Tuesday, November 04, 2014

An apology on behalf of "social media" Christians to Nicolas Cage

(Posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, November 2, 2014)

Ted Baehr's Movieguide has felt burdened to apologize to Nicolas Cage about the occasionally visceral reaction to the new Left Behind film.

The open letter...


...argues that Christians on the Internet discussed the film with the bark off.

Anthony D' Amore writes:

These self-proclaimed Christian critics who have been slamming Nicolas Cage and his movie on social media channels have seemingly lost sight of God’s purpose. It’s as if posting a judgmental rant on a web site is more important than a Hollywood actor experiencing the grace of God.

It doesn’t mean every Christian needs to agree with everything about Cage’s movie or what Cage stands for, but as ambassadors of Christ, it is embarrassing and counterproductive for the Kingdom of heaven when Christians behave badly by inflicting searing criticism against someone like Nicolas Cage for whom Jesus Christ died on the cross.

Christians who get caught up in the theological-driven attacks have forgotten that there is a more loving manner with which to deliver an opinion – without attacking.

I myself quite liked the new Left Behind, which closed after only two weeks in my neck of the woods. I believe that Nicolas Cage was good in the film.

That said, I also pointed out at the time that Left Behind filmmaker Paul Lalonde had missed an opportunity to briefly overtly evangelize in the film, stating in an interview that the producers felt they didn't have time to do so.

This, I added, was a glaring omission, given that Paul Lalonde and his brother Peter, spent much of the 80s and 90s doing the bible prophecy themed program This Week in Bible Prophecy on the Canadian TV network Vision TV. Peter Lalonde, in segments you may view today, would tell people how you could come to Christ in less than five minutes.

When you have Nicolas Cage in your film, and presumably an opportunity to reach millions, how could you not do so when you have *done so before* ?
I was firm but not, to my mind, rude. And I directed my point to Paul Lalonde and not his hired gun.

You could mourn the tone of people's critiques, I would agree, but not that they were made, if their points were valid. Backing away from evangelizing at Mach speed, I respectfully suggest, would apply here.

I suspect that Ted Baehr feels the need to refrain from burning bridges with "Hollywood" and this article is the result. That may be correct, but my concern is a worry about needless self-censorship.

"No airline attendant would wear a blouse two sizes too small."--On the new Left Behind film

(Posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, October 16, 2014)

Quite the crash and burn, for the new Left Behind film starring Nicolas Cage, as it were.

According to the movie grosses site, Indiewire, as I write, Left Behind has dropped to number 10 on their list of movie grosses, earning just under $ 3 million in revenue in its second week of release.

I myself went to see it twice, the first time in order to make sure that it didn't disappear from theaters before I had a chance to see it. This was on the Saturday of the first week that it was out and there were nine people in the theater.

Guess that any hopes by the producer Paul Lalonde that Cage would give the film a boost at the box officer haven't been borne out yet.

Left Behind is getting a bit of a beating on the Internet as well from both "sides".

More liberal Christians are looking askance at what they see as the film's view of the "end times" . There'll be no Rapture or "end times'. The "end times took place either allegorically or back in the times of the Apostles.

More conservative onlookers such as Todd Friel, decried Left Behind as not being a Christian film, "at all".

His highlighted radio clip for October 6 2014 saw "nothing Christian about it [the film]."


He decried the lack of a Christian witness. Cage's suit looked like it was bought at Goodwill, and such. "I'd expect a film about the Rapture to be about the one doing the Rapturing," he added.

Not that Mr. Friel should have been surprised. Paul Lalonde did warn him, and other conservative Christians, if they read between the lines, in this WND interview.


WND reported (You'll need to scroll down):

But as more mainstream actors find their way into the film, WND asked, did the biblical content get pushed out?

“This movie focuses on the day of the Rapture, so there really isn’t any huge opportunity for anyone to do evangelizing, but the Christian worldview is there,” Lalonde said. “The message is there. Everybody who is watching knows it was the Rapture; they know where those people went; they know why those people left and why those who were left behind were left behind, so there is no attempt to hide the biblical theme of the movie.

“Yet it’s not in-your-face evangelism, because that’s specifically something I was trying to temper for a more mainstream audience,” he continued. “We wanted to hold true to the source material of the ‘Left Behind’ books, ultimately to hold true to the Scriptures and make sure we didn’t change any of the biblical realities.

