Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Apostle Paul's Movie Guide

Peter Kerr, in a vignette article in the book, Understanding Evangelical Media (edited by Schultze and Wood), writes about how Evangelicals filter which mainstream movies should be watched. "WWJD" is often an acronym that comes up in oonversation: what would Jesus do? Well, in a way, I think that is a bit of a loaded question. Would he go to a movie in the first place? Not sure - they didn't have movies when He was on the planet, so we don't know. We know that He ate with sinners, which I suspect might be similar to going to bars and so forth. He drank real-life wine - most would agree with that. Would he engage with modern media and entertainment? Well, if He was truly human (and most would agree with that), then he would have engaged with whatever mainstream media there was then.

I wonder if people would consider what Jesus would do when they get into a car. Would He drive? Not sure. He didn't drive while He was on the planet (most would agree with that). So should we drive now?

But that's maybe not a moral issue. Or is it?

Back to media, and the article at hand, Kerr suggests that Paul might have something to say about watching movies. Kerr quotes 1 Corinthians 6:12 and comments:
He refuses to become a slave to things that are merely permissible and not really beneficial. He captures the middle ground between outright rejection and mindless acceptance. (p.63)
I suspect that Paul liked entertainment a lot. He was a scholar after all, and probably liked to think about how things, thoughts, metanarratives, work. He did flesh out much of the theology of the Christian Church (most would agree with that).

And I think most of us like entertainment. That's why many of us find it hard to just stop watching everything; you know, Jesus didn't own a television (most would agree with that).

My final question, though, is how do you know if some kind of media object (film television broadcast, popular song) is ultimately beneficial. Who is the judge of such things? What is the answer? Who knows (and most would agree with that).


Steven said...

never thought about that, how we know if something was beneficial. my sunday school teacher just told us non christian music was like chewing bubble gum, fun but ultimately no point. I like gum, freshens your breath and cleans your teeth.

hulia said...

Hey NICK!! I personally think that the big JC would have loved the film 'Dogma'. I also think he would not have a facebook profile. (I'm actually only saying that because I left and liken myself to Christ). Interesting questions. btw - here's a question - do you still consider yourself an 'evangalical'? I'm curious how the churchy folks of my youth have evloved in that repect...hope you are well!!

peter.kerr said...

You post some good questions--mind if I take a brief stab at them? I think that the point of being a Christian is not just to evangelize, and certainly not to have insurance to get into Heaven, but to be conformed to the image of Christ. As Romans 12:1-3 says, we renew our minds SO THAT we may test and approve what God's will is. This suggests that we cannot take a "I don't know and I'm comfortable with it" attitude, but that as Christians we SHOULD know WWJD, and if we do not, we have some growth to do in holiness and our faith (of course, we all have some of that to do!). God gave us a book all about Him, friends who know Him, and His Spirit to guide us to know Him better (see John 14)--we must use these and be a people with answers as well as good questions.
Posted with a smile,
Peter Kerr (yes, the author mentioned in the original comment)