Thursday, June 23, 2016

Conjuring Two or Not To

            Conjuring 2 is a horror movie. Should Christians watch horror movies or not? What does the Bible say about watching horror movies?

            Filmmaker and author, Brian Godawa, in his article, “The Apologetic of Horror,” presents an excerpt of horror stories from the Bible, “The prophet Daniel wrote horror literature, based on images and drama pitched by God to him in Babylon. Not only did God turn the blaspheming king Nebuchadnezzar into an insane wolfman to humble his idolatrous pride (Dan. 4), but He storyboarded horror epics for kings Belshazzar and Darius as allegories of the historical battle between good and evil to come. Huge hybrid carnivorous monsters come out of the sea like Godzilla, one of them with large fangs and ravishing claws to devour, crush, and trample over the earth (7:1–8) until it is slain and its flesh roasted in fire (7:11); there are blasphemous sacrileges causing horror (8:13), including an abomination of desolation (9:26–27); angels and demons engaging in spiritual warfare (10:13); rivers of fire (7:10); deep impact comets and meteors colliding with the earth, Armageddon style (8:10); wars, desolation, and complete destruction (9:26-27). The book of Daniel reads like God’s own horror film festival.

            It is not merely the human being Daniel who crafted this work of epic horror allegory, it is God Himself who rolled the camera and directed the action. God himself enjoys the horror genre. That’s God-breathed inerrancy. The author of this faith didn’t grow out of it after the Old Testament. In fact, he may have received an even harsher movie rating in his later production, the New Testament.

            The book of Revelation is an epic horror fantasy sequel to Daniel, complete with science fiction special effects, and spectacles of horror darker than anything in a David Cronenberg Grand Guignol theater of blood. In this apocalyptic prophecy we read of a huge demonic spectacle of genetically mutated monsters chasing and tormenting scream ing [sic] people (9:1–11); armies of bizarre beasts wreaking death and destruction on the masses (9:13–18); a demonic dragon chasing a woman with the intent to eat her child (12:3–4); a seven-headed amphibious Hydra with horns that blasphemes God and draws pagan idol worship from everyone on earth (13:1–10); massive famines (6:8); gross outbreaks of rotting sores covering people’s bodies (16:2); plagues of demonic insects torturing populations (9:1–11); fire-breathing Griffon-like creatures (9:17); supernatural warfare of angels and demons (12:7); the dragging of rotting corpses through the streets while people party over them (11:7–13); rivers and seas of blood (14:20; 16:3); a blaspheming harlot doing the deed with kings and merchants (17:1-5) who then turn on her, strip her naked, burn her with fire, and cannibalize her (17:16); more famines, pestilence, and plagues (18:8); and when the good guys win, there is a mighty feast of vultures scavenging the flesh of kings and commanders in victory (19:17–18). And I might add, this all gives glory to God in the highest.” 1

            Brian Godawa’s premise is that the Bible does not oppose horror movies, since God HIMSELF has narrated horror stories as a part and parcel of HIS revelation. He then goes on to defend the horror genre theologically because…2

            …horror movies reinforce the doctrine of man’s sinful nature.

            …horror movies communicate the logical consequences of sin.

            …horror movies illustrate the consequence of modern man’s pride and arrogance.

            This is a compelling argument. The Bible does not explicitly pronounce a ban on horror movies. In fact, Brian Godawa has presented persuasive reasons to believe that the Bible does not ban viewing of horror movies.

            Those who desire to watch horror movies are not fearful of horror movies. But others may be fearful. Hence they may not watch horror movies. I have not watched horror movies because these movies have not appealed to my interest. I find enough horror in this world, so I do not need a distinctive encounter with horror through horror movies. But our counsel to those desiring to watch horror movies ought to be biblical and without any extraneous bias.

            Some Christians pronounce a blanket ban on horror movies as if they are as horrific as pornography. If we are to pronounce a blanket ban upon horror movies, then we ought not to watch the majority of the television serials and movies, for they contain insane amount of corrupt thoughts, violence and/or sexual connotations. Is this the way forward for us?

            Popular Christian website almost suggests that horror movies are a strict no-no, “As we mature in our Christian walk, sin and evil should bother us more and more all the time. We are to be beacons of light in an ever-darkening world, striving to live a life that is holy and pleasing to God (Romans 12:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:12). Scripture tells us to be moral and pure, abhorring what is evil and to have our minds focused on things which are noble and pure, lovely and admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8), and that “whatever [we] do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). These verses should guide us daily in everything we do, including the movies we choose to see. How can it be possible to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) when we are at a horror movie laden with murder and mayhem and, essentially, being entertained by the very sins that Jesus Christ died for?”2

            Does this render a judgment that those Christians who watch horror movies are not Christians or are they being unholy?

            There ought to be a meaning to all our actions. I enjoy watching a game or a clean movie or a TV serial, for I learn something out of them and in the process, I unwind. However, I am unsure how watching a horror movie would bring forth peace or relaxation upon us and I am also unsure how one can enjoy watching horror.

            Watching horror movies once in a while may not be a bad choice. However, I personally find only one good reason to watch a horror movie, which is to review them biblically so to make good use of the knowledge gleaned to disciple fellow Christians to grow in Christ.

            If we watch horror movies frequently, then we are indeed treading dangerous waters. To conclude, here is wisdom in the words of Brian Godawa, “Horror and thriller movies are two powerful apologetic means of arguing against the moral relativism of our postmodern society. Not only can they reinforce the biblical doctrine of the basic evil nature in humanity, but they can personify profound arguments of the kind of destructive evil that results when society affirms the Enlightenment worldview of scientism and sexual and political liberation. Of course, this is not to suggest that all horror movies are morally acceptable. In fact, I would argue that many of them have degenerated into immoral exaltation of sex, violence, and death. But abuse of a genre does not negate the proper use of that genre.

            It would be vain to try to justify the unhealthy obsession that some people have with the dark side, especially in their movie viewing habits. Too much focus on the bad news will dilute the power that the Good News has on an individual. Too much fascination with the nature and effects of sin can impede one’s growth in salvation. So, the defense of horror and thriller movies in principle should not be misconstrued to be a justification for all horror and thriller movies in practice. It is the mature Christian who, because of practice, has his senses trained to discern good and evil in a fallen world (Heb. 5:14). It is the mature Christian who, like the apostle Paul, can explore and study his pagan culture and draw out the good from the bad in order to interact redemptively with that culture (Acts 17).”3 (Emphasis Mine).



2 Ibid.



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