Earlier this month, Movieguide.org released their 2014 annual report and noted that in 2013, for the first time in their 22-years of reporting, religious, family-friendly, and patriotic movies made up nine of the top ten grossing movies. They found that top movies with faith-centered themes of redemption earned over 400% more on average than those with a non-Christian worldview. It would seem that Hollywood has taken note and they're beginning to deliver more of what Christians want.
Or are they?
The Hollywood Reporter proclaimed last week "From 'Noah' to 'Son of G-d', 2014 is Jam-Packed with Bible-Based Movies". Their definition of "jam-packed"?
And even those aren't without controversy.
On February 28th, Twentieth Century Fox releases "Son of G-d". As of February 21st, the movie has already sold half a million advance tickets and drawn rave reviews from some big-name pastors but others have questioned the accuracy of the movie's portrayal given some of the scenes that have been cut. The most widely announced cut involved the events of Matthew 4 when Jesus was tempted by the devil. Apparently the actor who played Satan looked a little too much like President Obama.
A month later on March 28th, Recency releases "Noah" and it appears to have even more serious problems. The Christian Post has published comments from one of the movie's writers indicating that the director is using the movie for "personal crusades of over-population and environmentalism". Christians are reacting negatively because the movie isn't faithful to Holy Writ.
In December, Scott Free Productions will release "Exodus", the story of Moses leading the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt. The movie stars 30-year old Christian Bale (of American Psycho and The Dark Knight fame) as Moses... who was 80 at the time of the exodus (Exodus 7:7). "Exodus" was directed by Ridley Scott, an avowed agnostic, who has chosen an "unconventional" depiction of G-d in the film according to some sources which is also leaving the faithful less than excited about this film.
Why is this happening?
First, with the possible exception of "Son of G-d", the individuals behind these movies are doing so purely for profit. I'm guessing they haven't heard Scripture's proclamation that "the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil" (1 Timothy 6:10).
Second (and not surprisingly), Hollywood attempts to remake God in the image they want: a god who is all love and is entirely without justice, righteousness, or holiness. This god is no threat to their way of life so they're OK with him. Or they want an angry, capricious, and vengeful god who has no compassion. That god is easy for them to hate and disregard. This distortion of G-d's character isn't anything new. It's been going on since the Serpent started it back in the Garden.
Why is this important?
Biblical literacy in the U.S. is at an all-time low. Barry Shafer of Youth Worker says, “The church today, including both the adult and teenage generations, is in an era of rampant biblical illiteracy.” His partner in ministry, Duffy Robbins, goes even further: “Our young people have become incapable of theological thinking because they don’t have any theology to think about. … And, as Paul warns us, this … leaves us as ‘infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching’ (Ephesians 4:14).”
Unfortunately, many Christians in America today (not including fans of Verse by Verse Ministry!) get their understanding of Scripture from popular culture. Fiction books, pop music, and box-office blockbuster movies play a greater role in their knowledge of Jesus, salvation, and redemption than the Bible.
You, the reader, are a great encouragement to me because you foster sound Biblical teaching in your homes and churches. I know this because you're on the Verse by Verse Ministry website. That's what we're all about. On days when Christianity in America seems utterly lost or asleep, I remember all of you and the work G-d is doing in your lives and I am encouraged.
So back to my original question: What's Hollywood's problem with the Bible?
As long as they can distort it enough to make them feel comfortable and make money off an unsuspecting audience.
I thank G-d that you aren't among them.