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prov·o·ca·tion - something that provokes, arouses, or stimulates. pant - to long eagerly; yearn. a collection of thoughts intended to provoke and inspire. these posts are hoping to encourage people to think, especially Christians, and pant even harder for the waterbrooks of the Lord. If you are not a believer in Christ Jesus, I welcome your perspective and encourage your investigation on these matters.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

All for the Sake of the Gospel: Concluding Remarks About The End of the Spear

"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 [1] Frank Turk: The Business End of the Spear [2] Frand Turk: The Business End of the Spear [3] 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.

12 Comments:

Blogger joy mccarnan | karagraphy.com said...

Thanks. This is definitely one of the best articulations I've laid eyes on this week.

1/21/2006 11:16:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tim,
I tried to catch you last night at UPS but I had to do a run out. Alas, just when I thought I was done with the tug I find myself back on it (in the rain!). No matter.
I wanted to tell you that I saw the movie last night and was most disappointed. You are exactly right! The life-changing Gospel was replaced with a vague, almost syncretistic, proclomation to become a better people or a better society. When a person comes to faith in Christ it becomes so evident that the whole person's world has changed and been replaced with ONE passion, namely to live for Christ! This is not evident in the movie. Sure the film pictures the modernization(no more rampant killing, wearing western clothes, and eating as a family) of the Woadoni, but the audience is left uncertain about any internal change in the tribe. In fact (This may be a "spoiler"...if one does not want to read it skip to the next paragraph. I really dont care though for the movie "spoils" itself) there is a scene in which the main Woadoni man is talking with the grown up Steve Saint. In the conversation he tells Steve that it was he who killed his father. He then tells Steve about a spiritual vision they all had on the beach while the missionaries were dying. In this vision he tells Steve that "I saw your father jump the great Boa". This jumping of the great Boa had been goal of every pagan Woadoni since childhood. According to the film the thought was if someone was strong enough in life then at death they could "jump the great Boa" (the equivalent of making it to heaven). This could have been the talk of a converted man using an old term with new meaning, but it did not seem that way to me or any who were with me.
Aschol was right in his point that the movie really had not point. The real message of what really happened in the mid 1900s has been superceded with the messege the film makers wanted to convey (and the two are very different). The film's message was about a son's love for his father. (Steve Saint loving his dad Nate Saint). The real message was about a Father and Son's love for the peoples they created. These two dont neccesarily have to be mutually exclusive, but it seems that in the film the former far superceded the latter where as in real life the latter could only exist because of the former.
I could say more but I have gone on long enough. I will not weary you nor your readers any longer.

Disappointed,
David

1/21/2006 04:36:00 PM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Joy,

Thank you for the kind remarks. By the way, I checked out your blog and photos. Great stuff! Love the artwork.

David,

I hear you brother. I just don't get it. And I don't get how there are such varying reviews of this movie. In some sense, I think some people are feeling sorry about the movie and Steve Saint and have felt that a positive review would carry sentimental substance. Others who thought that the controversy was way overhyped have gone on the defense for the movie and have been the apologetic for the producers. Still yet others whom I respect very much with the discernmet and critical insight have been surprisingly silent about all this.

I will try to add links to some reviews as they are posted at the bottom of this post. Thanks again, David, for sharing your mini-review of the movie.

1/21/2006 04:47:00 PM

 
Anonymous Jimmy said...

Timmy,

I agree with your assessment and the disappointment expressed in a couple of these reviews, specifically Ascol. Michael Spencer's review is confusing, as if he did not see the movie for what it really is. Take an honest, objective look at this film--it fails on many levels, not the least of which is the almost total absence of the gospel. I saw it last night--you can read my review at my blog here.

So disappointing.

1/22/2006 02:03:00 PM

 
Blogger Steve Sensenig said...

Thanks for the link to my review. I appreciate it!

I guess in reading some of the comments here, I come to the conclusion that we're all going to have to agree to disagree on this one. Just as some of you find it hard to see how any of us could see the Gospel in this movie, I find it hard to see how you did not see it! :) Different lenses, I guess, as Tim wrote.

