Thursday, January 19, 2006

Sad news about "End of the Spear"

Jason Janz has written a very informative critique of the movie, "End of the Spear," the movie being released tomorrow about the 5 missionaries murdered by the Auca Indians in Ecuador in 1956. The story of those men and their families, told brilliantly in Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot, has inspired untold numbers of men and women to give their lives to the work of missions. Steve Saint, the son of Nate, one of the 5 martyrs, is behind the movie project, having released a book by the same name a few months ago.

As Janz writes, however, this incredible story now has a huge blemish that will forever be attached to the movie. Chad Allen, who plays Nate Saint, is an outspoken homosexual advocate for the gay lifestyle. The way that this came about and the response of the production company to expressed concerns is sad.

Obviously, it does not change the fact that 5 young men and their families made the ultimate sacrifice in order to make Christ known to the most murderous people that anthropologists have ever studied. What is tragic, it seems to me, is that the implicit stamp of approval on homosexuality that the casting of Chad Allen inevitably gives, will now be associated with this story.

This is not about "homophobia" (interestingly, I was charged with that yesterday in a very long phone call from a homosexual activist, talk show host that started out as an interview, moved quickly into verbal assault, calmed down into a sane conversation and ended with a friendly recognition of our respective concerns and beliefs; maybe I will blog about it soon). It is not a suggestion that a homosexual cannot be an accomplished artist. It is about Christians promoting a film not only as a faithful retelling of an important story but as a "Christian movie" that Christian churches should support. I find it very sad.

HT: Steve Camp

12 comments:

Ashlee said...

I think there will be many people who will see the movie and enjoy it and the story it offers without attaching a homosexuality to it. That is of course if that's not the highlight of everything they read about it. Maybe as Christians we need to focus on what's really important and not draw out the things that aren't and make them the focus instead of the sharing of the Gospel.

anoninva said...

Ashlee, if only the gospel were present in the film. Sadly, some who have seen it say that it does not even contain the gospel. "Maybe we should focus on what's really important" you say. Like what?

Too many Christians are trying to replace the preaching of the gospel with films, Christian and otherwise, as a means to lead people to Christ. This is not biblical. The Bible says,"faith comes by hearing and hearing through the word of God."

hashbrown said...

I watched the movie which was kind of a strange prelude to this films release last fall, "Beyond the Gates of Splendor"

It was very disappointing. Apart from some scripture references that featured as transitions in the film, you wouldn't know if it was about missionaries or the Peace Corps. The actual video footage of the martyrs was inspiring cause I knew the story.

It looked like Steve Saint was kind of running the show on that movie and he never mentioned the gospel or the missionary drive that led them there. Is he an evangelical? (Whatever that means.)

Since BTGOS was associated with "The End of the Spear" promotion. I fear that it may have done the same thing.

I will wait for the early reviews by people who know the story.

Hashman

John said...

I have taken a somewhat different view. You can see my perspective at the following post: "To See or Not To See: End of the Spear."

Stephen Thomas said...

Though it is a shame that the producers have given this fellow a platform from which to spread poison, but perhaps in time everybody will forget who he is and enjoy the movie for whatever merits it may have. After all, who remembers that the guy that played Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire was gay?

GeneMBridges said...

I blogged on this over the weekend too.

See here:http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/01/unregenerate-and-gospel-art-redux.html


In short, remember that the men this film portrays gave their lives for the gospel in order to reach an "unreachable" people.

For many evangelicals, gays are as "unreachable" as Indians in the Amazon.

God, in his foreordination, has put Chad Allen into this film. As a result, gay men and lesbians will go watch the movie.

So, we have an opportunity to sit in the same theater with them and watch the same movie. So, this hard to reach group will be in the same room with us.

Reaching gay men is very difficult:

http://www.harvestusa.org/articles/reaching%20gays.htm

Don't let this brief intersection turn into a lost opportunity. It may not come again. Go to the movie and make use of it. Even if it doesn't articulate the gospel, that's not an excuse, not when you know it yourself and you know the whole story about these men.

Larry said...

Homosexuals going to see this movie will not hear the gospel so the argument that this is an 'opportunity' to reach them is a fallacious one. We know that faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17)and from what I read the gospel is nowhere to be found in this movie.

If someone feels a burden to share the gospel with homosexuals, they're not hard to find in most major cities. Go to them like Nate Saint and his brothers did to these tribesmen. However, don't make excuses for the travesty of casting as a Christian missionary one who is in reality a very aggressive missionary for the homosexual agend by claiming its some kind of wonderful opportunity to reach homosexuals for Christ.

anoninva said...

Larry...amen.

GeneMBridges said...

Homosexuals going to see this movie will not hear the gospel so the argument that this is an 'opportunity' to reach them is a fallacious one....However, don't make excuses for the travesty of casting as a Christian missionary one who is in reality a very aggressive missionary for the homosexual agend by claiming its some kind of wonderful opportunity to reach homosexuals for Christ.


