Sunday, January 29, 2006

Purpose of The End of the Spear

Ok, I have received numerous emails and links to so many upset Christians articles on the web concerning The End of the Spear. Frankly, I have not viewed the movie yet. I posted earlier that it was coming out and I had heard that it was possibly a screen version of the Jim Elliot story. That was not necessarily the case. Of course by now, most of you know that the film is more focused upon Nate Saint, and then even more upon his son Steve. However, what must be understood is this: the film is really a companion to the documentary "Through the Gates of Splendor". It is primarily concerned with giving the perspective of the tribal people that Saint and Elliot sought to bring the gospel to. Therefore, when I hear the cries that the gospel was not clear and that it was not explicit in the film, remember this: How were these men to communicate the gospel to these people when they did not yet know their language? How were they to point to Jesus Christ before they could give clear concepts in the language of the people?

The other elder from our assembly said the movie was well done and clearly stated that the goal of the movie was not to present viewers necessarily with the gospel, but to give the perspective of the Waodani people. Clearly, the first things you would want to do when going into a region such as these men went into, is to establish contact with the people and assure them that you are their friend and mean them no harm. Since there is a clear language barrier, then you must understand that this will be done with actions, not words. I have heard so many American Christians take away from this, but remember great men like John G. Paton (missionary to the New Hebredes). His life bore witness of the truth among those cannibals before his words ever did. Then as he understood the language, the words came alongside the actions and bore tremendous fruit.

The team of missionaries who were speared in Ecquador obviously began preparing to meet with the tribes of people by dropping numerous packages. Obviously, someone from America today might say, "Well, that's just humanitarianism, that's not the gospel." Please! There are means by which the gospel is given an open door. These men did not go to be martyrs. They went to bring the gospel to a people who desperately needed to hear it. However, there were barriers that had to be overcome and there is wisdom in the process of evanglizing.

Our friend Trevor Johnson has stated that when he goes to Indonesia in just a couple of months that he is going into a region where he does not yet know the language and in which it is very primitive (just look at one of the men who he will be ministering to). There is more to foreign missions than go and present the 5 points! They are foundational for missionaries of the past and present because they give a proper perspective of God, man, the gospel, contentment, sovereignty. However, reformed doctrine is not a prerequisite for salvation. Many, if not most of the men on that mission were not reformed, but had a deep desire to reach the people for Christ. Therefore, some could easily say that they might have diminished the gospel were they allowed to live and actually present it. However, in God's providence they were sent in order that they might bear witness of the gospel with their very lives.

As to the issue with Chad Allen. Mr. Allen is not the greatest actor, nor is he a huge box office attraction. Yet they chose him and according to them, they did not know of his sinful lifestyle. I have heard Mr. Allen on Larry King with John
MacArthur and he has truly been confronted with the gospel of Jesus Christ. God has definitely been patient and gracious to Mr. Allen, yet he does remain unconverted. Every Tribe Entertainment could have spared a lot of heat by not continuing on with him in the lead role after they learned that he was homosexual. I understand that they had given him the part, even though a contract had not been signed and Allen wanted to part. Therefore, they felt obligated to continue with Allen in the lead role. Some may oppose this. However, we will recall that the Lord taught us to let our yes be yes and our no, no. Also, we recall that the leaders of Israel made a covenant with some of the people of the land of Canaan when it was unknown that they were of the land and then later they found out they were of the land, but continued to honor their oath because it was a solemn thing before the Lord (Josh. 9).

With this in mind, I would view the film based solely on its own merits and not something else. I do think it a mistake to have used Allen, but what really gets me is that so many believers have said that they think it an insult to have used a homosexual to play the part of a godly man like Nate Saint in one of our centuries greatest missionary stories. They also say that it gives him a more prominent platform for his advocating of homosexuality. For crying out loud, the man has been on numerous radio and television shows promoting the homosexual issue of homo-marriage for a couple of years. I have yet to hear any of the people involved actually say that his homosexuality is ok and that it is ok in God's sight. Yet many of those same people who are opposed to Allen because of his homosexuality don't say a single word aobut Jim Caviezel playing the part of our perfect Savior and Lord Jesus Christ........not one word! In fact, many openly promoted The Passion of the Christ, where the gospel was the central aspect (I mean the Roman gospel was the central aspect). The only value I saw in the film was the use of original language. Not only that but what about the numerous other sinners who have portrayed our Lord in various Hollywood and "Christian" films through the years. Not once have I heard anyone so stirred up about something like this.

