They who present the gospel movie owe it to the public to give Biblical authority for their act: and this they have not done.
The Church, as long as she is following her Lord, goes along in Bible ways and can give a scriptural reasoning for her conduct. Her members meet at stated times to pray together: this has Biblical authority back a it. They gather to hear the word of God expounded: this goes back in almost unbroken continuity to Moses. They sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs: so they are commanded by the apostle. They visit the sick and relieve the sufferings of the poor: for this they have both precept and example in holy writ. They lay up their gifts and bring them at stated times to the church or chapel to be used in the Lords work: this also follows the scriptural pattern. They teach and train and instruct; they appoint teachers and pastors and missionaries and send them out to do the work for which the spirit has gifted them: all this has plain scriptural authority behind it. They baptize and break bread and witness to the lost; they cling together through thick and thin; they bear each other's burdens and share each other's sorrows; this is as it should be, and for all this there is full authority.
Now, for the religious movie where is the authority? For such a serious departure from the ancient pattern, where is the authority? For introducing into the church the pagan art of acting, where is the authority? Let, the movie advocates quote just one verse, from any book of the Bible, in any translation, to justify its use. (...of the religious movie) This they cannot do. The best they can do is to appeal to the world's psychology or repeat brightly that "modern times call for modern methods" But the Scriptures-- quote from them one verse to authorize movie acting as an instrument of the Holy Ghost. This they cannot do.
Every sincere Christian must find scriptural authority for the religious movie or reject it, and every producer of such movies, If he would square himself before the faces of honest and reverent men, must either show scriptural credentials or go out of business.
But, says someone, there is nothing unscriptural about the religious movie; It is merely a new medium for the utterance of the old message, as printing is a newer and better method of writing, and the radio an amplification of familiar human speech.
To this I reply: the movie is not the modernization or improvement of any scriptural method; rather it is a medium in itself wholly foreign to the Bible and altogether unauthorized therein. It is play-acting--just that and nothing more. It is the introduction into the work of God of that which is not neutral, but entirely bad. The printing press is neutral; so is the radio; so is the camera. They may be used for good or bad purposes at the will of the user. But play acting is bad in its essence In that it involves the simulation of emotions not actually felt. It embodies a gross moral contradiction in that it calls a lie to the service of truth.
Arguments for the religious movie are sometimes clever and always shallow, but there is never any real attempt to cite scriptural authority. Anything that can be said for the movie, can be said also for the aesthetic dancing, which is a highly touted medium for teaching religious truth by appeal to the eye. Its advocates grow eloquent in its praise--but where is it indicated in the blueprint?