Is Man of Steel a Christian movie?

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*Spoiler Alert: Warning, this blog discusses specific, key scenes in Man of Steel.

This past weekend Man of Steel, the latest revamp of Superman, opened with great box office success. Having just returned from seeing the film I can say that I highly enjoyed it, both as a story and for its visual effects; though there were a few moments too corny for my taste.

Yet spectacular special effects and cheese aside, what intrigued me the most about the film were the rumors of strong Christological and biblical themes woven throughout the movie. One pastor has said, “When I sat and listened to the movie I actually saw it was the story of Christ, and the love of God was weaved into the story.” Continue reading

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Are You True?

My niece has reached the age where she can distinguish between telling the truth and a lie. Like most four-year-olds, she has tested the waters  as she learns to navigate the trajectory words have on life. This has led to both serious discussions on why it’s important not to lie, and humorous moments as I’ve watched her process those lessons, applying them to her actions and to the actions of others.

Now, when my niece is uncertain about something I say, she will ask me, “Are you true?” I love when she asks this question; not only because it shows she’s learning to think critically and to seek the truth, but because there is a deeper question being asked, one  she’s not even conscious of raising. Continue reading

The Bible Series: Viewer Discretion Advised

For the past three weeks I’ve turned on the History Channel with over 68 million viewers to watch The Bible. The mini-series produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey has taken Hollywood by storm; it has surprised millions with its popularity; and it has caused the religious to stand up and cheer that the sacred is getting a in positive portrayal. As one review put it, “This time, Hollywood got it right.” Yet in the midst of all the positive hype there are some who have held back their praise, frustrated or downright upset with how it is interpreting the biblical narrative.

This has left me with the following question: did Hollywood get it right, or is this min-series an interpretive failure? Whether you are a Christian who is familiar with the narrative of the Bible or someone newly exposed to its stories, this is an important question. The Bible makes extraordinary claims about its authority and the priority it should have in our lives. For example, 2 Timothy 3:16 states:

All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, and for training in righteousness.

And 2 Peter 1:20-21 claims:

Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, it seems only right that we move from passive TV watchers to evaluating if The Bible series is worthy of our praise. Rather than go into all of my reasons for or against the series, I’d like to suggest three discretionary tips for your consideration as you continue to watch this series unfold. Continue reading

January Book of the Month: Jesus and Muhammad

It is my goal in 2013 to review one book at the end of each month that I am currently, or have just finished, reading.  The book I have chosen to highlight for January is Jesus and Muhammad: Profound Differences and Surprising Similarities by Mark A. Gabriel, PhD.

When I initially stumbled across Jesus and Muhammad I was both curious and skeptical. I was curious to see how Gabriel would handle discussing these two men who represent the world’s largest religions; and I was skeptical, wondering if he would portray them accurately and with fairness. As I read, my curiosity was more than satisfied and my skepticism was laid to rest. Gabriel has written in a fair, balanced, and honest way, paying specific attention to the lives and teaching of Jesus and Muhammad. Continue reading

What’s so Merry about Christmas? Truth.

During the Christmas season I usually spend time contemplating what makes this time of year merry. As a Christian, my focus is on a baby born in a manger nearly 2000 years ago. What bearing does it have on merrymaking that a child was born in poverty so long ago?

One word in particular keeps coming to mind. That word is truth. John’s Gospel tells us that the child is God, the Word made flesh, who came full of grace and truth.[1] Years later when the child grew up, he announced that the truth he proclaimed would bring freedom.[2]

Truth brings freedom? Do we really believe this? The extent to which we lie indicates that we actually believe truth brings bondage. Why do children lie about stealing a cookie, politicians about their marital infidelity, or loved ones about taking illegal substances? We lie because we believe the truth won’t set us free. If we tell the truth things will go bad for us. We’ll lose the freedom we desire. We run from truth.

Continue reading

Beyond the Walking Dead

Today is Halloween. While for many the holiday signifies costume parties, candy, carving pumpkins, and scary movies, I’ve been struck by the theme of life and death that permeates this holiday rooted in fear. In a strange twist, as we enjoy the thrills and scares related to avoiding, causing, or coming back from death, we highlight the fact that each of us longs to live. We desire to cheat death.

Let’s be honest though. The theme of life and death is not related simply to Halloween. It permeates our culture. All one has to do is turn on the television to see this is so. Continue reading

Religion of None?

Someone once said, “Give me the making of the songs of a nation and I care not who writes its laws.”[1] In his book Can Man Live Without God, Ravi Zacharias gives the context of this quote, stating that these words “not only divulge a major cultural access point to our contemporary mind-set, but also acknowledge the extraordinary control of song lyrics upon the moods and convictions of the young, who are embattled by the tug of so many allurements.”[2]

This thought resonates with me. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen the truth of it played out in my life and the lives of those around me. I and so many of my generation are having our ideologies and worldviews shaped by the philosophies of the latest pop sensations. What do the songs of today tell us about our culture, our contemporary mindset, and the convictions of our youth and young adults?

There is one song in particular that I can’t get out of my head, which aptly describes the convictions of my generation and the generations following me. It’s on the radio constantly; the depth of the message hidden in a catchy, upbeat tune. The song is “Some Nights.” Sung by the band FUN, the lyrics are anything but fun. They capture the struggle to find purpose and meaning in this life. Continue reading