In follow up to my review of Avatar, I’ve recently come across a short snippet of Mark Driscoll’s thoughts on the movie (though the comments are quite old). Here’s a transcript of his sermon:

The world tempts you to sin, to use people, to disobey God, to live for your own glory instead of his own, to be a consumer instead of generous, that’s the world system.

And if you don’t believe me, go see Avatar, the most demonic, satanic film I’ve ever seen. That any Christian could watch that without seeing the overt demonism is beyond me. I logged on to christianitytoday.com and the review was reflective of Christianity today, very disappointing. See, in that movie, it is a completely false ideology, it’s a sermon preached. It’s the most popular movie ever made, and it tells you that the creation mandate, the cultural mandate is bad, that we shouldn’t, we shouldn’t develop culture, that’s a bad thing.

Primitive is good and advanced is bad and that we’re not sinners, we’re just disconnected from the divine life force, just classic, classic, classic paganism, that human beings are to connect, literally, with trees and animals and beasts and birds and that there’s this spiritual connection that we’re all a part of, that we’re all a part of the divine.

It presents a false mediator with a witch. It presents false worship of created things rather than Creator God in absolute antithesis to Romans 1:25, which gives that as the essence of paganism. It has a false incarnation where a man comes in to be among a people group and to assume their identity. It’s a false Jesus. We have a false resurrection. We have a false savior. We have a false heaven. The whole thing is new age, satanic, demonic paganism, and people are just stunned by the visuals. Well, the visuals are amazing because Satan wants you to emotionally connect with a lie.

I think there are some very good points made here. Namely – to get people to accept a lie you don’t give it to people for what its worth, you dress it up. Satan is terribly clever at doing this and I think Driscoll’s forthright comments are worth pondering. While I was suckered into the visuals of the movie I will admit that I found the storyline pretty laughable (and predictable).

Another good point he makes is that we must consider the spiritual affect of even a ‘work of art’ which has had such a profound influence globally. I heard the other day that even though James Cameron has only made 12 films they have grossed a total of +5 Billion dollars globally, making him, on gross earnings, the highest earning Director in history. So we must evaluate the spiritual and philosophical push his films make.

Finally, it may seem crude to some that Driscoll’s views this film is as ‘demonic and satanic’. I would challenge all of us to keep meditating on how close to the truth he might actually be. Anything which robs God of his true glory is both demonic and satanic. Whatever you think of Driscoll’s words, it’s been widely noted that Avatar pushes a particular agenda. And that agenda is not in line with scripture. Coupled with the fact that this is movie is one of the highest grossing movies of all time and we begin to see that its robbing of God’s glory affect may be more profound than we first think. What better, easier, and more glamorous way can Satan be at work?

Happy discerning-movie-watching. :)

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4 Responses

  1. It;s about how the clashing of religion, of values, should not end in warfare but through mutual understanding, through diplomacy. To be fixated on the Na'vi world and to think that it's agenda Na'vi ideals of paganism and spirituality is to miss for the forest for the trees.

    Perhaps like the self-righteous humans in the film you think its best we got rid of the trees and take the forest with it.

  2. Hi Noodles,

    Thanks for your comment. My post is a call for discernment and while I think Driscoll's words are strong (yet fairly typical of Driscoll) I still believe he has said things for Christians to ponder.

    I suggest you read my original review (linked).

  3. I think, at times, Christians can harmfully over emphasise the subtext of particular cultural texts in a way that is unhelpful for the weaker brother.

    I saw Avatar twice (not because I thought it was brilliant – the story was dumb) – and I didn't really watch it thinking "gee this movie is demonic"… it's not like the Shack – pretending to be theological while being trite, it's just Hollywood pulp with a veneer of environmentalist propaganda. I wonder if Driscoll responded the same way to Pocahontas.

    Anyway, I decided I'd find your blog by searching for "When will Steven Tran die"… it worked.

  4. I saw this movie with my father and he responded in much the same way. As an avid Tolkien fan, he lamented the lack of God centring that the movie had. I lamented the heavy handed moralising.

    My overwhelming thought was that, in a society that teaches school children that they are an evolutionary fluke, where sex is treated as a fun experience with no ties, where the "rich list" of companies and individuals who profit highly (at any cost?) are championed – this movie at least tells that: we have a spiritual dimension, life is part of a fearfully beautiful, intricately interconnected balanced universe (God's creation), sex is a bond to tie people together for life, and profiteering and exploitation are ugly monsters.

    James Cameron's story telling leaves much to be desired; but, Christians can take it as a wake up call about the overwhelming tug in the hearts of the people in our society. When "God Delusion" came out, Harry Potter was selling off the charts. We no longer live in a Christian society where our art forms are required to present a certain perspective of theological truth. What is successful though can help us to know better and to appeal to our neighbour in a language that perhaps they understand.

    I say this because I've used Star Wars analogies to have some of the most amazing Gospel conversations with people in pubs or at parties. I find people open to the stories that have touched their hearts and are prompted to think more about God and the nature of their existence because of them than they are to respond to a soap box message.

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