Movies are an influential medium. A myriad of worldviews are on display and like it or not, those worldviews seep into the consciousness of the public. Screenwriters, even if they aren’t aware of it, input their own worldview into the piece that they are writing. Sometimes characters have different worldviews than the writer, but if written well, a worldview for each character is established. How does the audience decipher between what is truth and what isn’t? There are Biblical truths that seep through in every single movie. Even if the worldview of the movie is contrarian, there is something that can be grasped and applied.
Worldview, according to Richard Wright, is “a comprehensive framework of beliefs that help us to interpret what we see and experience and also gives us direction in the choices that we make as we live out our days.” So, how do we determine what a character’s worldview is? What do they believe? Sometimes their worldview is more overt and they will actually state what it is that they believe, but other times it is more covert and their actions and choices will uncover their worldview. Here is a good way to determine worldview:
A lot of people’s worldview can be determined by what they say and do. Here is how it usually looks:
It works this way for a lot of people. Culture, values, and behavior influence one’s worldview. Culture really can be anything from the general (American culture, Korean culture, etc.) to the specific (family culture, classroom culture, etc.). A lot can be determined about one’s worldview by the culture that they associate with. The same can be said about values (love, order, excellence, wisdom, etc.) and behavior (what people do). To get to the core beliefs of a character in a movie, one can generally look at their culture, values and behavior and determine their worldview.
If someone is a follower of Jesus and their basis for behavior and values are the Bible, then a Biblical worldview should actually influence the others:
A Jesus follower’s worldview is determined by what the Bible has to say and their worldview should influence their behavior and values, which in turn should transform and impact culture.
Every single worldview that exists has something to say about five things: God, Creation, Humanity, Moral Order, and Purpose. These are the five worldview components.
God deals with questions such as: Is there a God? Is there one God or multiple gods? Is He a personal God or an impersonal force?
Creation deals with questions such as: Did the universe create itself, or did a Creator cause it? What is really real? Does the material world have any purpose?
Humanity deals with questions such as: Are we descendents of fish? Is human nature basically good or basically corrupt? Are people responsible for their actions? What happens to people after they die?
Moral Order deals with questions such as: Are morality and ethics human inventions or does a Creator predetermine them? Is there an ultimate standard of right and wrong? How is right and wrong determined?
Purpose deals with questions such as: Is there a purpose to our existence? Does history have any direction to it?
All worldviews deal with these five components and a fully developed character will have beliefs in these five areas that determine how they act.
Even if a character doesn’t have a Biblical worldview, Biblical truth can be found within movies. Truth will reveal itself. So, how can we find Biblical truth within movies? Here is a question to ask: What Biblical truth can be discovered that can be applied to my life in the area of: God, Creation, Humanity, Moral Order, or Purpose?
Let’s take Avatar as an example because it’s fairly simple and many people have seen it. The Na’vi love nature. That’s great. God created nature and loves nature Himself, but what do the Na’vi believe about nature? Their god, Eywa is a tree and everything in nature is connected through it. The Na’vi even have tendrils that can literally connect to all of nature. The Na’vi basically are pantheists. Pantheism is, at its core, the worship of Nature; the belief that God is the creation. The Na’vi are worshipping the creation. What are Biblical truths that can be derived from this? The Bible states that humans should be good stewards of the environment, but not take it as far as the Na’vi do. Humans should worship the Creator and not the Creation. The simple Biblical truth of stewardship can be derived from Avatar even though the screenwriter, James Cameron, and his characters do not share a Biblical worldview.
It is essential, in viewing movies through a Biblical worldview, that the viewer knows Biblical truth and to know Biblical truth, one must study and read the Bible. There are many things that sound very good, but aren’t Biblical, so to differentiate between the good and the truth, one must know the truth.
Every Thursday, The Joshua Centre will discuss a different movie through a Biblical worldview. There will be a list of upcoming movies being discussed so that you can view the movie before the discussion will be posted. It is my hope that you will join in the discussion and take your movie watching to a deeper level.