by Dr. Randy White, pastor
FBC Katy, Texas
(Pastor White blogs here.)
I have not seen “The Son of God,” Roma Downey and Mark Burnett’s sure-to-be-blockbuster movie. I am sure I will see it, and want to prepare my mind to critique the movie fully. This article contains the list of some of the questions I’ll be asking as I watch the movie.
First, I want to share some thoughts on the promotion given to the movie by the church community, and then some of the things I expect I’ll find in the movie.
Why Is The Church Promoting This Movie?
If a New Age Catholic wrote a book about Jesus, would we be buying cases of the book to distribute to our church members and their friends? I doubt it. As the dad of a young man who is preparing for a career in movie script-writing, I am keenly aware that movies are based on the written word—the script. Even if such a book was an adequate presentation of Jesus, would the church be concerned with the identity of the author of the book? Of course it would!
What’s good for books is good for movies.
Roma Downey and Mark Burnett have written a script and produced a movie, and it is the pastor’s job to approach such a work critically. One of the things I’ve learned to do over the years is to choose my books based on the author. Does the author have a track record? Does the author have credentials? Does the author know the subject? Even the first-time author has some kind of track record—it is what is printed on the back cover of the book!
Roma Downey has a spiritual track record.
Her degree is from the University of Santa Monica: a Masters in Spiritual Psychology. Don’t go into her movie without knowing that the degree she has will have influence on the work she does.
From the University of Santa Monica’s own website, here are the “Benefits of USM’s M.A. Program in Spiritual Psychology”:
Experiencing enhanced spiritual awareness through knowing yourself as a Divine Being having a human experience.
Manifesting greater success and fulfillment personally and professionally.
Transforming your consciousness and your life by integrating the Principles and Practices of Spiritual Psychology.
Mastering powerful Soul-Centered Basic Skills—tools for spiritual evolution.
Resolving (healing) your own issues (anything that disturbs your peace).
Aligning with your Soul’s purpose.
Fulfilling your deepest aspirations through discovering effective and joy-filled ways of making a meaningful contribution in the world.
Participating with a community of like-hearted individuals.
Discovering your own answers to these essential questions:
1) Who Am I?
2) What Is My Purpose?
3) How Can I Make a Meaningful Contribution?[i]
May I ask bluntly: Why are we letting Roma Downey have even the slightest degree of influence in our churches? Why do we invite her to the most influential places of Christian ministry without bringing up her New Age beliefs, calling for her to reject these beliefs? I can’t even imagine any sane pastor, even those of a strong church-growth mindset, making a presentation like this—
Fellow Church members, Roma Downey has written a book called “The Son of God.” Roma was educated in how to know yourself as “a Divine Being having a human experience.” She has a degree that enables her to know how to use “Soul-Centered Basic Skills” for your own “spiritual evolution.” She can help us “resolve anything that disturbs our peace.” I heartily recommend her book.
May I be so bold as to say that the pastor would be shown the door?
If you want to know more about Roma Downey’s education, click here. Learn how she learned “the process of Self-Counseling, to connect with your Inner Counselor, a source of Wisdom, Unconditional loving, and Compassion that resides at the level of the Authentic Self,” and other garbage.
What I Expect to See
Because of the background of the author and the nature of the movie industry, I expect “the feel-good movie of the year.” Thus, I might add, I expect to be criticized for this article. “This movie will do a lot of good, you should praise it instead of criticize it.” We love to feel good!
Specifically, however, I suspect to see the following:
A politically correct Jesus – He will look like we want him to look, talk like we want him to talk, and act like we want him to act.
A Jesus free from the Old Testament – He will be free from the Law and free from Israel.
An anti-Semitic Jesus – He will make us hate those Jews who did this to our Jesus.
A Jesus loved by the masses but hated by the people we hate – or, in other words, a socialist/Marxist Jesus, a “people’s Jesus” who enables the people to rise above their dictators.
A Jesus whose death was a pity and makes us feel bad – rather than one who willingly laid down His life.
I hope I am wrong on each of these (and I will gladly say I was wrong).
Questions I will be asking:
Is Jesus presented as pre-existent?
Is there any indication that Jesus is the eternal Son of God?
Does it appear that Jesus “began” in Bethlehem?
Is Jesus the Creator, through whom all things were made?
Is Jesus presented as the Jewish Messiah coming to establish the Kingdom of God?
Is there any concept that Jesus is the fulfillment of ancient prophecy?
Are we shown that Jesus was sent to receive “the throne of His Father David” and that He would “reign over the house of Jacob?”
Is there any indication that Jesus would restore creation and fulfill that at which Adam failed?
Is Jesus presented as the only option for salvation?
He will likely be presented as “the way, the truth, and the life,” but will we be informed that “no man comes to the Father but by Me?”
Will the uninformed be inspired that Jesus was a good man and a great spiritual Being, or will they be informed that Jesus is their only spiritual option?
Is Jesus’ death presented as an essential act of propitiation, or is it an act of love which motivates our obedience?
Will the work of Christ on the cross be presented at that which motivates us to be our spiritual best, or that which fully paid the price of sin and made salvation and the forgiveness of sins possible?
Is there any indication that Jesus is the returning judge and King?
Without a picture of a returning Judge and King, we simply have a motivational story. If Jesus is coming back to “judge the living and the dead,” then we need to commit our lives to Him alone.
I realize that no movie can cover it all adequately (just as no sermon can). Because of time constraints, I will be forgiving of some of these being left out. But, my sad prediction is that I will come out of the movie feeling good about Jesus, and—if the movie was my only source of information—not knowing that Jesus is the eternal Son of God sent as Jewish Messiah in fulfillment of every Hebrew prophecy and is my only hope for salvation, the only One who has paid the price, or can, for my sin and the sin of the world, the One whose return I must prepare for by accepting the gift of salvation given by grace, through faith.
Hoping again that I am wrong.
Ed.’s note: Here are two more perspectives:
by Unappreciated Pastor*
Life hasn’t been easy around my house lately. My wife had a bit of an accident. She made some chili for the world hunger night at church. After service was over she returned home without her crock pot. Realizing she had forgotten it and holding on to the hope that perhaps there was some chili left for her, she made her way back to the church. It was no great surprise when she discovered an empty vessel. I was in a meeting. My meeting expired while my wife was still at the church. I traveled the 100 yards to my home only to discover that my wife was not there. That isn’t anything new. She often stays at the church to fellowship with others.
by Ron F. Hale
American Christians are bombarded by a host of -isms (multiculturalism, moral relativism, postmodernism, etc.) and can fall prey to confusion over the one true God that Scripture reveals. Do Christians and Muslims worship the same creator God that spun the stars across the galaxies and so loved the world that He gave His only Son?
by Dr. David E. Crosby, pastor
FBC, New Orleans, La.
(Pastor Crosby blogs HERE.)
I have found the long-sought secret to the vitality of the Baptist movement. Defined by Wikipedia, swarm intelligence is the collective behavior of decentralized, self-organized systems.
When I read things like this coming from a fellow Southern Baptist (at least I thought he was a Baptist), it makes me tired. It’s hard enough to battle the culture of forced tolerance and acceptance of ungodly practices. It’s difficult enough to work and battle legislators to right the injustices and take stands against laws that limit our freedom to worship, express our faith and follow the call upon our lives to be holy even as He is holy. It’s troublesome enough to have to make bylaws tighter within our churches to include language to protect our church from having to bow to laws which may impose their views upon us and force us to do something in direct conflict with the Word of God. But to have another mega-church pastor pass his individual dictate upon the brethren who seek to protect rights? It just eats at my soul.