I don?t know what you think about Mark Burnett?s new Son of God movie, nor do I know what I think about it (because I haven?t seen it), but when I watched the trailer I was struck by something the filmmakers got right. Here?s the trailer if you haven?t seen it:
A lot of people have issues with the film. A friend was telling me that his theologian friends had problems with Son of God?s biblical accuracy and his artistic friends had problems with its production value. Wherever you land on those particular areas of concern, here?s something on which I hope we can all agree:
The film attempts to give voice to the words of Jesus with passion, emotion, and conviction ??as they were originally voiced ??and most churches can?t make the same claim.?
See, Jesus Christ, the liberating King, for whom and by whom all things were created, did not and does not speak in monotone. He did not rush through the Sermon on the Mount. He did not give a lifeless reading of Isaiah 61 that day in the synagogue. He did not hesitate or equivocate when he said, ?I am he.?
And yet, you?d never know that from the way most of us read Scripture aloud on Sundays. The truth is, we treat the reading of Scripture more like a clinical transfer of information than an interpretive, theologically-rich opportunity for communication and formation. As it is, the most impassioned words your people hear in a Sunday worship service probably come from a lyric sheet or a sermon manuscript, not the Bible. Interesting.
At the end of the day, you can think whatever you want about Son of God ? rent out a whole theater for your church or tell them to go find the old Vintage21 Jesus videos instead. That?s up to you. But here?s what I?m proposing: pair up someone on your staff who has a knack for describing the emotional and contextual implications of the written word with someone who has a flair for infusing those emotional and contextual implications into the spoken word, and then see what happens.
You don?t have to cast a handsome Portuguese actor in the role of Jesus in order to add depth to your reading and teaching of the Bible. But you do have to commit to understanding and sharing the passion, emotion, and conviction of the Gospels, the psalms, the prophets, the epistles, and all the rest. Seems like it?d be worth a try, right?