"Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel."
2 Timothy 2:8
Last night, I did not go see the movie but was able to listen to Dr. Mohler on his radio show (you can listen to the broadcast by clicking here
). He reiterated something very important which should punctuate the discussion of the movie The End of the Spear.
I am speaking of the gospel of Jesus Christ. While I believe that the issue of Chad Allen being casted as a lead role in the movie is a big problem (see previous posts), what is most important is the depiction, description, and illustration of the message of Jesus Christ.
Before I talk about the gospel, let me touch on the issue between the message and the messenger. Justin Taylor argued that there is a distinction between the two--a distinction which is artificial in my opinion. The message does stand on its own truthfulness, but it also is authenticated by the bearer of that message. While the truths of the message are given in proclamation, the messenger is responsible for verifying those truths in demonstration. Lest why would Paul emphatically say, "I do all things for the sake of the gospel, in order that I may be a fellow partaker of it"
(1 Corinthians 9:23)? What we believe and profess and who we are is intrinsically connected and should not be dichotomized. Again, hear the missionary tell the Phillipian believers, "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing frim in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel"
(Philippians 1:27). A manner of life worthy of the gospel--that is what is expected. For what? For the faith of the gospel. Mohler spoke of what he called "the stewardship of the story" in that the actual events are entrusted to the filmmakers to produce as accurately as possible the story as it really happened. Central to being goods stewards is providing characters who embody that trust, and ETE has tragically failed and failed big here.
Tom Ascol recently posted his comments
about the movie and its portrayal of the actual events. He writes,
They have taken a great story and, with artistic liberties, have produced a not-very-good movie. I am still wondering just what the point of the movie is. Had I not been familiar with the events surrounding the deaths of Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, Roger Youderian, Ed McCully and Peter Fleming, I might have enjoyed the movie more, but I still would be left wondering, "what is the point?"
If what Ascol says is true, then this movie has much more problems that a homosexual playing the role of a Christian missionary. He continues, "the movie goes out of its way to downplay the very real Christianity that motivated these men--and their widows and Nate's sister after them--to take the Gospel to the Waodani people."
This has been my greatest fear.
Now, let's look at what how this movie has provided a platform for the gospel according to Chad Allen. Allen has spoken out on a number of occasions about God, the meaning of the movie, and homosexuality. What is good news according to Chad Allen. Let's see:
Allen believes that homosexuality is not a sin and that if you are a homosexual you are "whole, perfect, and complete right now, exactly as you are." He believes that there is not one right way to understand God, but that there are many paths. Using the light on a stained-glass window illustration, he argues that however way you see the Light is good for you, but one may see the Light differently. It all depends on how you look through the stained-glass. Hence, Allen argues that the good news is that you can worship the god of your own understanding, a "higher power that works" for you.
The gospel (main meaning) of the movie according to Allen is "the transformational spirit of love." This sounds great because it is entirely vague and carries no propositional content; therefore, it fits in every worldview, every religious paradigm or framework . . . except Christianity of course.
So there you have it - the gospel according to Chad Allen. And this is the gospel the homosexuals are hearing and believing. And this is the gospel that overshadows the gospel of Jesus Christ. The platform this movie has provided has given Allen the evangelist unprecedented opportunity to share about the "god of his own understanding."
Now let me say something about what Dr. Mohler say on his radio show. He stated that we should turn this controversy into a missiological opportunity, following in the train of the missionaries being depicted in the movie. Anyone who knows me knows that I am totally on board about being missional and seizing opportunities to take the gospel to people I meet in the world. But since when have we propped the gospel on entertainment and movie theaters? I have argued earlier that the missiological motive is desirable but naive. I would love to see people come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior. I want to believe that this movie would work to that end, but I am not convinced that it will. On the contrary, I am saddened to see that the gospel they are really hearing is from Chad Allen and not from Nate Saint.
Lest we forget, we must understand that "the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God"
(1 Corinthians 1:18). The gospel of Jesus Christ is foolishness, folly, a stumbing block, an offense to the world without Jesus Christ. There is nothing syncretistic about the message of Jesus Christ. It cannot be diluted without being changed. The gospel of Jesus Christ was the passion of the missionaries and the power to changes the lives of the worst savages known on the face of the planet.
Paul was "not ashamed of the gospel"
(Romans 1:16), but unfortunately today it seems that many Christians are.
As Christians we have been entrusted with the great treasure of the message of Jesus Christ. To change the message is to bring condemnation upon your own self (Galatians 1:6-9). We are called to be "stewards of the mysteries of God"
(1 Corinthians 4:1). We are to "contend for the faith which has once and for all been delivered to the saints"
(Jude 3). With all this said, I earnestly pray that the end result of this movie is that Christians will have a renewed passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ - a passion that would call us to become all things to all men. A passion that moved these five missionaries to leave the world behind and give their lives for the Hourani people. They were men of whom the world was not worthy, not because of them necessarily, but because of presentation of their God and His gospel. Paul was a man of great passion for the gospel, a passion that caused him to endure much pain. While in prision, he wrote to those in Philippi, saying, "I want you to know, brothers, that what happened to me has really served to advance the gospel . . ."
(Philippians 1:12). My only hope and desire is that what has happend to the five missionaries and the making of this movie will serve to advance the gospel. For fifty years, their legacy has proved this to be true, and I pray it continues.
