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‘Left Behind’ Is Not a Christian Movie, Says Christianity Today

'Left Behind' Is Not a Christian Movie, Says Christianity Today

Satan may not be a fan of the new “Left Behind,” and it turns out Christianity Today isn’t, either. In a scathing review, critic Jackson Cuidon says that the movie, whose marketing is heavily targeted towards evangelic Christians, “is not a Christian Movie, whatever “Christian Movie”could even possibly mean.” It gets a half-star rating only, he explains, because the publication’s website won’t allow him to give it none.

My Sunday School lessons are long forgotten and I haven’t cracked a Bible since Comparative Religion class, but “Left Behind” — the new version with Nicolas Cage, not the earlier trilogy with Kirk Cameron — doesn’t emphasize what I understand as Christian values. The people who aren’t called to Jesus aren’t, as a whole, painted as immoral, and certainly not evil; some of them are even devout believers, albeit in different versions of God. (Sorry you picked the wrong horse, barely developed Muslim guy.) The only thing that distinguishes them is their overt symbols of piety — the white leatherbound Bible atop which Lea Thompson’s cheery mom tosses her gardening gloves; the watch engraved with “John 3:16” left behind by Cage’s Raptured co-pilot — or, in some cases, their age: Earlier generations of Christians believed that unbaptized infants could hope for Purgatory at best, but in the “Left Behind” series, eight-year-olds and younger get in, no questions asked.

As Cuidon puts it:

Most Christians within the world of the movie — whether the street-preacher lady at the airport or Rayford Steele’s wife — are portrayed as insistent, crazy, delusional, or at the very least just really annoying. Steele’s wife’s conversion to Christianity is shown to have pushed her and her husband apart; we see that she’s decorated her house with crosses, throw-pillows that say “Pray” across the front, and encouraging posters.

That is the deepest conception of Christianity that this movie has: posters, pillows, and crucifixes.

If the “Left Behind” books were just pulp novels injected with Christianity, then the “Left Behind” movie is just a disaster flick injected with the slightest, most infinitesimal amount of Christianity possible. This is, in one way, good — no one needs to be upset, or get angry, or be offended, or question their beliefs, or the beliefs of those around them, or anything, because the film takes no stance on anything. The film is so inept, confused, and involuted that there’s no danger of even accidentally cobbling together something that could necessitate a defense of Christianity.

In other words, this is just an action movie — and a pretty terrible one at that — with a little God dressing on the side. The climax involves not a spiritual reckoning, but an attempt to land a plane that has run out of fuel, a situation drawn more from “Save the Cat!” than the book of Revelations.

Even if it were ideologically coherent, “Left Behind” would still be an almost unbelievably bad movie — and a hypocritical one as well, unless there’s a scriptural passage advising you never to miss a chance to peek down your heroine’s shirt. That it can’t even get its sole reason for being right speaks volumes about how divorced the pop-cultural version of “Christianity” has become from the religion itself.

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Comments

Jon

[Saw these titles listed on the big WWW !/

Google "Left Behind or Led Astray: Paul Wilkinson’s Vitriolic Outburst" [Sep. 10]…," "A Difficult Response to Paul Wilkinson [Nov. 26]," "Catholics Did NOT Invent the Rapture," "Margaret Macdonald’s Rapture Chart," "Margaret Macdonald’s Main Point," "Pretrib Rapture’s Missing Lines," "Is John Bray a PINO?," "Edward Irving is Unnerving," "Edward Irving Vs. John Darby," "John Darby Did NOT Invent the Rapture," "Pretrib Rapture Pride," "Thomas Ice (Bloopers)," "Walvoord Melts Ice," "Wily Jeffrey," "Grant Jeffrey’s Apocalypse Debacle," "Pretrib Rapture Stealth," "Pretrib Hypocrisy," "Famous Rapture Watchers," "Prof. Wm. Craig Leaves Tim LaHaye Behind," and "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty."

Lou

The Lalondes and LaHayes and Lindseys are loose cannons who teach perverted and unscriptural versions of the imminent pretrib rapture! Their greatest teacher, Dr. John Walvoord (the longtime president of Dallas Seminary, the No. 1 pretrib school on earth) writes in his book "The Rapture Question" that there is no rapture taught in Matt. 24 and that the "one taken and the other left" in Matt. 24:40,41 refers to the wicked "taken" by destruction and the righteous "left" for a millennial blessing – and that this separation takes place at the END of the tribulation! Walvoord’s book "The Rapture Question, Revised" states on p. 189 that "At the second coming of Christ" (in Matt. 24:40, 41) "many will be taken in judgment and some will be left to enter the millennial kingdom. This is exactly the opposite of what happens at the Rapture." As you know, the Left Behind theology rests on believing that the one "taken" in this passage is the church that is raptured before the tribulation and that the wicked are "left" on earth for the tribulation. Well, who’s right – the leading pretrib theologians like Walvoord or the money-mad rapture traffickers who’ve twisted what Matt. 24 really teaches so they can make millions off their sensational books and movies? Do you smell a rat or two? You will if you Google "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty," "Pretrib Rapture Stealth" and "Evangelicals Use Occult Deception." Also Google "Left Behind or Led Astray?"

