JP wrote about Avatar yesterday.  I also saw Avatar. I loved it.

I’ve been reading blogs lately, however, by evangelicals whom I respect and appreciate that show a level of repulsion for the philosophical and political agenda of the movie that I think could be looked at a bit differently. Many of my friends who are as conservative theologically and politically as I am have suggested that the movie is unhealthy to watch and some have begun labeling it as a "communist" movie or a "pagan" movie.

[I’m going to go down a rabbit trail here] What IS the deal with guys like James Cameron, anyway? Perhaps this analogy might help us understand people like this:

These people (think James Cameron, most academics, M.I.T.-types, etc.) are like a bodybuilder who decides to become the best right arm curler in the world. He focuses almost 100% of his energy lifting dumbbells with his right arm, spending some cursory time here and there on the right pectoral, forearm, and tricep areas to avoid injury and avoid tedium. He ends up with a massive right arm capable of curling monster dumbbells. He becomes a star in the right-armed dumbbell world. Since he’s so disciplined at training he begins to offer unsolicited advice on cardio workouts to synchronized Olympic divers. Asinine? Yup. Much like brilliant people who lack the humility to realize they should stick to the one area they know a little about? Yup. They lose focus on the big picture. They spend less time being well-rounded individuals socially and intellectually. Somehow, though, we are expected to listen to them pontificate because they are famous or accomplished in a particular area. By the way, the fact that this phenomena usually results in liberalism should be a warning about liberalism in itself. And I know many academics that "get it" and are very well-rounded so I’m painting with a broad brush here but you know there’s some truth to this… There is, huh?

Anyway, back to Avatar.

James Cameron did a genius job with the CGI, casting, creating 3D technology that will blow your mind, and it even has a decent storyline for a Sci-Fi action movie. The movie is, quite frankly, one of the most fantastic cinema works since the original Star Wars.

So we have two choices:

  1. Correctly point out the philosophical and political foolishness in the movie and encourage the miniscule number of people who care enough to join us in avoiding the movie. The net result is that the one group of people with the discernment to handle watching the movie and use what they see to relate to nonbelievers will avoid the movie and everyone will see it and wonder why we’re so out of touch and weird.
  2. Correctly point out that James Cameron’s worldview is vastly different than a Biblical worldview, work on becoming "Insiders" to those that hold similar world-views as Mr. Cameron, and use the movie as a great way to broach the subject with our neighbors, co-workers, friends, and family who – without the Holy Spirit – increasingly are turning public policy, government, and the environment into their faith-outlet.

I loved the movie. Watching it also gave me some talking points to consider with my hyper-environmental friends. What is different about the planet Pandora, physically, and the creatures and ecosystems there dreamed up by Cameron that makes his example not analogous to our current situation in the real world? I think there are plenty.

If there were such a world discovered with humanoid creatures, how would our Biblical worldview fit into that reality? Just because some blue people in a movie worship the earth, is that supposed to teach us what we should too? What is the difference between creation worship and creation stewardship? A Hollywood director and screenwriter is THE expert on ecological stewardship? Seriously?

These are questions that can lead to productive conversations about Jesus and the God-story. Should you see the movie? If you can with a clear conscience keeping in mind Galatians 5, I say go for it! If not, pray for the Church that it would embrace, like it did in times past, the arts. Until the arts are embraced by the church to relevantly communicate the Gospel, I’m hopeful we learn to use the arts as they are to reciprocate Truth to a world that communicates its spiritual emptiness increasingly through media, art, and celebrity-worship.

Colossians 2:8-23 tells me two things:

  1. I must not let anyone deceive me through philosophy, empty deceit, or the traditions of men.
  2. I must not let anyone, including well-meaning Christ-followers, entangle me in legalism or judgement if I am seeking Him with a clear conscience and relevantly sharing Christ with others.

It’s all about loving God and loving our neighbors. Is there really no way to use movies like Avatar to do both those things? Maybe not. But I figured I’d throw a different perspective out there for discussion.

21 comments
  1. Or… it’s just a movie???
    Like Star Wars or 2012, Deep Impact, etc.?? Are conservatives just genetically bent to conspiracy theories or what?

  2. JP – thanks. I actually didn’t intend to reply solely to your post. The first sentence was added later [cough – shane] although your post inspired me to write it. I’m pretty sure you and I are basically on the same page.

