Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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The Sun has come and you’ve been left behind

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The Sun has come and you’ve been left behind

This is a movie review done on the 2014 movie “Left behind” please also check out our other movie reviews on our media page.

When doing an article like this you have difficulties even in the Christian camp, mainly because not everyone has the same view of what will happen at the end of the world. You have to realize that although these books and films were wonderful pieces of literature and film, they were and still are fiction, regardless of how many of the events that have been hypothesized have actually happened.

At no time did Jenkins/La Haye ever market these books as prophesy so the detractions from the people who dislike them really have little ground. For me it is Christian fiction, much in the same way that you would read Lord of the Rings as secular fiction. I would no more base my faith on Left Behind as I would Lord of the Rings.

I was excited when I heard there would be a new Left Behind movie and I was happy when I heard it would include such a high profile actor as Nicholas Cage. I had some hopes about the new Left Behind films such as

1) Would they stick closer to the book this time?
2) How would Nicholas Cage do the Rayford Steele conversion scene?
3) Would this be a big draw from the Non-Christian market?
4) Would there be more LB movies?
5) With advances in technology, would this enhance the films?

Fan of the books

I must admit I am a fan of the literature and I was sad when the original film tweaked certain things in order to make the film work. They also made two sequels that didn’t work in fully with the books. These complaints I am sure are commonplace for any movie that mirrors a successful book. So my hope was they wouldn’t tinker with the story too much.

The movie itself

Nick Cage is Rayford Steele, a pilot who is in a troubled marriage, he has had difficulties since his wife’s conversion to Christianity and hides himself in his work. Rayford is a transatlantic airline pilot who is a non-Christian and is flirting with the idea of having an affair with a air hostess called Hattie.

The movie surrounds an event called “the rapture” and this movie takes the same idea as the original ones that the bodies will vanish. This has interesting ramifications worldwide as all the Christians and children too young to have made a choice are gone and taken up into heaven.

I say this is interesting as planes, trains, cars and any other vehicle that you can think of are crashing worldwide, in fact Rayford’s copilot is no longer there after the rapture. Also communications are jammed and the world goes into a panic.

This movie is different from the original left behind in that it exclusively charters Rayford’s flight from JFK to Heathrow, in the original movie this was doen within the first 20 or so minutes of the flight, however this movie goes into much greater detail of what happened.

The movie is very well done, they did use modern technology to make a movie that would appeal to both Christian and non-Christian alike.

Spoilers

This film charters Rayford’s journey to get landed somewhere in the NY area after turning his plane back when the rature happens. Using investigative techniques he realizes that with the vanishing of the co-pilot, his wife and another air hostess that all the missing people were Christians and he recalls conversations that he had with his wife regarding this event.

He turns the plane and due to the communication crisis and also the fact that the other plane has lost its crew, Ray’s flight clips the right wing in a mid-air collision as the other flight plummets to its doom. This causes problems later in the flight as Ray loses some fuel and cannot fully elevate the plane to make the gas last longer. This adds to the drama later.

Criticisms

For me, I loved the film and had I not read the first Left Behind book I would probably have taken the film on its individual merits as a good action film giving an example of what could happen at the end of the world.

The film barely mentions the Pastor and there is no mention of Ray and his conversion. It was more of an action film as opposed to being the evangelical effort that the first one was. It is a decent spectacle however as a Christian I had hopes that as we are attracting more of a cross audience with this film that we would not miss that opportunity to evangelize. In fact in one scene Chloe when she confronts the Pastor (Who preached well but did not believe himself) she rejects what he has to say.

Chloe is a much more developed character in this version of Left behind and she is beside herself with grief at the loss of her mother and kid brother, she then goes on to check the hospitals to ensure the babies are all missing and plays a big part in the rescue and landing of the plane.

For me it would have been a better movie had it not mainly taken place on the plane. Sub plots (such as Ray missing his birthday to go away to London with Hattie) had to take a more prominent role due to the limited options keeping the movie based on the plane.

That to me was the main problem, it was a good idea keeping it on the plane, however it also created a glass ceiling that couldn’t be penetrated. The main character was also flipped from Buck Williams being the main one in the original Left Behind movies to Ray Steele being the main one in this one.

In conclusion

Really they made a film of the first third of the first book and turned it into an hour and forty minutes of entertainment. It was a decent action film, but for me it missed the point of the original message of the Left Behind series.

I think they attempted to make this more palatable to a Non-Christian audience and having read reviews on this, Christians and Non-Christians alike had criticisms.

Thank you for reading this article, I pray that this is a blessing and please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you to.
TGBTG
TTE

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God’s Not Dead – Movie review

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DISCLAIMER:- This review contains some plot descriptions,  so please exercise some caution as there are some spoilers.

Introduction

I have to admit before I begin that I love the work of David AR White and Pure Flix having seen a few of his productions on the Netflix platform, so before I even watched this movie I had ha light hopes and a decent expectation of what I was going to see.

