“Faith-Based” Films or Hollywood Heresy?

But in the wake of The Passion, it was not just that movie-makers were making a few changes to their movies such as the ones described above – they realised that entire movies should be made to appeal to the "Christian" public.
The next major, supposedly "Christian" movie was The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, based on the book by C.S. Lewis, an Anglican "closet Papist" devotee of myth and magic, who promoted heretical doctrines and occultism and was by no means a true Christian.   The movie's makers lost no time in jumping on the bandwagon; and they made a concerted effort to include "Christian" organisations throughout the production of the movie.  And religious leaders (specially selected!) were given a sneak preview at 140 venues throughout the United States.  Michael Flaherty, president of Walden Media, said this preview was just one aspect of promoting the movie.  "We're willing to talk to almost all audiences that want to hear about the movies we make," he told the Texas Catholic newspaper.  "People seem to be interested that we're going to churches to promote this movie, but we're also going to schools, libraries, boy scout and girl scout groups.  We're going everywhere."    In other words, once again money was the motive.  It didn't matter whether the interested groups were Roman Catholic or evangelical churches, secular schools or libraries – the movie was promoted to all because they knew it would appeal to all.  The supposedly "Christian" content was sufficiently downplayed so as not to offend anyone, and yet it was sufficiently present so that it could be interpreted any way the viewer desired.  As Flaherty said: "We're interested in telling great stories and being true to the original themes of the author.  Many times these great stories we want to tell will have elements of faith in them, and we don't shy away from that.  If people interpret the original themes of the book to have elements of faith in them, then they will probably see those same themes in the movie."
Mere "elements of faith"; people "interpreting the story to have these elements of faith"; this is what passes for "Christian entertainment".  If this really was a Christian movie, the Christian message would be clear, bold, and all-pervasive in the story.  But it was not.
Flaherty admitted the real motive behind such movies when he said that Hollywood producers "are going to be open to any audience that can make them money.  If it helps sell tickets, moviemakers are going to emphasise Christian elements in movies."
And that is the bottom line!  Hollywood producers have not suddenly exercised faith in God, but they most certainly have faith in the trend of religious movies to make money for them, and they most certainly have faith in the gullible "Christian" public to flock to such movies and blow their money on them!

Following the massive commercial success of The Passion and The Chronicles of Narnia, 20th Century Fox announced that it would be producing as many as a dozen major "faith-themed" films a year, aimed at evangelicals, under its new "faith-based" division, FoxFaith.  This was described by the Los Angeles Times as "the biggest commitment of its sort by a Hollywood studio."  But it was certainly not the only studio to commit itself to this.  And yet again, straight from the horse's mouth as it were, we were made aware of the kind of "Christian" movie that would be produced.  "We want to push the production value, not videotape sermons or proselytise," said Simon Swart, general manager of Fox's U.S. home entertainment unit.   "We are not here to proselytise, we are making entertainment," said Steve Feldstein, senior vice president of FoxFaith.   Tragically, millions of professing "Christians" would rejoice over this hypocritical, dollar-driven interest by a major studio in producing such movies.
Make no mistake about it, Hollywood is still blatantly anti-Christian.  The studios and producers will churn out some "Christian-themed" movies if they believe this will make money for them – and it will.  But it is extremely naive to believe that the movie-makers have all suddenly experienced some kind of conversion!  It's all about profits.  The Passion proved there is a vast "Christian" audience out there willing to waste their money on this kind of film, and the movie-makers rushed to cash in on that.  But the movie industry is still committed to its agenda of making films which attack biblical Christianity, true Christians, the Gospel of Christ, and the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.  It has not changed.

Yet spiritually blind "evangelicals" cannot see what has happened!  In fact, they welcome it!  Increasing numbers of churches now make use of movie-like screens at the pulpits, where clips from movies, both religious and secular, are made accessible for churches to download, and are used to illustrate the pastor's sermon!  Professing "Christians" can easily recount scenes from their favourite films, but find it difficult to recall the central theme of the previous week's sermon – and pastors and churches are well aware of it, and thus are swinging over to the use of film clips in their sermons.  And they believe that in doing so they have made their churches more relevant to society!  How deceived they are.  All they have done, by integrating popular culture with their version of the "gospel", is that they have created a hybridised "gospel" that is nothing but "another gospel" entirely, and not the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!  When a man behind the pulpit has sunk to such a low that he needs to pepper his sermon with scenes from Hollywood movies, he has acknowledged that Hollywood – ungodly, wicked Hollywood – is, as far as he is concerned, more powerful than the God of the Bible, and that such gimmicks are necessary today to enable people to "understand the Gospel".
Such is the state of what passes for "Christianity" today.
March 2009

Shaun Willcock is a minister of the Gospel and lives in South Africa.  He runs Bible Based Ministries.  For other news articles (which may be downloaded and printed), as well as details about his books, audio messages, pamphlets, etc., please visit the Bible Based Ministries website, or write to the address below.  If you would like to be on Bible Based Ministries' electronic mailing list, to receive all future articles, please send your details.