When Mel Gibson’s “The Passion”came out, we preached for six weeks on the cross and we urged Sunday Schoolclasses and Reach Groups (our small group ministry) to invite friends to seethe movie. Many did, including one non Christian for whom the movie and thechurch discussion became a pivotal turning point in his life. Within a fewmonths he was baptized.
We are taking the same approach withNarnia. Two months ago we started encouraging Sunday School classes to hostclass outings to the movie when it opened, and to invite friends. Harold Shankand I are preaching a three week series using Luke’s Gospel and imagesraised in Narnia. Several classes took friends to the opening weekend of thefilm. Many parents have commented that the film and the preaching haveprovided an opportunity to talk to their children about Jesus and spiritualissues. Last Sunday (12/11), after preaching about Narnia and Luke’sbirth narrative, I sat down next to my eight year old daughter. She said, “Dad,are you finished with your sermon?” “Yes,” I said. “Why?” “Well,” she said. “I was hoping you’d keep going.” It was the first time I ever heard her say she wanted to hear more of mypreaching. Perhaps it is an indication of the impact this material is havingon young people and the doors it will open up for parents and their children.
I have not seen the picture and from the selected title, it did not entice me to go see it. I am not familiar with (the) writings so I did not get the connection with Christmas etc, However, from the commentary I have read regarding it I cannot percieve it of being an Christian value. If the comments had quoted scriptural references it would have made it easier to want to go see it.
I was raised in the Church of Christ and was adevoted believer until I reached the age of 20, and then I left theLord and stayed away from Him for 40 years. In the past 5 years sincemy return, I have been amazed at the many changes I have seen in ourcorporate worship. I won’t burden you with the list, but Narnia is theepitome of a change that I think is not what the Lord wants.
#1–Themovie is produced by Walt Disney who also produced Pretty Woman, astory about a prostitute who specializes in oral sex. It is also oneof the first major companies to give health benefits, etc. to same sexmarriage partners. Disney also owns Touchstone Pictures, Buena VistaFilms, Hollywood Pictures, Miramax, Dimension Films, Mammoth Records,Lyric Street Records, to name a few —some of which do not producewhat we might call “family films.” In my early days in the Church,I was not allowed to attend movies, but now our congregation hadposters of Narnia displayed at several locations in the building–alladvertising for Walt Disney, and in essence encouraging our members tospend their money to see this movie. I have a serious question: Should Christians voluntarily and eagerly supporta company such as this–and should we advertise for it within ourchurch premises? Lest I start a storm of protest, yes, I know thatmany companies with whom Christians do business are far less thandesirable, but most of them are necessary for our subsistence, e.g. Kraft Foods, Target, etc., etc.
#2–Ihave viewed the movie (yes, I too contributed, but for researchreasons) and I see nothing in it of redemptive value as a tool forevangelism, and I think those who wish to parallel the story with thestory of Christ do our Lord and Savior a tremendous disservice, to saythe least. Just why do we feel that the Gospel needs embellishment andmodern technology anyway? Is it possibly because we have lost ourability to determine what sin really is, and what the wages of sin are,and therefore, since there is actually , in our minds, very little sin(outside of capital crimes), we need to use witches and lions to getthe concept across?
#3–In the article in CHRISTIAN CHRONICLE, page 6, it states “Christian moviegoers were credited with helping toring up $67 million in ticket sales during the openingweekend.” Missionary friends of mine tell me that it takes $36,000 peryear to keep a missionary family in the field and about $10,000 to putthem there. If my math is correct, 1456 new missionary families couldhave been sent for one year to take the gospel to those who have notheard it, for the amount of money that “Christians” spent on thesemovie tickets the first weekend! If the average ticket price was $8, then 8,375,000 Christians attendedthe movie. I wonder how many converts were made by this mass, comparedwith what the 1456 missionary families would accomplish?
Ipersonally think the better evangelistic effort would be with themissionaries. Missionaries are certainly not the only way (and maybenot the most important way) to evangelize, but in my view the majorityof us would prefer to sit and talk aout evangelism rather than actuallygo out and call upon some of our neighbors and try to actuallyevangelize.
Respectfully, and yours in the Lord,
John P. Brown
Two nights ago my wife and I took a two day trip to Atlanta and that evening attended the “Chronicles of Narnia” in a nearby town. Our grandson, a Senior at Faulkner University where I teach Bible, had recommended it and I had read several reviews of it.
