The Golden Compass

Dr. R. Albert Mohler of Southern Seminary has written an excellent review of the soon to be released movie The Golden Compass. I encourage all the Oxgoad users, regular readers, casual users, and accidental visitors, to follow this link to Dr. Mohler’s bog post and read his analysis in it’s entirety.

The Golden Compass is a potential blockbuster movie with a stellar cast, special effects, and CGI (computer generated imagery) graphics that rival anything produced to date. Many of you are probably aware that this particular movie has raised the ire of folks within the ‘Christian’ community – Catholics and non-Catholics alike – because it is based on a novel that was written to discredit and disprove Christianity.

The Golden Compass
(it was published as Northern Lights in the UK) is actually the first installment of the His Dark Materials trilogy; a series of books written by the award winning British author and atheist Philip Pullman. Hanna Rosin of Atlantic Monthly interviewed Pullman, and Dr. Mohler repeatedly refers to that interview. I have linked to it here.

As one would expect, considering the author, The Golden Compass and the following two movies which may be produced, have an agenda. Mohler writes:

This is not just any fantasy trilogy or film project. Philip Pullman has an agenda about as subtle as an army tank…nothing less than to expose what he believes is the tyranny of the Christian faith and the Christian church. His hatred of the biblical storyline is clear. He is an atheist whose most important literary project is intended to offer a moral narrative that will reverse the biblical account of the fall and provide a liberating mythology for a new secular age.

I wouldn’t recommend His Dark Materials as a Christmas gift for your children!

By all accounts, the movie version of the book has softened the tone of anti-Christianity that is palpable in the book. I believe that to be a negative rather than a positive. I’d much rather the movie be true to the book, not because I like the book’s thesis, but because I prefer an overt enemy to a covert one.

How should Christians respond to this movie? Here again is Dr. Mohler:

Pullman has an agenda that is clear, and Christians need to inform themselves of what this agenda is and what it means. At the same time, nothing would serve his agenda better than to have Christians speaking recklessly or unintelligently about the film or the books. This is about the battle of ideas and worldviews. While Christians will not celebrate the release of this film, we should recognize the mixture of challenge and opportunity that comes with millions of persons watching this film and talking about the issues it raises. When the movie is mentioned in the workplace, in school, on the playground, or in the college campus, this is a great opportunity to show that Christians are not afraid of the battle of ideas. (italics added)

Good advice. The last thing needed is a shrill response from Christians, on this topic or any other. I would also encourage Christians to do a self-examination of their TV and movie viewing habits in general. Just because a movie does not depict Christianity as evil and that which must be overthrown, does not mean that the movie is positive. Most movies are sprinkled, some more heavily than others, with the same anti-Christian ideology as expressed in The Golden Compass; only packaged in a different wrapping. One thing I appreciate about Pullman is his clarity.

Christians should be so clear. Clearly discerning what they should and shouldn’t put before their eyes or the eyes of their children. In all things Christians should honor Christ their Lord as holy, always being prepared to answer anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet answering with gentleness and respect.
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About Travis

Happily married. Blessed to raise three young men. Associate pastor of Rodgers Baptist Church.
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5 Responses to The Golden Compass

  1. Fresh Dirt says:

    I’m very excited for this movie to come out. For one thing, I think it will be very entertaining. Second, it should provide a lot of discussion/conversation starters. The god(s) that Pullman describes is in need of destruction. It may well be that much of what is called Christianity today is indeed faux and should be destroyed as well. Yes, he believes he is describing the God of the bible and of Christianity, but the god that must be destroyed in his book is very, very different than the Jesus I find in the NT (even if he doesn’t think so!). As such, I find myself resonating with Pullman that such a god and religion must die.

  2. Bill Reichart says:

    I think that as followers of Christ we should engage the culture and be thoughtful in our criticism and not just reactionary. I keep hearing all this talk about banning the movie..I am going to see the movie and we are taking our Middle School kids(those who want to come), and talk afterwards about the worldview issues. Let’s have an intellectual and thoughtful discuss about the ideas and not just being afraid of them.I posted some thoughts about the Golden Compass on my blog here:http://provocativechurch.blogspot.com/2007/11/power-of-story.htmlI read Mohler’s piece today, it was very good. Also, ChristianityToday posted a helpful piece by Jeffery Overstreet that give a balanced view and addresses questions and concerns Christians have about the books and movie.http://www.christianitytoday.com/movies/commentaries/fearnotthecompass.html

  3. Travis says:

    I think the movie presents us with wonderful opportunities as well. Still, my boys aren’t going to see it, at least not yet. I know where they are spiritually, and I don’t think it’s best for them to see the film. Although we have had discussions about it. Those discussions have been pretty superficial, however, because I haven’t read the books or seen the movie. I don’t like to comment on things about which I am ignorant. I’ve got the first book on hold at the Greencastle Library.Pullman’s views on God and Christianity are obviously views that only take in account the egregious errors committed by others in the name of Christ and the church, not only recently but (mainly)in the past. His views do not represent Biblical Christianity in the least. But again, this is opinion based only on second hand info. I’ll be able to form a more intelligent position once I’ve read his material.

  4. Philip says:

    Well-written and informative. I am a big fan of fantasy (Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Naria, etc.), but I don’t know much about this series other than it is anti-God. Sounds like Mohler’s response is a good one…

  5. Fresh Dirt says:

    Travis, I think that is a good move. I’m probably going to take my highschool group to see it but they are older.

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