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The First Question
As we watch any movie, we ought to ask ourselves, is this story set in God’s universe? The issue here isn’t realism as such. God approves of fiction and fantasy. Furthermore, we can cite Jotham’s story in the Book of Judges. The young man Jotham tells a story about talking trees who decide to make themselves a king (Judg. 9:7-21). God honors this story (v. 57). Its lesson and prediction are consistent with His covenant law. In addition, God could make talking trees if He wanted to. He once made a donkey talk.
When we ask, “Is this God’s universe?” we are asking if the world in which these fictional characters move is consistent with who God is, with what He has done or could do. Is the universe consistent with God’s nature?
Often the question is hard to answer. Stories set on Earth and stories that borrow from history often conform to the way God runs His world. Citizen Kane (1941), Casablanca (1943), and Twelve Angry Men (1957) tell stories that might have really happened. Whether or not the theme or message of each of these films is consistent with the gospel is, of course, another question.
Star Wars And Pinocchio: Worlds Apart From God’s Universe?
Then there are films that deliberately distance themselves from the Christian universe. Star Wars (1976) and its sequels move in a universe that is inherently dualistic—at least if we are to believe the characters. The Star Wars universe is one of magic and mysticism:
BEN: Remember, a Jedi can feel the Force flowing through him.
LUKE: You mean it controls your actions?
BEN: Partially. But it also obeys your commands.
Pinocchio (1940) also gives us an explicitly pagan universe. Very familiar lyrics sum up the film’s worldview: “Makes no difference who you are. . . . Fate is kind. She brings to those who love / the sweet fulfillment of their secret longings.” Pinocchio’s universe is governed by an interplay of Fate and free will. Nonetheless, Fate has a soft spot for lovers, no matter who they are. At least that’s what Jiminy Cricket says. Can we trust him?
The Second Question
And that brings us quite logically to the second question: who speaks for God? And should we, as viewers, trust them when they do?
You may also consider reading another Live The Adventure Letter article: Christianity And The Arts
Do you have any additional thoughts on reviewing movies through the lens of God’s universe? Let us know in the comments below.