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Monday, January 23, 2006

Burning Bridges & End of the Spear

The story that inspires the movie 'End of the Spear' is awesome. An isolated tribe came to know about Jesus because missionaries had a great love for Jesus and were compelled to tell others about Him no matter the cost.

Unfortunately, the beautiful story is mired in controversy because the lead role is gay activist, Chad Allen. "Christians loved the film Chariots of Fire, but the lead role of Eric Liddell was played by Ian Charleston, a gay man. Another great performance in that film was given by Sir John Gielgud, a homosexual man who was probably the greatest Shakespearean actor of the last century. Similarly, the role of Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings trilogy was played by Sir Ian McKellen, who has also been known as a homosexual activist" (cite). So what's the big deal?

At issue is the lifestyle gap between Allen and the Ecuadorian missionaries Ed McCully, Jim Elliot, Peter Fleming, Nate Saint, and Roger Youderian. The missionaries believed the Bible means what it says in every area; they believed that the message of Jesus Christ applies to everyone. Allen marginalizes the Bible both by his sexual preference and in his 'faith'. The distinction between the missionaries' faith and Allen's produces an insufferable credibility gap.

Allen spoke of his faith,
"These days I judge all of my actions by my relationship with God of my understanding. It is a deep-founded, faith-based belief in God based upon the work that I've done growing up as a Catholic boy and then reaching out to Buddhism philosophy, to Hindu philosophy, to Native American beliefs and finally as I got through my course with addiction and alcoholism and finding a higher power that worked for me."
The Bible rejects this type of syncretistic, mixing of religions,
"You must not bow down to idols or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a [passionately exclusive] God" (Exodus 20:5).
The Colossians to whom Paul wrote were adding messages onto the Gospel of Jesus Christ so he wrote, "
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world, rather than on Christ Jesus....Such regularations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value..." (Colossians 2:8 & 23).
The exclusive message of the Gospel must not to be mixed; God guards his identity as the only one to whom we must worship. Clearly, Allen's message contradicts this truth.

His homosexual activism also produces a gap between himself and the message of the missionaries. The Bible is clear that certain behavior is associated with people who do not enter the Kingdom of God:
Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar, about which I tell you in advance--as I told you before--that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God(Galatians 5:19-20).

But sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you...And coarse and foolish talking or crude joking are not suitable, but rather giving thanks. For know and recognize this: no sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of the Messiah and of God (Eph. 5:3-5).
Sexual immorality and the other sins listed above are not characteristics of those who will enter heaven (the Kingdom of God); thus, I call them 'sins of disbelief'. A lifestyle centered around sins of disbelief cannot be reconciled with the lifestyle of a Christian because obedience to what God says is a manifestation of faith and a person's love for God. Sins of disbelieve manifest an individual's rebellion against God and what God says in the Bible. Believing what God says about Himself in the Bible is important; knowing this and practicing homosexuality, pre- and extra-marital sex, murder, sorcery, etc., say to God, 'I don't believe what you said is true'.

Don't misunderstand me, sins of disbelief can be forgiven through faith in Jesus Christ just as other sin; but a necessary pre-quel to God's unqualified forgiveness is recognition of sin and the need for forgiveness.

To be clear, no perfect person could have been casted for this role because everyone deals with the sin associated with being human. It is the remarkable difference between the lifestyles of the missionaries and the homosexual lifestyle of actor Chad Allen that seem to produce create a credibility gap from which this movie will ultimately suffer.

Chad Allen talks about "building-bridges" between Christians and homosexuals.
You know, I made this movie with a group of conservative Christians who do not agree with my expression of sexuality. But we said to each other, I will walk with you accepting your differences, and we can create together. I will give you your space to respect you fully. They don't need to take away from my freedom, I don't need to take away from theirs. And I am so proud to have done that. That's the kind of bridge-building I think we can get to.
Recognition of human rights and respect are important in the relationship between Christians and homosexuals. However, bridges that lead to endorsement are unacceptable and must be burned.

Is Allen's role in the End of the Spear an implicit endorsement of homosexuality by this Christian production company? Jason from SharperIron.org emailed me this morning with new information regarding the movie, End of the Spear. He details a conversation he had with the movie's producer and director. It is very clear, they did not know he was a homosexual activist when they casted Allen but would not have changed their decision based upon this information. You decide.

So, is it bad that End of the Spear was made? Well, anytime that the Gospel is preached regardless the motive, it is a good thing. A more important question is, "Is the message of Jesus Christ clearly portrayed?" It appears that the answer is no; SharperIron.org will have more on this by Wednesday.

Ultimately, End of the Spear is just another Hollywood fantasy that lacks credibility and has no redemptive value. It is most unfortunate that it portrays one of the most significant missiological events in the 20th century; it may have been better left exclusively to our imaginations.

Also discussing this: Sharper Iron, Contend 4 the Faith, Challies, Pensees, Musings From the Two Shed Gomer, Reformed Baptist Thinker, Between Two Worlds Albert Mohler.

Thoughtful Readers Speak:
True Scotsman fallacy.
TSF relies on a false or shifting premise; quoting the Bible is neither.
Religion is a false and shifting premise.
End of the Spear is no more about Chad Allen than Toy Story is about Tom Hanks. Almost any cast has a gay actor these days.

Your throwing the baby out with the bath water and your missing a chance to experience and incredible film and at the same time send a message to Hollywood that these kinds of stories matter.

You should read more about the filmmakers. They didn't knowing hire hime because he was gay, in fact when they offered people their parts, they had no idea about people's religion or lifestyles, it was on the merits of their ability to help tell a powerful story.

Are you without sin that you can throw stones? Would it be acceptable if he were just quiet about being gay? How about if he were "only" and adulterer?

Maybe if you can walk on water, or have spent $30M to make your own movie about a great Christian testimony you will have the platform to criticize.

Have you prayed for Chad Allen and the filmmakers? What was God's answer?
Erica seems to be a cynical person. Sad to be so young in a free nation like the United States and to be so angry.
Randy Kleine seems to be a n00b. neener neener neener!
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