Sometimes I’ll hear or read about radical members of some religious group saying or doing something particularly cringe-worthy or deplorable, and I’ll wonder to myself: “Why don’t some of the more rational members of that religious group stand up and denounce that? Why not let the rest of the world know that not all members of their religion think that way, and possibly also serve as an example to their more radical colleagues?” You might be thinking I’m referring to recent events in the Middle East.
No. Now I’m asking this question to myself and Christianity.
I’ve already seen a number of people posting on social media their enthusiasm of the upcoming movie “Left Behind”.
I want to be one of the ones who stand up to say that not all fully-committed Christians endorse this movie. In fact, many don’t. It paints the God that we worship in a particularly evil light. This is Hollywood running wild with theology. It’s a 21st century Western distortion of a Biblical passage … an interpretation that desperately needs a better understanding of JudeoChristian thinking and ancient Near Eastern tradition.
If you agree with me, please stand up and tell people … Christians and non-Christians … that you’re a Christ-follower who does not hold that kind of theology. Let’s not stand idly by while Hollywood uses our own Bible and their portrayal of Christians to ridicule our faith. I know that decrying the movie may actually draw attention to it, but let’s balance the discussion out and use this as an opportunity to share our faith.
If you disagree, let’s talk about it, but with civility and respect. And do some research into why/how other Christians can embrace an entirely different interpretation (that last word is important). When you start quoting Matthew 24, read it carefully and take note that being “left behind” was a good thing: it was the people who drowned in the Flood that were “taken away”, while Noah and his family were left behind. Look into how this whole chapter might actually be Jesus’s warning of a 1st century Roman invasion and the destruction of Jerusalem, and the taking / leaving behind are referring to the casualties of that war. Likewise for the book of Revelation: many Christians see that as John writing more about the 1st century Jewish – Roman conflict and not necessarily 21st century headline event. Besides, that book is so full of symbology and strange imagery rooted in Old Testament history and thinking, and if you instead read it with a 21st century mindset you can pull out so many storylines and theologies from it. When you start quoting 1 Thessalonians 4, consider that this might refer to how an ancient Near Eastern people would receive a visiting king: go out of the city, meet him with great fanfare and escort him back to the city. Also, please stop expressing glee or pleasure over this movie (I’m very concerned with the number of Christians saying how they’re “so looking forward to seeing this“) … if there’s any kind of truth to the interpretation you hold, then this story should instead fill you with sorrow, regret, grief and loss, rather than happiness, joy or excitement.
If you had no idea this movie had anything to do with the Bible, but knowing so now turns you off of Christianity, please understand it represents a minority view that Hollyweird has happily manipulated. There are two sides to this story (actually, several), and I’d challenge you to investigate all sides, not just walk away and dismiss the teachings of Christ simply because some of His followers took them in a different direction.
If you’ve come to some kind of faith having watched the movie or read the books, please make sure that your faith grows much, much deeper than merely a fear of judgment. Christianity is not a selfishly-motivated insurance policy to escape death, destruction and hell. It’s instead about being a member of a team selflessly working to bring complete restoration to earth.
What are your thoughts?