Les Fils de Shamgar

Swinging the Ox Goad in Birmingham, Southgate, Chessington, Sevenoaks, Boston and Brighton.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Films and the Bible

I've been thinking through Christian engagement with films and, before reading anything on the subject, had some ideas in the shower. Sorry if this is all obvious to those of you who eat, sleep and breath cinema but they were new ideas to me. In terms of where in the Bible we might find a precedent I thought of Acts 17 where Paul says "...as your own poets have said...". But then I realized that often (if I'm preaching) I would use films differently from the way Paul used a Greek poet. I usually bring films in to illustrate a point (and wake up the snorers): so I might say Gandalf is like Jesus, a leader who dies for his people then comes back to life more powerful. There I'm seeking to clarify a Biblical concept. But when Paul quotes the poet he isn't just illustrating, he's using the poem to convince his audience that what he is saying is true. I think I have done this sort of thing on the odd occasion. I brought "About Schmidt" into a talk once: Jack Nicholson plays a man who retires after devoting himself to his work, only to realise too late that he's lost the one thing that really matters. The point: don't loose sight of what really matters in life (with gospel application). As I used that illustration I could see people nodding. This film conveyed something that people recognised as truth, it had persuasive power. Now this came to me as a new idea (though I've kind of known it all along but its only now concious): That I could legitimately use non-Christian art to convince people. It struck me that when I think about persuasion I think I need hard evidence. But Paul quoted a poet, not a scientist or historian. There's a difference between laying down the evidence and convincing people. If evidence were enough then we wouldn't need evangelists, just people who knew the evidence for the resuurection and could lay it out plainly. But to convince people, we need to bring the whole person across the line of belief, not just their mental faculties. Have I ever actually preached?!! Those are my thoughts, any response or supplimentary ideas greatly recieved as I continue my education.


Blogger tataboule said...

This is something I feel extremely passionate about. I use film/media references all the time to elucidate points in the classroom, but I aslo agree that they are a good barometer of cultural drift.

Yes yes yes.

11/07/2006 05:42:00 pm  
Blogger Precious Bane said...

Barometer of cultural drift? what do you mean?

11/07/2006 07:43:00 pm  
Blogger Michael Radcliffe said...

I'm assuming that we'll take as granted the work of the Holy Spirit as the convicting force and continue the point about our responsibility in such matters...

Yes, I agree. I think that so much of our efforts are put into dealing with people on an intellectual/rational level, but we ignore the gut at our peril. This is not about emotional manipulation, but rather addressing the whole person, as we function and process information in many different ways - some of us differently from others, too.

11/08/2006 08:32:00 pm  
Blogger the erudite frog said...

Good thought - Hard evidence would mean that we turned out Biblical historians rather than persuasive preachers.

11/08/2006 11:19:00 pm  
Blogger Unpainted Huffheims said...

Brother, I'm not sure if you will read this as I am about a week late. (By the way, I am still alive everyone.)

I agree with the comments re films and want to offer a comment about the broader project of engaging with culture in order to persuade people.

I recently attended a lecture given by Dr Stephen Um (no gags please) who is pastor of Citylife Church in Boston. He recommended using secular authorities with a three-stage approach:

1. Establish common ground ("I agree with X, because....)
2. Introduce tension drawing on shared experience ("but on the other hand, X is wrong to say Y, because....)
3. Resolve with the gospel - a kind of 'third way' (on the other hand, the gospel shows the following...)

Any use?

11/13/2006 06:56:00 am  
Blogger Precious Bane said...

Thank you for your contribution unpainted. Its good to know that you are still alive. I will consider the three steps of Um as I go deeper into the subject.

11/13/2006 02:22:00 pm  

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