But the funny thing is that Paul Lalonde used to evangelize for a living. Back in the '80s and early 90s, he and his brother Peter used to have a TV show on the Vision TV channel in Canada--This Week in Bible Prophecy. I used to watch it.

It concentrated on Bible prophecy, but was evangelistic too. Some clips of his videos are now on YouTube.

Back then, Peter was usually clean-shaven in those years, his brother Paul, now the filmmaker, with facial hair. Peter seemed to do most of the talking.

This is a link to a video that they sold, Front Row Seats. This YouTube clip is part 6 of 6. Start watching at 4:20 where brother Peter has no problem at all preaching first to the believer and then at 6:12 to the unsaved.


"Maybe you're not a believer..." Peter begins. 7:45 "...He is calling out right now for you to make a commitment to him..." and then he explains really quickly in a few seconds, how.
Maybe you'd want to take more than two minutes to being someone to Christ, but here the video is building up to this. In the new Left Behind Paul can't be bothered.
If Paul Lalonde thought he or his brother Peter could explain salvation briefly back then, why can't he do it briefly now. Or at least explain why the Rapture happens.

This video is not a fluke. I own another video from around that time from This Week... called Left Behind. In it appears several Bible prophecy experts such as Hal Lindsey and Dave Breese. It is designed for people who have missed the Rapture to explain what is going on. (Nothing to do with the novel.)

Sorry, this is not online, but it has a salvation appeal at the end as well.

What may be interesting about that particular Left Behind video is that it starts with a panicky man rushing in the door after the Rapture has happened. He watches cheesy stock footage of things that may happen after the Rapture on "TV news", and then puts a video into his VCR with the various explanations from teachers.

Couldn't the new Left Behind have started this way or had a character explain to Nicolas Cage's character what had happened and why?

Judging by the videos Paul Lalonde used to make with his brother Peter, this appeal to movie viewers to get saved and thereby miss all the things that Cage's character is going through, could have been taken care of in the Cage film in five minutes or less.

Paul Lalonde could have given Peter Lalonde a five minute bit part in the new movie to explain all this. Being the producer and all. But he didn't.

Look again at his WND quotes. He didn't "have time" to explain the Biblical background.

Well then, why did you spend several *years* on a Canadian TV show explaining about the "end times" and why people needed to turn to Jesus if that was not, or rather remains, crucial?

It's not as if the new Film that Paul Lalonde made, is much help.

I like Nicolas Cage. I have a fondness for so-bad-they-are-good movies. So, I might be letting things slide and not observe, as my mother did, "No airline attendant would wear a blouse two sizes too small?"

She said another good comment too: "Is this an airplane disaster film, or a God film?"

That's the issue. Paul Lalonde, I presume, is born again. But he makes it difficult for the viewers of his film to become born again as well?

The thing I most liked about the new Left Behind film is that it does a good job of giving the views of non-Christian characters. The daughter sees an evangelistic woman who quotes Matthew 24:7 is seen as a "wacko." Those "left behind" on the airplane raise all kinds of crazy speculation about what happened to the others. Panic and crashes happen. All well acted.

But Paul Lalonde chose to leave some things obscure. The characters eventually figure out that the "vanished"are all children or Christians.

Why specifically Christians have left remains a mystery. The closest they come is a short scene with a pastor who knew what to say, but was left behind. "You have to believe," he briefly says.

Believe what? Believe in who? Why?

All left unanswered. But there is a bus and plane crash. 'Cause Paul Lalonde is a film maker now, you know.

This problem with the film is reinforced by this comment on the Left Behind fan page on Facebook.

"Auntie Lori" writes this:

"Auntie Lori will be seeing it again.. and was given an idea... take some tracts, maybe try and speak with a person or two AFTER the movie Like · Reply · 124 · October 6 at 2:21pm"

Great idea. But shouldn't the film have done this, so we don't need to?

And what if Jesus tarries before the Rapture happens/ Say 20-30 years. And then the Rapture happens and someone remembers that they saw an old Nicolas Cage movie on millions of people disappearing.

How helpful would the new Left Behind film be to this person then? Presumably there won't be a lot of people around to say. "Oh, they forgot this this, this and you need to know.." after the Rapture.

1 Peter 4:16 comes to mind for Christian filmmakers, like Paul Lalonde, who should realize they really oughta have more of a witness, but are skittish about it.

