to apply to us all. There I differ, as it doesn't pass the "smell test" of legalism.

The result of that practice, if it were legitimate and universally applied, would mean that "one opinion fits all," which would create even more divisions among Christians, since who could arbitrate that Ellie's view is superior to Mark's (or to George's, for that matter)?

Because I know you, Mark, I know much more about you than Ellie does, so I know that despite her disagreement about a Christian's freedom of conscience to view this movie (or any film in question), you have not sold out to the industry; by no stretch of the imagination could it be said truthfully and objectively that "Hollywood has you" and that Satan is behind your choice to see the "Code" movie.

On the other hand, I respect very much certain aspects of Ellie's view. For some Christians, it is no doubt the best route to stay completely away from any involvement in the movie industry -- whether from Hollywood or foreign films or "indies." In other cases, some moderation is allowed by one's own liberty in Christ. My wife and I have our own code: we do not watch R-rated movies together -- period. That is our choice, and we follow it absolutely. No matter the possible value or a good story, perhaps marred by bad language only -- in other words, no matter the reason for the rating -- we do not rent it, buy it, or go to the theater to see it.

On the other hand, I have chosen to view certain R-rated films by myself or perhaps with other men (my adult son, for instance) for their political insights (e.g., "All the President's Men" with Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman in the WashPost reporters' roles following Watergate) or perhaps too violent for her taste and sensibilities (e.g., certain war movies). The point is, I would not project that restriction on others, as that would create legalism and bondage and make them feel accountable to me.

Now, in support of Ellie, I don't think we have to take drugs to understand or "minister to" drug addicts, nor do I think any of us Christians ought to view pornography so we can better "understand" those held in that addiction. There are some thngs we no doubt have a Christian collective and individual conscience "inner witness" (and may have biblical backing) that they are wrong, and so we ought to flee from them and stand against them in the public square.

I think Ellie ought to stick with her personal views and convictions very tightly and faithfully, but it would be more kind and less judgmental to cut some slack for those with a different view than her own.

 
At 9:37 PM, Anonymous Nancy said...

I'm not sure that I will view the movie. I haven't read the book, although I am learning about it at Sunday school via the Lee Strobel video and workbook. I am not usually a fan of that type of movie, so I am not drawn to it to begin with. But I also don't want to watch something that will offend me - whether it is an R rated movie with offending language or visuals, or a movie that offends the foundations of my spiritual beliefs. I have too many other positive options to spend my limited time on. I do appreciate reading Mark's perspective because I know him and trust him. Ultimately, though, how prepared I am to minister to an unbeliever who has bought the lies in this book is my responsibility.

 
At 6:57 PM, Anonymous Ellie said...

I'm very passionate about God and his son Jesus Christ. You kids don't know me but I'm not considered judgemental or critical. If I took the time to comment it was because I was profoundly struck by what I read.
I was called to prompt you by the spirit of God that works in me. My comment was not about me, but the concern was about your walk with him and many others who you may be influencimg on your blog. Did you ask God in prayer if he wanted to to see the movie and then share it on the web?

 
At 5:58 AM, Blogger weave said...

Thanks, Ellie, for continuing the dialog. I very mush respect your views, and appreciate you sharing them. I am glad that you are so passionate in your love for Christ and your desire to serve Him.

For the record, us "kids" as you call us have a collective history of walking with Christ that is closing in on 90 years. My friend George is in his late 60's, and has been in relationship with Christ since the mid 1950's. George is a pastor/teacher in the body of Christ, though now officially retired from any role that affords him a regular salary from the church. He has pastored a number of churches down through the decades, and is currently quite engaged in his church, though no longer in any official leadership capacity. I, on the other hand am a young man of only 54 but have been in Christ for 38 years now. My support has been provided through working my 40 plus hours a week in a variety of careers from the civil engineering field, to the manufacturing industry, to real estate sales.

Now, to your direct questions.

No, I did not specifically ask God if He wanted me to see the film. But I did sense that He wanted me to see it.

In the years since the book was first released, I had consistently felt absolutely no desire whatsoever to have anything to do with this book. Its premise was quite offensive to me, and remains so. But my boss had read the book a couple of years ago, and spoke about it often, intrigued by the conspiratorial aspects of it, the mysteries of some so-called ancient code, and by its denigration of the Catholic church. He regularly challenged me to read the book. But I had no desire.

I work in a fairly worldly environment, where my co-workers have no shame in using foul language, or saying things that would make many of my Christian friends blush. Often, my co-workers say things in front of me just to see how I will react. Ironically, though digusted sometimes with their behavior, I must confess that I have a genuine affection for these folks, and count them as among my very best friends, despite their continued resistance to the gospel and its power to redeem.

