In recent media reviews, Son of God—the made-for-the-silver-screen re-purposing of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s Discovery Channel miniseries, The Bible—hasn’t exactly been receiving glowing accolades. Even Christian publications are fairly restrained in their praise. If you want to skip the reviews, here are a few of the phrases used to describe the movie:
- Sincere but simplistic
- A pop-up book version of the New Testament
- Cobbled together
- Starchy, sophomoric
- Earnest but bland
- Dramatically static
- Not dreadful but not particularly entertaining or inspirational
People aren’t exactly lining up to extol the virtues of this film. But, does that matter to the Christian community? Ultimately, no. The film is making money for its producers. Big time! Thousands upon thousands of people will see it. I’m sure some will be moved by the experience. I’m sure some will have an emotional and religious experience much like what happened to me the first (and only) time I watched Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. I’m not against movies about Jesus. I’m not against the idea that the Christians who fronted the cash for such a production should make a profit from their work. But, I’m simply not a big fan of poorly done portrayals of my Savior. No matter how big the budget, how talented the actors, and how well-meaning the producers, Jesus films just seem to fall flat. Plus, I’m skeptical about the impact of such a movie upon the Church’s witness, Jesus’ reputation among my unbelieving friends or the devotional lives of my brothers and sisters in Christ.
I do have a suggestion, though. I have an idea about how we can come to know Jesus better, not as a movie star, but in all of his authentic glory. I have a thought about this for a while. I believe I’m on to something. I think there is a way we can get to know the Son of God that doesn’t necessitate watching the Son Of God. I know this is revolutionary and counter-intuitive. Are you ready? Here it is:
We can read the Gospels!
I know it’s crazy. But, go with me. The truth is: Jesus leaps off the pages of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. He says things that are provocative and convicting. He acts in ways that counter the norms of his day. He arrives on the scene and all of a sudden the lame walk, the blind see, the deaf hear, storms are calmed, outcasts are embraced, the establishment is inverted, sinners are forgiven and the dead are brought back to life. Everything changes. No matter how handsome the actor, how big the budget, how nifty the special effects, no movie can make Jesus come alive like he does in the Bible.
I don’t have a problem with those who want to pay their hard-earned money to watch Son Of God in the theater. But—trust me on this—the Book really is better than the movie!