In closing, ETE could have sanitized the true story from the perspective of the Waodanis, but then it would probably not be correct. Remember the story is told from a certain perspective (at least that's my understanding) and that perspective is not determined by the viewers going and saying that "the perspective should have been this or that". It is what it is. I have been told that nowhere is the gospel portrayed in the film. That may be, but it does not surprise me. Since when are we as the people of God dependent upon films to present the gospel to people? We are the ones commanded to go and teach ALL THAT CHRIST COMMANDED to all the nations.

Let me make one more plug. I recently viewed a film made in 2001 call To End All Wars. I picked it up at Wal-mart for about $7. It stars Kiefer Sutherland, Robert Carlyle, and Ciaran McMenamin. I got it because of the interest of the building of the railway to Burma by the Japanese prisoners of war during World War II. Boy was I in for a surprise when the them turned to understanding the depravity of men, what justice truly is and the nature of the gospel and its powerful effects, even to the point of laying down one's life and loving one's enemies. It is based upon a true story. I highly recommend it. NOTICE: If you are looking for the traditional "Christian bookstore" type of Christian film you will be sorely disappointed. However, this film will move you and gives a very clear picture of what substitution is. I won't ruin it for you if you have not seen it, but it is a well done and realistic film.

7 comments:

Nathan White said...

Hey Tim,

What's all this talk about movies? I thought you were 'a little old fashion'? :)

Actually, I have enjoyed several DVD's found at http://apologeticsgroup.com/

SDG

ajlin said...

Tim,
I appreciated that the movie did have an interesting perspective of how the Waodani people would have initially understood the Gospel, but I still think that the total absence of the name of Christ from the entire film was inexcusable. There were certainly enough scenes where there were no Waodani present, and the missionaries spoke of reaching them, but they were very unclear about why they were reaching them (other than to end the violence in the lives of the Waodani) and they never mentioned Christ.
Honestly, I just think that if I someday die as a martyr for the Gospel message and there is any media presentation of my life- then somebody had certainly better mention the name of my Lord Jesus!
Finally, I think that Tom Ascol's recent critique of the movie on his blog was dead-on.

Your brother in Christ,
-Andrew

Tim said...

Nathan,

I'm hip:)! LOL. I do enjoy movies. As far as Tv though, I am only a 24 fan. I haven't attended a movie theater though since before I became a Christian. It's much cheaper for me to wait for DVDs.

Andrew,

I wholeheartedly agree concerning what you would want to be said about your own life. By the way, could I reserve the rights now to your biography?:) I just thought so many people jumped on the deal concerning Allen's homosexuality, that they only reviewed the film in that light. I have not seen the film yet, as I said in the post. I will see it on DVD. I'm afraid some people will think I'm soft on homosexuality now. That is not the case at all. I just had so many people sending me articles concerning that and just wanted to put some things out that I was thinking concerning the film. The other elder from our church saw it and thought it to be good from the perspective it was done. Maybe in 6 months, after everyone else has seen it, I'll be up to speed.

ScottyB said...

nice post

Dawn said...

Tim: "God has definitely been patient and gracious to Mr. Allen, yet he does remain unconverted."

In what ways has God been patient and gracious to Mr. Allen?

Tim said...

Dawn,

Is Mr. Allen in Hell yet? Though the words of Christ are fitting, that being that he is under the wrath of God now, were we all not children of wrath? I think so. My point is that God has not given him what he deserves (that's mercy) yet and has indeed has extended to him blessings of this life (graciousness). I did not mean to imply that he had received salvation by means of God's grace.

Dawn said...

Thanks for clarifying. I thought that may have been what you meant, but wanted to make sure.