How Kirk Cameron and some bad movies saved me

Left-Behind-The-Movie

“Left Behind”

Depending on your background you are either cringing at the mere mention of those words or you are having a warm fuzzy feeling. I’m betting most of my readers are the former not the latter. The Left Behind series of books and the subsequent movies starring Kirk Cameron have popularized and firmly set dispensational theology into the Christian American psyche (and to a much lesser extent elsewhere in the world). This theology is now repugnant to me (read Ryan’s excellent post as to the dangers of dispensational theology).

Having said that, while I view the theology as thoroughly unbiblical and dangerous, I still have a weird appreciation for it and there is a lesson for all of us: God can use even horrible theology, or poor preaching, to reach us.

When I first came to faith I listened to a lot of different people. Everything from Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer to Bruxy Cavey and John Piper. I watched a lot of really bad Christian movies including several rapture movies. Some of them were terribly bad – I mean, guns were actually candy bars wrapped in black tape – bad. So, when I first saw the Left Behind series of films, which actually had a reasonable budget behind them, I was rather impressed. I also like a good disaster film, action, explosions, and a clear line between good and evil.

Still, even when I was trying to accept the theology as true, I could never quite reconcile rapture theology with the notion of a loving God. (If you can, all the power to ya). I still have some appreciation for the movies however because they made me think. They made me think about things eternal. What happens after we die? Is there a heaven and is there a hell? Who is God and what is He like? Who is Jesus and what do we have to be saved? It got me to ask and consider those initial big questions of life and for that I give thank to God.

In the end of course, I give thanks to God for eventually leading me away from this horrible theology to a more loving view of the last things.

As curious as I might be to see the new movie – like watching a car accident – I think the only responsible thing for a Christian to do is not to go see it.

One thought on “How Kirk Cameron and some bad movies saved me

  1. I’m torn on whether to go see it. My main motivation is, as you put it, to watch the car wreck. I once was part of a group of about 12 to watch the second Twilight just to laugh at it. It was great; about the half of the theatre was there to make fun of it. I also know I can’t dialogue with it and those who have seen it unless I also see it.

    To the main point, yes, bad theology can occasionally help. It can also hurt a lot if people get stuck there. I know a lot of people are turned off of Christianity because they associate it primarily with dispensational theology and they identify its problems better than most Christians who believe it do while not realizing that dispensationalism is still a minority view in the global church (penal substitutionary atonement has a similar trend). I can also think of at least one other who had a story like yours but more extreme: brought to faith through nightmares of being left behind (not sure if she’s moved into something healthier or not since).

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