    I’ve ready some truly wacky stuff, though, from some of our evangelical friends. What people like Adam don’t understand is the zeal for truth that Christ-followers have. Sometimes that zeal (a very good thing) can blind us to relational opportunity (not a good thing).

    But if it was “just a movie,” or art was “just art” in general, than we wouldn’t have nearly so much of it and we would have the National Endowment for the Arts. Art is powerful. It speaks to people and influences popular culture. Nothing is “just art” or “just a movie” to me. It’s all in what you choose to watch, what you can watch with a clear conscience, and what you do with what you see and hear that matters.

  3. I loved the movie and I agree with all of your points. But maybe it was just me but did anyone else get a Native American vibe from the film. Thats what I immediately thought of during and after the movie. They viewed the earth, in many ways, the people of Pandora did in the movie. But maybe thats just me…

  4. If you believe you could stand at the foot of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil having a conversation with Satan – and by your superior intellect not fail to maintain your right thinking – and you would not be seduced and deceived as Eve was because you are so strong and great a Christian – go see this movie!!!

    You’re very sure of yourself.

    And, expect that as Eve was seduced and deceived by the Serpent’s guile – so shall you be… and not even know it… because once the darkness has cast it’s shadow on you… you don’t even know you’ve been changed.

      1. @Eric Goranson, Wow. I read your entire article. It was a huge empty meaningless morass. Either you believe Satan is real – and dangerous due to his power to beguile, seduce, deceive, and then control – or you don’t. But when you note all of the themes of Satan so beguiling, so seducing, and so deceiving – then you say, that if people can go with a clear conscience keeping in mind the scriptures – you say, “go for it!”.

        My whole point is that people are already seduced and deceived into making their own consciences, rather than the counsel of the Word of God, the “measure” of their life choices. You say, “go for it!” – and don’t take Satan seriously at all.

        You’re beguiled, seduced, deceived – and deceiving others.

        Satan is not “someone” you’re going to control once you let him have your eyes, your ears, and your mind. When you go see a production of this level – you are under the power of a seducing, deceiving, beguiling spirit. For you and others on this site to “think” they are “broad-minded” – “progressive” – “advanced” – and somehow more “worldly wise” than those who tell you to stop so trusting in yourselves because you’re already down the dark slippery slope…. go ahead and be smug.

        You read the scriptures you stated – then overruled and negated the Word of God on the basis of the whim of a person’s measure of their own “conscience”.

        Well done – if you’re a humanist.

        So, don’t be so smug. Stating scripture – hearing it – isn’t the same as doing it. You advise people to listen to the scripture – then decide for themselves they want to do… like people looking at themselves in the mirror – then forgetting who they are and what they look like – forgetful hearers rather than doers of the Word.

        Listen, we all struggle with sin. I do. However, for you to act like seducing people into hearing the Word then setting it aside is somehow “liberal” – yes, I’d agree – that’s liberal.

        Satan is quite an adversary – when you think you have him mastered. That’s when he’s got control of you.

        To me, you’re doing the devil’s work along with those who are deceived on here and under strong delusion.

        Those under strong delusion – congratulate themselves on how “wise” they are.

        You ate the fruit.

        That’s the bottom-line. YOU ATE THE FRUIT… and are offering the fruit to others… as fruit to be desired to make them wise.

        Satan’s ruse never changes. Go with the Word and stop negating it on the basis of the conscience of a person whose heart is desperately wicked and cannot be trusted. The Word can be trusted – not you conscience in CONTRADICTION to the WORD of GOD!!

        Thank you.

      2. @laura, I believe Satan and his army of fallen angels are very real. And I think they are very active and can oppress (not posses) believers. I believe in a literal interpretation of the Scriptures and that the Scriptures interprets itself.

        However, your contention that I’m doing “the devil’s work” by telling believers with discernment and the liberty to do so to see the movie is unwise and disconcerting.

        I’ll pray for you that you discover the power you have over our Enemy, that you put his role in the bigger meta-story being woven together by God in the proper place, and that you seek to understand and love your neighbor before letting anger, vitriol, and unloving words get the best of your communication.

  5. Avatar was an awesome movie that had I listened to all of the above and beyond naysaying, I never would have seen it. But dh wanted to see it & there was nothing so horrible in it that would make him change his mind. It was a spectacular adventure!
    .-= Anne-Marie´s last blog ..Bible in 90 days: Day 2 =-.

