DVD Review: Tomorrowland

tomorrowlandThis weekend we had a pizza party sleepover for our 10 year old’s birthday. We were looking for a family-friendly movie that would keep the attention of a group of girls aged 7-11. We opted to try the Disney film Tomorrowland from 2015. It stars George Clooney, Hugh Laurie (from House), and a couple of younger actors that were new to me. The movie has a metascore of 60, which means it’s not considered a great movie but it’s not a dog.

The IMDB.com film summary simply says:

Bound by a shared destiny, a teen bursting with scientific curiosity and a former boy-genius inventor embark on a mission to unearth the secrets of a place somewhere in time and space that exists in their collective memory.

The basic premise of the film is found in an early description of Tomorrowland from one of the characters played by Keegan-Michael Key:

Have you ever wondered what would happen, if all the geniuses, the artists, the scientists, the smartest, most creative people in the world decided to actually change it? Where, where could they even do such a thing? They’d need a place free from politics and bureaucracy, distractions, greed – a secret place where they could build whatever they were crazy enough to imagine…

This is Tomorrowland. It’s the better version of what the world could be, designed by the best of us. And the worst of us, those in the real world, are quickly leading the world to it’s end. Thus the main characters must find a way to save the world and put things back on the right track.

In all honesty, the movie was decent. It had many fun moments that the whole family could laugh with and the adventure element was engaging for kids and adults. I was a tad surprised at the language in a PG Disney movie marketed as a family movie. There are several uses of “damn,” “hell,” “bloody,” and “bollocks.” Clearly the PG Disney of today isn’t much like the PG Disney of my youth. Perhaps in the context of our current society, our kids are hearing far worse in public schools and on the shows and movies they watch.

As far as the movie goes, though, I liked it, and wouldn’t have any problem suggesting it as a family film for older kids. But the content is what intrigued me – the idea of humanity being able to create a better place. This is entirely a biblical concept!

The Bible envisions the kingdom of God as an “already/not yet” reality. It is something that is currently present in this world. It is something that is still yet to come. While some religions believe in an afterlife or spiritual realm that is completely distinct from humanity, the Bible portrays Yahweh as a God who is actively present in the life and history of humanity. When Jesus teaches his disciples to pray, he says:

Your will be done, Your kingdom come ON EARTH as it is in heaven.

God is active HERE AND NOW! We have an opportunity to welcome heaven into our daily lives. It begins with God’s activity. It continues with our own activity. As God’s agents in this world, being people who reflect HIS image and HIS glory, we have the opportunity to welcome heaven here.

It’s not another dimension with fantastic technology like Tomorrowland. It’s a world where God’s presence and reign are reflected in our activity, in our homes, in our workplaces, even (GASP!) in our politics. We fail miserably when we consider God’s activity to be a future element of the next world instead of an active call for us to live heavenly lives now.

All of us, from our varied backgrounds and experiences, our numerous skills and talents, don’t create Heaven through anything we have or bring to the table. We create Tomorrowland when we start living kingdom of God lives every day. Already. And not yet, for we know that there will come a day when we see Jesus face to face, and there will be a new heaven and a new earth.

Until that day, though, let us strive to create heaven on earth as we live kingdom lives!

Dear Christian, Can You Be More Bigoted Please?

Look up any single word in a dozen dictionaries and you may find a dozen varying definitions. IntoleranceThe other day I saw someone on social media calling Christians bigots.

It made me want to look up the word to see the variations. While you will find definitions that fit the way liberals use the term against Christians, dictionary.com had this:

big-ot [big-uh t]

noun

1. a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.

In some sense, then, I believe that Christians SHOULD be bigoted.

Yes, we need to be utterly intolerant to a different creed, belief, or opinion. In Acts 4:12 we see the Apostle Peter preaching:

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Peter is merely reflecting the words of Jesus in John 3:18:

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

There is no room for allowing other creeds to coexist along side of the Christian creed. Jesus is not A way to God.

Jesus is THE way to God.

So yes, call me a bigot. I won’t waver in my belief that the Christian way is right and any other way is wrong.

Where Christians and non-Christians get confused, though, is understanding that we can treat people well in spite of religious differences. I can believe that my way is the only way and still treat people decently. A difference of beliefs does not necessitate anger and animosity towards those who differ.

Liberals tend to see this as a cop out. I’ve been told if Christians really treated people decently we’d allow people to believe what they want to believe (ironically, they are refusing to allow me to believe what I want to believe).

Conservatives tend to see this as a sell-out.Sellout If we hold firm to our beliefs then we will separate from the world around us and shun evil. This is why so many Christians are up in arms about selling wedding supplies to gay couples. This is why Christian doctors are refusing to treat infants of gay couples.

I will be blunt: THIS IS NOT TREATING PEOPLE WELL!

We can disagree theologically and still be decent human beings. So I will do my best to treat people well.

But don’t ask me to cave on my belief about salvation just because you feel excluded. 🙂

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I welcome all discussion, just keep it civil and polite. If this post resonates with you in any way, please share it on Facebook, Twitter, or email!

I Can’t Believe You Believe THAT!!!

shock

As young as I am, I’ve been in church ministry for 17 years. I’ve been a worship leader, a youth pastor, an associate pastor, a preaching pastor, and a lead/senior pastor. In all that time I’ve said some dumb stuff. I’ve put my foot in my mouth plenty of times. If you were to tell me 17 years ago that one of the brouhahas I would start would be because I led my church in the Apostles’ Creed I would have thought you nuts.

