Christian Movies - Ministry or Menace? (Part 2)

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After reading part one of this two-part series, and seeing all the good things accomplished by Christian films, one might wonder if anything could or should be wrong with them or if any negative aspects could or should overshadow the positive ones.

It was evident in the “Who’s Who in Religious Films” article that Youth for Christ lauded the Christian film industry as beneficial for missions and evangelistic efforts. However, those familiar with A.W. Tozer know that he was unsympathetic to that viewpoint. Tozer’s seven arguments against Christian films were abridged in Youth for Christ Magazine along with Evon Hedley’s seven arguments in favor of Christian films in an article titled “Christian Movies? The Pro and Con of Religious Films.” The pro arguments of Hedley and con arguments of Tozer in that 1954 article are summarized below.

A church service using a Christian film “is geared to the drawing in of the net for people to seek Christ as Saviour or to offer their lives as missionary volunteers.” Even though the entertainment world shows religious films in the theatre, the best place for them is the church where the service is planned for evangelistic purposes.

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A Christian movie “violates the Scriptural law of hearing” because “God gave to mankind His great redemptive revelation … in words.” Therefore, “the Bible rules out pictures and dramatics as media for bringing faith and life to the human soul.” Vital, spiritual truth is not expressed by a picture, but by spoken or written words.

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Christian Movies - Ministry or Menace? (Part 1)

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In January 1954, Youth for Christ Magazine, in the article “Who’s Who in Religious Films,” spotlighted key people and organizations involved in Christian film production. Around this same time, A.W. Tozer wrote “The Menace of the Religious Movie” in which he opposed the use of Christian films to portray spiritual or biblical dramatic performances. Youth for Christ was in favor of Christian films because of the decisions for Christ that accompanied them. However, they also recognized that there was opposition and sought to quell it by highlighting the positive aspects they saw with Christian films.

Below is a summary of the “Who’s Who” article presenting the justifications and rationale of those involved in and supportive of Christian films at that time.

The Early Days

C.O. Baptista was credited with pioneering the Christian film idea in the late 1930s. Baptista said that while using an object lesson during Sunday school “he suddenly caught a vision of what that same object lesson could do if presented as a motion picture in churches.” Baptista produced dramatic films, sermon-type pictures, and animated films. Reportedly, “hundreds of professions of faith” resulted from the showing of just one of his dramatic films. Read more about Christian Movies - Ministry or Menace? (Part 1)

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Sanctification and Giving Up

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All believers experience spiritual frustration. We desire to live lives that are obedient to our Lord and that grow in likeness to His life of humble service (Mark 10:45). But anyone who is a believer for very long discovers that failure is common. Those who take 1 Peter 1:15 seriously (“be holy for I am holy”; see also 2 Cor. 7:1) and who do not think of themselves more highly than they ought to think (Rom. 12:3), know that they are far from what they ought to be. Transformation into His image (Rom. 8:29, Col. 3:10) never seems to happen quite fast enough.

Sadly, some are so often and so painfully disappointed with themselves and others that they give up on the idea of changing much at all, and many of these take up a theology that supports that response. A recent example appeared in a post by Christianity Today editor Mark Galli.

I doubt the ability of Christians to make much progress in holiness. I look at churches that are committed to transformation and holiness, and I fail to see that they are much more holy or transformed than other churches…. I look at my own life, and marvel at the lack of real transformation after 50 years of effort.

Galli has written along similar lines previously (“If at First You Don’t Succeed, Stop Trying So Hard”) but is by no means alone in de-emphasizing the role of personal effort and obedience in living the Christian life. Read more about Sanctification and Giving Up

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Not Separating What God Has Joined Together - Aphorisms for Thinking about Separation

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Please, consider reading all of the preceding articles before delving into this one. While I’ve tried to make them each stand alone, they are linked together.

Aphorism 4: None of the commands of Scripture contradict the other commands when rightly understood, and to be correctly applied and interpreted all of the commands of Scripture must work together.

Eight hundred feet below the surface of the water, in a cramped nuclear submarine armed with ballistic missiles, my friend and newly minted lieutenant felt like he was faced with an impossible decision. On Sunday morning would he meet and worship with the dozen or so sailors on the boat that professed Christ but belonged to compromised groups (American Baptist, United Methodist, etc.) or quietly pray by himself in his bunk? Would he “be separate” (ESV, 2 Cor. 6:17) or neglect “to meet together” (Heb. 10:25)? Would he “[b]ear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2) or would he “[p]urge the evil person” (1 Cor. 5:13)? Read more about Not Separating What God Has Joined Together - Aphorisms for Thinking about Separation

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Discernment Ministry - A Biblical Defense, Part 1

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Discernment in our times

We live in an environment in which it is most difficult to stand for the faith. Not only will those who attempt to be on the front lines of discernment face the guns of those in opposition, but they may be hit by “friendly fire” as well.

