Final Blog Post on God & Film: Horror movies and how to interact with Film in a Redemptive way.

Another genre wildly popular is horror.  Scott Derickson, director of The Excorcism of Emily Rose writes: “It’s a genre of non-denial. It’s about admitting that there is evil in the world, and recognizing there is evil within us; and that we’re not in control, and that things we are afraid of must be confronted in order to relinquish that fear.”  This genre is largely left out of the ‘engagement’ conversation, simply because believers feel such depictions of evil are rejected at all costs, but doesn’t Scripture have many depictions of evil?  Was it not wrong when Saul visit the witch of Endor (I Sam 28) or when accounts of cannibalism (2 Kings 6:28), human sacrifice (2 Kings 3:27, 16:3, 17:17), stabbings (Judges 3:16-26, 2 Sam 2:23) and murder after murder after murder (see Genesis through Revelation)?  These are not your flannel-board Sunday School Lessons.  These pictures within Scripture uses, just like any genre can, a negative message to make a moral point.  There are great and important differences between examining and exploiting whether in truth, politics, violence, wine or good storytelling; the difference lies in the motive. The motive is revealed through the process of experiencing and receiving what the artist is giving. One might think that George Romero’s display of aggressive/compulsive behavior in our country through the cannibalistic ways in the Night of the Living Dead series is exploitative. Yet, the zombie-esque actions were reflective of the evils in our culture, namely: materialism, racism and government control. The zombies were us, or could be us, if we didn’t wake up to the truth. There’s a lot of junk, particularly in the genre of horror, much of it mindless, pointless and self-indulgent, but that doesn’t mean the genre as a whole doesn’t have the potential to, spark some incredible spiritual conversations and leaves the viewer with a distinct impression of the supernatural world.

We live in a fallen, broken world and our job as the redeemed body of Christ is to live redemptively within the cultures of this world, so that the lost might see hope, love and redemption in us and will become a worshipper of God.  I strongly believe Film can be used in a way to point people to God, but only if believers do the hard work of recognizing film as a creative part of our image-bearing humanity and seek to discern, under the authority of Scripture, what is good and evil for the sake of engaging in conversation with our culture.  This takes dedication and practice as the author of Hebrews reminds us that “…those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good and evil.”  We acknowladge finding purpose and meaning in this life apart from Christ is pointless and just like the pagan poetry Paul refers to in Acts 17, not all worldviews will line up with ours.  That doesn’t mean they are worthless to God, for even in distorted philosophies of life are found small truths about the nature of God and humanity.  As Paul concludes Romans 1 he describes God turning those who rejected Him over to their own lusts, God’s truth is affirmed even in the sin of the unbeliever.  There is a disclaimer: every believer’s ‘line’ of what is appropriate to watch and what is not, will be different.  Our call is for holiness and for some that could limit what they are able to view.  With that, we’ll remember Francis Schaeffer’s words” No work of art is more important than the Christian’s own life, and every Christian is called upon to be an artist in this sense….each man has the gift of creativity in terms of the way he lives his life.  In this sense, the Christian’s life is to be an art work.  The Christian’s life is to be a thing of truth and also a thing of beauty in the midst of a lost and despairing world. “[1]


[1] Francis A. Schaeffer, Art and the Bible (Ivp Classics), 2 ed. (n.p.: IVP Books, 2006)

 

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