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When Does “Portraying Evil” Become “Celebrating Evil”?

When Does “Portraying Evil” Become “Celebrating Evil”?

by Mike Duran · 23 comments

During Christmas break, my wife and I took in a couple movies. Being that I’m a big Martin Scorcese fan, we considered seeing The Wolf of Wall WolfofWallStreetStreet. But after hearing the reactions of viewers and critics, I was conflicted. While the movie was included on many year-end Best Of Lists, some of my Christian friends were terribly offended. One couple left the theater only twenty minutes in. Another said the movie should have been rated X. Still another described it as a cinematic orgy that celebrated debauchery and sin.

And then there were those Christian reviewers who said it was one of the best movies of the year.

Take for instance Jeffrey Overstreet’s detailed piece, Respect The Wolf of Wall Street (The Movie, Not the Man). Overstreet sees the film as a profound exposition of evil. He writes,

Every year, there’s at least one movie that stirs a lot of evangelical Christians into condemning that movie as evil when, in fact, the filmmakers’ intentions were to zoom in and expose evil… the way doctors enlarge X-rays to expose cancer… so that we will be shocked by the reality of it, live in greater awareness about it, avoid it, and avoid contributing to the conditions that make it possible.

That seems like a fairly big divide, doesn’t it? Exposing evil or celebrating evil. But discerning an artist’s or filmmaker’s intention to do one or the other is not always that easy. In the case of The Wolf of Wall Street, that’s not the case.

The director tells us his intentions.

Overstreet links to a fascinating interview with Martin Scorcese about his film. Among other things, the director notes how audiences have become inured to morality tales. Wall Street guy goes bad, goes to jail, and gets what’s coming to him. Problem solved. Crime never pays. The End. That formula has left audiences jaded. Scorcese, however, intends to show that the real crime is that, often, crime DOES pay. Scorcese:

I didn’t want [audiences] to be able to think problem solved, and forget about it. I wanted them to feel like they’d been slapped into recognizing that this behavior has been encouraged in this country, and that it affects business and the world, and everything down to our children and how they’re going to live, and their values in the future. It’s almost becoming like, these days in Hollywood, people misbehave, they have problems in their lives, drugs, alcohol, they go to rehab and come out again. And that means it’s okay, it’s an expected ritual you go through. You make a film about slavery, it’s important for young people to understand and see it vibrantly presented on the screen. And when you make a film that just points up and decries the terrible goings on in the financial world and the financial philosophy and the financial religion of America, we do that a certain way and it makes us feel okay, that we’ve done our duty, we’ve seen the film, given it some awards and it goes away and we put it out of our minds.

Thus, the director’s intention was to make a film we could not easily put out of our minds; a film that did not simply revel in godlessness and excess or flatly condemn it, but exposed the culture that celebrates such excess; a film that did not unwind as a predictable morality tale, but left us to ponder a disturbing ambiguity.

  • But how does an artist portray evil without appearing to celebrate it?
  • How does a director show that sometimes crime DOES pay without being interpreted as condoning crime?

Apparently, the nuance of such artistic intentions is lost on some. For instance, Focus on the Family’s movie reviewer gave the film zero out of five stars. Translation: There is no redeeming quality to this stinking pile of filth.

Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street is among the most bludgeoning—if not the most bludgeoning—films ever to be granted an R rating. Indeed, much has been made of the fact that it barely escaped an NC-17.

It should not have.

There is—ostensibly, theoretically—a cautionary tale about the perils of lust and greed woven into Jordan Belfort’s [the author's] story. But since the film concludes with him getting paid to give motivational speeches sort of soils that suggestion. That, and the fact that all along the way we’re invited to cheer for this ruthlessly greedy, sexually predatory, chemically dependent, foul-mouthed and narcissistic antihero. Invited to want him to somehow escape the judgment he should assuredly face.

Please note, the exact thing that this reviewer decries — that the hero escapes the judgment he should face and, in fact, is rewarded — is the exact point the filmmaker intended to trouble us with.

