Of the two titles below, which do you think would be more likely to lead your children away from the Christian faith? Which would be more likely lead you away from the Christian faith?(1)
Obviously the answer might be very different depending on where you (or your children) are in the Christian walk already. And it would also depend on each individual's own areas of particular temptations.
But one thing I do think we ought to be cognizant of is that neither one of these is done with the specific purpose of building us up in the faith. And both of them need to be evaluated with scrutiny through a Biblical lens - for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14-15).
The movie Watchmen is clearly written within the scope of an anti-Christian worldview. (You can read my review of the book here). The name of the Lord is taken in vain throughout the movie while His very existence and power is denied. You're never really sure who the good guys are and who are the bad. And even the ones who end up being "the good guys" (if there is such a thing in this movie), have characters that are completely void of spiritual substance and have no moral compass but their own depravity.
On top of that there's nudity, profanity, and terrible violence throughout the movie (although it would be good to remember there are the same things in parts of the Bible - one need only think of the book of Judges). But while the movie seemingly sets out with a very anti-Christian view, it clearly portrays the sadness of life under the sun if Jesus Christ were not the Lord and Savior. Without Him, life is meaningless - and if you're not convicted of that truth going into the film - you'll certainly feel the meaninglessness of life after watching it all the way through.
The television show Lark Rise to Candleford is much different. You will not hear any profanity, at all. Good morals are often reflected in the characters (usually to a good degree even in the "bad" ones). The Bible and church are regarded with high esteem (simply on assumption). And even when characters are not as committed to the faith as they would supposedly like, there's a sense of regret they have for it (most of the time - at least with the more permanent characters).
Yet there's a certain subtleness to the slights to the Christian faith as well. One character who is painted as being one of the most committed to the Christian faith is also shown to be one of the most clumsy and inept people in the show. In one particular show (Season 2, Episode 4), a main character is praised (with a sense of secrecy) for her reading of and approval of Charles Darwin. She accepts that praise with the response that she doesn't see his views as being incompatible with "faith" as does her subordinate (the clumsy, inept, but faithful Christian character). She also goes on to give her approval of Herbert Spencer (evolutionist, psychologist).
The one praising the main character is an athiest who is shown throughout the episode to be a kind, good-natured humanist who had been treated severely by his recently deceased father (who was also the local pastor). At the end of the show you're left with the feeling that atheism is just as valid as a belief to have as Christianity - but either way, the important thing is: we should all treat each other with love and respect.
But is that what the Bible teaches?
Obviously, yes we should treat even our unbelieving neighbors with love and respect (Mt. 5:43ff; Lk. 10:29-37). But contrary to what is assumed, atheism is not "just as valid" as Christianity from a philosophical standpoint. It's the very epitome of foolishness (Ps. 14:1; 1 Cor. 1:20ff). And yet further, if atheism is the correct view (or even a view that is "just as valid") why is it somehow inherently assumed that mutual love and respect are important? If there is no transcendent, Creator-Redeemer God, then why should love and respect be preferred over hate and prejudice?
The show of course does not raise this question or expose the philosophical instability of atheism. It simply advocates that it's not really so important what you believe regarding God as it is how you treat others. But that's a giant assumption - and one that is antithetical to the Christian message. It is important both how you view God and how you treat others. As Jesus taught:
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Of course the Christian message goes further: man by himself cannot and does not love God or his neighbor (Rom. 3:9-19) and thus needs an unmovable and perfect Savior. This Savior is Jesus Christ, who saves all who call on Him (Rom. 10:12-13). And it is only through Him that we can be saved (Acts 4:12).
But this show is not going to advocate that gospel message. It's only going to advocate that apart from the very God who gave that very command, we're somehow supposed to believe that the most important thing we can do (regardless of our beliefs about God) is treat others with love and respect (love and respect being left undefined - so we're back to the very problem Watchmen portrays so clearly). Yet the Bible teaches that our beliefs about God are the very driving factor in how we treat others (Mt. 5:43-48; 1 Jn. 4:19).(2)
So of the two, which one would more easily persuade someone away from the Christian faith?
On the one hand, Watchmen as portrayed in the main characters is extremely dishonoring to the Lord Jesus Christ. Yet the movie reveals so clearly the truth that if Jesus Christ is not Lord, then man is truly hopeless. There is no ultimate good or evil, just different perceptions of what good and evil, justice and injustice is. You come away from the film with the understanding that if there is no one outside ourselves to truly decide what is right and what is wrong, then life is utterly meaningless (Eccles. 1:2). Trust in Christ then seems all the more necessary.
On the other hand, Lark Rise to Candleford as portrayed in the main characters is overall honoring to the Lord. Yet the show has subtle jabs at the Christian faith and subtly yet effectively advocates that it really doesn't matter whether or not Jesus Christ is Lord. What matters is that we treat each other with love and respect (a view that is simply assumed). You come away from the show with the understanding that whether or not Jesus Christ is Lord isn't the primary concern. The primary concern is that you love and respect other people (for some reason, although no reason is given). Trust in Christ then seems less than necessary.
Now...could either one of these shows strengthen one's faith in Christ? Absolutely! Could either one of these shows sway someone from their belief in Christ? Absolutely!
And my point is not that you should watch Watchmen and not watch Lark Rise to Candleford (or vice versa). Like I said at the beginning, some of your temptations might be very different depending on your own walk with Christ and your own maturity (emotional, psychological, or spiritual).
My only point is that whether we watch either one or both, we ought to be vigilant in the faith, holding all things up for scrutiny through a Biblical lens (1 Cor. 2:12-16; 1 Thess. 5:21; 1 Jn. 4:1-6), knowing that even Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14-15)....
(1) I certainly don't believe that anyone can lose his or her salvation (Jn. 10:27-29). But I think the Bible also clearly teaches that God uses means to keep us in the faith (Heb. 10:35-36), or reveal that those who claimed the Christian faith but left it were never truly in it (Mt. 13:18-23; 2 Pet. 1:10; 1 Jn. 2:19).
(2) I am not saying that unbelievers can't or don't treat others with love and respect, ever. Because of God's common grace even unbelievers do treat others with love and respect (although they cannot give an adequate, rational reason for why they do so). But in reality, all of us, apart from Christ are totally and completely corrupt, and if left to ourselves would have no reason, motivation, or means to love or respect anyone (Rom. 3:9-18).
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