Saturday, November 29, 2014

How Christians Watch Movies (Part I)

In discussing media with Christians, I have noticed that Christians often view movies through one of three lenses.

1) "What Is the Content" Lens

This lens basically evaluates all movies on the basis of its content. The movie is good if its content is largely unoffensive and appropriate (appropriate is defined, of course, by the standard of that family). A great example of this can be seen in Plugged In movie reviews which is run by Focus on the Family. The movie is considered worthwhile watching if, and only if, it contains no sex scenes, little to no violence and very few curse words. 

2) "What is the worldview" Lens

This lens is a popular lens among youth pastors and those in the field of apologetics. It asks the question, "How can I critique this movie's negative message with the positive message of the Bible?" Most movies are fair game, provided that one can point out how its bad worldview is replaced by the good worldview shown by the Bible. As a result, movies containing sex, violence and swearing are not immediately taken off the list. The most important thing, however, is showing where the movie falls short of the ideals found in the Bible.

3) "Where is the Gospel" Lens

This lens affirms an important maxim: all truth is God's truth. It also advocates that every story, in some sense, is a yearning of the larger Gospel story. Rather than seeking to critique the worldview of a particular movie, it seeks to find where the movie in some way highlights the story of the Gospel. This view is advocated in Mike Cosper's book The Stories We Tell (Crossway, 2014). It is important to note that this view essentially dismisses the directors and script writers original intent by saying that ALL humanity in some sense yearns for the same things that only the message of the Gospel can deliver upon. As you also might imagine, there is really no movie that falls outside the "content" limit for this perspective, except for what the viewer himself is comfortable with. 

Tomorrow, I will attempt to offer my own proposal on how Christians might want to watch movies. Until then though...

Which of these lenses do you find yourself most attracted to? Why? Comment below and let me know!

1 comment:

  1. I love this. You are totally right about the three ways. For a long time I couldn't figure out what I felt was missing from the Plugged In method.