Finally, I want to testify to what the gospel of Jesus Christ has done in me. I am changed man. And because of the gospel I am a debtor to both the Greeks and to the barbarians (Romans 1:14), and I do not want to count my life as having any value or as precious to myself, but want to run the race and testify to the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24). This gospel is good new for sinners, of whom I am chief among. Whether you are a homosexual or heterosexual, Indian or American - there is salvation and true satisfaction in knowing Jesus Christ and tasting of His free grace. I implore you to consider Him and flee to the cross wherein eternal life is purchased by the atoning death of our Substitute. He took a spear too, you know, and by His blood outpoured, you can find forgiveness for your sins.
For the sake of the gospel, for the sake of these five men and their legacy, for the sake of the glory of God in Jesus Christ, let us not fumble the faith which has so costly been handed to us!
Let me conclude with these words:
"But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, and to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God, we speak in Christ."
2 Corinthians 2:14-17
Other recent posts and reviews:
Tom Ascol: What I Saw in "End of the Spear"
Joe Thorn: Mohler at the Movies
Michael Spencer: Review: End fo the Spear
Paleoevangelical: The End of the Spear Controversy: Cleaning Up Other People's Messes
Alex Jordan: End of the Spear: Is the Real Message of Jim Elloit and Nate Saint Being Overshadowed?
Ochuk: Chad Allen and the Kingdom of God
Agent Tim: The End of the Spear - Movie Review
Doxoblogy: End of the Spear, My Perspective
Cal Thomas: End of the Spear
Rick Holland: My Two Cents on The End of the Spear
Christianity Today (Lisa Ann Cockrel): End of the Spear (Review)
Village Voice (Mark Holcomb): 'End of the Spear' (Review)
Entertainment Weekly (Owen Gleiberman): End of the Spear (Review)
WorldNetDaily (Joseph Farah): 'End of the Spear'
Gene Edward Veith: Still See "The End of the Spear"
Theological Musings: Review: End of the Spear
Blogger News Network (Stacy L. Harp): End of the Spear An Honest Review
Blogs4God: True Spearituality - Christian Bloggers on End of the Spear, Again
Hollywood Jesus (Greg Wright): End of the Spear (Review)
About.com (Fred Topel): End of the Spear Movie Review
Slant Magazine (Ed Gonzalez): Film Review--End of the Spear
Splintered Light (Jimmy Sizemore): End of the Wait (Review)
Marvin Olasky: Two Cheers for the End of the Spear
Steve Camp: The Lack of Biblical Discernment: A Call for Prayer and Repentance
Adrian Warnock: When Will We Learn? My Take on "The End of the Spear" Controversy and Driscoll vs. McLaren
Frank Turk: The Business End of the Spear 
Frank Turk: The Business End of the Spear 
Frand Turk: The Business End of the Spear 
Frank Turk: I Want a Blind Doctor
Jason Janz: When We Say "Gospel": My Primary Concern with End of the Spear
Phil Johnson (Pyromaniac): In Case You've Somehow Missed This . . .
Bob Bixley (Pensees): Tyranny of Paranoia
Bob Bixley (Pensees): Thank You, New York Times!
Chris Anderson: My Two Cents on Randy Alcorn's Perspective on the "End of the Spear" Controversy
Larry Rogier (Stuff Out Loud): Rhetoric Anyone?
Jason Janz: Summary of the Movie Controversy
Neela Banerjee (New York Times): Evangelical Filmmakers Criticized for Hiring Gay Actor
Ochuk: End of the Spear and the Kingdom of God
Jason Janz (Sharper Iron): Clarifications on the "End of the Spear" Article
John Ferguson (Reformation 21): End of the Spear Points in the Right Direction
Randy Alcorn: Perspectives on End of the Spear
Randy Alcorn: The End of the Spear and Chad Allen Controversy
Carla Rolfe: End of the Spear Shame
ChoosingHome Blog: On Spears, Brotherly Love, and Being in the World (but not of It)
Ingrid Schlueter (Slice of Laodicea): Every Tribe Entertainment: We Didn't Know He Was Gay . . .
Jim Bublitz (Slice of Laodicea): Is Christ the Only Way? Not According to Chad Allen's Church
Alexander Jordan (Jordan's View): End of the Spear - The Story Behind the Story
Alexander Jordan: End of the Spear - A Review and Assessment
Jason Janz (Sharper Iron): Responses from Mart Green and Steve Saint
Rotten Tomatoes: End of the Spear (41 Reviews: 18 Fresh/23 Rotten)
Mark Moring (Christianity Today): Christian Studio Explains Hiring Gay Actor
Ardel Caneday: End of Carping About End of the Spear
Slice of Laodicea (Ingrid Schlueter): Spear Does Not Mention the Name of Jesus
Shaper Iron (Jason Janz): Mart Green Says He Would Hire Allen Again Even If He Knew About His Activism
CT (Mark Moring): From Film Neophyte to Movie Mogul
CT (Mark Moring): Death Worked Backwards
End of the Spear Blog: An Article About Mart Green
BOX OFFICE MOJO: End of the Spear Gross Income
Note: With such different reviews (see Ascol and Spencer), one must wonder if we are all watching the same movie or it we are wearing different lenses.