Sunday, February 19, 2006

When Being "Nice" is Wrong

A few weeks ago I linked to Chris Anderson's article on the End of the Spear controversy. Here at Jordan's View, the reasons I wrote so much on the movie and the surrounding controversy are reflected in his excellent analysis-- it's not that I think the film itself is so significant, but the controversy surrounding the film highlighted issues concerning how evangelical Christian communicators are to properly fulfill our calling as proclaimers of the gospel message.

Evangelical leaders who endorsed the film seemed to downplay or completely overlook the serious mistakes of the Christian producers who made the movie. Others confronted the film's critics for what they had done wrong, but did not seem to be able to find much wrongdoing in the actions of the makers of the movie. As Mr. Anderson said:

"Apparently the evangelical church has lacked the willingness to confront error for so long that it has now lost the ability to discern error. The church has developed its own version of political correctness. It has elevated "niceness"; as a virtue over truth. It promotes a supposed unity even at the expense of purity. It insists that we ignore gross error in order to present a "unified front." When someone finally addresses an obvious error and points out that the emperor has no clothes on, he is chastised for being uncharitable. It's beyond ironic. It's tragic...

...Sadly, evangelical priorities have changed drastically today. Holiness and truth are overrated. Let's just get along.

I urge those who are still wavering on this point to learn from Paul's example in Galatians 2 and throughout the New Testament: public error demands public correction. Should it be gracious? As gracious as possible. Should it be accurate? Without a doubt, and we must be much more careful on that point, even with incidental details. But for Janz to have addressed a sin that affects the entirety of American Christianity via a discreet conversation would have been reckless, not godly. He did the right thing. Let's get past the squeamishness that sees every conflict as unloving, every exposure of error as sowing discord, every stand on principle as arrogance. Being nice is not more important that being right, despite our conditioned senses."

At the end of the day, a company (Every Tribe Entertainment), justifying their decision as biblical, has produced a movie that (unintentionally) associates the message of the gospel with the message of the homosexual activist they hired to star in it. The movie communicates one message, Allen communicates another, opposing message. Allen has not repented of his sin and continues to promote his gay activist agenda, and Every Tribe Entertainment helped enlarge his platform for doing so. Whether they meant for this to happen or not, that is what happened. Jason Janz and others have called ETE to task on this, as well as on the content of the gospel in their film.

ETE made a film that does not clearly show the gospel motivations of the missionaries it was telling the story of, and which presents a fuzzy gospel message. Since they are Christians making a public statement about the gospel with this movie, since the movie's story is based on true events, and since they were asking for the support of the Christian community to promote this film, the filmmakers had a responsibility to get it right. They have been criticized, and rightly so, for getting it wrong.

As a Christian communicator and artist, I will try to take away these personal lessons from all of this:

Let me be bold in proclamation of the gospel, as I develop all the gifts and artistry I can to deliver with excellence the only message that saves. Let me strive to live in such a way that my life and words line up with the message, pointing out error when I see it, being careful first to "take the log out of my own eye". May I speak the truth in love, having equal concern for both. And finally, may I never be ashamed of the gospel, but rather delight in, and proclaim, the Lord's merciful grace.

No comments: