The Expository Files





Never Judge A Book By Its Movie


Perhaps you have heard this quote, generally attributed to J.W. Eagan: “Never judge a book by its’ movie.”  

This may be a good time to review the value of that statement and pass it on. Two movies are out now - “Noah” and “Son of God.” I have not seen them, but I know something before I see them. 

(1) “Hollywood” is not in the business of evangelism or edification. Even assuming well-intentioned producers (?), in order to navigate the grid of major movie production, there is a strong element of theatre and drama that must be built into the project. Following the text of Scripture –as a faithful gospel preacher would do– is not the goal. The goal is to attract one to the visual drama to entertain. “Hollywood” is not devoted to getting it right, straight from the Book. Here’s what Christian Post observed about the Noah movie: “Reviewers argued that the movie removed the meaning of sin from the biblical account, and twisted the story to fit a Hollywood agenda. ‘This is not some attempt to tell the Bible story — they want to make it into an Action/Adventure,’ Dan Gainor, vice president of Business and Culture for The Media Research Center, told CP earlier. ‘It's laughable what's in the trailers’.”  


(2) Part of your “movie discernment” should be – who is associated with the movie and what is their use of the movie? Again, from Christian Post – “A who's-who of evangelical Christian leaders, like Joel Osteen, Craig Groeschel, Miles McPherson and T.D. Jakes to name a few, have signed on to support ‘Son of God,’ buying out theater screens and distributing nearly half a million tickets.


Archbishop Jose Gomez, whose Archdiocese of Los Angeles represents 4 million Roman Catholics, has also signed on to help promote the film, which stars Downey, also a Roman Catholic, as Jesus' mother, Mary.


In addition to theater buyouts and mass ticket distributions, some supporters, such as Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren, are using "Son of God" in their churches as a teaching and preaching tool. Warren has developed his own related Bible study, titled "Son of God: The Life of Jesus in You Leader Kit."


(3) “Hollywood” leaves off application! Again, my disclaimer: I haven’t seen the movie Noah, of course, but I will offer this prediction: At the end of the movie, there will not be personal application. There will not be an addendum with practical lessons. There will be no invitation to change your life. The movie will not storm your will and then inform you of what Scripture says about responding to Christ. 

So, whatever you do about the current movies, read the story from the original source. And never make that turn from the written Word to theater. “For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart,” (Heb. 4:12). There will never be a humanly produced book or movie as powerful as God’s Word.



By Warren E. Berkley
The Front Page
From Expository Files 21.4; April 2014