Friday, June 22, 2007

Shotgun Evangelization

My recent article "Bella: A Powerful New Pro-Life Movie, but Will Christians Accept It?" has drawn a variety of responses. Here's one of the more vociferous ones:

"Color me a unsubtle simpleton, a moralistic moron, but since when is a direct, unequivocal Christian message a bad thing? Look, I understand and agree with all the criticism made about popular Christian films, like the “Left Behind” series, but because the “Jesus loves me” crowd is sadly incapable of theatrical depth and polish in no way removes the obligation of Christians and Christian media to be blunt, bold, and direct. You know, like Jesus was.

And speaking of Jesus, He always spoke the law first, before He offered grace. he told people in essence, “Turn or burn”. No sugar coating, no moral ambiguity, no subtley complex plot lines that could be interpreted as the listener liked. No, He said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light. No man shall come to the Father except by me.” (believe that’s John 4:16) Now I don’t know if you’ve been keeping up on current events, but that sounds pretty “obvious”, and “spelled out” to me.

Christianity is all about uncompromising, harsh, narrow morality. I couldn’t care less, and neither should you, about being sophicated and worldly when talking about something so starkly moral as choosing to murder one’s unborn baby for one’s convenience or allowing the child to live and be raised to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

And another thing, you know why Christian filmmakers are so “obvious” in conveying the essential message? Cause people, yeah including many church-goers, don’t have the first clue what’s written in the Bible and only have the vaguest, most limited concept of things like moral imperatives, natural law, absolutism, and “morally complex” stuff like that. People are stupid - clueless - morally and intellectually bankrupted - corrupted by a toxic culture of Political Correctness. Piercing that armor requires “explicit message over subtle metaphor”.

Would I like it if Christian filmmakers produced films that were to Christianity what “Saving Private Ryan” was for moral clarity and national pride. Hell yeah! (pun could possibly be intended) But Christendom and the rest of Western Society is a lil’ weak on the basics of morality right now so we need to save the “moral complexity” (whatever that means) until people are well grounded in the idea that there really, really, really is a God, and He really, really, really is Righteous and Holy, and He really, really, really will send your sinful ass to hell if you turn your back on Him. How’s that for 'obvious'?"


Anonymous said...

I stupidly confused this reaction to Mr. Harold's article with a writing of Mr. Harold. I was glad to be mistaken, although I do have all kinds of sympathy with the writer. I do agree with the writer that the Christian message is basicly simple. The problem is that living the Christian message out is not simple. There are situations that require great sacrifice, and other situations that are morally ambiguous. Moral principles are typically clear, but the real world is messy. There is also the problem of "preaching to the choir." There is finally the problem of sacrificing the story to the message. The result of that is becoming "preachy." Nobody likes being preached to.

Halfling.Steve said...

Another issue that shotguns aren't necessarily the best tool for is getting people that *need* to hear the message to accept it.

Bella does an amazing job of pulling you into the story so deeply that you're in tears before you realize that it's a pro-life message. This is what's needed for evangelization, it's what the Catholic missionaries did for the Native Americans in the early frontier. They would go into a village and show where similarities in beliefs were, and then build the truth upon that. It had much better results than the forced baptisms that many of the protestant missions performed at swordpoint.

When it comes to the faithful, I agree completely that the kid gloves need to be taken off. A bold voice should speak out in no uncertain terms (Like 'Goodbye Good Men' did for the seminaries), we need it because we really should know better. If only this type of admonition came from every pulpit... *sigh* Come Lord Jesus, come quickly.