So the real problem is not in the portrayal of evil, but in the audience’s interpretation of that portrayal.

Mind you, there are some very thoughtful evangelical responses to The Wolf of Wall Street (like Trevin Wax’s Evangelicals and Hollywood Filth) which avoid knee-jerk condemnations. Indeed, there ARE reasons some Christians should avoid the movie. But equally to be avoided are blanket condemnations that force an interpretation of the film to fit our moral coda.

Which is probably why I like Overstreet’s conclusion:

Do I recommend [the film]?

Ah, there’s the rub.

I cannot answer that question.

Consult your conscience, and if you proceed, then do so with extreme caution. This is a film that holds up a mirror to the behaviors and values of America’s richest and most influential people, not to mention the values of so many Americans who equate money with success and happiness.

Many will be so shocked and offended and upset by what they see that it will do them more harm than good. Some might find the allure of the wealth, the drugs, the sex, and other misbehaviors more tempting than dissuading, and that could do real damage. But that tells me more about the viewer than the artist. Evil is dangerous because it is in some ways appealing, and any meaningful depiction of evil will show that. The artist is only showing us the ugly truth, like Hamlet’s R-rated stage play for the murderous king, causing us to see the weaknesses of our leaders, our nation, and ourselves, so that that we are shocked into meaningful contemplation.

In closing: Please, be generous with each other. Don’t judge a movie you haven’t seen. Don’t judge others for their responses. And don’t judge artists for painting pictures of what they see happening in the world around them. (emphasis in original)

As Christians, we must allow artists the freedom to meaningfully explore and portray evil without demanding “cautionary tales” and cut-and-dried resolutions, or accusing them of endorsing the evils they portray. If not, we concede to formulaic storytelling where everything is spelled out:

  • Very bad guy
  • gets what’s coming to him
  • because crime doesn’t pay.
  • The End.

But in that case, “meaningful contemplation” is not required.

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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa Ortega January 13, 2014 at 9:37 AM

Fantastic post, Mike. Exposing evil and even dealing with evil one-on-one can sometimes force us to, as Paul termed his close brush with it, “fight with wild beasts at Ephesus” – but the more disturbing trend for me is the penchant for pretending it’s not there so that we don’t have to do anything about it.

It reminds me of the relationships Israel would build with nations not unlike Wallstreet, economically benefitting from their debauchery, and even, little by little, being drawn into its excess – all by looking sideways rather than full on at the culture they were crawling into bed with. It was the way the Germans handled rumors of Hitler’s violence toward humanity.

I respect artists who try what Scorcese attempted and recognize just how freaking hard it is, and this post touches every difficult part of that type of attempt adeptly. Thank you!

Thankfully, I am aware enough of the Golden Calf’s romps through American Culture that I don’t have to throw myself under this film’s lamplight. It sounds sickening.

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StuartB January 13, 2014 at 9:44 AM

Insert complaint about how all Hollywood ever does is glorify evil and of course we want and need formulaic stories where the good guys win and evil is punished.

Whoosh, goes over the head.

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StuartB January 13, 2014 at 9:51 AM

Also, perhaps a link to this post at the top may be wise?

http://mikeduran.com/2010/03/lets-stop-being-so-easily-offended/

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Teddi Deppner January 13, 2014 at 10:15 AM

Been wrestling with this question a lot, myself. It bothers me that I write stories that I can’t share with my kids (they’re 8 and 10 yrs old). It makes me question WHY I’m writing stories with content that I would keep out of my children’s minds.

In thinking it over, it’s no different than how I don’t watch the news with them — news of murders and killing sprees and tragedy. No different than how we prefer to live somewhere that isn’t surrounded by drug lords and gang shootings and prostitutes on the street corners.

Those things are in the world, and adults *should* be wrestling with these societal challenges. That’s why I write about them — I want to walk through what it means to face things in this life. To ask the question via my characters: How can we respond to the horrors and tragedies of the human condition? How should we?