conor

if you believe the Bible and anything written in it that’s your business.
As long as you are a teenager because when you grow up to a point everything you are told about religion any religion seems wrong . All the prayers that have never been answered. Giving your problems over to Jesus or what ever God
you believe in

Karl

Its a movie. As a Christian I’m always so embarrassed of judgmental, blow hards. Man stop complaining. Seriously I spent a large part of my life refusing to give my life to Christ because I was afraid of becoming a button down conservative nay sayer always looking for something to gripe about. Enjoy the movie or don’t. Your call. Just don’t pretend to be speaking for Christ or the church when you pick apart a film

Roger Quam

I saw the movie and enjoyed it. I am praying that God will convict all of the actors of their need for Jesus to the point where they cannot sleep until they do. The movie does not say that the rapture will not occur. The reviewer needs to pray that that he won’t be left behind and do what the bible says to insure it. Go see it people and read the bible verse at the end.

Kevin Harris

A major problem with American evangelicals is a propensity to get all our social and artistic needs met from the local church or para-church ministries. All activities and endeavors must be baptized in Christian lingo before they can be done. Therefore, ministry staff who are totally ill-equipped to provide entertainment and artistic production, offer mediocre alternatives. Quality "for the Lord" is attempted but usually fails. And it is excused because it is "for the Lord". Combine this, and Christian countercultural social and art "fixes" are a huge waste of time!

Perhaps we should not depend on the church to provide for every aspect of our lives. Artistic endeavors can be enjoyed, analyzed, and engaged without forcing religious elements onto it. While Christians can certainly offer the church their gifts for ministry events, we should discontinue these sacred vs. secular categories in areas they don’t belong.

Here are some baby steps: Don’t bring the orchestra to the church so the pastor can pray before the concert, go to the local venue where the orchestra performs, enjoy it for what it is, and be salt and light there. (And yes, it’s great to have a church orchestra too).

Don’t have a church comedy show and start the event with the pastor saying, "Isn’t it great that we can have a sense of humor and be Christians!" If that has to be said, it is probably not true. And it’s not funny!

Don’t do a "secular" song in church and add a quick "God’s love" to the lyrics. Propaganda always destroys art. If its good then do it!

Don’t purchase one more strobe light than the local concert venue. The entertainment industry will always "out strobe" you! If it’s good, go see it!

Be authentic! Get rid of anything that smacks of raw propaganda, patronizing, or being forced. If you’re not cool, don’t try to be!

Don’t just be social at church, be social all over the place. Otherwise, one is trapped in the religious ghetto and isolated from the very world Christ said to love and reach.

Debbie

I have a problem with this article because the author is talking about how unchristian this movie is and yet has also stated that he has forgotten his Sunday School lessons and hasn’t cracked open his Bible since his Comparative Religion class. I am a strong believer in Christ and love studying God’s Word so that I can know and understand what it says so that I can live accordingly. I haven’t seen the movie yet but plan to. I am looking forward to seeing how the message relates to what the Bible says.

Kerry

But if this movie, bad as it is, brings one person to faith, it’s worth it. And remember God says "My word will not return to me void, but will prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." God is almighty, He can use even this bad movie for HIS purposes and to HIS glory.

Frank

Very well said,until people get into reading the bible for themselves they will keep getting discieved,that includes me as well, just because the word god or Jesus is used does not make it christian, often GOD is not in it, it’s satan doing his job and he does it well,

Dirk Daring

Good for you, Jackson Cuidon! I am also sick and tired of the ‘caricature Christian’ that is portrayed everywhere and the empty ‘Christian’ content that has no intention of bringing the Gospel to light.

Just like ‘The Passion of the Christ’, these movies are devoid of answering the basic questions, what, who and why.

Jesus redeemed us before God by dying on the cross as our accepted sacrifice, wholly blameless, He rose by His own power on the 3rd day, proving Himself God – anyone, everyone who accepts this TRUTH and hearkens to His Word, shall be saved and inherit eternal life.

“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. “No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”

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