Skip to content ↓

The Nativity Story

You know, I really don’t know how I missed this one. I guess I just don’t get out to the movies enough (or don’t pay close enough attention to what’s new and upcoming in the theatres). Apparently, in December of this year, New Line Cinema will be releasing The Nativity Story, a film chronicling, well, the story of the nativity. “The film follows the life of the Virgin Mary and Joseph over the two-year period immediately prior to the birth of Jesus, and several years afterward (including the visit of the Magi and the vengeful rage of King Herod).” According to the film’s Wikipedia entry, “New Line is taking great pains to create a film in the tradition of The Passion of the Christ which Christian families will be able to enjoy. Mike Rich, screenwriter of The Rookie, is writing the script, drawing heavily from the four gospels. A number of Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish theologians have also been consulted. When Rich first told his pastor about the project he was undertaking, Rich said the pastor responded by saying “that’s a project!” and then immediately put him on the church’s prayer chain.”

It seems that someone has created an unofficial blog to collect information about the film. Christianity Today has featured an interview with Mike Rich which you can read here.

I think it will be interesting to see a couple of things. First, will the movie portray Mary in a way that is distinctly Catholic or will she be presented simply as she is in the gospels — as a woman who was chosen for a distinct honor, but who was still a sinner? It seems they have largely stuck to what is presented in the gospels, judging by this part of the CT interview:

How have you tried to make Mary more human without losing reverence for Mary the icon? Was that a balancing act for you?

Rich: It was a balancing act, but there’s a key moment when she’s visiting Elizabeth. It’s a speculative moment, but I think it’s very consistent with the Gospels. She asks Elizabeth, “Why has He chosen me?” To me, the choice of Mary to bear the Son of God isn’t because she is someone remarkably special, it’s because she was representative of every man. She was every person. The mother of this child isn’t because she is of overt riches or royal blood, it’s because she is mankind. To me, that made it very easy to portray her as a very, very human individual.

Do you have any concerns about how Catholics might react to the portrayal? I assume you’ve consulted with Catholics along the way.

Rich: We have maintained close contact with several individuals within the Catholic church. We’re not trying to alienate those within the Catholic faith. But we understand that anytime you tackle subject matter such as this that you’re creating a canvas for discussion, if you will.

If the story and the interpretation that we put on screen can result in a dialogue between faiths, between those within their own faiths, that’s never a bad thing. Then the mission to put this story on screen will be well served.

I’m not sure exactly what he means by “she is mankind,” but at least it seems that they will present her largely as the Bible does.

A second point of interest is how Evangelical churches and church leaders will react to this. I suspect we will not see a great number of church leaders pleading with their members to see this film and certainly not spending tens of thousands of dollars to send others to see this film (a la The Passion of the Christ). Mike Rich says that he does not regard this film as overtly evangelistic: “Not particularly. It could plant a seed in that direction. We see Jesus for all of five minutes onscreen–and he’s not exactly delivering the Sermon on the Mount. But if after seeing this movie someone opens up the Gospel of Luke, then you never know.”

At any rate, it looks like an interesting movie and, judging by the trailer, which you can see here, at the film’s official site, it may just be worth watching.

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    Weekend A La Carte (April 20)

    A La Carte: Living counterculturally during election season / Borrowing a death / The many ministries of godly women / When we lose loved ones and have regrets / Ethnicity and race and the colorblindness question / The case for children’s worship services / and more.

  • The Anxious Generation

    The Great Rewiring of Childhood

    I know I’m getting old and all that, and I’m aware this means that I’ll be tempted to look unfavorably at people who are younger than myself. I know I’ll be tempted to consider what people were like when I was young and to stand in judgment of what people are like today. Yet even…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (April 19)

    A La Carte: The gateway drug to post-Christian paganism / You and I probably would have been nazis / Be doers of my preference / God can work through anyone and everything / the Bible does not say God is trans / Kindle deals / and more.

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (April 18)

    A La Carte: Good cop bad cop in the home / What was Paul’s thorn in the flesh? / The sacrifices of virtual church / A neglected discipleship tool / A NT passage that’s older than the NT / Quite … able to communicate / and more.

  • a One-Talent Christian

    It’s Okay To Be a Two-Talent Christian

    It is for good reason that we have both the concept and the word average. To be average is to be typical, to be—when measured against points of comparison—rather unremarkable. It’s a truism that most of us are, in most ways, average. The average one of us is of average ability, has average looks, will…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (April 17)

    A La Carte: GenZ and the draw to serious faith / Your faith is secondhand / It’s just a distraction / You don’t need a bucket list / The story we keep telling / Before cancer, death was just other people’s reality / and more.