But my gut instinct is to introduce these concepts to my children slowly, in small doses, lest their hearts be overcome with the darkness that is out there. I don’t believe they should be sheltered forever, as some Christians may. I don’t believe adults should isolate themselves from these realities, either. And I admire the missionaries who follow the call of God to live in the midst of the harsh places, even with their kids.

I especially appreciate that quote from Overstreet: “…But that tells me more about the viewer than the artist. Evil is dangerous because it is in some ways appealing, and any meaningful depiction of evil will show that.”

Yes. It is uncomfortable to see lust on the scene and be faced with that part of us that is attracted to the idea of sex at a whim. Easy to blame the film, “It promotes lust. It ‘made me’ feel tempted.” Erp, wrong. “…Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” (James 1:14)

Only God can judge the heart of the artist. May we all be faithful to the art He has called us to. Even when God’s people object, because it unveils the carnal nature still at work in their members. Stay true, writers and filmmakers, artists and songwriters — even when your work is as unwelcome as the prophets of old, who unveiled the evil in the hearts of the people by the truth they proclaimed directly.

Fantastic, Mike. THANK you. This ministers to me where I live.

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Not In The Clique January 13, 2014 at 10:23 AM

I don’t want to seem cold, heartless, and offensive, BUT, this is 2014 and we Christians should know by now that Hollywood has no desire nor intentions of producing God Jesus Christ Holy Spirit fearing and God Jesus Christ Holy Spirit glorifying entertainment!

Hollywood is run by satan and you honestly believe that satan is going to allow Hollywood to provide entertainment glorifying and even encouraging the saved and damned to turn their lives over to, serve, and glorify his enemy?

That ain’t going to happen!

I can’t even watch the Christian cable stations anymore because they have gone the way of the world out of greed for money, ratings, power, prestige. It makes me sick to my stomache!

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Jesse Koepke January 13, 2014 at 10:30 AM

I definitely see the point you are making, Mike, and I think it’s a valid one. I also appreciate Overstreet’s conclusion and how he leaves a yes-or-no answer up to the reader. However, while I understand the idea of a cautionary tale, I wonder if there is a point where the attempt to portray the “reality of the evil” becomes detrimental to what you’re trying to teach.

For example, let’s say I wanted to make a movie about how violence to animals is unbearably painful to the animals. In order to show that to the viewer, I torture a few animals slowly, making sure the camera sees the pain on their face and hears the squeals. The audience would certainly understand the cautionary tale and not want to do that, but what about the collateral damage? Everyone would argue there is a better way to make the same point.

At some point I think the act of portraying the depth of evil (in the case of Wolf of Wall Street, hundreds of expletives and multiple explicit sexual scenes) becomes detrimental to the viewers, and as storytellers I think that’s a question we shouldn’t ignore for the sake of “showing the true nature of evil”. Perhaps it is up to each individual as Overstreet says, but personally I won’t be seeing the movie or in my own creative works go that far for that reason.

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Teddi Deppner January 13, 2014 at 5:30 PM

Totally agree that there’s a line to be drawn. I think the world draws it in a different place than Christians do. And individual Christians definitely draw it in different places.

Each should follow their own conscience — a sound principle drawn from how dietary differences between believers were debated and handled in bible times (1 Cor. 10).

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Samuel Choy January 13, 2014 at 1:11 PM

Mike,

You write, “As Christians, we must allow artists the freedom to meaningfully explore and portray evil without demanding “cautionary tales” and cut-and-dried resolutions, or accusing them of endorsing the evils they portray.”

While a agree with that premise 100%, I can’t help but wonder if the movie could have communicated its message without getting so explicit? How many people went to see the “Wolf of Wall Street” for its though provoking content or to see the skin? Would it have made as much money or been as well reviewed had the sex and drugs been alluded to rather than shown?

For the average viewer, is the message of the movie lost in the explicit scenes or is the message strengthened by them?

