Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

The Christian faith is a logically consistent and all-encompassing way to understand human life and its purpose. It is natural that Christians, who believe that everything mankind does and creates flows from abilities given to us by God, should seek to apply our faith to the various arts. Some Christians are gifted in visual arts (such as painting and sculpture), some are gifted in musical arts (composing or performing), some are gifted in literary arts (novels and poetry), and some are gifted in dramatic and performing arts (stage, dance, television, and movies).

My own greatest area of interest and expertise is in literature and drama. This comes from my undergraduate education (a literature major) and my avocation of reading (I typically finish one to two books per week). I personally believe that books and filmed dramas are the most powerful of all art forms for communicating—and that communication can be either for good or for evil.

A fiction writer—whether of printed short stories and novels, or of scripts and screenplays for live performance and film—has the power to create a new world. In this way all
writers reflect the “image of God,” the ultimate Creator. (This is the uniqueness of mankind, as described in Genesis 2.) Authors create characters and settings and plots that inevitably express their own perspective and values. Whether conscious of it or not, every person is creative and every person has a worldview.

A secular or atheistic worldview conveys the following assumptions: there is no God; mankind is all alone; events happen randomly and without ultimate purpose; moral choices may be influenced by society or an individual’s decision, but do not reflect any absolute right-and-wrong consistent with a Creator’s character; death is the end without hope of eternal life; each person’s story ends as a tragedy of despair; and there is no ultimate meaning to mankind’s existence. A Christian worldview is the opposite in all its fundamental assumptions and values.

When we immerse ourselves in a novel, a play, a television series, or a film, we are temporarily surrendering our minds and emotions to the author. We are allowing ourselves to look at life through their perspective. If a story is skillfully written or performed but its core message is contrary to our faith, it can actually do some spiritual damage. It is telling us a lie. It is seducing or manipulating us into drawing the conclusions of the author or director.

I have read many novels and sat through many shows and films that have tried to influence me to adopt a non-Christian worldview. No matter how entertaining they may be, I have concluded that ultimately those stories are not worth the investment of my time. More and more in recent years, I have been choosing to watch films and to read novels that I believe are grounded in a Christian worldview or are at least not hostile to my faith.

A book or film does not need to have an explicitly religious theme or characters in order to be a positive experience for a Christian. I have enjoyed many mysteries and crime dramas and adventure stories that are based on a sense of justice and a pursuit of a positive resolution. I have enjoyed many comedies and humorous stories, which help us all to laugh at our human flaws and imperfections. I have enjoyed stories of love lost and found, of explorations and quests, of sin and redemption. I have grown in my understanding of human nature and other periods of time by historical dramas based on real life. But if I am able to discern in advance that a book or film has at its core a hopeless, dark, or cruel perspective on life, I will choose to avoid it.

It is good for faithful Christians to be aware of the popular culture of the times in which we live; the challenge is to keep ourselves from being corrupted or influenced by it. One of the ways to protect ourselves is by choosing wisely what we consume with our minds and emotions.

by Pastor Doug Pratt