The Menace of the Religious Movie Part 5: God has ordained four methods only by which Truth shall prevail--and the religious movie is not one of them.
Without attempting to arrange these methods in order of importance, they are (1) prayer, (2) song, (3) proclamation of the message by means of words, and (4) good works. These are the four main methods which God has blessed. All other Biblical methods are sub-divisions of these and stay within the framework.
Notice these in order. (1) Spirit-burdened prayer. This has been through the centuries a powerful agent for the spread of saving truth among men. A praying church carried the message of the cross to the whole known world within two centuries after the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Read the book of Acts and see what prayer has done and can do when it is made in true faith.
(2) Spirit-inspired song has been another mighty instrument in the spread of the Word among mankind. When the church sings in the spirit, she draws men unto Christ. Where her song has been ecstatic expression of resurrection joy, It has acted wonderfully to prepare hearts for the saving message. This has no reference to professional religious singers, expensive choirs, nor the popular "gospel" chorus. These for the time we leave out of consideration, but I think no one will deny that the sound of a Christian hymn sung by sincere and humble persons can have a tremendous and permanent effect for good. The Welsh revival is a fair modern example of this.
(To learn more about Biblical worship, please peruse other posts within this blog)
(3) In the Old Testament, as well as in the New, when God would impart His mind to man He embodied it in a message and sent man out to proclaim it. It was received by hearing and reading on the part of those to whom it was sent. We are all familiar with the verse "Speak easy comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her." John the Baptist was called "the voice of him that crieth in the wilderness" Again we have, "And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, write." And the apostle John opens his great work called the Revelation by pronouncing a blessing upon him that reads and them that hear and keep the words of the prophecy and the things which are written therein. The two words proclaim and publish sum up God 's will as it touches His Word. In the Bible, men for the most part, wrote what had been spoken; in our time men are commissioned to speak what has been written. In both cases the agent is a word, never a picture, a dance, nor a pageant.
(4) By His healing deeds our Lord open the way for his saving words. He went about doing good, and his church is commanded to do the same. Faber understood this when he wrote,
"And preach thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly deeds in virtuous life."
Church history is replete with instances of missionaries and teachers who prepared the way for their message with deeds of mercy shown to men and women who were at first hostile, but who melted under the warm rays of practical kindnesses shown to them in time of need. If anyone should object to calling good works a method, I would not argue the point. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that they are an overflow into everyday life of the reality of what is being proclaimed.
These are God's appointed methods set forth in the Bible and confirmed in centuries of practical application. The intrusion of other methods is unscriptural, unwarranted and in violation of spiritual laws as old as the world.
The whole preach-the-gospel-with-movies idea Is founded upon the same basic assumption as modernism, namely that the Word of God is not final, and that we of this day have a perfect right to add to it or alter it wherever we think we can improve it.
A brazen example of this attitude came to my attention recently. Preliminary printed matter has been sent out announcing that a new organization is in process of being formed. It is to be called "The international Radio and Screen Artist Guild" And one of its two major objectives is to promote the movie as a medium for the spread of the gospel. It's sponsors, apparently, are not Modernist, but confessed Fundamentalist. Some of its declared purposes are: "to produce movies "with or without a Christian slant"; to raise and maintain higher standards in the movie field (this would be done, it says here, by having "much prayer" with leaders of the movie industry); to "challenge people, especially young people, to those fields as they are challenged to go to foreign fields."
This last point should not be allowed to pass without some of us doing a little challenging on our own account. Does this new organization actually propose in seriousness to add another gift to the rest of the gifts of the Holy Spirit listed in the New Testament? To the number of the Spirit's gifts, such as pastor, teacher, evangelist, is there now to be added another, the gift of the movie actor? To the appeal for consecrated Christian young people to serve as missionaries on the foreign field is there to be added an appeal for young people to serve as movie actors? That is exactly what this new organization does propose in cold type over the signature of its temporary chairman. Instead of the Holy Spirit saying "Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them," these people will make use of what they call a "Christian Talent listing", to consist of the names of "Christian" actors who have received the Spirit 's gift to be used in making religious movies.
Thus the order set up in the New Testament is openly violated, and by professed lovers of the gospel who say unto Jesus, "Lord, Lord," but openly set aside his Lordship whenever they desire. No amount of smooth talk can explain away this serious act of insubordination.
Saul lost a kingdom when he "forced" himself and took profane liberties with the priesthood. Let these movie preachers look to their crown. They may find themselves on the road to Endor some dark night soon.