To be honest, I don’t have the answer to those questions. However, I highly doubt the average 18-year-old male left the movie thinking, “Wow, what a thought-provoking story on the nature of good and evil.”

Sam

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Brent January 17, 2014 at 8:25 AM

This is a great observation. I guess we need to be graphic enough to tell a realistic story, but sometimes what is not seen is more disturbing than what is seen.

At any rate, Christian authors need to keep this in mind and exercise thoughtful discretion on just how much is necessary to make their point in a powerful way.

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Melissa Ortega January 13, 2014 at 1:21 PM

After giving this some more thought, I should add that the line for me in film, specifically, is what it requires actors to do. Innuendo requires far less than asking actors/actresses to do things in front of a film crew and the rest of the world that equates to nothing less than prostitution. It is clear from many, many interviews with performers that these are not things they want to do but feel pressured to do. Their (supposed-to-be) comfort? Being told “it’s not you, it’s a character in a story” – only this isn’t true.

Books are one thing. There are no real human lives involved. With film, it’s different.

Because I am a performer, I never separate the real human being from whatever it is they’re portraying on screen. I have no idea what is in Wolf specifically, but based on what is mentioned above, I have no doubt that someone’s daughter may have been prostituted in its making.

That’s what often makes Hollywood such a grand hypocrite. It churns out films about the mistreatment of humanity, often while asking the humans it’s using to tell that story to sell themselves. If they can get them through a scene “comfortably” then directors feel they’ve done due diligence in giving the actors their dignity. They don’t give a rat’s rear that that “comfortable” person went home and puked all night, or saw their marriage end, or later discovered their children caught glimpse of them in that movie they wish they had never made.

For me, that’s a clear line. Showing things graphically is not necessary – you can use innuendo to depict nightmarish scenes. There are plenty from old films that I can’t get out of my mind! So….why show it? I don’t think I’ve heard a really acceptable answer to that yet.

What’s worse, is when writers write, they may feel liberty to cover graphic things in a novel, but they will have to constantly worry (in selling film rights) what somebody is going to be asked to do to tell that story onscreen – and with their name on it.

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J.S. Clark January 15, 2014 at 8:09 AM

I think that’s well said. I know for this reason, I can’t really imagine selling the writes to my books. I would have less qualms about violence or language and even non-sexual nudity, but when it strays into characters interacting romantically, I’m more inclined to say no.

Not that anyone has asked for the right to make anything I’ve written.

Then again, the same can be said for even a kiss. I would argue that people should be able to kiss each other without a moral problem, just like hugging, but I would still not want an actor acting out what they felt was inappropriate affection.

Of course, in fairness, the same could be said of violence or language or non-sexual nudity.

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Melissa Ortega January 17, 2014 at 8:34 AM

Violence isn’t real. It isn’t even close to real, so I think that’s less of a problem to most performers – although playing a very evil person has had very strong psychological effects on several. (Jack Nicholson, Heath Ledger) After that, I’m going to be less likely to judge a film with the language or the kissing because I know plenty of actors who are comfortable with that. However, I don’t think I’ve read but maybe two interviews with any performers who actually feel comfortable or even like to do sexually graphic scenes. How could you?

But when we watch it on screen, the reality of that is blurred.

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Greg - Tiribulus January 17, 2014 at 9:22 AM

Yeah, because what’s important is what the unregenerate “performers” are comfortable with. Not the Word of God. Hollywood is such a beguiling abomination. This won’t make any difference to anybody here, but I have to be try.
WORDS, and the ability to speak them are precious and sacred. Regardless of the exact theological implications upon the ordo salutis, confession is made with the mouth unto salvation. (Romans 10:9-10) God created by the command of His WORD(Genesis 1:3, Hebrews 11:3 and John 1:2). Jesus Christ is the living WORD of almighty God. (John 1:1-14) Spoken communication is a major component of the Imago Dei whereby we bear His very image. (Genesis 1:3 and 1:27) That is why he commands in Ephesians 4:29 “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Should we intentionally pay God’s money to hear unbelievers thoughtlessly and many times blasphemously speak that which we are commanded never to say ourselves?