That's nice. This is, of course, not the argument I made, is it? I said that homosexuals are going to see this movie, and that itself is the opportunity to share the gospel with them, because it will provide a common ground for a short period of time between our two disparate communities. I did not say that they would hear the gospel in the movie or that the opportunity is in any way tied a gospel presentation within the movie itself.

As for making excuses about Chad Allen, in my blog article and in John's we both went out of our ways to say that we disagree with it and would have cast somebody else. But guess what, Larry, it seems God, in His providence, had other ideas, so, rather than crying over the lemon I've been dealt, I'm going to make lemonade. Justin Taylor, John, and myself have not made excuses for Chad Allen's casting at all.

Please address what we wrote and not what we did not write.

The fact of the matter is that gay men and lesbians will go and see this movie, because gays and lesbians function with a kind of group think, and their press is telling them to go see it. Chad Allen is a B-list gay celebrity, not exactly somebody the Human Rights Campaign puts forward every time they have a conference, so, no, Larry, he's not a "very aggressive missionary for the homosexual agenda" unless his publicist lines up a speaking engagement for him, and that's all of what, one appearance on Larry King Live, on which Dr. Mohler did an excellent job, and an article in the Advocate so far. The Advocate is read by how many evangelicals? How many Americans in general? Not many, it's a gay publication, serving a niche community. The only people that Chad Allen will be "evangelizing" for the homosexual agenda, Larry, are other homosexuals. That's like you and I evangelizing the members of our churches whom we already know are converted. Ironically, the more certain Christians cry foul in public, the more attention they give Chad Allen, so, in the end, they are also helping Chad Allen.

I would say that the gospel was not presented in Narnia either, not unless you went already knowing that to be the case. Yet Christians certainly jumped on that bandwagon, didn't they? Why not this film? They and gay men will be going to see this movie, a movie about missions, about men who gave their lives for the sake of the gospel, and all some folks can say is that we should boycott the movie. How ironic that a hard to reach people group will be in the same movie house to see the same movie for different reasons, yet all some of us can say is "boycott the movie." From my perspective, that disrespects the memory of those who gave their lives as much, if not more, than casting Chad Allen, because the men about whom this movie was made gave their lives to reach hard to reach persons. At a minimum, it gives the Christian and the gay man who work in the same office some common ground over which to speak at the watercooler.

Don't give me the line about gay men being easily accessible in most large cities. That is a fallacious argument too. You may know where the gay ghetto is located, but I seriously don't think you know how to deal with gay men. When I lived in Atlanta, the one evangelical church asked persons with AIDS to get out from under the trees and handed the gay community over to the liberal churches in one day. That church then moved out, and, when I left, there was no evangelical church in that part of town after it left. I tire of people circulating petititions to stop gay marriage and boycotting films that have gay actors in them, and doing nothing about the root problem itself. Ask groups like Harvest USA about their ministries. I've been involved in helping with those kinds of ministries myself, and I can assure you that one of the problems these ministries have, even in larger cities with large populations of gays, is getting Christian people to help them.

You have to realize that for a gay man to be asked to leave that community, he is often being asked to give up his family, friends, even his livlihood, as well as what he has been conditioned to believe is his identity. "Count the cost" takes on a vivid meaning when applied to evangelizing gays. The concept of abandoning your mother, father, wife, children, and worldly goods to follow Jesus is extremely real for them when they are invited to Christ and commanded to repent and believe. On that count, here's an article linked above I'd encourage you to read and ponder.

It's strikingly similar to witnessing to Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons. I'm often amazed by all the books written about how to evangelize them, but the paucity of material about the gay population. We're comfortable calling them to repent, but we wouldn't just preach at a Mormon. We'd talk with them, not at them, and spend time working with them. We'd get at least some feel for what it will cost that person to leave Mormonism or Islam or Buddhism in their indigenous lands. There are entire ministries dedicated to helping Christians converted from these cultural religions cope with the loss and support them. When it comes to ministries dedicated to evangelizing gay men and helping them make a transition from their community into ours, we struggle for volunteers and funding on an ongoing basis, not to mention quality resource material.

