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The End of the Spear – Further Thoughts

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Last week I posted an article in which I pointed out that Chad Allen, the actor who plays Nate and Steve Saint in the upcoming film The End of the Spear is homosexual. In the article I simply posted the information without providing much commentary upon the decision of the producers to cast a homosexual as a Christian missionary.

There has been a lot of discussion about this article (65 comments and counting), showing that this is a contentious issue. Justin Taylor recently posted a short article in which he took issue with people somehow judging the movie based on a casting decision. “I have trouble seeing the big deal here,” says Justin. “Film acting is a sophisticated form of make-believe. Good-looking people who talk and memorize well are paid lots of money to act out stories. In my mind, the main issue is whether they do a good job with the task.”

Taylor draws a tidy little line between the actors and their roles. He suggests that what actors believe is irrelevant to their roles within the films they create.

“Most of Hollywood is out of step with most of America. But at the same time, most of us simply don’t care about the political or moral views of Hollywood. What does Sean Penn think about the Iraqi insurgency? What does Alec Baldwin think about the President’s legitimacy? What does Tim Robbins think about civil liberties? What does Barbra Streisand think about the ethics of House Republicans? Few care! Most of us want to send them a copy of Laura Ingraham’s appropriately titled book: Shut Up and Sing.”

This is, to some extent true. But Justin is missing something important here. There are plenty of people who do care what Sean Penn believes about Iraqi insurgency, what Alec Baldwin thinks about the President’s legitimacy and what Tim Robbins thinks about civil liberties. The very fact that Taylor can list these people and the issues they stand for shows that people care! The names of Hollywood bigwigs are constantly polluting adorning newspapers, magazines and tabloids. Far too many people care what these celebrities believe. Many people allow their opinions to be formed by celebrities. Penn, Baldwin, Robbins and countless other Hollywood personalities have made a stand for a wide variety of issues. Sometimes these people throw their weight behind charities or causes that do good work and behind issues that are truly important. Yet, more often than not, these people advocate what is unbiblical and even despicable. All three of the men Taylor listed advocate rebellion against God’s appointed authorities.

So here’s the rub: these Hollywood stars and starlets would not have a platform if we did not provide it to them. We provide them a platform when we support their films. The more popular a film becomes, the greater the platform we provide for the actors. Does no one else remember how often we saw interviews with Jim Caviezel and Mel Gibson before, during and after The Passion of the Christ? Evangelicals provided a platform for these committed Roman Catholics to share their unbiblical theology with millions and millions of people. The success of The Passion and the subsequent popularity of Gibson and Caviezel owed almost entirely to Evangelicals. We gave them a platform. The “success” of Brokeback Mountain (it has made little money but has garnered a huge amount of attention and praise) is another example. The actors and other people involved in the production have had many opportunities to share their pro-homosexual agenda because of the platforms provided to them through the film.

So what Justin seems to fail to understand is this: when we accept a movie, and thus accept the actors who act in a movie, we provide them a platform. This may be unintentional, but it is also undeniable. So the question we must face is, What will Chad Allen do with the platform we provide him? The answer is obvious from his web site. He will plead for tolerance to be extended towards homosexuality. He will teach what he taught through a previous production which featured a homosexual Christ-like figure. Here is what he said was the message of that production:

It’s one line in the play. It’s early on when God is talking to his son before Joshua comes to realize himself as the son of God and [God] whispers to him, ‘All men are divine.’ And he [Joshua] says, ‘What? I can’t hear you?’ And he [God] says, ‘All men are divine. That is the secret that you will teach them.’ [Then] Joshua says, ‘What if I don’t want to teach them?’ and God says, ‘You won’t be able to keep the secret.’ That’s the message of the piece as I see it. That we are all capable of the same kind of divine relationship with God that Joshua comes to find.

Allen will use the platform to teach the very opposite of what those godly men believed and gave their lives for.

Taylor concludes as follows: “On a personal level, of course, I wish that Chad Allen would find satisfaction in the way that God has designed him. But in watching the film, my concern will be with whether or not he is doing his vocation well. As one commentator pointed out on Tim’s site, Ian Charleson–who famously played Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire–was gay. (He died of AIDS in 1990.) But I don’t believe that the messenger is the message.”

Justin goes on to toss something of a red herring, stating that Ian Carleson, who played Eric Liddell, was homosexual. Yet I do not believe that we can equate these two situations. While Chariots of Fire was made only 25 years ago, it was made in a different culture than today. Charleson was not provided a platform to share his views. At the time I don’t believe that anyone knew that he was homosexual and, unlike Allen, he was not an outspoken advocate for homosexual causes.

In the comments section at Taylor’s site Steve Camp asks a good question. “If Dr. Piper went home to be with the Lord say thirty years from now and a Christian based film company wanted to make a movie about his life and ministry…would you want an actor who was also a gay-activist to play John’s life story?” What if Elton John were to portray Charles Spurgeon? Or what if it was your life or the life of your brother or father that was portrayed by a homosexual activist? It seems a little bit more dishonoring when it is the life of someone you know and love.

At any rate, I can’t help but conclude that the producers of this film erred when they hired a known, proud, activist homosexual to portray a man who gave his life for the Lord. I just hope that we, as Evangelicals, haven’t provided a platform to a person who will share a message that dishonors the One whom this movie ought to honor.

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