It was a pleasant evening that created no desire to walk out in the middle as we have on 3 movies of recent vintage.
As to its value for “creating conversation” I have serious doubts. A person would have to know something in depth of the Christian faith and Bible to grasp the underlying religious principles. As a tool for evangelism it would be drastically inadequate. As a curiosity, so that a Christian could from it advance biblical thoughts, might well make it a handicap rather than an aid.
Jesus used figures of speech known as “parables” (a word which in English hardly conveys the meaning of the original term); they were meant to emphasize the nature of His kingdom and, in my judgment, to keep that teaching imbedded in the hearer’s mind. This may be a key reason that He did not use them in His initial teaching. They were plain stories from everyday life. Even a simple-minded Christian can grasp the spiritual intent of the parables, but to an unbeliever and those ignorant of the Bible, such parables would be nearly useless.
After achieving His goal or goals with these somewhat mysterious accounts, He announced that He would no longer use “dark sayings” (Psalm 78:2, quoted by Jesus in Matt. 13:33-35). They had been used, in part, to keep the truth about His Kingdom from those with hardened hearts. Parables were therefore, used temporarily both to reveal and to conceal (Matt. 13:10-16).
The “Chronicles of Narnia” are beyond parables; they may be extended allegory which are at best a very feeble method of teaching the Gospel. Jesus said to “preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15) with no hint of veiling the message in obstruse prose. This the apostles did as the Book of Acts demonstrates. Even the figure of a New Birth was dropped in their teaching because it too was a “parable” of conversion which could be referred to later (1 Peter 1:22-23), but not used in primary announcements of the conditions of obedience to the Gospel; that message was to be presented clearly and plainly.
Therefore, it is my belief from Scripture and experience that the best method to convert the lost is to invite persons of interest to simply study the Bible with us; through that method they become our friends as they see we are just trying to get across to them the real message of Christ without the subterfuge of a sideways or backdoor evangelistic method. Our failure is in not asking enough people for that opportunity and following up on it rather than in developing a new diversion.
We enjoyed the movie, but felt it to be something Christ would never have used as a method to convert the Nation of Israel to become His followers. Dramatic acting is in itself somewhat of a deception–the reader or viewer must “suspend his disblief” for a time to think something of truth is involved in the narrative. How Jesus could have used the term “hypocrite” in condemning the Pharisees, which had the primary meaning of “a play actor”, and then to endorse it as a method of proclaiming His message would be a mystery to me.
C.S.Lewis has been one of my favorite authors growing up. I remember reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe whenI was in seventh grade. Lewis was a captivating author to me at such a youngage with The Chronicles of Narnia thatwhen I became a youth minister I started reading more of his religious books.He does a magnificent job using symbolism between characters from The Chronicles of Narnia and Christianity.Although it is closely related to Christianity it is not the best evangelismtactic. For kids it would be a great way to introduce characters in the Bible,but this may be more suitable for nightly devotionals with parents. To be ableto use this as an evangelical tool there needs to be a good solid Bibleknowledge to fully understand the symbolism in TheChronicles of Narnia. Although it wouldn’t be best tostart teaching this in classes it would probably be a really good starter forkids learning the Bible.
I think that Narnia has a lion who dies and is resurrected,amazingly similar to that of Christ’s death and resurrection. This is,of course, blasphemy. How low can we sink? We should repent and pray,and God will forgive us. I am sure that Jesus is hurting because wedon’t have more appreciation for what he has done for us. Think aboutthe suffering and agony on the cross. Then perhaps we will have moreunderstand and appreciation for what he has done for us. We shouldnever be so superficial as to allow a lion or anything else to “remind”us of what Christ has done for us.
Derward E. Culp
During our recent 6-week Bibleclass about the Armor of God, I took the opportunity to read a bookto our second through sixth graders. The obvious choice was The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. It is, above all, a story about the battle of Good versus Evil and thesacrifice a loving King makes for his beloved subjects. It hasafforded us the opportunity to discuss how difficult life’s choices canbe and the power Satan can have over us. The children have thoroughlyenjoyed the story merely because it’s a great story. They also haveidentified with Edmund’s terrible choices and the fact that he (and we)must live with sin’s consequences, even though we are forgiven! Wehave learned from its symbolism and appreciated our Savior for hisselfless gift to us. I think we should take this opportunity to usethe focus of attention and teach the real story–the story of Jesus!