The Book is Better

by Pastor Nate Powell

It’s been a bit since our church has sponsored or hosted a movie night at the Auburn State Theater. That’s not because there has been a lack of faith-related movies that have been shown. There have actually been plenty of those, and there is certainly a niche market in the Christian community for such entertainment. Occasionally, I have people ask me for my take on such things, and so I give my thoughts when I have the opportunity. Here are just a few films that have been thru Auburn (or are coming thru Auburn soon):

Left Behind: The Rise of the Antichrist: Many are familiar with the Left Behind movies and books by Jenkins and LaHaye which came out in the 90’s. I remember when I was growing up and there were many books and movies in the Christian Community that promoted a specific view of the end times and return of Christ, known as premillennial pretribulationism. (Books like Late Great Planet Earth or movies like Thief in the Night) To read an even handed writeup on the pros and cons of the premil/pretrib view, check out this article. While I know and am friends with many Christians who love these books and movies, I do not hold to these views on the end times (based on my own studies and ministry training). If you are not aware that there are more than one historic view on the return of Christ in terms of amillennialism or postmillennialism, then it might be good for you to do a bit more reading before swallowing all that the end-times author tries to pedal regarding the return of Jesus. As a church, we are openhanded on these views, but we do affirm together: Jesus will return and we must be ready. Next year (2024), I will be preaching thru the book of Revelation, and we will have more time and space to explore all of these issues then.

The Chosen: I’ve had several people ask me about the Chosen, the retelling of the life of Jesus which is being directed by Dallas Jenkins. I have really good friends that have enjoyed this show and commended it to others, as a show that has helped them see Jesus in some ways that they didn’t before. Much of the aim of the show is not simply to retell the Gospel stories, but to fill the gaps between, to help people understand what daily life alongside Jesus was like. I have no doubt there is some good here, but a couple things give me caution, and I would simply caution you with as well if you choose to watch. First, you should understand that this show has been made with the help of and is being marketed to BOTH Christian and Mormon audiences. If you don’t see a problem with that, then you don’t understand the differences between the Mormon Jesus and the Christian Jesus, because they are two different people. Secondly, you should understand that what is happening here is in one sense an adding to the scripture. It is a writing of something that is not “God-breathed” by people who were not there and who have lived 2000 years after Jesus. It is very likely that there are things they are reading into the text that are not there, or are adding their own cultural interpretations. For more critique on the show, click here. For both of these reasons, I urge caution in watching. Note what scripture says. Note how the visuals of the show might differ. Know the difference, and don’t simply follow Jesus because you got to know him better thru a film. Know the Jesus of the Bible.

Come Out in Jesus’ Name: This film is coming to Auburn soon, and though the title bears the name of Jesus, the film is really more about its controversial pastor and his ministry. The pastor’s name is Greg Locke, and he has built his name as a pastor on controversy. He has made this film as something of a rebuttal to the “American Gospel” film of a few years back (a film I love and highly recommend) and this film is fully about driving demons out of believers. If you believe idea of demon-possessed Christians is an issue, then you do not understand what the Bible says about demons and demon possession. For a good summary of the Bible’s thoughts on the subject, check out this video. Satan would love for believers to live in fear of the devil, and there is great money to be made by sowing this kind of fear. Locke knows that as his ministry’s influence continues to grow. I would strongly urge you to not give him or his church your money by going to this movie.

I don’t know when or if we will be sponsoring another movie night, but I do know this: THE BOOK IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN THE MOVIE. Don’t be a Christian who lives according to the movies or the latest whim of the popular culture, even the “Christian” popular culture. Live according to the word of James: “Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:21-22) Read your Bible, and may it be implanted in you that you may live according to it. The book is always better than the movie.