27 February 2010

Weekend Bonus Material

by Frank Turk

I was catching up on podcasts last night and I heard the Southern Seminary video podcast of Al Mohler's round-table discussion about the movie Avatar, which I found a little confusing but pretty thought-provoking. Because it's Dr. Mohler I'm completely willing to concede that the things about the discussion which confused me were because Al Mohler has a brain the size of Jupiter and I have, well, salted peanuts.

Anyway, somehow I received a link to the "Big" Blog at SeattlePI.com which was also about a discussion of Avatar -- by Mark Driscoll.

Quoth the patriarch of Mars Hill:
The world tempts you to sin, to use people, to disobey God, to live for your own glory instead of his own, to be a consumer instead of generous, that's the world system.

And if you don't believe me, go see Avatar, the most demonic, satanic film I've ever seen. That any Christian could watch that without seeing the overt demonism is beyond me. I logged on to christianitytoday.com and the review was reflective of Christianity today, very disappointing. See, in that movie, it is a completely false ideology, it's a sermon preached. It's the most popular movie ever made, and it tells you that the creation mandate, the cultural mandate is bad, that we shouldn't, we shouldn't develop culture, that's a bad thing.
I mention it only because it's the weekend and it's not likely, therefore, to turn into a big thing.

You can watch/listen to the Southern Seminary discussion here. I think that Avatar presents a false worldview is an unquestionable truth. The rest is open for discussion, and that's why we leave the comments open.

UPDATED: I forgot to mention that DJP has an extremely-intersting review of Avatar which you ought to consider as well.







27 comments:

The Doulos said...

OK, so I had a really great, long comment and Blogger ate it. So here's a short form.

Totally agrees with you on this Frank: "I think that Avatar presents a false worldview is an unquestionable truth." And that's true of countless other movies, TV series, music, art, etc. And it's for the discerning Christian (not a complete oxymoron these days) to see that and understand that. And by thinking Biblically about these things, give glory to God for His truth revealed and contrasted.

I went to see Avatar (in 3D, only way to see it) with my two sons, one in HS and the other in seminary. We saw the obvious worldview put forth by the movie, and had some good talk about it later.

I also find interesting the overtly pro-religious view underlying the Avatar story line. It's a naturalistic religion to be sure, but still portrayed as preferable to secular progress.

I guess I just can't picture any thinking Christian (again, hopefully not a postmodern oxymoron) having the views toward culture that Driscoll supposes after seeing Avatar.

Chad V. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William Watson Birch said...

Driscoll's comment is, IMO, extreme and over-reactionary. Does Avatar present a pagan worldview? Yes. But to call the movie "the most demonic, satanic film I've ever seen," is the over-statement of the year. I mean, really, THE MOST demonic, satanic film he's EVER seen? I'm led to think he hasn't seen a lot of movies :)

Barbara said...

Who else would be the author of this false worldview be, if not the voice in Genesis 3?

The Damer said...

It's the most demonic film ever until the next most demonic film ever.

Driscoll thrives on hyperbole.

Personally, It made me dizzy and I thought the story was tired and boring. That's just me.

The Seeking Disciple said...

I've never seen the film and am probably one of the few who doesn't care to. I have read the online reviews written by Christians and so I have avoided the film. For me, the PG-13 rating was enough that I will not see it. Philippians 4:8-9.

Hayden said...

It is the most demonic film at this point because it has been seen by more people than any other film (judging from the receipts). If you want the larger context of what Driscoll said, listen to the sermon. I think he has a point, but not a hill to die on.

Someone who is a Christian can go and see this and laugh, but think of the confusion it stirs among the weak brethren and even the unbelieving world. That is what Driscoll was doing as a shepherd, warning the sheep.

Satan is pleased that we worship anyone/anything other than God. Do I think people are worshiping this movie? NO. Do I think that movies influence one's worldview? Absolutely. That is the problem.

Phil Johnson said...

Well, I'll go on record as saying Driscoll is right on this one.

I mean he's right about the "completely false ideology" part; not necessarily his superlatives. I don't know what movies Driscoll has seen, but I'd be surprised if Avatar is really the MOST demonic, Satanic film he's ever seen. (After all, this is a guy who delights in and recommends bloodsport. So he doesn't necessarily recognize the evil elements in some of the things he himself indulges in.)

But it's certainly OK with me if he doesn't commend Avatar to his flock without some warning about its ideology. I do think, sadly, that there are LOTS of Christians and casual church members out there who aren't sufficiently discerning to recognize for themselves that Hollywood's values are often pointedly anti-Christian.