Yet here we are. A couple weeks ago I led my church in saying the Apostles’ Creed. It was only the 2nd time in 2 years we had ever done it, but I was preaching on faith in Jesus and standing firm in one’s faith, so we closed the service by saying the Creed as one church.
I heard from several who were opposed to the Creed and thought it had no place in our church. So let’s talk about it.

The Creed first came on the scene in the 4th century. That’s about 1200 years before the Protestant/Catholic split. And about 600 years before the Eastern Orthodox/Catholic split. At the time there was only one Church – the Christian Church. It was referred to as catholic (little c) which meant “universal” – but we’ll talk about that more in a bit.

The Church put together the teaching of the Apostles in a simple, succinct form that could be learned by every Christian. In a time where literacy levels were low, a Creed that could be memorized was a big bonus in teaching people the core elements of faith.

Here are the elements and the Bible verses that spawned the Apostles’ teaching:

~ I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. (Psalm 103:13)

Throughout the Bible believers affirm that God is the source of everything, the magnificent creator of all things. Both Old and New Testaments refer to God as Father. God is neither male nor female, so Father isn’t a perfect metaphor for God, but in our limited language and human understanding it is how the Bible refers to God.

~ I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (Mark 1:1)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Jesus was not merely a good man or a wise teacher – he was unique. He was one of a kind. He was God in the flesh.

~ who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Luke 1:26-37)

We don’t even have to get into Protestant/Catholic debates on the immaculate conception or perpetual virginity of Mary or any of the other stuff we like to fight over. We agree on this basic element: Jesus was a supernaturally born child born of a young girl who didn’t get pregnant by any man.

~ He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried;

And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. (Mark 15:1)

So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified. (Mark 15:15)

And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. (Mark 15:37)

And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut from the rock. (Mark 15:46)

Jesus was an historical figure that actually lived, breathed, was betrayed, killed, and buried. Believe it or not, I’ve had conversations with atheists who genuinely believe that Jesus is a fictional character. They are blown away when I show them that Jesus was written about by secular Roman historians as well as the Bible and Christian historians.

~ he descended to hell.

Here it is. This is the kicker – the one that throws a lot of people for a loop. What?!? Jesus went to hell?

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah…. (1 Peter 3:18-20)

There are several other passages used when talking about this element of the Creed.

…he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. (Acts 2:31.)

The Greek use of Hades is not the same as our English understanding of Hell as place of torment. Originally it was a holding place between life and death. Even the Jews had a concept of Abraham’s Bosom, and Jesus used it in a parable (see Luke 16:19-31). The Bible isn’t saying that Jesus spent time in eternal judgment, but that he departed from this world and went to the afterlife, which could not contain him!

~ The third day he rose again from the dead.

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” (Luke 24:1-7)

Unlike leaders/founders of other religions, we affirm that Jesus is NOT dead. He is alive after a physical and bodily resurrection.

~ He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:6-11)

~ From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word…. (2 Timothy 4:1)

This world is not the end of existence. The afterlife awaits us all, and we will all be judged. The old-fashioned expression is “the quick and the dead.” When I was a kid I always wondered what that meant. What’s gonna happen to the slow people? But quick is an old way of saying “alive.” Those who are living and those who have already passed will face a final judgment before Jesus.

~ I believe in the Holy Spirit,

And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “You heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5)
The Spirit of God is active in the lives of believers. The Spirit leads us, guides us, convicts us.

~ the holy catholic church,

…the sake of [Jesus’] body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister…. (Colossians 1:24-25)

Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… (Ephesians 5:25)

Here’s another one that bugs Protestants. Remember, catholic means “universal.” They weren’t trying to promote the Roman Catholic organization but saying that all Christians around the world are united in Christ. In the Bible, the word for church is ekklesia and literally means “called out.” We are different from the world. We are an assembly of people called together through our common faith in Jesus. It’s not the buildings but the believers who ARE the Church!

~ the communion of saints,

…that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us… (1 John 1:3)

The Apostle Paul frequently refers to all Christians as holy ones or “saints.” Again, this isn’t about any Roman Catholic doctrine but about the bond and unity that all believers have in Christ Jesus.

~ the forgiveness of sins,

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:14)

In actuality, the Bible talks a lot about forgiveness of our sins because of the work of Jesus on the cross. It’s the whole point of the cross. So I think we can move on from this one.

~ the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:49)

The Apostle Paul says, if there is no resurrection of the dead then we’re all screwed. Why bother being faithful? We can live and let live. Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die. But no – there is more to this life than the here and now. We live in temporary bodies but are eternal beings. Thank God one day we will shed these messes!

There, in a nutshell, is some of the biblical foundation for the Apostles’ Creed. While not appearing word for word in the Bible, the Creed has elements that do come from the Bible. It is not a Roman Catholic thing. It is a Christian thing that has been part of Christian worship services for 2000 years. Catholics use it, Anglicans, Orthodox Christians, Lutherans, Methodists, non-denominational churches, and on and on.
The purpose of reciting and using the Creed is to stand in solidarity with thousands of years of Christian faithful who declare, “We believe.” Every element of the Creed is biblical and represents the faith that has been passed down to us from the beginning of Christianity.

In a modern context, think about it like a contemporary church website. Every church website I’ve ever seen has a statement of faith/beliefs. The Apostles’ Creed is the statement of faith for the Worldwide Church website.

If you want to hear some version of the Creed put to music you should check out these: