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Can Christ EVEN be in Hollywood?

Posted by Travis Threats on

First, let me answer the title. God is everywhere. He goes to the faithful and tries to bring the unfaithful in his fold. Jesus was accused of hanging out with undesirables. Thus, yes, God can go even to popular movie studios!!

Hollywood does not generally like Christian themes.

When a movie comes out that is overtly Christian it is likely to be slammed by critics or simply not considered worthy of review.

When they do, they are so inaccurate that sometimes wish that did not. In The Ten Commandments, apparently, they thought the story needed to be “spiced up” with a love triangle. They have the Red Sea part instantly when the actual Bible verse is “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and left” – Exodus 14:21-22. The real Moses was a stutterer while the movie’s spoke like a trained classical actor, which is a major theological misrepresentation because it seems as if God always and only prefers “the strong.”

Now, if it is something dark and sinister about Christianity, then the movie is praised for its’ “searing honestly”, its “exposure of the underbelly of Christianity” Christians in movies are rarely heroes and often the bad guys, oppressive and hypocritical. There are plenty of movies about supernatural demons but mere humans are fighting them, no apparent help from God. If it is critical enough of clergy, it is instantly considered a possibility for major awards!

However Christian themes sometimes are quite popular and occasionally have critical acclaim. For example, in Star Wars you can have “May the Force be with you” which George Lucas himself admitted is based on “May God be with you.” Luke Skywalker must choose between the “Light side of the Force” and the “Dark side of the Force.” People seem drawn to these movies, even those who claim no religious affiliation. People can like these movies who consider themselves against the thing called “Christianity”, which they often accuse of being the main source of the world’s conflicts and problems, including prejudice, war, and even slavery. But the great truths of God can be resonant even in nonbelievers.

An example of a popular movie with strong Christian themes is 2017 movie Wonder Woman. It was one of the biggest hits of all time, and biggest superhero movie focused on a female. First, although yes is Zeus, it does have Diana created by an all-powerful being. Wonder Woman describes herself of being made of clay and life breathed into her by Zeus. Sounds familiar. It may just be a happenstance, but I thought it interesting that the lead actress is from Israel.

Wonder Woman leaves her protected island of Amazon to join up with humans in the fight against Germany in World War I, where she goes by Diana. She falls in love with spy soldier Steve Trevor and then develops a love for humans.

Seeing the death and cruelty of war, Diana concludes that it must be because of the god of war Ares. Ares was one of the Gods although Zeus was in charge. Ares was Zeus’ son and rebelled against Zeus’ authority and even tried to destroy Zeus. Zeus survives and banishes the backstabbing Ares. Diana spends most of the movie telling Steve that she must find and kill Ares, and then the war would instantly stop. Not just that war but all wars. Surely humans could not be this evil on their own, they must be being manipulated by an evil god, someone more powerful than themselves.

Diana has unknowingly already met Ares, who is on earth posing as a high-ranking English politician, who deceptively says he is trying to attain peace. There are numerous Biblical versus addressing those in positions of power and the destruction and evil they can show. How much havoc a person in power can have than just a regular individual person.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms- Ephesians 6: 10-12 (NIV) Her princes within her are like wolves tearing the prey, by shedding blood and destroying lives in order to get dishonest gain- Ezekiel 22:27 (NASB)

Your rulers are rebels and companions of thieves; Everyone loves a bribe and chases after rewards. They do not defend the orphan, Nor does the widow’s plea come before them.- Isaiah 1:22:27 (NASB)

Now hear this, heads of the house of Jacob, And rulers of the house of Israel, Who abhor justice And twist everything that is straight, Who build Zion with bloodshed And Jerusalem with violent injustice. Her leaders pronounce judgment for a bribe, Her priests instruct for a price And her prophets divine for money Yet they lean on the LORD saying, "Is not the LORD in our midst? Calamity will not come upon us- Micah 3:9-12 (NASB)

Diana finds out that she is part human and part god, being a child of Zeus just as Ares is. She also learns that she was created by Zeus to be able to defeat Ares because “only a god can kill a god.” In Diana’s confrontation with Ares late in the movie he reveals who is really is. He tells Diana the ugly truth. He tells her that he is not the cause of war, that the evil exists in the human heart. However, he makes sure to encourage and exploit this weakness. In a very telling scene, he is shown in a scene with the main evil scientist in the movie. This scientist is working on making her deadly nerve gas even more toxic to use as a weapon for Germany. Ares is in the room, but the scientist does not know it because he is there as a spirit. Ares whispers the solution to her, and she looks up with a eureka satisfying look on her face. She already wanted to kill as many people as possible, Ares just helped her. It is important that in the movie, it shows him “whispering in her ear.” Not a shout, and certainly not a command. Ares does not have the power to snap and make humans do anything he wishes. As a politician he uses lies and deception. In this case, he gives her a chemistry tip. The scientist thinks it is her idea and not that she is being prodded by an evil being. But Ares did not make her evil, that sin was already within her.

