[Update: some links are now dead. Story relayed below is also reported here.]
In my opinion, the Powers behind End of the Spear made a big mistake in casting well-known homosexual activist Chad Allen in the two (2) lead roles. I laid the foundations and made some predictions here, then I scored the accuracy of my predictions within five days of their issuance here (better than most modern wanna-be's), and finally tried to make some concluding comments on the controversy here.
In sum, my problem wasn't so much that the organ grinder got a monkey, to mess with Frank's parable. It's that the grinder hired a "monkey" well-known for defending and practicing the devastating art of machete-swinging, handed him a brand-new and freshly-sharpened machete, and set him loose on an initially unsuspecting audience.
But this isn't about that.
This is about the after-the-fact explanations that have been given, and their broader implications for Christian living. Jason Janz has been trying hard to follow this story conscientiously and Christianly from the start. Janz has now given a full accounting of the responses of Executive Producer Mart Green, and of Steve Saint himself, to Christians' concerns about this casting decision.
Whether or not you agree with all our reasoning and specifics, I think you have to grant that Jason, I, and many others have raised some contentful, specific, reasoned concerns about this decision. You also have to grant that subsequent developments have borne out our concerns, rather than negating them.
Now, there would be various ways of dealing with these concerns. You could ignore them. You could attack the personalities of those levelling the charges. You could say, "I see it differently," and refuse to engage. You could put your fingers in your ears and hum a little tune. You could feign inability to understand Engilsh. You could point and say "Look! a comet!", and change the subject.
Or you could do what I think is the responsible Christian thing: think it through seriously, Biblically, and prayerfully, being humbly open to correction (Proverbs 1:5; 9:8b-9; 25:12). You could then present a reasoned response, either explaining why your position is Biblical and God-honoring -- or confessing that you'd blown it, and showing genuine repentance.
Or you could slap down the Christianoid trump-card: "God told me to."
The earliest response I read from Steve Saint himself, reported by Agape Press in this story, dated January 19, 2006, was this:
I thought, 'What happens if I stand before God someday and He says to me, "Steve, I went out of my way to orchestrate an opportunity for Chad Allen to see what it would be like to live as your father did.' And then I could picture Him looking at me and saying, 'Steve, why did you mess with my plan?'"Saint presents himself as just thinking this through, just speculating and wondering and musing. You can agree with his thinking, or you can disagree. I would have disagreed, and in many ways. But as Timmy also observed, it's simply presented here as a what-if.
Now Janz reports a response from Steve Saint that seems very different:
The deciding factor was a dream I had in Panama, just before Chad arrived. I was being chased by a mob of Christians who were angry with me for having desecrated 'their story'. I tried to explain that this story was even more special to me than to them, but they would not listen. The answer to their hostility was easy - just ask Chad to remove himself, since Mart could not rescind his contract with Chad.So much seems wrong with this, but I'll confine myself to one issue. What seems to be presented as Saint's musings in the older article, now becomes the Christianoid trump-card. God tells Steve Saint something He didn't tell the rest of us.
As quickly as this thought came to me, I found myself standing before God. His look was not as compassionate as I had expected. With no introduction or welcome, God spoke to me. "Steve, you of all people should know that I love all of my children. With regard to Chad Allen, I went to great lengths to orchestrate an opportunity for him to see what it would be like for him to walk the trail that I marked for him. Why did you mess with my plans for him?"
I was fully awake by the end of this sleepy mind play. I knew that there would be a price to pay for any position I would take on this issue, regardless of the fact that I had not wanted to be involved. I knew one thing for sure. I would rather face the anger and even hatred of people who feel I have let them down here; than to take any chance of having to stand before my Savior and have to answer for messing up His plans for Chad.
Now, if true, that ends the discussion. Who wants to argue with God? Not you, not me. So that's it, right? We're done.