And to anyone who may call legalism here, do please hear the incarnate WORD of God: “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:33-37)

Every careless WORD</strong (ESV). Is the consumption of such “culture” conducive to transformation from the world by the renewing of one’s mind or conformity to it? (Romans 12:1-2) If we are not supposed to blaspheme, take the Lord's name in vain or let ANY corrupting talk come out of our mouths, then why pray tell would we pay sinners to do it for us?

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Greg - Tiribulus January 17, 2014 at 9:26 AM

Sorry, I missed the closing bracket on the bold tag for that last paragraph.:

Every careless WORD (ESV). Is the consumption of such “culture” conducive to transformation from the world by the renewing of one’s mind or conformity to it? (Romans 12:1-2) If we are not supposed to blaspheme, take the Lord’s name in vain or let ANY corrupting talk come out of our mouths, then why pray tell would we pay sinners to do it for us?

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Bob Avey January 14, 2014 at 12:29 PM

I believe that as long as evil is portrayed as evil, and not romanticized even to the point of blurring the lines, the message can be effectively delivered, the point well made.
Instead of creating a film or book that confuses the audience or reader, leaving them uncertain as to what the message actually is, or was intended to be, why not create the art in the form of a tragedy and not a comedy. In that way, the protagonist of the story could be made to look like the loser and still have the hearts of the audience, while the antagonist or antagonists could be shown as the apparent winners: The good-guy doesn’t always win but…

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Kat Heckenbach January 14, 2014 at 3:37 PM

I recently read a YA book that tells the story of Ophelia and Hamlet from Ophelia’s pov (and in modern times). Hamlet becomes abusive with her–and by that I mean abusive, as in he leaves bruises on her and at one point chokes her until she passes out–yet Ophelia is massively in love with him and swoons over his every little word. She displays classic abuse victim behavior, making excuses for him, thinking it’s her fault, etc. There IS a chance the author was trying to create a certain feeling of repulsion in the audience (although I’ve never looked that up). But reading the reviews…it’s lauded as this great romance and blah, blah, blah. My fear: teen girls are going to read this book and equate abuse and victim behavior with romance, that books like this are going to build a generation of girls who think “he hurts me because he loves me.”

So, while I agree wholeheartedly in the artistic exploration and such, and I happen to love books/movies/stories that have ambiguous endings and that make me think, the problem is that the audience who *needs* the message are often the ones who miss it.

Those who already find greed and such sickening will become repulsed by a movie like this, but those who are already caught up in that lifestyle will see nothing but reinforcement for their behavior.

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Teddi Deppner January 14, 2014 at 3:41 PM

That’s a great point, Kat. I’ll be chewing on that one.

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Greg - Tiribulus January 16, 2014 at 7:37 AM

There is not a syllable’s worth of mandate or even permission for ANY of this engagement with the world’s visual entertainment media from the SCRIPTURES which are ALWAYS very conspicuously missing from these discussions. I would just LOVE to debate someone like Overstreet on this, but alas, he has refused to so much as even publish a comment of mine under his review of this reprehensible flesh festival consisting of no other words than THIS link.

Because he knows neither the scriptures nor the power of God. His soul is fed with an incessant diet of filth and he is hence entirely ill equipped to engage with the word of God, which I bet he barely ever touches. I welcome it though. I haven’t given up on Brett McCracken yet, but he runs away too. Then again, I do realize that I’m just a nobody and these pied pipers of perversion have nothing to gain by risking embarrassment in a debate with a nobody when the church is lapping up their carnality like an ice cream cone. Why bother defending an apostate position when it’s winning? I understand.

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J.S. Clark January 19, 2014 at 7:23 AM

Greg, doesn’t the scriptures also say to avoid debate and division? Of course, a person needs to argue for truth, but there is such a thing as fruitless debate. So when you start by saying “This won’t make any difference to anybody here,” add you “love” debate, and make assumptions about the motives of people who won’t debate you, it suggests to someone like me that debate is your goal. But if you love someone, then you shouldn’t try to win debates, you should try to win people.