By the way, for those bent on misconstruing everything that's critical of popular culture: I'm not suggesting it's a sin to watch (and even--on a certain level--enjoy) Avatar. (Same with Star Wars, for that matter. It is likewise based on an anti-Christian, dualistic worldview). I am saying it's a sin to watch such things with blithe and uncritical acceptance, absorbing their worldview, as if there's no danger whatsoever that any believer might be hurt or derailed by Hollywood's propaganda.

I'll go further: it's really stupid for Christians always to be warmly enthusiastic about whatever Hollywood's latest blockbuster is while being fearful and suspicious of discernment, as if every such criticism were always a Bad Thing.

Hayden said...

Here is the main point. I love movies but we all have to be aware that movies are always saying something to us. There is always a point, otherwise no movie. Very few movies have an ad executive with a flip chart standing on screen touting the benefits of adultery, but many of them have adultery depicted as acceptable behavior.

Let me paint the scene:

A woman is neglected by a louse of husband who beats her. Suddenly, a handsome, caring man appears to take on her louse husband and defend her. He causes the louse husband to fear him so he doesn't beat on her anymore. The woman is so grateful that she runs away with her handsome savior and they live 'happily ever after'. Roll credits. More powerful than the flip chart approach? You bet.

That is what Avatar does. It engages your emotions and dazzles you with its special affects, all the while dressing up an evil worldview. Is Cameron preaching? You bet he is! Is he effective? Sure, people watch the movie and are emotionally attached to its characters and storyline which all present a message that is not God honoring. (Most movies do this, so many of you are saying, why single out AVATAR? Because it is the top movie right now and we are to speak to what is going on in the culture right now and help people to apply Biblical truth to it)

I know lots of people that have seen the movie, and I have no problem with that (as long as they thought through the plot line and compared where it was 'off' with Biblical truth). I also believe Driscoll was right to do what he did as a shepherd.

If you went and saw the movie and where not affected, fine! How many of you would recommend the movie to unbelievers or weak Christians to see without any caveats?

I am quick to jump on Mark D. when he is a little smutty in language, but this time I think he was right on.

Driscoll saw it and warned the sheep this is good. Many of you do not have the second half of Hebrews 13:17 to think about, but Driscoll does, and I salute him for taking an unpopular stance.

John Doe said...

Would somebody please tell MD to sit down!?!

MD's theology may be right-on on even some more important issues (and it is!) than the silly 'Avatar' controversy [on which, BTW, he seems to simply be following his established pattern of selling drama and shock-value].

But that does not change the fact that he is clearly a compromised teacher/leader. Much more dangerous to his flock and the general church, btw, than the avatar pop nonsense could ever hope to be.

So please... If you think yourself discerning please do everyone a favor and stop engaging him (MD) publicly on the particulars of his latest 'marketing' ploy.

Robert le Clus said...

I find it interesting that any Christian would watch a movie that contains actual blaphemy. I could never recommend a movie that blasphemes my God! The paganism of the movie is bad enough but have we as Christians become so desensitized that we allow ourselves to be entertained by blasphemy of the Name of the One who saved us! Just my 2c

donsands said...

Didn't see the film, but my grandson did with his Dad.

I asked Josh, "How was the movie?" He really enjoyed it, even though it was 3 hours long.

I asked him and his Dad how was the language; and cuss words. Not really, but they used God's name in vain which was bad he said.

My mother-in-law was present, and she's a Catholic, and she heard us talking and said,"There's no sense in doing that. Using God's name that way."

I heard the movie is fun to watch. I will wait till DVD time is here to see it. Or maybe not.

I agree that it is basically a film like Star Wars, or Star Trek even. Or even WaterWorld, remember that one, with Kevin Costner having gills and webbed-feet.

Mark is sharing his heart about the film, and that's fine with me. I don't see it the same way.

Some of Stephen King's movies, well, they are scary anyhow.

Have a great Lord's Day.

John Cox III said...

Or if Christians leave the theater, start wearing all green biodegradable clothing, and become pantheists, we got an even bigger problem.I was just waiting for a 200 foot Gargamel to come out and capture the overgrown Smurfs.
Driscoll's comments are well
noted, however I see lack of discernment in his credence to the film. Why is it that Christians get so up in arms about that which is adamantly false, and fails to point out that which is adamantly deceptive.

Sir Arthur Conon Doyle wrote the Sherlock Holmes novels always using a supernatural element as the defining characteristic of the plot. Why are Christian not up in arms about this. Because it's fake!
When we give credence to that which is fake and false, we are wasting our time. I can only imagine the emergent pastor sitting in front of his congregation as his feet are raised up in his La-Z-Boy and preaches from the gospel of avatar.
But what of the church?
I am less concerned with the people in our congregation buying in to the sci-fi propaganda of a digital fantasy film, then I am of them justifying sin and calling it slight.
in short, I am more concerned about Christian seeing avatar for the sheer purpose of escaping their problems in life for three hours, and allowing a form of entertainment to put a Band-Aid on the ax wound problem of their life that only Jesus Christ and his word can heal.
When entertainment is used as a means of escape, this is a deceptive way of justifying sin.
So let's be more concerned about the gray area that tempts the soul, then the black area that's as prominent as a musk-ox at a bridal shower.Let us remember that Satan's demonic deception is much deeper and thicker than a fictitious alien put in his ponytail into a six leg of horse. The doctrines of demons are much more deceptive in that, and we as believers need to spot them, and we is pastors need to point them out.
oh and one more thing, optimist prime is not real.

