Movies of Jesus?



Reformed Apologist has this to say about Christians watching movies of Jesus:

If they’re looking for spiritual edification, then the accompanying sin is that of false worship through the mediation of an image of Christ, which is forbidden under the second commandment. If the aim is not spiritual edification, then the pursuit is a vain thing and, therefore, forbidden under the third commandment. If the commandment refers only to false gods and not the living God, then the second commandment collapses into the first commandment leaving us with nine commandments, (which although is theoretically possible it would raise a question regarding redundancy over two in light of the remaining eight, very distinct commandments).

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7 thoughts on “Movies of Jesus?

  1. The beauty of being under grace and not the law, is I have the freedom to watch a movie about the life of Jesus and not break the law. Those under the law and its curse, run the risk of breaking God’s law with every breath. I don’t believe for a minute that a Christian can break the Ten Commandments in this regard. If this is what’s being implied here (I am a little slow when people wax the elephant), then I think this falls under putting Christians under the yoke of the law…your thoughts?

    • Being historic reformed/Protestant/Puritan/Covenanter-ish (there is no modern word for what I am except perhaps Neo-Puritan) I hold to the traditional position that the Ten Commandments summarize the moral law of God, which is applicable to all people in all times, although how it applies may differ in different places and circumstances. The Second Commandment forbids “the worshipping of God by images, or any other way not appointed in his word” (Westminster Shorter Catechism). It also includes a prohibition on making any image of any member of the Godhead. J.I. Packer does a wonderful job of explaining why this is so in his book, “Knowing God.” Since I have understood this, I have gotten rid of all movies, books, etc. in my house that contain images of God, although when it comes to children’s books, I often edit out the pictures if the theology is still good. I can honestly say my family doesn’t miss them and our faith is richer for it because we don’t have any cartoon images of Jesus competing in our minds with what the Bible says.

      • Can I then ask you a few questions for clarification?

        1. Do you believe that there is a distinction between being under the Law and being under Grace?
        2. Do you rely on following this moral law for salvation? Or do you feel compelled to follow this law as a means to follow God?
        3. As you are familiar with Scripture that says, if man breaks one of God’s Laws, he is held accountable for breaking them all–doesn’t this worry you if you are unable to be faithful to the entire law?
        4. I have drawn pictures of Jesus and have watched movies such as the Jesus movie, and have never felt tempted to worship the man on the picture or movie–do you feel there is a threat of this in your life? The 1st and 2nd Commandment tells us not to make any graven image of anything for the purpose of worshipping them. Do you agree?

        The bottom line is this: Are you relying on following the law in order to remain acceptable to God or are you following the law in order to honour God in your day to day conduct?

        Let me know when you can. Thanks.

      • Greetings, my friend. My answers to your questions, briefly, are:

        1. It depends on what you mean by this. If by “not being under the Law” you mean some form of antinomianism, then no. If not, then my answer is yes. I am not a dispensationalist but a Paleo-Protestant when it comes to theology if that helps you understand where I’m coming from.

        2. First question: No. Salvation is by faith alone through grace alone by Christ alone for the glory of God alone. Your second question isn’t entirely clear to me. We obey God because we love him: If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15). So we don’t murder (one of the ten commandments) because God forbids us to murder. Similarly, those who practice the “reformed faith,” as it is often called (or historic Protestantism or Puritanism or whatever you want to call the faith of the Protestant reformers, ie. the people who started the Protestant Reformation aka the Protestants, Reformers, Lollards, Hussites, Wycliffites, etc. etc. etc.), do not make images of Christ because God has forbidden us to do so (second commandment, etc.). Do not confuse God’s moral law with the civil and ceremonial law given to the ancient Israelites because no one is trying to keep the law as the ancient Pharisees did. Why in your view would a Christian not feel compelled to obey what God has said as part of following God? Or do you mean something else by this question that I am not understanding?

        3. I think you have confused the reformed/Protestant point of view on this. No one is advocating trying to keep the entire law of God as a means of obtaining salvation. But we do obey God’s commands because we love Him and are grateful for what He has done for us. Do you mean to imply that as a Christian you willingly lie, cheat, murder, steal, blaspheme, etc. because you are not “under the law?” Or do you obey God because you love him?: 1Jn 2:3-And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 1Jn 2:4-He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. If you agree that Christians should not lie, cheat, murder, steal, etc. then is the issue that you don’t believe the first four commandments of God are applicable today? Where have they been rescinded? To understand further what I mean, start at question 91 and read to question 110 here: Westminter Larger Catechism with Scripture Proofs. I am not entirely sure of your theological bent, so perhaps the issue boils down to a different understanding of “covenant,” but maybe you could clarify that for me. If you are baptist, then there will be a chasm between our understandings of these issues.

        4. If you are asking if there’s a threat to me in feeling tempted to worship a picture or movie, I don’t subjectively feel that there is a threat to me of doing so. However, I have seen many people do so and so I do not count myself immune from falling into sin and temptation if I watched a movie or saw a certain picture. Your understanding of the first and second commandment is what is being addressed in the post above. The interpretation you have put forth basically conflates the second commandment into the first, making it redundant (something the Roman Catholic church does and then it splits the last commandment into two different ones to keep there being 10 commandments. The RCC also argues that images are useful for teaching others or as an aid to worship). The two commandments are actually talking about two different things as explained in the Larger Catechism as linked above. Any traditional historic Protestant or reformed believer would agree with what I am saying. As I said before, J.I. Packer’s Knowing God explains this very well also.

        Bottom line: No to the first part and yes to the second. I’m still unclear on why obeying God’s moral law should be seen as a negative thing, though. It might interest you to search “iconoclasm” on the internet. The iconoclasm controversy is historically instructive (the Orthodox churches initially rejected images as being immoral and then later accepted them). There was also a discussion of reformed iconoclasm recently on the Puritan Board which you might find helpful.

        I hope I have answered your questions, but if I haven’t, please let me know and I will do my best to clear any confusion up.

      • I just posted some of what J.I. Packer says about the Second Commandment, in case it’s helpful to you 🙂

      • Whoa…slow down the wagon sister! 🙂
        Boy, to have a conversation with you, I have to bring wikipedia with me. Let’s say this, we are both biblically saved, by Christ alone for God’s glory. We follow a life that honours God and please Him. This life is marked with brokenness, submission and a willingness to follow His commands (Love thy neighbour…).

        We see eye to eye on the main aspects but the rest I am light-years behind you. Be patient with me my fellow pilgrim, and you just might find me up beside you one day on the journey.

        Have a good night!

      • Ah my brother. I apologize if I am throwing too much at you too fast. My husband warned me of that. I am an academic at heart. Usually my husband translates me into plain English for others. I have no doubt of your salvation :-). In fact, you are light years ahead of where I was the first few years I was saved. Back then, the internet was just starting to take off so it took a lot longer to find information than it does today. If you knew me just 10 years ago, I would have been a very different person but God has knocked me upside the head several times since then. I see the good work God is doing in your life and don’t expect that you have to agree with me on every issue. Have a blessed sabbath!

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