For two-plus years I heard about The DaVinci Code, not only from my boss at work, but from others, and certainly from the public media. I steadfastly held (and hold) a repugnance to the concept of the book, and never even entertained an interest in reading it, although my very best friend in Christ had reluctantly read it in response to his unredeemed brother who, like my boss, challenged him to do so.

As the release of the movie drew near, I began to consider to see it, only because of the hype surrounding it and a desire to not be ignorant of the story's specific nuances and claims. I really, honestly, did not want to see it. I knew that viewing it would be agonizing at times, as my Savior's name would be slandered, and His character besmirched. And it was.

But then an invitation came, an opportunity to see the film in a private viewing the night before its official release. I sensed, honestly, that God was breaking down my resistance because He wanted me to see the movie. That no doubt seems strange to you I'm sure, as it has to at least one other of my Christian friends, but I sincerely believe that it was God who opened that door.

I marvel at the ability of God to handle things like this. His name is cursed often, and dragged through the mud regularly. He was once stripped naked, whipped, spat upon, mocked and crowned with a painful ring of thorns, called names, and hung upon a cross in public view to die an agonizing death. Yet His arms remain open, loving, and welcoming to all who reach back to Him. And to those who don't, He sorrows over their lostness.

God is big enough to handle The DaVinci Code. It is not the first time, nor the last that His name and reputation suffer slander. He no doubt grieves every time the movie rolls, or the book's pages are turned.

How wonderful it would be if we lived in a world where everyone loved and honored Him. But we do not. Yet look at what ends He went to to meet us in our fallen state.

I am certain He grieves every time a theater projectionist flips the switch. And yet, knowing Him as I do, I highly doubt that His grief precludes Him from showing up in those same theaters. If He can be there, why can't I?

I will post again soon with my response to your second question.

 
At 6:48 AM, Blogger George said...

I am following this "conversation" with significant and sincere interest. I am glad that Ellie returned to assure us that she is passionate about her faith in God and in Jesus Christ, although I never doubted that even from her first words of concern about Mark's having seen the film. I did have a problem with the "apparent" judging that suggested Mark was being influenced by the devil. That's a fairly serious charge, and I jumped in NOT to criticize Ellie for her opinion (about The DaVinci Code or about Mark) but just to say there is, in my opinion, a danger in projecting our own Christian convictions into generalizations that would say, "What is right or wrong for me (in the area of Christian liberty and things not specifically forbidden in Scripture) must be equally right or wrong for every other Christian." There is no biblical mandate for making that judgment, and Paul speaks of the believer's freedom and liberty in Christ in more than one of his letters in the New Testament.

I appreciated Mark's response to that and to Ellie's second note, too, and I did get a chuckle from Ellie's thinking I/we were "kids." (I'm actually older than Mark's assumption, having turned 70 earlier this month.)

I'm in the same boat as Nancy, whom I do not know, in that I do not intend to read the book nor do I intend to see the film. I simply have no time or interest. Yet, I have to agree with Mark in his most logical conclusion that if some Christians did not read the book or view the movie, how would the rest of the Christians (the larger Church) have the benefit of knowing where the author has gone wrong or where the errors and/or the blasphemy is being stated? Some people are called to get into the midst of reading books by unbelievers that directly attack our faith, just so they can use the author's words and thoughts to teach the truth. I have to respect that they do so in the will of God and to serve others.

Having said that -- and believing in all of these matters that "to his own master he stands or falls" in areas of Christian freedom and liberty -- I'll say two more things. First, I am hearing and reading of rumors that some Christians, especially young people, are having problems and challenges with their faith in Jesus Christ because of this book and the follow-up film. If so, I am very sorry for them. However, they are not deep enough into the Bible, the written word of God, and their churches, even if Evangelical, are not doing a good job teaching and discipling people in knowing the biblical bases of "the faith once delivered to the saints" (Jude).

My second comment is this: there is no more heresy, blasphemy, or unbelief in Dan Brown's book (or from his heart and mind) than is expressed week after week from hundreds, if not thousands of so-called "Christian" pulpits all across North America (U.S. and Canada) spoken by professing Christian leaders (preachers and teachers) who professionally represent our Christian faith as ordained clergy but who do not believe God's word. They speak of a Savior they do not personally know and read from a Bible they do not believe is divinely inspired. And they teach and preach stupid and heretical ideas every time they speak, and yet they profess to be Christian believers and may even believe they are doing a good thing. I believe their judgment from Almighty God in "that Day" will be more severe than Dan Brown's, who is a rather common, garden-variety agnostic writer who does not profess or pretend to be a servant of God.

Jesus called the unbelieving religious leaders of His day "wolves in sheep's clothing," and when you think about all that implies, you can hardly imagine a more scathing denunciation.

 

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