A new Hollywood movie depicts the life and ministry of the apostle Paul. It should get the usual promotional buzz, at least for its opening weekend—and its release is timed to coincide with Easter. For those of us who promote Scripture engagement, there are important questions to consider. Is this a great opportunity or a major distraction? Will it spark interest in the Bible among a new group of people—unchurched moviegoers—or will it reawaken interest among bored parishioners? Will it bring the Bible to life, or will it misrepresent the clear message of Scripture?
The answers may depend on us. If this is an opportunity, what will we do with it?
Face it: we Christians can get starstruck just like anyone else. When Hollywood takes on the story we have majored in, we can get excited. It’s as if our beliefs are validated. The larger culture is recognizing what we’ve known all along—the Bible is full of gripping drama and great characters. From a ministry standpoint, we rejoice in the millions of people who will be viewing biblical truth.
If they don’t screw it up.
We’ve been down this road before. Other films have tackled biblical themes with mixed results, sometimes disappointing results. Filmmakers don’t always treat Scripture with the respect we’d like to see. This uncertainty about the treatment creates a wait-and-see attitude, which makes it hard to plan ahead for any film-related programs.