Heather and I decided, last minute, to go see the movie, “Son of God” this evening. Here’s my brief take, if you are interested. The movie was better than I expected on account of so many rather disappointing movies made by Christians. But still it had much of that low-budget, churchy feel to it. Especially in the scenes overlooking the city of Jerusalem–an obvious 3D model of some kind that the camera keeps just a little bit blurry so that we don’t notice how fake it looks. All in all, though, the acting and writing was better quality than I had expected. Nicely done on that score. My biggest problem with the movie was not the myriad of factual errors and omissions–and there were lots of those! My biggest problem was that throughout the movie, all of Jesus’ actual words and teaching were carefully omitted that indicated his death would be as a substitute for sinners, so that sins could be forgiven. Yes the actor who portrayed Jesus is shown forgiving the sins of the paralyzed man; yes, he is shown dying on the cross, knowing it was the will of his Father, and yes, he is shown raised from death and sending his followers to take the gospel to the world, shine the light to everyone, and promising that he has taken away death and mourning and crying. But it is never shown at all exactly how sins can be forgiven, what the Gospel has to do with our sins and Jesus’ death, or that the Gospel has very little to do with having a wonderful, happy and prosperous life in the here and now. That’s a troubling thing about this movie: it seems to be a sort of “prosperity gospel” watered down version of the real thing. Have enough faith, believe hard enough, and (not only might you make Santa’s reindeer fly,) you can “change the world.”
That said, my favourite scene in the movie is where we see the actor portraying Jesus contrasting a self-righteous Pharisee with a remorseful tax collector, Matthew. Matthew says, “God have mercy on me, a sinner!” while the smug Pharisee looks on. It was a truly touching scene. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t show Jesus saying that the tax collector was the one who went away “justified” (Luke 18:11-14), but merely that God would “bless him”. Likewise, the movie carefully avoids the Last Supper words Christians know so well, “this is my body, which is given for you…” and, “this cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood,” (Luke 22:19-20). The closest the movie comes to the Gospel in this scene is this: “This is my body” and, “this is my blood”. This seems to be a movie about innocence and faith and power and yes, even sacrifice. But not about a Saviour who took the place of sinners to atone for us by His death so that through trusting in Him, we can be reconciled to a righteous and loving God.
PS – I totally made up the bit about Santa’s reindeer. It was a reference to the movie, Elf.