Never Judge A Book By Its’ Movie

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Never Judge A Book By Its’ Movie

By Warren E. Berkley

Perhaps you have heard this quote, generally attributed to J.W. Eagan: “Never judge a book by its’ movie.” This observation can certainly be pointed to movies on Biblical themes like “Noah,” “Son of God,” and “The Apostle Paul.” Here are some observations I came across a few years ago.

 (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’.” Source:

(2) Part of your “movie discernment” should be – who is associated with the movie and what is their use of the movie? Who is promoting the movie and how? Who is investing or funding the movie? Is there a religious group backing the movie? Before you ever get to the venue, this may inform your choices and attitude. If there is a “who’s-who” of evangelical Christian leaders supporting and promoting a movie, that will mean the movie reflects in some ways their theological agenda.

 (3) “Hollywood” leaves off application! Applying a Bible story to real life, or connecting the narrative to the larger Biblical context is simply not without the framework of the Hollywood purpose. 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 as your motivation or source of authority.

 “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 was powerful as God’s Word.

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