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Sunday, December 18, 2016

Conclusion of the Menace of the Religious Movie

One thing may bother some earnest souls. Why so many good people approve the religious movie. The list of those who are enthusiastic about it includes many who cannot be written off as borderline Christians. If it is an evil, why have not these denounced it?

The answer is, lack of spiritual discernment. Many who are turning to the movies are the same who have, by direct teaching or by neglect, discredited the work of the Holy Spirit. They have apologized for the Spirit and so hedged Him in by their unbelief that it has amounted to an out-and-out repudiation. Now we are paying the price of our folly. The light has gone out and good men are forced to stumble around in the darkness of the human intellect.

The religious movie is at present undergoing a period of gestation and seems about to swarm up over the churches like a cloud of locusts out of the earth. The figure is accurate; they are coming from below, not from above. The whole modern psychology has been prepared for this invasion of insects. The fundamentalist have become weary of manna and are longing for red flesh. What they are getting is a sorry substitute for the lusty and uninhibited pleasures of the world, but I suppose it is better than nothing, and it saves face by pretending to be spiritual.

Let us not for the sake of peace keep still while men without spiritual insight dictate the diet upon which God 's children shall feed. I heard the president of a Christian college say some time ago that the church is suffering from an "epidemic of amateurism."  That remark is sadly true, and the religious movie represents amateurism gone wild. Unity among professing Christians Is to be desired, but not at the expense of righteousness. It is good to go with the flock, but I for one refuse mutely to follow a misled flock over a product of precipice.

If God has given wisdom to see the error of religious shows, we owe it to the church to oppose them openly. We dare not take refuge in "guilty silence." Error is not silent; It is highly vocal and amazingly aggressive.  We dare not be less so. But let us take heart: there are still many thousands of Christian people Who grieve to see the world takeover.  If we draw the line and call attention to it, We may be surprised how many people will come over on our side and help us to drive from the church this latest invader--The spirit of Hollywood .

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Part 7 The Menace of the Religious Movie

I am against the religious movie because of the harmful effect upon everyone associated with it.

First, the evil effect upon the "actors" who play the part of the various characters in the show; this is not the less because it is unsuspected.  Who can, while in a state of fellowship with God, dare to play at bing a prophet? Who has the gall to pretend to be an apostle, even in a show?  Where is his reverence?  Where is his fear?   Where is his humility?  Anyone who can bring himself to act a part for any purpose, must first have grieved the Spirit and silenced His voice within the heart.  Then the whole business will appear good to him.  "He feedeth on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside" (Isaiah 44:20).  But he cannot escape the secret Working of the ancient laws of the soul.  Something high and fine and grand will die within him; and worst of all he will never suspect it. That is the curse that follows self injury always. The Pharisees were examples of this. They were walking dead men, and they never dreamed how dead they were.

Secondly, It identifies religion with the theatrical world.  I have seen recently in a fundamental magazine an advertisement of a religious film which would be altogether at home on the theatrical page on any city newspaper, illustrated with the usual sex- bait picture of a young man and young woman in a tender embrace, and spangled with such words as "feature-length, drama, pathos, romance," it reeked of Hollywood with the cheap movie house.  By such business we are selling out our Christian separation, and nothing but grief can come of it late or soon.

Thirdly, the taste for drama which these pictures develop in the minds of the young will not long remain satisfied with the inferior stuff the religious movie can offer.  Our young people will demand the real thing; and what can we reply when they ask why they should not patronize the regular movie house?

Fourthly, the rising generation will naturally come to look upon religion as another,  and inferior, form of amusement.  In fact, the present generation has done this to an alarming extent already, and the Gospel movie feeds the notion by fusing religion and fun in the name of orthodoxy.  It takes no great insight to see that the religious movie must become increasingly more thrilling as the tastes of the spectators become more and more stimulated.

Fifthly, the religious movie is the lazy preacher's friend.  If the present vogue continues to spread it will not be long before any man with enough ability to make an audible prayer, and mentality enough to focus a projector, will be able to pass for a prophet of the Most High God. The man of God can play around all week long and come up to Sunday without a care. Everything has been done for him at the studio.  He has only to set up the screen and lower the lights, and the rest follows painlessly.

Wherever the movie is used, the prophet is displaced by the projector. The least such displaced prophets can do is to admit that they are technicians and not preachers. Let them admit that they are not sent-man, ordained of God for a sacred work.  Let them refuse ordination and put away their pretense.

Allowing that there may be some who have been truly called and gifted of God, but who have allowed themselves to be taken in by this new plaything, the danger to such is still great. As long as they can fall back upon the movie, the pressure that makes preachers will be wanting.  The habit and rhythm which belong to great preaching will be missing from their ministry.  However great their natural gifts, however real their enduement of power, still they will never rise.  They cannot while this broken reed lies close at hand to aid them in the crisis. The movie will doom them to be ordinary.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Part 6: The religious movie is out of harmony with the whole spirit of the Scriptures and contrary to the mood of true godliness

To harmonize the spirit of the religious movie with the spirit of the Sacred Scriptures is impossible.  Any comparison is grotesque and, if it were not so serious, would be downright funny. Try to imagine Elijah appearing before Ahab with a roll of film!  Imagine Peter standing up at Pentecost and saying "Let's have the lights out, please."  When Jeremiah hesitated to prophesy, on the plea that he was not a fluent speaker, God touched his mouth and said, "I have put My words into thy mouth." Perhaps Jeremiah could have gotten on well enough without the divine touch If he had had a good 16mm projector and a reel of home-talent film.

Let a man dare to compare his religious movie show, with the spirit of the book of Acts . Let him try to find a place for it in the twelfth chapter of first Corinthians.  Let him set it beside Savonarola''s passionate preaching, or Luther 's thundering, or Wesley 's heavenly sermons, or Edward''s awful appeals.  If he cannot see the difference in kind, then he is too blind to be trusted with leadership in the Church of the Living God . The only thing that he can do appropriate to the circumstances is to drop to his knees and cry with poor Bartimaeus, "Lord, that I might receive my sight."

But some say, "We do not propose to displace the regular method of preaching the gospel. We only want to supplement it."  To this I answer: If the movie is indeed to supplement anointed preaching, it can only be because God's appointed method is inadequate and the movie can do something which God's appointed method cannot do.  What is that thing?  We freely grant that the movie can produce effects which preaching cannot produce (and which is should never try to produce), but dare we strive for such effects in the light of God 's revealed will and in the face of the judgment and the long eternity?