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Spiderman 3 – Two Views

I haven’t seen Spiderman 3. I heard it was terrible. However, I found these two reactions to the film quite interesting. I’d love to hear some feedback on this one. Take a look at both articles to see their contrasting points and let me know which one you agree with.

Spidey Gets Spiritual

http://www.christianitytoday.com/movies/interviews/samraimy.html

“The film is rife with themes of love, friendship, pride, vengeance, confession, repentance, forgiveness and redemption. No kidding—it’s all there … not to mention a critical scene in a church that I won’t say much about here.

In the studio’s official press kit, Raimi sounds like a Sunday school teacher when he says that in this story, “Peter has to put aside his prideful self. He must put aside his desire for vengeance. He has to learn that we are all sinners. He has to learn forgiveness.”

The Gospel in Spider-Man 3
http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2007/05/gospel-in-spider-man-3.html

“It isn’t there.”

“This movie has themes of the folly of pride, of the agony of prioritizing, of the dangers of popularity; of vengeance, sin, forgiveness, and even arguably redemption. It features an American flag and a cross, at critical moments.

But the morals are groundless, and thus the forgiveness is man-centered and meaningless.”

“So, you see, my objection isn’t so much against Spider-Man 3 which, as movies go, is a very good, fun movie.

My real objection is against the world, that shrinks in horror from the genuine Gospel of God, offering in its place the cheap, plastic, imitation, non-gospel that is the best it can provide.”

“Conclusion: Spider-Man 3 is a fun, expertly-done movie. It contains a nice bit of moralizing. It preaches an appalling sermon.”

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  1. Regifter
    May 31, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    I hope you’ve seen the film by now–I loved it.

    I agree with #1. Although I understand where #2 is coming from, I think he draws the wrong conclusion. I argue that what he says is “imitation” is actually revelation, albeit a subtle one. It doesn’t preach the gospel but it sets the stage for it.

    I think #2 has a point, but if he’s going to throw the baby out with the bath water, it makes no sense for him to say how “very good” that baby is! What’s good about it if it’s just a cheap imitation of the gospel?

    The dichotomy in these two reviews really encapsulates the crux of the divide between Christians who insist on traditional straightforward methods of evangelism and Christians who opt for more artsy/creative ways to woo seekers to Christ.

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  2. June 2, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    “imitation” is actually revelation
    I’m not sure what you mean here, can you explain?

    What’s good about it if it’s just a cheap imitation of the gospel?

    I think you mean the fact that he said it was a good movie? He can enjoy the movie while at the same time recognizing that it does not accurately communicate the gospel. Like he said, if it was supposed to be entertaining, its good, but if its supposed to a sermon, its bad.

    I too see this as encapsulating differences between Christians, but I don’t think the distinction is between methods of evangelism. The difference is the content of the message preached. That is what the Pyromaniacs article is objecting to. Its not saying you can’t use a film to evangelize, he’s saying that the message Spiderman III communicates is not Christianity and Christians should not try to use it as a demonstration or metaphor to explain or teach Christianity.

    Speaking Biblically, no one is woo’d to Christ (meaning they gradually fall in love with Him), and no one is a seeker of Christ unless they have been born again.

    I’m curious how you stumbled upon my blog?

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  3. Regifter
    June 6, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    I hit the WordPress “next” button 🙂

    By “revelation”, I mean that God’s nature is revealed through other avenues besides direct revelation (the Bible). The Bible even says that we were made in the image and likeness of our creator, that his laws are written upon our hearts, and that He has made himself known through his creation. I think that whenever God’s truths are conveyed–even in a flawed context (which is what our fallen world is anyway)–people’s hearts can be drawn toward Him.

    I’m not saying Spiderman III will win anyone for Christ, but for those of us who know Him, we can appreciate the source of its virtue (even if the filmmakers don’t recognize it) and use it as a tool for sharing the gospel. After all, Jesus himself used simple parables to convey deeper truths.