For example: I recently wrote what I thought was a rather innocuous article expressing a high view of Scripture including a belief in its sufficiency. I was nevertheless surprised to receive a quick email rebuke by a pastor who also claimed to believe in the inerrancy, authority and sufficiency of the Bible and who ultimately accused me of taking what he called a “biblical charismatic” view. When I inquired as to how that could be, since I believe God speaks to us today only through Scripture and charismatics believe God speaks through means beyond the written Word, he did not reply.

I did not mean to imply to this pastor that I reject general revelation in which “the heavens are telling of the glory of God” (Ps 19:1-6), but that specific, authoritative revelation for this church age is confined to the Old and New Testaments. God is not adding new revelation or inspired texts to supplement the canon of Scripture. I believe that such revelations are unnecessary today because God has promised that the Scriptures are “adequate [to] equip [us] for every good work” (2 Tim 3:17). Read more about Discernment Ministry - A Biblical Defense, Part 1

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Book Review - Growing Up God’s Way for Boys and Girls

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Image of Growing Up God's Way for Boys
by Dr. Chris Richards, Dr. Liz Jones
Evangelical Press 2014
Paperback 80

Human sexuality is a good gift from God but from the way many Christians talk about it (if they even talk about it at all) you might think it was a disease spread upon all mankind from Satan himself. Not just one generation back from mine, sex was considered to be a non-discussion topic unless you were telling kids not to have it before marriage. Now my generation is raising its own generation of kids. Truth be told, our kids will hear about sex and sexuality from somewhere. The question is, who will they hear it from the loudest and most cogently? The world will tell them about it and so must Christian parents.

There is a growing body of literature (that needs to keep growing!) for Christian parents seeking to aid them in their discussions (discussions plural because there needs to be more than one of them!) with their children about their sexuality. Recently, Christian pediatricians Chris Richards and Liz Jones have written an amazing pair of new books titled Growing God’s Way for Boys and Growing God’s Way for Girls. Designed for ages 10-14, this book was written to help parents discuss their kids sexuality with them from before puberty to marriage, from a Christian and medical perspective. Read more about Book Review - Growing Up God’s Way for Boys and Girls

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So You Want to Be in “The Ministry”

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When I was in college, a lot of my friends were preparing to go into “The Ministry.” Some were full of holy zeal for mission work, some had plans for pastoral ministry, and some were simply caught up in the whirlwind of surrender. The “Preacher Boys” dated and married the girls called to be “Pastors’ Wives” and we all dreamed of future service.

Somehow when the dust had settled, I found myself married to one of those “Preacher Boys” despite no pressing need to be a “Pastor’s Wife” or to be in vocational ministry. Our first years together were spent finishing up school, going through the process of ordination, and eventually launching out into “The Ministry.” But nearly a decade and a half later, I’ve learned a few things. And most of them bear no resemblance to what I thought I knew.

I was reminded of this today when I read this piece from Jared Wilson about watching one of his parishioners waste away in hospice. Wilson is a popular blogger and author, but he spends most of his time in the trenches as a pastor, and this piece particularly captures the realities of ministry. The pain, the heartbreak, the inexplicable hope of the gospel. The joy of watching people triumph over death through the power of Christ.

We didn’t talk about these things in college. Read more about So You Want to Be in “The Ministry”

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Jesus and Paul as Separatists

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(Please, consider reading all of the preceding articles before delving into this one. While I’ve tried to make them each stand alone, they are linked together.)

Aphorism 3: Applications of the commands of separation must take into account Jesus and Paul’s application of these same commands as recorded in the Gospels, Acts, and the epistles.

The argument I am pursuing is that Jesus and Paul were separatist. (I’ve attempted to cover this in greater detail in the previous article.) Jesus and Paul must be separatists because they are obeying many of the same commands that we are. Further, Jesus and Paul give us a model to both follow and to understand God’s intent in giving these commands. Paul and Jesus’ model is the rule for Christians, because Paul commands us, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Read more about Jesus and Paul as Separatists

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