John Cox III said...

my daughter was watching Tinkerbell the other day and she learned that fairies are the ones who bring forth the seasons. Now if my daughter grows up and looks outside and watches the snowfall and thinks that Tinkerbell and her fairy friends are the ones doing it is a bigger problem at hand.
It's called discernment people! Charles Spurgeon said discernment is not the difference between right and wrong it's the difference between right and almost right.
Now Christians think that there is a real alien planet out there with 10 foot blue people ruling over at we got a big problem.Or if Christians leave the theater, start wearing all green biodegradable clothing, and become pantheists, we got an even bigger problem.I was just waiting for a 200 foot Gargamel to come out and capture the overgrown Smurfs.
Driscoll's comments are well
noted, however I see lack of discernment in his credence to the film. Why is it that Christians get so up in arms about that which is adamantly false, and fails to point out that which is adamantly deceptive.

Sir Arthur Conon Doyle wrote the Sherlock Holmes novels always using a supernatural element as the defining characteristic of the plot. Why are Christian not up in arms about this. Because it's fake!
When we give credence to that which is fake and false, we are wasting our time. I can only imagine the emergent pastor sitting in front of his congregation as his feet are raised up in his La-Z-Boy and preaches from the gospel of avatar.
But what of the church?
I am less concerned with the people in our congregation buying in to the sci-fi propaganda of a digital fantasy film, then I am of them justifying sin and calling it slight.
in short, I am more concerned about Christian seeing avatar for the sheer purpose of escaping their problems in life for three hours, and allowing a form of entertainment to put a Band-Aid on the ax wound problem of their life that only Jesus Christ and his word can heal.
When entertainment is used as a means of escape, this is a deceptive way of justifying sin.
So let's be more concerned about the gray area that tempts the soul, then the black area that's as prominent as a musk-ox at a bridal shower.Let us remember that Satan's demonic deception is much deeper and thicker than a fictitious alien put in his ponytail into a six leg of horse. The doctrines of demons are much more deceptive in that, and we as believers need to spot them, and we is pastors need to point them out.
oh and one more thing, optimist prime is not real.

Penn Hackney said...

Of course Avatar is a "preaching" movie, and of course one could make a better Christian movie, but I saw Avatar and it's preaching is no more "demonic" or anti-Christian than The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter -- or "It's a Wonderful Life" for that matter. These movies neither espouse nor criticize Protestant Christianity -- or Roman Catholicism, or Islam, or Judaism, or Hinduism, or etc., -- at all. Denominational religion is simply irrelevant to these movies.

Now if you are able to put aside the needs and doctrines of denominational religion and ask whether these movies espouse good or bad values and lessons for human beings who don't need to or are not going to relate everything they see to denominational religion (e.g., not counting eternal salvation, or the value of Holy Scripture, or the person and work of Jesus Christ, etc.), then I would say whole-heartedly that all of these movies are superb. In fact, I would challenge anyone to name other movies that preach better values and lessons (in the non-denominational world I've posited).

Hayden said...

Phil,

Let's just say that AVATAR is the most demonic in the sense that many more people have seen it than say "Kill Bill" :--)

Connie Reagan said...

Are we in so much need of entertainment that we have to seek out something that is so obviously an advertisement for paganism?

If you can go see Avatar to the glory of God, rock on, but I'm not interested.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Frankly, I think Titanic did more damage to the Utes. That whole mythos about sexual awakening with the stock "rebel" played havoc with the teen girls who went to see it over and over. That soap is a more insidious sell, IMO, than some fable about a fake planet.

I think reports of people being depressed by Avatar (because they want to go to Pandora for real, etc.) is an opening to tell them WHY they have this yearning...they were wired for it by the One, True God...and so on.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

I'm with you, Connie. Why would people want to sit and watch the vilest evil flash before their eyes for two hours? Life is complicated enough. Watch the Duggers, instead. :)

Think of the most benign commercial jingles that still run through our minds, "Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce...." You may laugh, but what is the result of nefarious films and movies? Reruns in our dreams! We have nightmares about them, and very often they stay with us for years.

Phil 4:8, Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.