    But we can agree to disagree 🙂

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  4. June 7, 2008 at 9:22 am

    I strongly disagree. The point of general revelation is not to draw people to Christ. Sinful man “hinders” innate general revelation of God (Romans 1).

    The London Baptist Confession of 1689 states it this way:

    1._____ The Holy Scripture is the only sufficient, certain, and infallible rule of all saving knowledge, faith, and obedience, although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable; yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God and his will which is necessary unto salvation…
    http://www.vor.org/truth/1689/1689bc01.html

    we can appreciate the source of its virtue… and use it as a tool for sharing the gospel.

    Christianity is not moralism. It is not the proclamation that people should be good and virtuous. It is the proclamation that people cannot be good and virtuous.

    Dan Phillips summarizes the problem well:
    the morals are groundless, and thus the forgiveness is man-centered and meaningless

    Certainly we can agree to disagree, but I would prefer if we agreed to seek out the answer to our differences in the study of God’s Word.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

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  5. Regifter
    June 7, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    Hmm. I guess I’m a big picture working in toward the details kind of person. C.S. Lewis didn’t open Mere Christianity with the gospel but with the argument of whether there was a God or not. The existence of morality–that we have a notion of right wrong–helped to build his case that God exists. As does the evidence of God in his creation, which includes human beings–the complexity of what He made.

    I don’t see why those can’t be starting points for drawing people into faith in Jesus. A framework if you will. It’s not like everyone who becomes a Christian just suddenly hears the gospel and accepts it. Sometimes yes. It may be the culmination of years “seeing God” (the evidence of him) in what He made. Yes, it was corrupted by the fall, and our works cannot save us, but His truth and beauty are still powerful–rainbows, waterfalls, the way our bodies heal themselves…is that all meaningless because of sin?

    I confess to being only a 3 point Calvinist (TIP girl) but I don’t see anything in Calvinism (or the Bible) that says God doesn’t communicate to us (evidentially speaking) through his principles and his creation.

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  6. June 7, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    I see what you’re saying regarding using morals as an apologetic method, but the thing is, we do not need to prove God exists to anyone. Everyone knows God exists, but they hinder or suppress that truth (Romans 1). Our duty is not to prove God’s existence, but to proclaim who God is (like Paul in the Areopagus).

    It would be better for you to build your understanding of evangelism and apologetics from the Bible. C. S. Lewis may be very popular, but he was not a good theologian. We also cannot test our methods by how well they appear to work, but instead by how they compare with Scripture.

    The starting point for evangelism is sin. God has already provided the framework. It is innately known in everyone.

    It may be the culmination of years “seeing God” (the evidence of him) in what He made.

    There is absolutely no example of this anywhere in the Bible. No one comes to faith by looking at the evidence of creation. Compare your understanding with Romans 1.

    I would recommend reading the London Baptist Confession that I linked to above. It will give you a clear outline of the Bible’s teaching on the subject. You can at least use it to clarify what parts of the confession you agree with.

    I confess to being only a 3 point Calvinist (TIP girl) but I don’t see anything in Calvinism (or the Bible) that says God doesn’t communicate to us (evidentially speaking) through his principles and his creation.

    Calvinism is a package. The points are all logically connected and they stand or fall together. You can’t just pick what you like. If you don’t think that Calvinism and the Bible teach that general revelation is insufficient, then I humbly suggest you haven’t studied Calvinism or the Bible. Yes, God has spoken in general revelation, but sinful man rejects that knowledge, he hinders it. That is why special revelation is necessary.

    No where do the prophets of the Old Testament or the Apostles of the New tell people to look at rainbows and waterfalls. They show people the reality of their sin against an almighty, just God and they show the need for a Savior.

    I strongly suggest you compare your assumptions with Scripture. I’m out the door now, but if you would like me to provide you with something to read in regards to all of this, let me know.

    I would recommend starting by reading Romans 1 and then reading a few commentaries on Romans 1, starting with Calvin’s.

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