Godawa, Brian. Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom & Discernment. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2002. 208pp. $16.00.

Introduction

In a previous provPRESS post (see here) I wrote the following:

Theology is everywhere. Listen to the radio, turn on the TV, or go have coffee with a friend. Seldom do any of these things occur without any theological point to be made, whether explicitly or implicitly stated. For most of society their theological diet is not made up of personal study and Sunday sermons but hours spent in front of televisions and theatre screens. If this is where many of our friends and coworkers are finding their theology then we have a duty to understand these messages and be able to speak to them.

Brian Godawa’s book Hollywood Worldviews has been a tremendous help as I train myself to watch films with an eye to discerning their theological and philosophical messages. If you watch movies and/or television or interact with people who do then you need to read this book.

Summary

Godawa explains the importance of this volume and his aim in writing it as follows:

Movies both reflect and influence society. . . . By knowing something of the craft of storytelling, of its structure and nature, the average moviegoer might be less inclined to treat his or her viewing as mere entertainment and see it more for what it is: a means of communicating worldviews and values with a view toward redemption. This knowledge need not spoil the joy in entertainment or justify total withdrawal from culture. Rather, it can deepen one’s appreciation and sharpen one’s discernment. The goal of this education is to aid the reader in striking a balance between two extremes: cultural anorexia (rejecting all moviegoing because of any negative aspects) and cultural gluttony (consuming too many movies without discretion).

. . . My goal in this book is to increase art appreciation. I want to inform the reader of the nature of storytelling and analyze how worldviews are communicated through most Hollywood movies, in order to aid the viewer’s ability to discern the ideas being communicated.

Conclusion

This book is fantastic because it teaches us how to discern the messages of movies that both influence and reflect our society. Your friends and coworkers who would never spend an hour listening to some preacher are lining up and paying their hard earned cash to be indoctrinated by the elite storytellers of our day at movie theatres across your city. As we have seen time and again in our study through The Mission of God’s People stories are of utmost importance and if we cannot speak to these stories in the way that Paul was able to speak to the storytellers of his day (cf. Acts 17) then we will fail at proclaiming the gospel. This book is a must read because it equips us to discern what drives these counterfeit stories and therefore become better storytellers ourselves as we make known the story of the mission of God.

Some of Godawa’s film reviews are available here (You must login to Facebook before clicking for this link to work). I have written several reviews for Convergence that are available here if you are interested.

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If you are enjoying our current sermon series then you will also enjoy Biblemesh. It is an online compilation of numerous videos, articles, and sermons by leading scholars and theologians that serve to explain the grand narrative of Scripture. If you have the time I recommend heading on over to their site to check out the free trial.


Dever, Mark. What Does God Want of Us, Anyway? A Quick Overview of the Whole Bible. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2010. 128pp. $12.99.

Summary

This is less of a book review and more of a commendation. This volume is a synopsis of Dever’s larger works The Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made and The Message of the New Testament: Promises Kept which. In 1996 Dever began a series of sermons over viewing every book of Scripture and this book is the distillation of that massive task into an easily accessible form. During our Metanarrative study at convergence I read through Dever’s Promises Made and Promises Kept and found them to be very helpful especially for grasping the overall flow and message of individual books of Scripture. For this reason I commend Dever’s work to you as it will help you gain an understanding of Scriptures’ grand narrative in an enjoyable and informative way. 9Marks is kind enough to make the entirety of this volumes text available online so go ahead and read the first chapter and then buy a copy for yourself.

Early last month Stephen posted Reviewers respond to McLaren’s “New” Christianity. Since then Southern Seminary did a special chapel service to address the claims of Brian McLaren’s newest book. The service is available as either a MP3 download here or a video available here.

After watching this video and talking about it with Allison what really stood out to us is that this book simply is not necessary. I can definitely see its false truths leading many undiscerning individuals away from the true gospel but what I do not see lost individuals lining up to meet McLaren’s new Jesus. This new Jesus is unnecessary he is simply the current, and passing, phase of our evolutionary understanding of God; he does not reveal anything he only reflects what we already know. It is also interesting that an individual who denies the fall, sin, hell, and the redemptive mission of Jesus Christ can be considered an evangelical.

In light of McLaren’s alternate metanarrative I would like to point you to the material we have been studying for the Convergence available here. The series is not complete yet. We will be looking at Revelation and then spend three weeks focusing upon application. Nevertheless it should prove to be very helpful in grounding you against the error promoted by McLaren and those like him.

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