  6. Replying to Laura’s comment. Is darkness stronger than the light of God’s Word? Am I, who is regularly exposed to the light, so unaffected by it that 2 hours of exposure to a movie will move me to worship idols? I don’t ask this to be argumentative, but to understand the strength of God’s work in my life vs. the power that Satan has. It plagues me to think that God is so weak that I can’t stand against the darkness of this world and maintain a firm grip on my faith. I just don’t think He is that weak. I don’t believe that His power isn’t so much greater. I believe He wants me to live IN this world and shine my light where the darkness exists. How can I shine a light in darkness if I don’t approach the darkness?

    For the non-believer or doubter, I understand that the dark impact of media can have devestating affects. But that’s where our evangelism efforts come into play. God counters Satan’s efforts with a much more powerful tool – His light.

    Maybe I’m naive. I just think that God’s command to live IN it but not be OF it comes into play here.

    Jamie

  7. The question that bugs me is why does it seem that religious and political conservatives are so quick to defend outrageous caricatures or at least summarily dismiss the implicit moral critique of these caricatures?

    If we take the story as it’s presented to us in the film (granted that it’s a wholly unoriginal telling of a cliche), what is wrong in the portrayal of those bent on colonial and military conquest of indigenous peoples as evil? Does the evangelical Christian have nothing to contribute to post-colonialism?

    Does the Christian conservative judge the genocide of pagan indigenous peoples, if not a good, at least a good enough?
    .-= Wayne´s last blog ..It’s a Hard Day for a Sparrow =-.

  8. Hey… It’s so “cool to compromise”!! So hip, so cool, so “in”. My, how cool, hip, and “in” those who compromise are these days.

    And, isn’t it so fun for you to thumb your noses at and act superior to those with conviction who will not join you in your compromises.

    You have no idea how JUST LIKE THE WORLD you are and have become to be so smug, arrogant, condescending and perjorative towards Christians who, unlike you, take a stand and do not compromise with the world on such matters.

    You’re smug, seduced, deceived -and you’ve LEFT THE WORD OF GOD – to be “hip”, “in”, “cool” – and “worldly wise”.

    You’re like a “new breed” of Christians so smug towards those who stand on conviction and resist the spirit of the age and maintain a strong Christian testimony during this time of strong delusion as Satan makes his push for the souls of mankind.

    The conservative Christians don’t run with you to go do evil = and see Avatar – and warn against the movie. And you all act like you’re so “wise” – so much more “worldly wise” than they are.

    You think them stupid. You think them “narrow minded”. You sound JUST LIKE the world – not “progressive Christians”. You’re degenerating – not progressing. You’re under the power of Satan and think you can be hearers of the Word – and be “so wise” as you decide you’re “above all that” due to your “hip”, “cool”, “in”, “progressive”… “liberalness”.

    these scriptures speak of the world – and worldly Christians who are friends of the world and love the spirit of the age and love to be told how “hip”, “Cool”, “in”, and “open-minded” – “progressive” – “advancing” – “evolving” they are.

    You sound JUST LIKE THE WORLD – except you sprinkle in verses that you then say a person doesn’t have to do – just listen to – then “go with your own conscience” – “go for it!”

    You’re the new breed of humanists – disregarding biblical Christianity – because you find humanism so much more appealing and capable of making you wise – and like to think that you’ve “progressed” beyond those who still stick with scripture – and REJECT HUMANISM.

    You’re mixing humanism with Christianity – in power – and think you’re “cool Christians” – “so wise”.

    You’re in serious trouble spiritually – deceived and deceiving others. Satan is more powerful than what you “think” – and you pride yourselves on how “wise” and “advanced” you are – as he gains greater and greater controlof your mind – making you more and more humanistic… and you don’t see it.

    3For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. 5But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

    1 Peter 4:1Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. 2As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 3For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. 4They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. 5But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. 6For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to men in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.

    7The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray

    1 Peter 4:3For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:

    4Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:

    5Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.

    2 Timothy 3:12-15 (King James Version)

    12Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

    13But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

    14But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;

    15And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

    Like I say – I sin and struggle with sin, temptation and Satan every day.

    I DO NOT want to LISTEN to you people.

    You’re down the RATHOLE of humanism congratulating yourselves and criticizing Christians of greater moral and spiritual strength.

    I want to listen to the Christians WHO DON’T COMPROMISE AND AREN’T BEING SEDUCED INTO HUMANISM!!

    You’re down the rathole of humanism.

