What Makes a Good Movie in the Kingdom

This blog is about the good news of the kingdom of God. So, here we evaluate things in the context of what God intended them to be–in other words, what they should be as the Kingdom advances and transforms the world into the place God intended it to be.

And that brings us to the subject of movies. We are only a few weeks away from the American Academy Awards, so it seems an appropriate time to address what makes for a good movie in the kingdom of God. Mind you, this does mean we are asking what Christians like, but what they should like in a movie.

If you are are like me, before you watch a movie, you check on Rotten Tomatoes to see how highly the movie is rated. I look at both the audience rating and the critics rating, and rarely are they the same. That is because the audience evaluates movies for their entertainment value, while critics evaluate them on their technical merit. In terms of the kingdom of God, both are right and both are wrong, or better, both are incomplete.

As I have suggested above, movies start with a teleological question: What is the purpose of movies in the kingdom of God? I think there are three primary criteria.

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Faith in the Pandemic

I’ve wearied of hearing believers complain about the pandemic, spin conspiracy theories to pretend it doesn’t exist, embrace flaky click-bait inspired ideas about the CDC, Fauci, and COVID-19, and then wrap themselves in the flag of faith to justify it all.

It’s worrisome because Christians are called to be the light of the world, not the butt of jokes. We are to lead people to life, not destruction. The sources of Christians’ current confusion are ignorance, fear, an unbiblical view of faith, and pride.

Ignorance: Historical context for the pandemic. We are ignorant of history. There is nothing historically unusual about plagues and pandemics, and the serious ones typically last longer than two years. The plague of Cyprian lasted from 249 A.D. to 262 A.D, the plague of Justinian from 541 A.D. to 549 A.D., and the Black Death in Europe from 1346 to 1353. Yet, Christians complain because this pandemic has dragged on for nearly two years, and we still have to wear masks to church. We should set a better example.

Fear: On conspiracy theories. It is well-settled that people embrace conspiracy theories when they are unable or unwilling to accept the scary, unpleasant truths of reality. If Christians are going to be the light of the world, they need to lead in facing ugly realities and showing the world the path to Jesus, not pimping crazy-town theories about Bill Gates trying to implant chips in our arms through COVID vaccines. Such beliefs are motivated by fear, not faith. 

Unbiblical faith and real faith. The idea that getting vaccinated or wearing a mask shows a lack of faith is both naive and unbiblical. It’s like crossing a busy street and refusing to look both ways because you are “trusting God.” That is testing God, not trusting Him, and it brings God’s judgment, not His approval. It’s forcing God to act on your behalf. It’s what Satan asked Jesus to do when he suggested Jesus parachute off the top of the temple without a parachute. See Matthew 4:5-7. God will not be manipulated by our misguided view of faith.

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10 Things American Evangelicals are Wrong About

Let me get some things out on the table right from the start. I am an Evangelical. I am conservative. I believe in small government, low taxes, and liberty. I am a one-exception (life of the mother) pro-lifer.

I think Ronald Reagan was one of greatest presidents we have ever had, and I supported Pat Robertson in the 1988 presidential primary. Except Nos. 7 and 8, I previously held all the views I criticize below.

What changed my mind was (1) deciding I was no longer going to get my political opinions from a political party or television network and (2) attempting to carry out Biblical and kingdom presuppositions to their logical conclusions. So, you can call me wrong, but don’t call me a liberal. What I hope I am is a Christian whose politics are rooted not in Fox News or MSNBC, the Republicans or the Democrats, but the Bible.

With that in mind, here are 10 things American Evangelicals are wrong about:

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Five Recent Movies with Good Messages

It had been so long since I had seen a really good movie, the thought crossed my mind that perhaps I had reached that age where I would stop liking movies. You ever wonder why your parents don’t go to the movies anymore? I’ve never heard a good explanation, but there must be a reason, right?

Well, the good news is that if there is such an age, apparently I have not reached it yet. After a long drought, I can honestly say that the last five movies I’ve watched were excellent, and all but one had a good message, and by “good” I mean one that was either consistent with Truth, promoted virtue, or asked the right questions.

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Was the Middle Ages a Dark Ages?

Second Baptist Church, Houston, Texas (Cir. 1985)

I’m partial to the Middle Ages. Not that I would necessarily have wanted to live then, but it is not because it was the “dark ages.” I prefer modern health care, technology, and prosperity. It makes life more comfortable.

But what I prefer today over the Middle Ages is not necessarily something we, as moderns, can take credit for; it is the result of knowledge and understanding building on itself and progressing through each generation to bring us to this point scientifically and technologically. We have the generations that came before us to thank for that.

The disciplines of architecture and art are a more even playing field when comparing the Middle Ages with today. With regard to architecture, advances in engineering allow us to do certain things with buildings we could not do with buildings 1,000 years ago, and, as a result, if anything the moderns have an advantage.

That should also be true of art in architecture. There are things we can do now we couldn’t do 1,000 years ago that give today’s artist or architect more creative tools to work with. So, all things being equal, what we can do with virtually unlimited funds today in say, building a church, should far exceed in beauty and creativity what man created 1,000 years ago, particularly if 1,000 years ago was a “dark ages.”

So, I picked a church, not just any church, but Second Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. A church I used to attend. A beautiful church. One of the largest churches in America (85,000 members). A church with more money than Croesus. A church that could build essentially any church it wanted, and it did. In 1980s, it built the structure you see above. I was proud to attend Second Baptist Church. It was the most beautiful church around.

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