Mart Green presents his part very similarly, in the same exchange with Jason Janz (emphases added):
I wish I were able to articulate all the things that happened which led to me deciding God had, in fact, sent Chad to play the parts of Nate and Steve. It is very hard to share the ways the Lord leads especially when you can't fully grasp why He is doing things that don't make sense to the natural man. It is hard to see people have to defend a decision that I was responsible for, for people to have ugly things said about them because of a decision that I made. Why must others have to go through this when it wasn't their fault? I have total peace about the decision that was made. But I have to trust God for the others affected, as it is too big for me to handle. I must admit even though I wouldn't have thought so when I began the process, I have total peace Chad Allen was the man God intended to act in the movie, End of the Spear. I will be held accountable for this decision and I feel I have made the right decision.What we have here, in terms of content, is that Green interpreted circumstances and feelings as indicating God's will and leading. And so now he "feels" sure that he has read God's mind, and knows God's will for this situation. Therefore, anyone who opposes his decision opposes God's mind, and thus opposes the will of God as made known to this one man, Mart Green. Evidently, such ones are thinking like "the natural man."
If you take away the feelings, readings of providential signs and portents, and claims of dreams, what are you left with? As I read them, they say they had no idea Allen was a homosexual activist when they offered him the role, and just felt he was the very best man for the part.
Now, if that was all we had to interact with, we could have a real, rollicking debate. We could ask how a Chad Allen could really be the very best and only choice for this role. It wasn't name-recognition, as I think you'd have to say that Allen is a B-list actor. There's no shame in hiring, or being, a B-list actor; but there are many excellent B-list actors not known for championing and trying to legitimize soul-destroying practices -- let alone capable Christian actors. And isn't that rather a slam to working Christian actors, to suggest that none of them could have handled this role?
But even more than that, we could express astonishment that anyone could be in such a powerful position, involving so many people and so much money, and not take the time to find out what even a dim bulb like me was able to find out after two minutes at IMDB.
But now we can't have that discussion. Green and Saint have removed themselves from being engaged on such trivial concerns as facts, Scriptural principles, and reasoning. God hinted and motioned and portented His will to them, privately, by special extra-Biblical channels. Oppose their decision, and you oppose God. Disagree with them, and you are sinning -- unless you have a definition of sin that doesn't include "opposing the will of God."
That certainly seems to be the design and implication -- and that's also the problem with this whole open-Canon or leaky-Canon mindset we were discussing at the old Pyromaniac site. If you think God now whispers, mutters, nudge-nudges, does hand-signals and mime, drops hints, gives meaningful looks and broadcasts low-frequency hunches, and if you invest those perceptions with Divine authority... well, you've removed yourself from the arena of debate. You're not responsible anymore. Anyone who disagrees with you is fighting against God, and therefore is a bad, bad man or woman.
On the other hand, if you really, really believe in the fact and implications of the sufficiency of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:15-17); and if you believe that the Word of God gives you all the direction God expects you to follow, and is how the Holy Spirit talks to you (cf. Proverbs 6:20-23; Hebrews 3:7f.); and if you believe that it is your God-given responsibility to think through and make responsible decisions in areas not directly ruled on by Scripture (Proverbs 16:1, 9; 19:21) -- then you're in an entirely different position. You have to learn to think, decide, and act like a grown-up (Hebrews 5:11-14). It's hard, and it's hard work. It's painful. I don't really like it all that much; if there was an "out," I'd be the first to bolt for it. But it's what God calls us to do.
How do I know?
God told me.
He told me in all the Scriptures laid out above, and many others beside. He told me in every Biblical command addressed to me as a Christian, and by the fact that He put those commands in Scripture instead of confining the New Testament to one sentence: "Everything else you need to know, God will tell you directly." Everything that leads me to that conclusion is publicly available to every Christian; I claim no private, secret knowledge. It's all on the table, laid out as the common possession (and responsiblity) of every child of God.
And because God doesn't tell me (or you) anything that He doesn't also tell every other Christian (Hebrews 1:1-2; 2:1-4), He told you, too.