So last night (Sunday 10th August 2014) I ordered it from my local redbox (I so wanted to see it in the cinema but I was not able to) and we had a family movie night at home.

Main plot

The main plot follows a freshman university student (Shane Harper – Josh Wheaton) who enrolls in a philosophy class in order to accumulate credits for his law degree, he is warned that the lecturer that he has chosen would give him problems because of his Christian beliefs, he still enrolls.

In the first class the lecturer tells them that 30% of the or final grade rests on them completing a paper that states “God is dead”, this is complied by the wh ok let class apart from Josh, the lecturer sets him a challenge to prove Gods existence in 3 20 minute segments, he will be then graded by the rest of the class.

Sub plots

There are many sub plots in this movie and it is awesome to see how it all fits together into a cohesive story, here is a few.

The missionary pastor and Rev Dave: (played by David AR White and Benjamin Ochieng) keep popping up as somewhat central characters different pastoral roles and an ill fated, often delayed trip to Disney land.

The professor and his girlfriend (played by Kevin Sorbo and Cory Oliver) the professor hates God and his girlfriend is an ex student and is a Christian. Gives a good insight into the back story of the professor.

Josh and his girlfriend – gives a good insight into other personal relationships that Josh has.

The spiritual journey of Martin Yip, gives a good example of someone who was genuinely searching for someone more.

Ayisha the Muslim convert – gives another dimension into the bravery of some folks to come to faith in Jesus Christ from a strict Muslim background.

Amy Ryan/Mark Shelley – Amy is a humanistic, anti-Christian blogger who wishes to bring down everyone who is a Christian, she gets diagnosed with cancer and starts to evaluate what is important. Mark is a guy who is very self centered, dumps Amy when she finds out she has cancer and appears in different parts of the movie.

My thoughts on the movie

I thought it was a well made, well thought out movie. There was plenty for the Christian to enjoy but enough to challenge a non Christian to question the way they have viewed Christians in acedemia.

With appearances on screen by Dean Cain, David AR White, Willie Robertson and Korie Robertson from Duck Dynasty, Christian band The Newsboys and Kevin Sorbo it was a great cast and good storyline.

Credits

In the credits it states all of the lawsuits that gave inspiration to this movie, it lists several lawsuits where students have been bullied or marginalized due to their belief in Jesus Christ.

Would I recommend it?

I would! I am saddened when I look at the movie reviews on sites such as IMDB and see so many folks having negative reviews due to the faith content.

God bless you and I pray that this article is a blessing and I pray that you will prayerfully consider liking, sharing or commenting on this article
TGBTG
TTE

Noah way to treat a biblical epic

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Noah way to treat a biblical epic

(A non-partisan view on the Russell Crowe movie “Noah” I do wish to say, there are spoilers in this text so please if you plan on watching the movie, certain plot lines are revealed below, please take caution if you read below and plan to be “surprised” by the film)

I do not always toe the “party line” on Christian movie reviews

Let me say first and foremost that I do not subscribe to the many blogs and sites that are Christian based but bash Christian publications and movies because of reasons such as they do not fit what their finite view of something that is either biblical, spiritual, Christian or Jewish history. If they are discussing movies or motion pictures, most of the things they pick on really do not change the plot of the production or take away the greater meaning of what the director was trying to achieve.

However, that being said I sat down on Wednesday evening to watch Noah; I paid $1.39 at Redbox because although I wanted to see it, me and my family only trek to the movies for movies we really want to see. As stated previously I was free of most of the pre conceived notions that others of my faith had of this movie. I of course have seen headlines of articles that refer to the movie, some praising the movie, others slamming the movie. When i sit down to watch a movie about the bible I ask myself two questions.

1) Did the director stick to the story?
2) How misleading were any plot twists?

Obviously both secular and religious movies have had “Hollywood makeovers” and it is not picking on the bible to change the story somewhat to make the movie more “movie friendly” I have seen movies about historical hero’s that have had little twists thrown in, little historical embellishments or even a love interest that is not written in verifiable history.

Whilst that does annoy me as a “history buff” I don’t see myself writing 3000 word blog articles about those movies, and why is that? It is because I have never built my life upon a war journal from a dead general or sketchy history of Scottish clan chiefs or whether something actually happened the way it is portrayed on the big screen. Christian history, Jewish history and ones where we have biblical interest do have my interest to “get it right” and “nail the basics” because it has an impact of peoples view of a biblical story.

I and anyone who has a decent knowledge of the Bible will spot what is wrong with the movie almost instantaneously. However, someone who is watching this because they are curious about God and really don’t know what is going on theologically, they may have an issue and may put a barrier up based on unbiblical truths that they have seen on the big screen.

I plan to answer both 1) Did the director stick to the story? & 2) How misleading were any plot twists? Hand in hand in the next few points.