Would anyone take a bath in a mud puddle to get clean? We can't renew our minds by feeding it garbage.

Just my thoughts.

Frank Turk said...

Well, at least there is some thinkin' going on.

Because it's me, I was sort of stunned that MD was willing to call the most popular movie of all time anything untoward. I mean: since when did the Homeschool moms become his audience?

Here's what I think: MD's reaction to this movie is directly proportionate to and tracks very closely to his pneumatology -- as in, investment in the supernatural forces of the world in the sense that there are demonic powers at work. His response is the same response pentecostal revivalists had to E.T. and (as Phil mentioned) Star Wars.

He's not wrong about how philosophically-bad the movie is (see DJP's review of this movie for something a lot less hyperbolic) as much as he is wrong to sort of play to people's worst fears. I know Phil said this, but it's worth repeating: for a guy who frankly models himself after secular performance artists and unabashedly wants to be relevant to the culture, calling this movie "satanic" but sort of broadly painting a sad face on his use of dirty jokes in the main-stream media (rather than actually apologize) seems a little self-ignorant or self-indulgent. That is: your worldview sin is satanic, but mine is bad just missional, yo.

Carry on.

scrapiron said...

Aren't we supposed to be separate from the world and not partake in its blasphemy. Ya know...like do EVERYTHING as onto God.

Barbara said...

Well, Frank, I see the same war at work. Like Spurgeon, I get the arrows and the darts and the whisperings, would think I was crazy if not for the fact that it didn't start until after my conversion and for the fact that Spurgeon discusses the same phenomena in All of Grace. I know there are demonic forces at work. We're even warned to take up armor against them...not by a Pentecostal Revivalist, but by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6, and the Colossians 2:8 reminder not to be taken captive by worldly philosophies, and we already know the philosophies of the world are under the prince of this world. So why is it so far-fetched to believe that we are indeed at war here?

I enjoyed the SBTS talk; it was very good, I thought, very helpful. Driscoll's a bit hyperbolic in his declaration of the movie as the most demonic movie, but without doubt the voice from the garden hisses throughout the message.

And for the record, I heard the same hiss in Akeelah and the Bee. I absolutely agree that God's enemy, the enemy of His image-bearers, absolutely wants us to become emotionally connected to the lie. I also think that it's an excellent opportunity to think biblically about the messages we are bombarded with every day, and to teach our kids to see these things and think biblically about them as well. If we can use these movies to teach our children to be discerning and to be good Bereans, then we have some redeeming value here. Otherwise, no point in being entertained by - as one young lady put it - the very same things that God chose to destroy the world for in Genesis 6.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

I just had to share this, it is a bit on topic.



The 23rd Channel

The TV is my shepherd, I shall not want.

It makes me lie down on the sofa.

It leads me away from the faith.

It destroys my soul.

It leads me in the path of sex and violence for the sponsor's sake.

Yea, though I walk in the shadow of Christian responsibilities,

There will be no interruption, for the TV is with me.

Its cable and remote control, they comfort me.

It prepares a commercial for me in the presence of my worldliness.

It anoints my head with humanism and consumerism.

My coveting runneth over.

Surely, laziness and ignorance shall follow me all the days of my life,

And I shall dwell in the house watching TV forever.

Author Unknown

Matthew Birch said...

Mars Hill (Mark Driscolls church) has movie nights once a month and they show Rated R movies in Church and then "discuss" them afterwards. Movies with cussing, violence,sex and gore an example would be Sweeny Todd. I am not making this up you can go to Mars Hills site and look it up. Mark might be right about Avitar but his lack of judgment on other things makes me less inclined to take anything he says seriously. You can't just take a stand when you feel you'll get the most press you need to stand for Christ every moment of every day.

By the way, His Song of Solomon sermon was the MOST SATANIC sermon I have ever heard.

Matthew Birch said...

Just go to this link and type in movies in the search engine and you can see for yourselves what Im talking about concerning the movies they show to their congregation.

http://www.marshillchurch.org/

Lilian said...

While I enjoyed the movie and the sfx, I wasn't wowed by the story and plot. It lacked orginality to make any impact on me that way. Definitely reminded me of too many other films to be very impressed: Dances with Wolves, The Last Samurai etc etc. Also the whole "noble savage" thesis has been used and over used in recent times.
Personally I think Cameron relied too heavily on the usual cliches (bashing western civilization) for any particular one to stick.

He's certainly no Tolkien.
Just my 2 cents.

Rick Frueh said...

"And if you don't believe me, go see Avatar, the most demonic, satanic film I've ever seen. That any Christian could watch that without seeing the overt demonism is beyond me."

That is what Mark Driscoll's grandfather said about the Wizard of Oz in his day. Some people take entertainment way too seriously. The cult following was already established way before Avatar. It's called being lost.