    1. @laura, Perhaps I should write another post about how Jesus and his disciples only spent time in Synagogues and with believers. Or how Paul never actually when to the center of pagan worship and tactfully studied their gods before articulately and respectfully preaching the Gospel to Athenians.

      But that wouldn’t be true. You paint Jesus and Paul as humanists. Careful.

      1. @Eric Goranson, Eric, there’s a huge difference between “being with unbelievers” from the position of a Christian sharing the HOLY Spirit – and encouraging Christians to go get in the world and get the spirit of the world on them so that they can then chat with the lost. What you call “vitriol” is passion for Christ and the HOLY Spirit. What you consider yourself to be as “loving” and “accepting” and “communicative” with the spirit of the age in going to see a satanic movie that is very powerful in seeping into the subconscious mind to control Christians and brainwash them, luring and seducing them – is neither hot nor cold. It’s lukewarm at best. Who are you to think that the Lord approves of YOU in lukewarmness and being seduced by the spirit of this age and calling others to go get a bite of seduction and “go for it!” if their conscience permits??? I think you’re seduced, deceived, and being lulled into the sleep of those who are being sucked into the world system step by step by step. Like I say, I more appreciate Christians who have moral strength of Christian character and conviction from the WORDS OF THE BIBLE which make us wise.

        As far as the wisdom of this world – it’s foolishness.

        You’re not going to “convert” any new ager, environmentalists by “engaging them” in a depth of discussion about the things of this world.

        Believe it or not, the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ is in the CROSS and the PREACHING of the CROSS which is foolishness to men but the wisdom of God.

        You think that by going to watch “Avatar” – then talking about that – you’re going to “reach people”?? No, you are exposing yourself to a spirit more powerful than you realize – and you are being seduced and deceived into believing that talking about “Avatar” makes you a friend of the world. Well, it does make you a friend of the world. But, those who would be a friend of the world become the enemies of God. (That’s some “vitriol” from the Holy Spirit in the Word of God.)

        I do believe the Bible states that in the latter days there will be those with itching ears who turn away from sound doctrine.

        The preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who perish – but it is the power of God unto salvation to those who believe.

        But, I spose that’s not as “hip” or “cool” or “in” as going to see Avatar so you can cozy up to environmentalists and “be one” withthem and get along and be accepted by them… and appear really “broad minded” to those who view such things as broad minded.

        I think you would have better spent your time reading the Bible – getting the Holy Spirit – and going to talk to people about Jesus.

        When Jesus went to speak to the lost – He didn’t go to become one with them and relate to them in their sin by learning a whole lot about their views. Rather, HE SPOKE TH WORD OF TRUTH TO THEM.

        Maybe that’s passe to you.

        Maybe you think it’s better to “fit in” and cozy up to the lost on their level.

        I think that’s how Satan is seducing you. However, that’s not anything that Jesus emulated or the scriptures teach.

        “Come out from among them and be ye separate. Touch not the unclean and I will call you my sons and daughters.”

        I suppose separation from the world isn’t “in” these days in humanist philosophy posing as Christian theology. I suppose the ministry of Jesus has been so twisted that now you need to get on the same level with sinners so you can reach them.

        Here’s an idea for ya!

        Go to the porn theatre – sit and watch a few XXX rated movies – then chat with the porn addicts afterwards proving your accessible and can reach them for the Lord by engaging them in discussions about their movie tastes.

        After all… isn’t that what Jesus would do??

        Ridiculous??

        Think about it and apply the same principle to Avatar.

        The Word of God isn’t the way you’ve divided it. As I say, when you mix with the world – it distorts your perceptions. That’s the danger.

        I battle sin, temptation, and Satan every day. I need to hear from Christians who are strong enough to resist Satan and ht world.

      2. I feel sad for you. I am committed to praying for you over the next few days. I respect that you obviously do not have the liberty to interact with culture in the same way I do. The Scriptures tell me I must respect that. I’ll be praying you have that same respect for fellow Christ-followers with as much passion to please Him as you do.

        Remember – you don’t know me. Your judgement of my heart, motives, and what influences me is extremely unwise and uninformed.

        If I’ve violated any Biblical principles in this post, it may be Prov. 26:4. I will let you have the last word (if there are any left to say).

