The following post is an online forum post that I wrote for my Christ and Culture class. The assignment was to examine a Christian Website’s understanding of the interaction between Christ and culture. (Because this is part of an informal online discussion, I did not go out of my way to review spelling or grammar.)
The blog post which I took a look at was written by Thabiti Anyabwile, a Baptist pastor working in the Cayman Islands, who used to be the associate pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church (a Baptist Megachurch in D.C.) He is also a council member of the Gospel Coalition.
Anyabwile begins this blog reviewing the recent Sci-Fi film Prometheus, by pointing out the religious themes that run through the film. He says that he appreciated that the film was unlike most other sci-fi films that promote some sort of new-age/pantheistic worldview. Rather this film was a part of larger discussion discussing the origins of humanity from other sentient beings. He points out several characters who engage in this discussion. (Spoiler Alert!) For instance there is Peter Weyland , the multi-trillionaire who finances the expedition out into space in order to “meet his maker.” This character does end up “meeting his maker” in multiple senses. Ultimately its his desire to save his own life that leads to his death. Then there are a few scientists who scoff at the belief that there even is a maker. They believe that chance is the reason for the existence of life in the universe. Finally there is Elizabeth Shaw, the scientist and daughter of missionaries, who although challenged in her beliefs in a good maker persists in looking for answers to her questions about the origin of life.
Anyabwile sees hints glimpses of the Christian worldview running throughout the film. He sees the film as a discussion about the important questions in life, like is there a God/gods? Are they good? Are the gods against us? Why do we exist? He also sees Christian imagery weaved throughout the film. He sees the escape pod at the end of the film as being something like an ark: “The ark of safety protects and carries only those who believe, like righteous Noah in the day of the flood.” He says that its her strength and faith that keeps her alive despite what is going on around her. Finally he says that she escapes, “Broken and battered, she’s “justified” by her faith.” Anyabwile says that the movie leads up to the question: “What happens when you meet your ‘maker’ trusting and believing in him?” In this story, believing in their makers didn’t make much of a difference, it was believing in the Maker and putting trust in the Maker that made all the difference.
Anyabwile’s interaction with this popular film is an interesting example of a reformed pastor’s views on the interaction between Christ and culture. Anyabwile is able to take a film which does not in any way claim to be Christian, nor sympathetic with Christianity and is able to pull out redeeming aspects of the film. By pointing to philosophical questions and religious imagery in the film he shows that a non-christian film can still point Christians towards important Christian matters as well as non-Christians. His review can be classified into the “Transformationalist” camp. This understanding of Christ and culture believes that Christ can and will redeem cultural products, which can be idolatrous prior to transformation, to his own glory and services. The fact that he sees the film as a starting point for discussion about Christian themes, and even a starting point for evangelism, shows that he believes that this non-Christian film can be put to use by the Church and Christ himself for Christ’s own sake. How much this film will actually do to bring people to Christ is a hard question to answer. Nevertheless having seen the film myself, I came out with a greater appreciation of who God is: a good, loving, and sovereign savior. So along with Anyabwile I believe that this film has redeemable aspects and that these redeemable aspects can be put to use for the glory of God, thus just like Anyabwile I fall into the transformationalist view of Christ and Culture.