For several decades, Hollywood has been a favorite target for the Christian community…often with good reason. Christians have repeatedly bemoaned the lack of family-friendly fare.
But the movers and shakers of Tinsel Town claim that when they do produce the types of movies Christians want, box office receipts drop faster than the temperature on a January night in Alaska.
To prove Hollywood wrong, you might think Christians would flock to theaters to attend biblically-based movies. Instead, the Internet abounds with debates over the biblical accuracy of those movies.On the one hand, Hollywood seems to be intentionally courting the Christian community. Noah, Son of God, and now Ridley Scott’s Exodus, as well as other movies, clearly have their foundation in biblical accounts.
But as with most movies—secular or otherwise—Tinsel Town can’t help meddling with the printed word. For the sake of drama, entertainment, or perhaps even for philosophical differences, they often mess with the facts to create a story that displeases huge segments of the very population they claim to want to reach: Christians.
Even the hit movie Unbroken, based on Laura Hillenbrand’s book of the same title, has come under fire. Producers chose to end the movie without what many Christians consider the most important period of Zamperini’s life: when the “broken” man was made whole—restored by his faith in Jesus Christ.
Some say that even inaccurate movies provide an opportunity to begin a dialogue with those who would not normally attend church or read the Bible. In reviewing the movie, Son of God, Dr. Ben Kayser, Managing Editor of Movie Guide, observed, “While the Bible must be held in the highest regard and treated with the utmost respect, we should never treat any rendition or adaptation of the Bible on par with His revealed word. SON OF GOD is meant to point people to the Bible, not replace it.”
Others say supporting such movies is harmful—that people will watch the movie and walk away with an incorrect or incomplete understanding of the depicted events. For example, in a Christian Post article about the movie Noah, Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, cautioned, “Sure, after watching the film, people could be directed to read the true story for themselves in the Bible. But in this day and age, young people have a hard time deciphering reality from fiction and don’t often take the time to form their own educated opinions.”
So what’s a Christian to do? Should a born-again, Bible-believing Christian see movies such as Noah, Son of God, Unbroken, and others? The short answer is, “It depends.” Are the objections related to salvation issues? Movies that deny the deity of Christ or attack His character or mission in any way would certainly be movies Christians should not support.
Another question to ask is whether the movie presents itself as an accurate depiction or if the producers acknowledged their creative license.
For example, prior to the release of Noah in 2014, the president of the National Religious Broadcasters asked Paramount Pictures to add a disclaimer similar to the statement used by DreamWorks for The Prince of Egypt. As a result, the following statement was included in their promotional materials:
“The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values, and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis.”
Whichever position you may hold, we can all agree with Ben Kayser’s observation that Christians need to “stand for truth, respond with grace, and pray that these movies will send more people to the Word of God than ever before.”
What do you think?