I would be willing to discuss it with you, if I thought you would actually hear what I was saying.

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Brent January 19, 2014 at 9:25 AM

Isaiah 58 says “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” Yet if this isn’t done within a the context of relationship (love), it is futile in its effectiveness. I have always felt we must have the mind of Christ in this: willing to die for souls before we earn the right rebuke them. I believe there were tears in Christ’s voice as he uttered his scathing rebukes. There would be a lot less contention if God’s people would behave in this way.

Even debates must be done within this context or they can slip from the realm of friendly and good-natured and become ugly.

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Not In The Clique January 20, 2014 at 12:03 PM

“There would be a lot less contention if God’s people would behave this way”?

Jeremiah who ended up being beaten, in prison and in the cistern(sewer) would disagree with you. Isaiah the prophet who ended up being sawed in half by Mannasseh the King would disagree with you. Amos the prophet who had quite a mouth would disagree with you. Zechariah who was slain (the son of Jehoiada the priest ) would disagree with you. Abel who was slain by his brother Cain would disagree with you. Daniel and his three friends would disagree with you. John the Baptist would disagree with you. Paul, Peter, James, John, Titus, and Timothy would all disagree with you. Priscilla and Aquila who laid down their own necks for Pauls life (Romans 16) would disagree with you. Phebe (a widow continuing her deceased husbands deaconship ) would disagree with you (Romans 16). Junia a female apostle who went to prison for preaching the truth would disagree with you (Romans 16:7).

Furthermore, it was Jesus who stated in Matthew 10: 34-39 (KJV):

“Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.”

“For I am come to SET A MAN AT VARIANCE AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND THE DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND THE DAUGHTER IN LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER IN LAW.”

“And a MAN’S FOES SHALL BE THEY OF HIS OWN HOUSEHOLD.”

“He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”

“And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.”

“He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”

Brent, Jesus constantly caused contention and still is causing contention with the TRUTH. Jesus did not keep His mouth shut so that the “hypocrits”, “hirelings” and “wolves in sheeps clothing” could continue to be comfortable in their “vomit” and could continue to lie to and “scatter the sheep”. And Jesus had a mouth which He used out of love for us which resulted in His torture and crucifixion. All the names I listed above Brent exercised their mouths out of LOVE and OBEDIENCE to God Jesus Christ Holy Spirit.

Since then up until now, there have been Christians who “exercized their mouths” out of LOVE and OBEDIENCE for God Jesus Christ Holy Spirit. Every one of them have been ridiculed, their character assassinated, tortured, and most if not all……murdered.

All because of their LOVE and OBEDIENCE for God Jesus Christ Holy Spirit. Revelation 6: 9-11 states:

“And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:”

“And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?”

“And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”

Also, Revelation 16:6 states:

“For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.”

The Word of God is not, nor has the Word of God ever been debatable. How do you debate the TRUTH? Yet, man from Eve and Adam in the Garden of Eden have been debating Gods Word…….and mankind still is debating. Brent, the TRUTH is THE TRUTH and if you are going to please God Jesus Christ Holy Spirit, then you can’t keep your mouth shut for the sake of “friendly and good-natured” because Christ is not sending “peace, but a sword”.

People since the beginning of satans lie to Eve have have been fed pretty little lies just to keep the peace. When are you going to start telling people the TRUTH?

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Greg - Tiribulus January 19, 2014 at 3:22 PM

From J.S. Clark January 19, 2014 at 7:23 AM

I want to begin by giving props to Mike Duran. Seriously. I’m SURE we disagree on plenty, but his willingness to indulge my brazen loquacity is to be commended in my opinion and I’d be saying that even it it weren’t me.

