Movies For Church Leaders: Twenty Films That Can Be Used In Ministry -- By: Denis D. Haack

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 07:1 (Winter 1998)
Article: Movies For Church Leaders: Twenty Films That Can Be Used In Ministry
Author: Denis D. Haack


Movies For Church Leaders:
Twenty Films That Can Be Used In Ministry

Denis D. Haack

Reflecting on the story of the exodus, the third-century theologian, Origen, concluded that Christians are free to plunder the Egyptians as long as they are careful not to set up a golden calf from the booty.1 The basic idea is simple: Because all people are made in God’s image and live in the reality created by that God, even pagan cultures can be mined for ideas or artifacts that can be subverted from their original use and pressed into the service of the gospel. Missionary Don Richardson followed Origen’s advice, for example, when he identified Christ as the true Peacechild for the Sawi of New Guinea.2 And the apostle Paul modeled cultural plundering in Athens (Acts 17), when he used the altar to the unknown god and the Stoic poets as both a window of insight into the worldview of his audience and as a point of contact to begin his discussion of the gospel with them.

Before Paul spoke at the Areopagus, Luke records that the apostle had studied the Athenian culture with some care, observing and reading so that he could understand what they believed and why. He walked around and looked carefully at their shrines, he gave them the truth (17:23), and he was acquainted enough with their literature to quote their writers (17:28). It should be noted that this was a profoundly subversive act: their unknown god was identified by Paul as the one true God, and their poet’s arguments concerning Zeus were applied, instead, to the God of Scripture. In other

words, the artifacts and ideas of his audience’s pagan culture and religion had been creatively (mis)applied to the truth concerning Jesus Christ. It’s the subversive nature of the tactic that lends its power: two givens of their world and life-view were suddenly challenged as untrue, not via debate, but through apparent agreement, and something that was simply obvious to them was assigned a radical new meaning. Paul then used these two aspects of their culture to help relate the truth of God to them, beginning the discussion at a point in which their worldview was particularly vulnerable.

One part of modern culture which is
easily “plundered” is cinema. The
enormous popularity of the movies
makes them a good point of contact
with the unchurched. Because movies
tend to reflect the cultural consensus,
it is possible to use modern film
as a resource to help ...

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