I quite enjoyed the film, But given the subject matter, Left Behind needed to be a little more. Not everyone who sees it will be born again .

Yellow light for Todd

[Posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, Sept. 22, 2014)

Todd Bentley evidently sees his recent trip to British Columbia as a success, as he's planning more.
From Sept. 25-28 he'll be back at Windword church in Langley Township, B.C.. This is where Brent Borthwick is pastor, and Bentley's starter wife and kids fellowship. {Borthwick has been involved in Bentley's providing of child support.)
I specify Langley Township, as it is not Abbotsford, his old stomping grounds. Windword is near Abbotford, but not *in* Abbotsford. But, as the video of his recent sermons there has Bentley implying or stating that he is in "Abbotsford" over and over again. Check it out in YouTube. I may post on the videos.

Then, from October 2-4, he'll be in Sherwood Park, Alberta, an Edmonton suburb. Oct. 5, he'll be in Sylvan Lake AB.

Not seeing the Christian equivalent of angry villagers with torches looking for the Frankenstein monster, he feels free to carry on. He should be able to visit with his kids too when he is in the Fraser Valley.

If you think that Todd Bentley is theologically troublesome, and there has been a reaction of "Meh" from B.C. Christians, that would perhaps be a sign that the sheep are napping. Would like to be wrong though.

I don't have a torch, as it were, but perhaps there's a bit of "If we ignore it, it will go away", is in play.

Berated for not being able to predict Mark Driscoll's and Todd Bentley's futures

(Posted at Bene Diction Blogs On Sept. 2, 2014)
Blogger Jeffrey Yoder is even harder than I can be in the case of Todd Bentley, if that were possible. But I think it a bit much to expect people to predict the future.

In his new post


Yoder notes that the recent enforced sabbatical of Mark Driscoll reminds him a lot of the crash and burn of Todd Bentley.

But whose fault is it? Anyone who offered Driscoll and Bentley a pulpit. And I read between the lines that Yoder seems, to me anyway, to be as annoyed with their friends and hangers on as his is with Driscoll and Bentley themselves.

Yoder writes: [Emphasis added is mine)
I want to make two big points in this piece. 1. Sexual immorality and verbal/emotional abuse are equally serious sins in the New Testament. Yet evangelicals by and large have made sexual immorality the big sin, while giving a pass on swearing at people up one side down the other and emotionally abusing them with hurtful words and fits of anger. Paul puts these sins on the same level in Galatians and 1 Corinthians. Sexual immorality is not more serious than verbal abuse. 2. The people who promoted Bentley and made him a star later got off the Bentley ship (excepting Rick Joyner). But to my knowledge, none of them made any public confession that they were part of the problem. They should have asked forgiveness. They should have owned the fact that they gave Bentley a stage. They erred in judgment for promoting Bentley in the first place, exposing him to the Church. This was wrong and they should have come clean with it. This pattern is repeating itself. The people who promoted Driscoll and made him a star are getting off the Driscoll wagon, but I’ve not seen any admissions or repentance for promoting him in the first place. They knew of his temper problems, his profanity, his harshness in dealing with people, and looked the other way. Why aren’t we seeing confessions by John Piper, Matt Chandler, Rick Warren, and the other people who gave Driscoll a platform? This was a major error in judgment and they were part of the problem. It’s not too late for those who offered Bentley and Driscoll platforms to make public admissions and ask forgiveness.

Wow. Well, I'm not an expert on Driscoll, but I flatter myself that with my 13 year back story with Bentley, I may be a little helpful here.

Yoder raises a salient question. How careful do you need to be before allowing someone to "promote" himself in your church?

I was not surprised when some of the character issues shown in my Report magazine coverage of Bentley came to full bloom and helped The Lakeland Revival to collapse. But I did not expect that people were obliged to have sought out what I had written in a small Western Canadian newsmagazine that had since gone out of business. When Bentley had repeated his "misleading" in a Charisma magazine feature, I did a follow up story about his tendency to prevaricate.

But how fair would it be to expect most people to act on that?

If Bentley announced plans to come to my church, which would be very unlikely, I'd be obliged to give a heads-up. This would not necessarily disqualify Bentley, but it would advise them to be watchful.

