Posted by: Brooke | March 22, 2009

Knowing

knowing

I watched this movie on Friday and decided to post a reflection about it. Overall the movie is very good, action packed and suspenseful. However, have a problem with the way it seems to portray God and divine action.

This movie staring Nicolas Cage is about the end of the world and possessing the knowledge of when it will occur. Throughout the movie there is a strong theological undertone that seems to follow a deterministic pattern. The movie follows Nicholas Cage as he receives a list of predictive numbers, which were placed in a time capsule 50 years prior, and his journey to prevent the end of the world. While on this journey he goes through a mental hermeneutical shift, from viewing all of life as a random occurrence to viewing life as having a purpose and a meaning. Soon after gaining this knowledge the world ends and there is nothing he can do about it. However, there is a twist to the plot, Nicholas Cage’s character, John, has a son Caleb and at the end of the movie his son and his son’s girlfriend Abby are saved by these “divine aliens” and taken to another planet similar to earth to start over.

The theological undertones of this movie portray God, or the divine, as a being that has no influence over creation or its path, accept for his ability to swoop in and rescue a few human beings to deposit on the next planet. It is a depiction of God that is very reminiscent of the divine watchmaker (wind it up and let it go). There is something very detrimental about this depiction of God. It makes me feel alone, disposable, and with out connection to God. This could be one of the reasons it makes a decent thriller mystery. However, I feel that depictions of God in this manner detract from the true nature of God as a divine love so deep and infinite that it is incomprehensible for mankind to grasp.

I feel that this divine watch maker view of God is very pervasive in our society and that it is kept alive by incorrect catechism and media portrayal of God and the way he interacts with creation. I feel that this incorrect depiction of God is killing faith in God because we are asked to believe in an idol instead of the real, ever present, loving God of creation.

The question is how do we, as theologians, correct this problem? Is there a way to rid Christianity of this idol and replace it with the true God? The New Atheists have brought these questions and many more to the fore front by questioning and criticizing the Christian faith. I believe that there is a way to breathe new life into the Christian faith by removing old idols and replacing them with the one true God that is love. This is not a simple task, it will take dedication and creativity but it is the very definition of life to transcend itself. Therefore, if we want to keep the Christian faith alive and fruitful we must do our part to help it transcend itself so that we might find ourselves in a greater relationship with God.

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Responses

  1. Interestingly, I have never thought of the notion of a deistic god as an idol, but rather as an “easy out” for theologians and theists in general when they are confronted with a challenge to their faith that they are unable to refute. Acknowledging a creator god who brought life and beauty into existence answers a lot of complicated questions that we all ask concerning the meaning and origin of life. But even more importantly, stating that this god’s work was done after creation appeases a lot of people who are reluctant to admit that relationships and “hard stuff” like that are still going on between god and his creation. For those who are skeptical about the idea of a personal god, or perhaps for those who simply prefer to think that the universe is self-sustaining and understandable by science, the idea of a god who creates and leaves is an easier concept to accept. And for those Christians or theists who do not know how to answer the seemingly intimidating questions of Dawkins and Harris, resorting back to ideas of a deistic god may also seem easier than continuing to look for answers. It seems like a cheap out – these Christians are still acknowledging the existence of a god (and are therefore remaining theist), but they are simultaneously avoiding all of the hard concepts and questions that make our God great.

    Because of this, I really like how you call this deist god an idol. A god who is not personal, who does not love and interact with creation, and who remains separate from the world is not the Christian God in any respect. Such a god actually opposes the incarnation, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and the promise of future redemption. And as a result, by considering this god, we are distracted from the true God. Even worse, by allowing the concept of this god to sneakily blur with our God, we may not always recognize when the deistic god is cutting away at our true God.


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