  9. Hi Eric,

    You should definitely let me have the last word. You’re young – it appears and highly influenced by the culture. I believe you’ve bought into a compromising false gospel that is more about “interacting with the culture” than you realize at this time. You should listen to those Christians who are older than you – and who have a different view. You may think you are more “tolerant”, “loving”, and “engaged” in the culture. I am sternly warning you that you are being mislead and seduced, beguiled, and deceived by Satan who is the ruler of this world and the prince of the power of the air. I believe it would benefit you to become more awakened to the Spirit of God directly through the Word of God. I think you have a spirit of slumber – a spirit of seduction working in your life. I think that you are “hanging” with Christians who are being seduced, deceived, beguiled. Sure, it “sounds good” to you to be engaged with the culture. But the scripture says to consecrate yourself like a chaste virgin to the Lord Jesus Christ – and that when you’re married to Jesus you shouldn’t be flirting with the devil, this world = this culture.

    I sincerely believe you’ve “bought into” a false paradigm, a hook, a deception that is HUMANISM MASQUERADING as engaging the culture.

    1 Timothy 4:1-3 (King James Version)

    1 Timothy 4

    1Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

    I think you should take MUCH MORE SERIOUSLY the warnings and admonitions of a Christian who is in her 40’s and has been saved since she was a small child.

    The seducing spirits of the world AT THIS HOUR are much more powerful than you realize – and once you have been seduced – your “conscience” is no guide and no judge of truth or “the right path”.

    No, Eric, you DO NOT NEED to “interact with the culture” on the terms of the spirit of this age. I think you should take seriously my warnings, admonitions, and remember that Satan is seductive, deceiving, and once you are seduced, deceived, and beguiled – your conscience is corrupt even as the heart of man is so desperately wicked none can know it.

    It’s a REAL DECEPTION to believe you are serving Christ through friendship with this world – and that you are really “reaching the lost” and “ministering Christ” by taking upon yourself the spirit of this age – which you should be resisting and recognizing as satanic.

    I pray for you that you will be strengthened in the Holy Spirit by the Word of God and can escape the trap and snare of Satan which you do not recognize at this time – and mistakenly believe you are more “evolved” and “progressive” than those who stick with the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Word of God – and are very wary of the strong delusion that is coming over the world at this time.

    We are in the last days – and this is no time for you and other Christians to think you are “progressive” and “more advanced” than the Christians who warn you of the power of Satan you are not seeing being wrapped around you – that we can see and discern.

    I warned you of Satan speaking to Eve at the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

    You must NEVER trust your own conscience rather than the Word of God – and you should be highly alerted that I see incredible pull from the world leading you astray in your thinking as you think you can fellowship and have communion with the lost and this “helps them”. You must stay consecrated to Jesus Christ and BEWARE relationships with the world. They are HOOKS by which Satan will gain control of your mind, will, emotions, worldview, and paradigms beyond you perception as you are dragged into the humanist rathole of the spirit of the age.

    You say you are sad for me?? Young man – you don’t know the power of Satan.

    The posters on this thread are being overpowered by Satan and don’t realize it – because they are not strong in the Holy Spirit – and, often it appears, are young and impressionable.

    If your leaders lead you astray – go the Word of God and spend more time with Jesus, the body of Christ, in prayer and stop mixing with the culture on the terms of the spirit of this world and this age.

    Take seriously the warnings and admonitions of Christians who see you going and being lead astray, seduced, beguiled, and deceived into thinking you are “progressive” to mix and mingle with the spirit of this world and the rulers and principalities and the powers of this present darkness.

    One day, young man, you may be a father of a man young like yourself. A young man thinks he knows everything – then, as he grows older and truly wiser… realizes his own father wasn’t so dumb after all. Look upon conservative Christians as fathers and mothers in the faith – as I do.

    2 Corinthians 6:13-18 (King James Version)

    13Now for a recompence in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged.

    14Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

    15And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?

    16And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

    17Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

    18And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

    I’m perhaps not as ignorant as you think I am that you presume to be saddened for me.

    I may be much more DISCERNING than yourself and others on this thread – and as you review the whole counsel of the Word of God – it never TOLD YOU to become one with the world. It told you NOT to be unequally yoked with unbelievers.

    If you have communication with them, you need to stay separated to the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Spirit of God, and you need to stay SEPARATED from them. You’re not “reaching them”, friend. The spirit of the age is reaching your mind through them.

    What I say to you may seem nonsensical today – but remember my counsel and my words – because someday you may find that I have become more wise in your estimation.

    Last word.

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