At any rate, it may have a lot to do with our expectations of how a movie should portray the Gospel. When I look for the Gospel in a movie, I do not look for someone quoting Bible verses and telling the entire story of Jesus.

Maybe that's not the right perspective, but I felt there were definitely elements of the Gospel in this movie -- God sent His Son. His Son was speared, but did not spear back. They needed to lay down their own human desires to spear others and follow God's design for them.

Sure this isn't "Christ was crucified according to the Scriptures, buried, and raised again on the third day according to the Scriptures", but I still feel like it contains basic elements of the Gospel -- basics that helped that tribe identify with what God was asking of them. And some of the basics that were presented were shown as the very first things that were spoken to the tribe about the Gospel by the women that went there. So, we could assume that they built on those basics.

I just don't see movies as being "evangelism". I see them as being tools that perhaps we could use to present the Gospel to others in a more full manner. But I'm never looking for a movie that can take the place of personal preaching of the Gospel.

I dunno....just my thoughts. Anyway, thanks again for the link!

steve :)

1/22/2006 08:50:00 PM

 
Anonymous hulk46 said...

Timmy:

I emailed you some of my thoughts but for the sake of this thread...I agree with Steve. I thought the movie was good and I thought the Gospel was presented in the context of how it was given to the Wourani. And while there are some things that might have been better developed or even presented, I think the movie will provide ample opportunities to share the Gospel of Christ with others.It also tells the story of Steve's love for his father in a compelling way that honors that aspect of the story, as well as the "larger" story.

1/22/2006 11:24:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think maybe the real question is WHAT gospel is being shown in the film. If the Gospel is that Jesus died for sins, which is the only Gospel that is truly Christian, then how is it that so many people viewing the film don't see it.

But if the gospel being presented in the film is The Golden Rule, a gospel espoused by the major world religions, then by all accounts, that gospel is present in the film, is it not? Look at this quote from the film, which is being presented by some as the closest the film comes to mentioning Jesus in their gospel.

"Waengogi had a son who was speared, but he did not spear back.”

Seems more like the Golden Rule gospel then the Christian Jesus Christ the Lord died to save us from our sin Gospel.

1/29/2006 09:59:00 AM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Anonymous,

I think you have made a good point. In our day of pluralism, the gospel is being reduced to a minimalistic sense in which the message can be appropriated in any religious system. Propositional content is marginalized for a greater ecumenical consciousness, thereby attempting to eradicate whatever truth claims which once existed. Some may argue that the gospel was contextualized in a way that the Hourani could understand it, but if what the movie presented is how they understood the gospel to be, there is serious problems there.

By the way, for those writing undering the identity of "anonymous," please help us know who you are by concluding your comments with your name and where you are writing from. Thanks!

1/29/2006 10:54:00 PM

 
Blogger Adam Omelianchuk said...

My real review is here.

http://www.ochuk.com/?p=919

1/31/2006 08:54:00 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I still do not understand why it is so important for someone to leave their name instead of anonymous. Maybe the curiosity? I think what matters is what is written, not who writes it. it just seems that every time someone puts anonymous and no name, that is all you see. just my opinion.

1/31/2006 11:11:00 AM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Anonymous,

With all due respect, when you leave your opinion and leave no name, your opinion carries absolute illegitimacy. What's keeping you from revealing who you are and taking ownership for your own words? And, if two or more people comment as "Anonymous, how is the public to decipher who said what? There are practical reasons that I ask for this as well a matter of principle. To refuse to take responsibility and sign your name to your comments is equivalent to spam or junk mail. Personalize it. Say it from your heart and sign your name to it. If you disagree, so be it. I have more people who disagree with me than you would realize (some are the closest people in my life). While I am glad you have chosen to comment, unless you state who you are at least in name, you are trivializeing your comments to the level of a telemarketer.

2/01/2006 05:08:00 AM

 
Blogger Timmy said...

Adam,

Thank you for sharing your review. I have commented on your post as well. While we may disagree, I appreciate differing views and hearing from all sides (as you see in the list above). I will update the list today.

2/01/2006 05:09:00 AM

 

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