This is why Yoder's stance unnerves me a bit. Perhaps the state of the Church is such that we should assume that preachers will sin or be heretical, especially after one strike at the plate.

But Christians defer to thinking the best of people, and work off of word of mouth. Maybe we are too flip and casual in such matters and Yoder is correct to point that out.

That said, anticipating that people will err and sin is very strict.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Good News for British Columbia, indeed

{Posted at Bene Diction Blogs On, July 30, 2014)

In the run-up to the B.C. Day long weekend, a bit of obscure history related to sharing the Gospel in the province.

Back in 1971, local Christians wanted to do something unique to celebrate the 100th anniversary of B.C. becoming part of Canada. This now rare booklet was the result.

"Good News for British Columbia" is a Gospel of Mark from the Today's English Version translation. This is confirmed by several line drawings inside by the late artist Annie Vallotton, whose artwork is intimately associated with the translation. This booklet was commissioned by the B.C. District of the Canadian Bible Society and printed by the American Bible Society in the United States. (1971, you'll recall was the 100th anniversary of B.C. becoming part of Canada.)


I make an educated guess that the booklet was designed to appeal to tourists who came to visit during the various celebratory festivities in 1971, and then afterwards. For those not from B.C., the photo on the booklet cover is of the totem poles in Vancouver's Stanley Park looking towards the "North Shore."

It seems like a good idea, as perhaps tourists would see it as a neat keepsake of their visit and then read what was inside. (I wonder why other provinces, who were also celebrating centennials in surrounding years, didn't think of the idea.)

I've found press evidence that B.C. churches liked the idea of the booklet.

In the June 23, 1971 edition of The (Sunshine Coast) Coast News (as it then was, which you may see here, the local paper for Gibsons reported on the booklet. Please scroll to the bottom of page 5, and the item Scriptural Project.

It reads:

"As a Centennial project churches in Gibsons and Sechelt are joining in a combined effort to distribute Scriptures during the week of June 23rd to July 3>Many householders will be visited and offered one of the special Centennial copies of St. Mark's Gospel. These copies will carry the title of 'Good News for British Columbia'."

Hard to imagine churches doing a mass distribution of Bible portions in this way these days./br>
I make another guess that the local section of the Canadian Bible Society promoted the booklet a little, as I next saw a reference to it in a 1973 newspaper.

If you scroll to page 18 of this edition of Quesnel's "Cariboo Observer", as it then was, you'll see another mention of the booklet in their March 28, 1973 newspaper. In the "Our Churches" column by Shirley Demers, she notes that the "United Church of Canada (St. Andrews)" was going to be handing out the booklet as part of the "Key '73" evangelical push of that year.

I mentioned that the booklet is probably "rare". Well, I've seen it twice, perhaps three times, in 28 years.

I used to go to a Baptist church when I first moved to Vancouver, and I recall that they had a copy or two in their literature. So, when I recently saw another copy in a small thrift store, I made sure to buy it for myself. That is the one pictured above.

Street evangelism is an often thankless task. So, if any readers recalled the booklet, I wanted to take pains to note that I do as well.

When I was out on errands this afternoon, I found another copy of the booklet. As you may recall, this was a "Good News Bible" Gospel of Mark issued in 1971 to tie in with the 100th anniversary of B.C. joining Canada. Now copies are thin on the ground and hard to find.

This new copy to me, however, has a blurb on the back cover which explicitly makes the tie to marking the 100 years.

I'd like to reproduce the blurb in full below, in case you are curious.

It reads:
SCRIPTURES FOR '71 BRITISH COLUMBIA CENTENNIAL One hundred years ago, our Province joined the Confederation and became part of the great Dominion of Canada. In this Centennial Year we have reason to give thought to the Scriptures. For they have been the foundation upon which our freedoms have been built. Our freedom and prosperity are worthy of our thanksgiving to God, the Creator and Sustainer of all life. The familiar "Beautiful British Columbia" is certainly appropriate, for wherever we look we see nature, the handiwork of God, arrayed in magnificent splendor. For this we thank God. Many years ago in another land and to another people and appeal was made that is applicable for us in our Centennial celebrations: "When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which he has given you. Beware that you forget not the Lord your God." Deut 8:10-11 What God has done for us in love demands our thanksgiving. In the activities of life, and in this year's Centennial celebrations may we take time to read th Scriptures and find in them the Christ who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.