J.S. Clark says: “Greg, doesn’t the scriptures also say to avoid debate and division?”
Meaningless ones yes. This is one of the most crippling and spiritually toxic deceptions in the western church today. Especially for younger generations.
So when you start by saying “This won’t make any difference to anybody here,”
“anybody here” aren’t the only people who read a given web page. Many people NOT actually here will read as well. The beauty of the internet when used for His glory.
J.S. Clark says: ” add you “love” debate,”
That’s not what. I didn’t say I love debate. What I did say is I would love TO debate someone like Overstreet. Or one of these other big name alleged “Christian” film critics. As alluded to above. I consider them (most of the prominent ones) enemies of Christ and morally degenerate heretics with whom my goal is to biblically discredit them before as many people as the Lord would be pleased to provide.
J.S. Clark says: “and make assumptions about the motives of people who won’t debate you,”
I stand by those assumptions until given one particle of reason to abandon them.
J.S. Clark says: “it suggests to someone like me that debate is your goal.”
Then allow me to help you revise this (not altogether unwarranted on first blush) “suggestion”. My most fervent wish my friend is that such a debate never need take place because the church is faithful and true to the principles of God’s holy word. I’ll confess there are certain debates I still enjoy. (like EPISTEMOLOGY), but I tell you now before Father, Son and Holy Ghost that this is NOT one of them.
J.S. Clark says: “But if you love someone, then you shouldn’t try to win debates, you should try to win people.
When set as a goal in itself, winning a debate IS an exercise in self exalting idolatry. However, I lay my heart daily before the throne of my King begging that he save me from using HIS gifts to my own glory and not the faithful proclamation of HIS truth in purity and power. I do not buy this feminized nonconfrontational, everybody who says the word J.E.S.U.S. is a brother to be tip toed around because were not supposed to judge, attitude. That’s the deception that protects the first deception.

I certainly do not hate ANYone, including Overstreet, but my concern is not primarily for him. It is for those he (and others like him) deceives. My goal is not to beat this man down in a debate for the sake of it. Or even for HIS sake. My goal is to force as many people as possible into a choice between the ingestion of the Satanic entertainment industry’s poison OR the holy scriptures. Because never the twain shall meet. I want them to KNOW beyond a shadow of a biblical doubt that they CANNOT both financially support and participate in Sodom and Gomorrah and claim kinship with the spotless Lamb of God.

As I said above: “There is not a syllable’s worth of mandate or even permission for ANY of this engagement with the world’s visual entertainment media from the SCRIPTURES”
J.S. Clark says: “I would be willing to discuss it with you, if I thought you would actually hear what I was saying.”
As I said in my message to you on your site that you deleted earlier:
Message to JS Clark on his site:
“No personal offense, but I want one of these big name authors and critics so as to get as many eyes on it as possible. I believe probably honestly so, but you are DEAD wrong in your assessment of me and my motivations.”

(that was pretty much the whole message btw. Except a link back here telling you who I was)

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J.S. Clark January 22, 2014 at 8:11 AM

Well said, Greg, and thank you for taking the time to reply thoughtfully. I agree with your disagreement of this non-confrontational accept anyone who claims Jesus doctrine and even that we should have debate sometimes. I am all about confronting certain wrongs, but the confrontation Yeshua (Jesus) had with the pharisees was far different than the one he had with the woman at the well or Nicodemus or the woman at Simon’s house.

I have a tendency to get wrapped up in debate, and forget what the point really is, so I want to remind others of the same. Besides, that it misses the opportunity to expand my understanding. For example, years ago, I probably would have agreed with most of what you said. Now, after years of learning from God’s word, this and that, I find I still see your concern (the danger of worldly influences), but I see the world’s influence as a symptom of a deeper problem (lack of truth in the inward man). I’m speaking generally.

I’m just saying, that I’ve found over time that usually both sides of a debate have merit, both sides are aiming at good, and you really have to seek God to find out how the two sides are meant to work together. I had to get to the place where I could hear what the other person was really saying, and that is totally biblical because a judge has to hear both sides and diligently inquire.

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