Ares tells Diana that humans are inherently flawed and that she should not be fighting on their side. She should join him and rule the world. She is not like them because she is part god. Diana decides to fight back but she is now not just battling humans but a fellow god. A god who is a lot more practiced and experienced using his supernatural arts of war, not simple hand to hand combat she has learned so well.

Diana and Ares battle. Lots of fire and lighting. Diana is losing this fight against her superior in fighting foe. She will be the one that dies.

And then, instead of concentrating on anger and hate (which, you must admit, is what one would feel in a match whether you or the other person must die in combat), she starts to think of her love for Steve, and his last words to her before he sacrifices his life for the war cause, which were “I love you”. Ares then tells her “They don’t deserve your protection.” She says “It is not what they deserve but what you believe and I believe in love” Ares throws his mightiest lighting at her to destroy her. She absorbs the evil bolt and throws it back at him, this one with the power of love. The director even has her rising in the sky in the posture of the cross before killing him.

Now there are some that consider it blasphemous to take Christian themes and turn into fictitious money-making Hollywood movie character plot. I say people must start somewhere and the message of God and the power of love through fiction can serve as one of many ways that God tries to speak to us. This is like the overt Christian influences of C.S. Lewis in his children’s book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe where Aslan, the lion, represents Jesus. He wants us all to be saved, and his message is a universal one of mankind. He wants to use all of us as His instrument. For Christians, the arts can be a place for us to reminded of God and redemption.

So, let’s break down the Christian themes. Humans are made from a divine being. Some are specifically chosen to fight Satan directly and with Christianity Jesus is the person sent to offer us the path toward salvation. That evil exists within the human heart, it has been there since Adam and Eve fell into sin. That Satan is right here on earth, walking happily among us in different forms. And do not forget we are told that a third of the angels left heaven with him, so he is not operating alone. Satan and his demons are working 24/7 to encourage our sin, often posing as our friend as opposed to that God who just wants to judge us and keep us from doing what we enjoy. He is the “friend” who encourages you to disobey your judgmental ruling making parents and teachers.

But the most important Christian theme is that love, God, is mightier than anything. However, we must call upon Him, use him as our armor against the evil all around us. I know nothing about the writer and director of this film other than what I could find about her on the internet. She has not publicly spoken about her faith although some sources say she was at least raised as a Christian. But I can think of no previous superhero movie where the victor relies on the power of love to defeat the evil villain. There have been movies where they must come to realize “the power within them” but not overtly that love has power. Diana even admits that the humans do not “deserve” her protection. We do not “deserve” God’s love, his protection, we did not and cannot “earn” it. We are given it by grace, we are given it by love. In the final scene, when Diana rises from the ground in the air, she stretches her arms out as if on a cross and then delivers the deadly blow to Ares.

Love…. Why so many quotes here? Because it is so central to God. Purposely chosen here are quotes from different books of the Bible, both Old Testament and New Testament, to show its essential theme.

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments- Deuteronomy 7:9 (NIV)

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings – Psalms 36:7 (NIV)

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us -Romans 5:8 (NIV)

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now, we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love- (1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (NIV)

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins- 1 John 4:9-10 (NIV)

The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing- Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness- Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV)

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me - Galatians 2:20 (NIV)

God is in nature; God is in spiritual music; God is in liturgical dance; God is in great literature like “The Lord of the Rings”; and yes, EVEN can be in Hollywood blockbuster movies. The Bible is the definitive word of God. However, as every good parent knows you must explain the same thing many times and many different ways, often depending on the child, to get them to listen and act on your words. God looks for every opportunity to speak to us, even sometimes at the hands of those who do not overtly or consciously admit it. God can be in all the arts. God is everywhere.

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