Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Reflections on The Nativity Story - (Warning: Spoiler)

Today, after doing some experiments in lab, I went out with my crusade friends to watch the movie The Nativity Story. I know there is some concern over the film, especially from people who are concerned over Hollywood's presentation of Jesus and their addition and possible alteration of Scriptural truths. Definitely, we should not let Hollywood define Christianity for us, nor Catholicism for that matter (in the Passion of the Christ movie).

Anyway, I decided to go and check it out critically, since it is a good time to get together with my friends also. Overall, it was a good movie and rather true to Scripture, with artistic license applied to a few minor details. However, I do have some bones to pick:

Firstly, the way the Magi were portrayed more like comedians rather than true wise men. The director took liberty in portraying the Magi as coming from ancient Persia, whereas the Bible only mentioned they were from the East (Mt. 2:1). Thirdly, and rather seriously, the Magi were portrayed as mystics who followed the 'star' to Bethelem, with the star actually being a supernatural light source (which was good), which however appeared only after the unique event of the alignment of three bright lights in the night sky; Jupiter, Venus, and some other star. Therefore, the Magi 'discovered' Jesus' birth through the combination of Scripture and astrology, which is definitely NOT a good thing to put in the film.

A slight alteration of the text of Scripture was also done in the Magi's offering of the gifts, where the gift of myrrh was being offered to Mary instead of Jesus (Mt. 2:11). The other two were all right, with gold being offered to Jesus as He is the 'King of kings' and frankincense offered to Him who is the 'Priest of priests'. Another slight alteration, or rather omission, was that the movie did not show the magi receiving the warning not to return to Herod in a dream from God, which Scripture mentioned (Mt. 2:12).

One addition to the film lay in the addition of the snakes in certain parts of the film. The Magi saw lots of snakes when they entered one of the cities in Judea, and during a stream crossing, a water snake tried to attack Mary and her donkey, precipitating a mini-crisis. Judging by the significance of the snake (Gen. 3), and its use in the Passion, I don't see the rationale behind the addition of the snake, as though it was cool to put such a scene in.

Besides these concerns, the movie in general follows Scripture rather closely (and is thus not so 'exciting' as the Passion). Additionally, since the movie has been criticized by Catholics for being 'factually incorrect' since it does not promote their non-historical and heretical doctrines of the 'Immaculate Conception' and their version of the 'Virgin Birth', that by itself is a plus point for the movie. This movie is thus much better and more Scriptural than the Passion ever was.

This said, however, I would like to caution against using this movie as an evangelistic tool. Definitely, using sermons based on this movie rather than the actual biblical text is wrong, as it using 'evangelistic' tracts and materials based on or associated with it. Watching the movie with an non-believing friend is NOT a session in witnessing to him/her! Evangelism can only be done through the preaching of the Gospel which alone saves (Rom. 10: 14-17), and only preaching and witnessing in words is the medium by which God will bless our evangelistic efforts. Movies/ Skits, Music etc do NOT play a role whatsoever in evangelism, since it is not ordained by God for that end. Therefore, this, and any other movie for that matter, is not meant to be used for evangelism of any sort. Also, since discernment is always needed since Hollywood would always need to add material to the subject in order to make it long enough to become a film, such Christian-themed movies should not be watched by young Christians (both Christian children and those young in the faith).

For this, and similar themed movies, Christians are to treat it as like any other movie, with the only difference that this is a religious movie which require more discernment. By all means, if it is treated as such, Christians may watch those movies just like any other secular movies which are not immoral or ungodly in any way.

Some people may object that movies which show the face of our Lord Jesus Christ violate the second commandment of Scripture. Definitely, this is true, and we should thus ommit showing the face of Jesus, since although he is fully Man, he is also fully God. By this standard, this film is mostly ok, since the only time you will see Jesus is for a little while as a baby, and honestly almost all babies look alike (at least to me).


Evangelical books said...
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Daniel C said...
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Daniel C said...


perhaps, but first must get a good, godly girlfriend :P