With gay men it's not just about sexual behavior; its about a way of thinking and living, with its own language, religion, and economic system. They have their own culture now, and the notion that they cannot change and that they are their sin is regularly reinforced. Look for a gay newspaper if you live in a town with one and look at the business ads alone. For that matter read one from time to time and find out how their community and group-think operates. Evangelizing gay men and lesbians is rather like asking a Gentile to become a Jew, not just religiously, but culturally as well. That's a very first century idea, you know. As such, it makes you appreciate the way God opened hearts in that century and drew large numbers to Christ. I hear He does that now too, you know. I know that God judicially hardens many in their sins, but I'm not going to heap that upon them, since I don't know whom God has reprobated and who He has not. He can harden a heart without me going out of my way to consciously help. That's as bad as a hyper-Calvinist saying persons can't come to Christ without a warrant to believe.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if all the gays in Atlanta went and saw this at the Tara Theatre on Cheshire Bridge Road and then began coming to Christ because the churches in Atlanta decided not to picket the film or boycott it but instead use it as a common intersection of interest so that they could get the gospel itself to them? If this film doesn't preach the gospel onscreen, then we have no excuse whatsoever for not filling in the gaping lacunae ourselves. Don't cry about the gospel not being presented in the film if you aren't going to fill in the gaps for those who watch it. This is something we should get down on our knees and pray God would do.

Larry said...

Where oh where to start!?

"I said that homosexuals are going to see this movie, and that itself is the opportunity to share the gospel with them, because it will provide a common ground for a short period of time between our two disparate communities"

How exactly is that going to work now? Are you planning to go up to every man after the film who's a little too well groomed and offer him a gospel tract? Perhaps if you're lucky you'll see two guys holding hands in line for popcorn and then you'll know you have someone in your target audience to talk to. Give me a break. The time spent in the dark watching this movie will present exactly zero opportunities to share the gospel and the opportunity is not likely to present itself in the rush for the door afterwards, even if you could correctly and quickly identify all the homosexuals who may or may not be there.

"The only people that Chad Allen will be "evangelizing" for the homosexual agenda, Larry, are other homosexuals."

Oh really? Tell that to the confused 13 year old unsure about his sexuality who's pulled into the homosexual world because of people like Chad Allen. That statement shows very little understanding of the agenda and methods of the homosexual lobby.

"I would say that the gospel was not presented in Narnia either, not unless you went already knowing that to be the case. Yet Christians certainly jumped on that bandwagon, didn't they?"

I agree and yes. That too was an inappropriate and misguided method of 'sharing the gospel'

"yet all some of us can say is "boycott the movie."

Did I say that?

"You have to realize that for a gay man to be asked to leave that community, he is often being asked to give up his family, friends, even his livlihood, as well as what he has been conditioned to believe is his identity."

I believe the Bible calls that dying to self and its a requirement for all who would be saved. Christ is clear that many will give up houses and lands and families for the gospel but that if we're not willing to do so, we're not worthy of the calling.

"You may know where the gay ghetto is located, but I seriously don't think you know how to deal with gay men."

As a matter of fact, that's the condition from which the Lord called me to salvation so I know a GREAT DEAL about it. The truth is, those in bondage to homosexual sin are reached the same way any sinner is reached. Christ didn't 'deal with' the woman at the well, a serial adulterer, any differently than anyone else. He confronted her with her sin and offered eternal life.

"With gay men it's not just about sexual behavior; its about a way of thinking and living, with its own language, religion, and economic system."

No kidding. Its called wordliness. Who doesn't have a totally different way of thinking and living before their minds are renewed by Jesus Christ?

"This is something we should get down on our knees and pray God would do."

I agree but from all the hoops you think must be jumped through to reach homosexuals, it sounds like its more dependent upon our technique than on God.

geoffrobinson said...

"Do we have to buy our milk from a Christian cow?"

Did he do a good job acting? Did he push homosexuality in the movie?

If the answer to the first is yes and second no, I'm good.

There is no biblical mandate to have all actors in Christian-themed movies be Christians. And if there don't have to be Christians, then I would expect them to act like non-Christians.

If the actor is claiming to be Christian and it is a Christian production, it may be a different story. But even then I'm not sure if that affects the movie itself.

Now, I would have problems if a Christian movie omits the gospel.

KathleenM1 said...

genembridges delivers this whopper: "The fact of the matter is that gay men and lesbians will go and see this movie, because gays and lesbians function with a kind of group think, and their press is telling them to go see it."

Are you kidding? It's pretty clear you know very little about gays and lesbians. "Group think" might apply to certain fundamentalist sects who do anything their pastor tells them to do, but gays and lesbians are a remarkably diverse community of individuals -- and a pretty sophisticated movie audience who's not likely to swarm to see a mediocre film that has been compared to an afterschool special. Why would they? Chad Allen is just one of hundreds of gay TV actors you can see anywhere.

I have dozens of gay friends and I'd be surprised if anyone has even heard of this film, or would have any interest in seeing a flick about Christian missionaries in the 1950s.

Upshot: this is a niche Christian film that holds little appeal to anyone else -- it's not particularly good, it's not gonna make much money or win any awards, and it'll be in the DVD discount-bins in 4 weeks. In other words, this little tempest in teapot is only of interest to a fringe group of Christians upset about a casting choice. It's not even a blip on the radar to the rest of the world.