Hollywood has seemingly put the spotlight on the Bible. With the epic releases of the The Passion, The Bible Mini Series, Noah, and most recently, Exodus: Gods and Kings. Interestingly, the Christian world has had mixed feelings about the releases of major blockbuster films like Exodus. There seems to be a genuine concern for Biblical accuracy and devotion to the Bible and its rendering of such a paramount story. However, in this concern I believe we may have missed something even more important. In our pursuit for Biblical accuracy, we are missing the opportunity that awaits the believer to engage his/her culture and community
For the record, both Noah and Exodus do a horrible job in terms of hermeneutics and exegesis. But, thats NOT the point. The point is that our society and culture has a desire to engage with the concepts and stories that are portrayed in the scriptures and thats why I love this movie. It gives us an incredible opportunity that should cause the following in the Christian.
1. Ask the question why
Why is it that a major film maker like Ridley Scott would take the venture to pursue bringing the framework of the story of Moses from the Bible to the big screens? What does Ridley Scott see in the narrative of Moses that appeals to humanity and our culture today? Considering the millions of dollars spent on this film, we can’t even begin to imagine the amount of market and demographic research that was done to come to the conclusion that this was something that would not only appeal to todays culture but seemingly engage it in a profound way. For us as believers, it would be wise to consider how the story of Moses engages, encourages, and challenges us as believers. And continue by considering how it would engage, encourage, and challenge a non believer.
2. Pray for Ridley Scott, Christian Bale, and the cast and crew of Exodus
It is not possible for Ridley Scott to produce this film without an intense amount of research into the Bible and the narrative of Moses and the Pharaoh. The first step for Christian Bale in order to get into the character of Moses would be to study the Biblical character of Moses. The cast and crew would need to understand the geography, cultural and historical climate, and even weaponry during that biblical time period. Think about that. They had to study the Bible at some level. Regardless of how they interpreted what they studied and the direction they took with the final characters, they were in some way and fashion exposed to the Moses, Pharaoh, and most importantly, the God of the Bible. This should cause us to have a sense of thanks and hope for what the Holy Spirit is more than capable of doing. My Pastor was sent to a behavior rehabilitation program in the Samoan islands when he was in Jr. High. In the library he found a Bible and literally opened it up in Genesis and read through it. By the time he got to the Gospels he knew that Jesus was the promised Messiah and he literally got saved simply by reading the Bible. Imagine what could happen to all those involved in these movies as they engage the Bible as a source of background information only to be met by the loving and powerful God who sent his Son to die on a cross and reconcile humanity back to the father.
3. Engage your culture
Stop hiding. If we really love God and want to do his will, do what Jesus said. Go and make disciples (Matthew 28: 18-20). The call of the Christian is not to run and hide in the mountains waiting for the coming of Christ. Rather, it is to engage a dark and lost world with the beauty of the Gospel. John Newton captures this perfectly as he states:
Regardless of your opinion of these movies you have the opportunity to engage your family, friends, and loved ones who are not believers. Imagine the amount of non believers that will see the movie Exodus and the natural bridge that has been formed for us to engage them with their questions and thoughts to point them right to the Bible. These are opportunities for believers to engage their culture and not pout and whine about how “un-biblical” the movie was”. Your right, it wasn’t. Now communicate with confidence to everyone how it wasn’t and why its important that we understand the difference, and the hope that the Gospel brings.
4. Be obedient to the Holy Spirit and your conscience
Some of us will be more than ok to go and see Exodus. We can watch it and enjoy its cinematic excellence and take in the Biblical nuances and framework. Further, we can begin to understand and build bridges and connection points with non Christian friends who we can watch the movie with. However, if you feel your conscience leads you to refrain from watching the movie, don’t watch it. There are other ways to be informed about the movie and engage your community. Read reviews of the movie or jump on wikipedia and check out the summary to get familiar.
I don’t think that there is anything more clear than Jesus’ command in his High Priestly prayer (John 17) when in verse 18 he says, “ As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world”. It is without a doubt that the intention of Christ was for his disciples to go into the world and engage the world by proclaiming the Gospel. There is no better example than Paul as he preaches on Mars Hill and engages his audience with their own philosophy and tradition as a bridge to tie them to the truth of the Gospel. Hopefully, we can take that example and do it today with opportunities in front of us.