On Christianity, The Arts, and How To Have a Disagreement 

The Golden Compass, the upcoming movie with a distinctly anti-God and anti-church background, is generating controversy more than a month before its release. I've already contributed to that discussion. This matter is leading me to reflect on how, generally, Christians ought to respond to art and media that conflicts with our faith and beliefs. A number of thoughts come to mind. 

1. Jesus told us to expect these kinds of things: the secular world has no love for Jesus, and we should not think that it will. Sometimes this will manifest as hate, directed at Jesus and at his followers. This is not paranoia, or isolationism, or conspiracy thinking; it's just fact. (Source)

2. We should not view things like this as strange, or even as terribly upsetting, but as opportunities to see God at work and to let him shine through us. (Source)

3. We should most certainly stand against the thoughts and ideas presented in such art and media; but not by techniques of "the flesh;" that is, not by unspiritual, ungodly means. (Source)

4. But it's not all about thoughts and ideas, it's also about persons. Jesus Christ's new ethic is to bless those who oppose him and his people. He taught us to love even our enemies. What that means will always depend on the particular context, but it certainly begins with respect and courtesy. (Source 1 and Source 2)

5. As my colleague Brad Bright says, "God is the issue." We ought not to get distracted into side questions. The reason Phillip Pullman, for example, has written his trilogy, is because of his openly stated hatred for God. I don't know if Pullman is or is not open to discussing that in an open dialogue or reconsidering his opinions. I do know that many of the people potentially being influenced by his books and the movie certainly would be. We need to keep God at the center of our discussions--with an emphasis on the grace and truth of Jesus Christ, and the good news of what he has done for us.

6. Yet we may also take an appropriate position on other issues—double standards, for instance. This book and movie are being heavily promoted in public schools, by a powerhouse publishing company, as learning resources. If that's fair, then it ought also to be fair to bring in openly Christian material for the same kind of use--Max Lucado's Christian children's fiction, for example. But our family has been specifically prevented from doing that, and I'm confident others have had similar experiences (or they haven't even tried, knowing they would receive the same result).

7. The best response to a false story is to tell the true story of Jesus Christ. This is all on our turf. I'll gladly stand up our story against theirs, for its drama, its characters, its honesty, its true-to-life realism, its surprise ending--all the elements of great story. Best of all, ours is not fiction. It happened!

8. And we can tell the story that keeps on unfolding--the story of God's work in our own lives, day-by-day and year-by-year.

So to summarize these rather random reflections, let's not lose our joy over things like The Golden Compass. Our response to it should reflect our joy and confidence in Christ. Part of that confidence rests in our conviction that God is in control, and the battle is more spiritual than visible. So we will pray. Yet with that all that in mind, yes, we stand firmly for truth and against falsehood; and especially with regard to the next generation.

Series Overview

The Golden Compass and "Killing God"--Not An Urban Legend
Coming Soon To Your Child's School: Hostility Toward God and Church, Heavily Promoted
Once Again, How Can This Be Legal?
On Christianity, the Arts, and How To Have a Disagreement
Original Sin Is the Source of Truth? (The Golden Compass)
Death of Divine Authority—Pullman's Agenda
BreakPoint.org on The Golden Compass
"I'm Trying to Undermine the Basis of Christian Belief"
"Democracy of Reading" or a Hidden Agenda? (Phillip Pullman)
Strongly Recommended: Jeffrey Overstreet on the Golden Compass
A New Bearing on The Golden Compass
Rehabilitating The Golden Compass's Religion?
Preacher-Man Phillip Pullman

Note: Linking to outside text within the sentences in Items 1 through 4 made the text difficult to read, so I have taken the non-standard step of sliding the links out to the ends of those points. Each "source" is a supporting Scripture reference. 

Posted: Mon - November 5, 2007 at 11:36 AM           |

© 2004-2007 by Tom Gilson. Permission is granted to quote up to two paragraphs of any blog entry, provided that a link back to the original is included or (in print) the website address is provided. Please email me regarding longer quotes. All other rights reserved.

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