WARNING: If you plan on watching this movie you may want to read this AFTER you have seen it because I am going to straight up spoil it for you.
There have been some rave reviews about this movie among the Christian community. It has been heralded as a "must see" for Christians. My puzzled response to that statement every time is why...no seriously WHY?
My husband and I went to see the movie the second night that it was out. It was defnitely not my first choice but I went along with it anyway. For those of you who don't quite know what the movie is about here is brief synopsis http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1037705/synopsis:
Eli (Denzel Washington) has been on a journey for 30 years, walking west across America after a cataclysmic war that turned the earth into a total wasteland. The world has become a lawless civilization where people must kill or be killed. The barren roads belong to gangs of cutthroats who rob and kill for water, a pair of shoes, a lighter, or just for fun. Eli is a peaceful man who only acts in self defense, and becomes a warrior with unbelievable killing skills when he is challenged. After the war and the "Big Flash", Eli was guided by a higher power to a hidden book and given the task of protecting the book and taking it to its final destination. Eli guards the book with his life, because he knows that the book is the only hope that humanity has for its future.
If you are looking for entertainment value, shootouts, fight scences, knife wielding with somewhat of a decent plot and a nice twist at the end then this movie will accomplish its purpose for you. Even if you are looking to explore an enlightened life path you may be inspired. However, if you are looking to find a message that is of any real intrinisic Christian value you will need to keep it moving. Now, this is not a bash on this movie. I actually found it entertaining because I like movies with action and that keep you wonderning "now how is he going to get out of this one," but as I watched this movie, I could not help but have a lump sitting in the pit of my stomach. Its like I could sense what effect it would have in the Christian community. Some days later, that feeling seems to have been confirmed.
The problem that I have is not with the movie itself. People of the world make movies to entertain and chock full of worldly messages. The problem that I have is how this movie has been received and perceived by those that call themselves Christians. I will hi light a few themes that would have some believe this.
- Eli's book is the Bible
- Eli quotes from the Bible (even before he slays like 20 men)
- Eli supposedly hears a voice that comes from within that leads and guides him (much like the Holy Spirit.) He admits that it is not his voice but just calls it a "voice." The voice also tells him that he will make it to his destination and being protected.
- Eli seems to be divinely protected. As he is being shot at it appears that bullets are repelled and have no power over him and he fights with an almost "supernatural" strength. Even when he is shot at nearly point blank range in the abdomen, although weakened, he survives.
- Eli is a very meek and humble man in attitude and appearance (but he will cut you if you mess with him so BACK UP)
- Eli refuses to have sex with a beautiful young woman
- Eli even seems to have a constant prophetic type of "knowing" about situations that occur.
- At the end of the movie(here is the spoiler)Eli recites the Bible verbatim from Genesis to Revelations. He was able to do this because he read the "book" everyday for 30 years. EVERYDAY for 30 years.
There are many more that I can come up with but I will stop here. I won't even touch the moral struggles that Eli has in my attempt to demote from the status of a "Christian" movie. My proof for this not being a Christian movie lies in the fact that although this character protected the Bible with his very life and quoted from it, was "divinely" protected he was not in pursuit of Jesus Christ. Its just that simple....1 John 2:24-27 (NLT):
So you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father. And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life he promised us.I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray. But you have received the Holy Spirit,and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.
or how about 1 John 4:1-3:
Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world. This is how we know if they have the Spirit of God: If a person claiming to be a prophet acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in a real body, that person has the Spirit of God. But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here.
If this were a Christian movie, the truth of the gospel would have been all up and through!!! To call anything Christian it must first adn foremost identify with CHRIST! And if this were a Christian movie even the themes that were used would have also lined up with the character and image of Jesus Christ. It is undeniable that most movies are made with the purpose of making the viewer think and to convey a message. I looked up the writer and the directors of this movie and they all say the same thing: THIS MOVIE IS NOT INTENDED FOR RELIGIOUS PURPOSES. As a matter of fact, one of the directors is an atheist (http://www.vanityfair.com/online/oscars/2010/01/the-hughes-brothers-on-the-book-of-eli-dethroning-avatar-and-tiger-woods.html.
Someone was telling me the other day "Its just a movie. No one takes it seriously." For some, yes it is just a movie. They watch it, go home, go to bed and the end. But you reading this can attest with me that any movie that has had any kind of message has inspired people to do more, live better, try new things. It is all a matter of perception and many Christians have taken this movie and made it into something that it is not! I don't know if some are inspired to live as better Christians or if they read their Bible's more because of this movie. It could be that some believe that this is some sort of mass form of evangelism. I don't know what the deal is but I know what its not. So Christian people...PLEASE STOP SAYING THAT THE BOOK OF ELI IS A CHRISTIAN MOVIE. PLEASE STOP LEADING PEOPLE ASTRAY JUST AS YOU HAVE BEEN LEAD ASTRAY IN YOUR MIND TO BELIEVE THAT THERE IS ANY WAY THAT THIS MOVIE CAN BENEFIT YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS CHRIST. THIS MOVIE DOES NOTHING TO ADVANCE THE KINGDOM OF GOD IN ITS MESSAGE AND IT DOES NOT GIVE LIGHT TO THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST. I know some of you will disagree wholeheartedly with me about this but THERE IS NO POWER IN THE BIBLE OUTSIDE OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD, OUTSIDE OF JESUS CHRIST. THE BIBLE WAS WRITTEN AS A GUIDE FOR WHO...CHRISTIANS AND THE GOSPEL IS PREACHED TO DO WHAT....SAVE SOULS!!! 2 Corinthians 3:3 - Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts.
Most, if not all, of what was referenced in this movie concerning the Bible was found in the Old Testament with no references to the new. To this day whenever the old covenant is read the same veil that covers the face of Moses covers the mind so that it does not understand the truth. The veil can ONLY be lifted by believing in Christ. (2 Corinthians 3:12-14). This movie has accomplished just that (veiled minds to the truth) for the non believers and unfortunately for some believers just the same.
You guys, don't be so blind as to think that just because someone or something gives reference to the Bible that they respect or promote your Savior or your Christian lifestyle! To many, whether they believe its contents or not, the Bible is a relic and that is all that it will ever be. We don't worship relics, we don't worship and live for books but to live is Christ. I am not trying to dissuade anyone from going to see this movie(heck I went and saw the movie) but what I aim to do is to keep things in proper perspective for you in the event that you choose to see the movie or you have already tucked this one away as The Passion of The Christ part 2 (I know that is an extreme comparison but you get my point).
The Devil would love for you to cross back over to the world's side in anyway that he can get you there. He is working through the media (movies, books, radio, music, etc.) Don't get sucked in but be sober and vigilant because your enemy the devil walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. He wants to devour your faith and belief in Christ. He wants you to believe that there are many ways to God. He wants you to get lost on a vain "spiritual" journey leading to Nowheresville. BE alert...be watchful...but don't be fooled.
But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. Those people belong to this world, so they speak from the world’s viewpoint, and the world listens to them. But we belong to God, and those who know God listen to us. If they do not belong to God, they do not listen to us. That is how we know if someone has the Spirit of truth or the spirit of deception.
With Love in Christ!