A) Creation – Fail

Not really, no – within seconds the film sets itself at odds with the biblical account by stating “in the beginning there was nothing” when Genesis 1:1 states the following:

Genesis 1:1 (ESV) In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

This lie is portrayed again when they are in the Ark, and Russell Crowe again repeats that “in the beginning there was nothing” and then we see a “creation montage and creation of the earth done in a fast forward motion which incorporates subtle but compelling ideas that creation and evolution go hand in hand, with fish jumping out of the sea, next second they are walking and birds doing likewise.

The idea that in the beginning there was nothing introduces the idea of a creator and a big bang working hand in hand and tries to fit science into a somewhat biblical account.

B) Noah has no idea why he is killing everyone

I have an issue with the way Noah comes off, he meanders through the film getting loose information that “the Creator” from memory, he is never actually called God is going to wipe all humankind off the planet, he does not know why and is guided by visions and dreams that the whole story is about God wiping us all out apart from the ones that Noah chooses to go on the Ark. Biblically this does not add up as we read in Genesis 6:

Genesis 6:5 (ESV) The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. 9 These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

In the biblical account Noah understood what God was doing because he spoke to him. Noah is told that “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.”

This leads to confusion as how did the Shemite and Hamite people populate? The only two other females would have been Ham and Shem’s two nieces? This is an important question as from the Shemite people the nation of Israel came into being. In all reality it is not biblical and makes very little sense.

D) The inhabitants of the ark (animal kind)

When we see the animals converge on the ark, we see many more than is stated in the biblical account. (Remember it only had to be “And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive.” – Two of each kind, two cats, two dogs, two snakes) we have a scene where there are literally hundreds of snakes slithering into the Ark. It just does not make sense, the idea was to get the basic survival of the species onto a boat to allow it to continue post flood.

E) Where is the dove?

Genesis 8:4 (ESV) and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. 5 And the waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen. 6 At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made 7 and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground. 9 But the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him. 10 He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. 11 And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth.

In the movie the raven is set forth before they hit land, the dove is sent after and we learn that land is ahoy.

F) Where is the vineyard?

Genesis 9:20 (ESV) Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.” 26 He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. 27 May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.” 28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 All the days of Noah were 950 years, and he died.

In the scene where Noah gets drunk, he is in a cave on a beach, it is inferred that he got naked after being drunk, we do not see Ham telling his brothers, but they come and cover him up as we read in the scriptures not wishing to expose his father’s shame.

G) Where is the covenant with God?

Genesis 8:20 (ESV) Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

There is no mention of a covenant with God; the closest we get is the passing on of a birthright in the last scene, inferred to be the serpent’s skin of the serpent that tempted Adam and Eve.

H) What was the point of the rainbow?

Genesis 9:13 (ESV) And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Again there is no mention of why the rainbow is there, it is just shown at the end of the movie. God is not mentioned and really has been removed in favor of a non-religious “Creator”

Curious moments in the movie that raised questions

In short the movie is very about the environment, the good people are vegetarians and the evil people are meat eaters and in one scene the stow away starts eating the animals (perhaps trying to account for missing species in today’s animal kingdom)

I wasn’t too happy with the way that Methuselah was present, as a somewhat pagan, magical old man that could fix Noah’s daughter in law’s barrenness by touching her, it is assumed that he dies in the flood also.

And the “Watchers” I am assuming that they were from the “Sons of God” but they state they came down and were punished by the creator, they were Transformer-lookalike stone creatures that limped around a lot and stood between the people and Noah’s family at the beginning of the flood and they exploded one by one and appeared to transcend into heaven, all very weird stuff!

What they did well

A) The fountains of the deep burst open

Genesis 7:11 (ESV) In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.

In the scene where the earth becomes flooded, he water comes from above and below the earth; it was a decent visualization of how the earth became underwater very quickly. I was impressed by the visualization, it is up for debate whether it happened that way, but it is conceivable that it could, so that was well done.

B) Size of the Ark

Dimension wise, the Ark looked about as close as they could have got it, I was impressed by the fact that they did not buy into the myth that the Ark was a small boat and there was not enough room on the Ark.

C) Noah being drunk

Once Noah is found drunk, the actors who play Shem and Japheth cover Noah up and it was tastefully done, he then banished Ham.

D) Death and suffering

The idea of the death and suffering is evident and that was well done, when Noah is sailing off, we can see and hear people clinging to mountain tops and screaming when they are enveloped by the floods.

Should you see this movie?

That my friend is up to you. I would not promote or slam the movie. You will get as much theological insight by watching this movie as you will any other secular movie. Special effects wise, it is a decent movie. I just wish it did not fly in the face of something that I have built my life upon.

I would ask that you read the comments above, check out other reviews if you are still undecided after reading this, I would urge you that if you do watch it, keep your eyes and ears open for any errors. I reached for my bible at least 4/5 times to check things out. These are notes I made before I went to bed so there may be more issues than I remember. I certainly have not studied the film; I watched it once and felt neither closer nor further away from God for doing so.

I hope that this article finds you well, please prayerfully consider commenting, liking or sharing as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE