Posted by: Phil Anderson | March 31, 2014

When “Christian” is an Adjective

Last week I read a thought-provoking blog post entitled “What’s Wrong With Christian Filmmaking?” It randomly came up as a suggested read, and I don’t know the writer, but I’m glad I found it. It really gave me a lot to think about.

I started with the realization that I don’t watch many Christian movies. I don’t necessarily dislike them or intentionally avoid them, but when I have the choice there are usually other movies I’d rather watch. Then I expanded my self-analysis to include Christian fiction, which I also read infrequently. As I Christian, I had to ask myself, “why do I not enjoy Christian entertainment? Why am I not drawn to it?”

The most obvious consideration is the meaning of the word “Christian” as an adjective. What is the difference between a Christian movie and a secular one? Not long ago it meant a marked difference in quality; Christian film producers didn’t have the budgets or funding that Hollywood films could command, though in recent years that gap has been shrinking. The difference is not necessarily in the rating; there are plenty of mainstream movies rated ‘G’ and ‘PG’. It’s not necessarily the portrayal of God; he has appeared more or less accurately in mainstream movies as far back as The Ten Commandments (1956) to as recently as this weekend’s release of  Noah (though I have not seen it and probably won’t, so that’s a disclaimer).

I suppose part of what bothers me about Christian entertainment is similar to why I don’t write Christian fiction myself, a topic I blogged about last year. God is beyond our ability to describe or portray, and my perspective or view of God may not match up with someone (or anyone) else’s.

Does it make me a bad Christian that I don’t favor Christian movies or novels? Can a Christian enjoy, and even benefit from entertainment that’s not specifically Christian?

I’m reminded of a few articles I’ve seen in the past few months about Disney’s Frozen and it’s anti-Christian viewpoint, and other articles touting the positive spiritual implications in this award-winning film. I don’t claim to know the producers’ agendas, but I believe you can take from it whatever you’re willing to look for, just like any other work of art whether film, literature, or painting. Just like the physical world around me, I interpret entertainment through my Christian worldview.

I teach Bible lessons to junior high and high school students every week, and I usually try to include a video clip in my presentation. It draws their attention and helps illustrate the point I’m trying to make. It also helps me as I consume movies and television. I often find myself thinking, “What spiritual application can I make with this scene? How can I use this to illustrate truth?”

What about you? Does a movie or book have to be Christian to impact you in a positive way? Do you see threatening challenges in the entertainment media, or opportunities to build your faith?

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