The hype/confusion/disgust/concern over the movie End of the Spear has been resounding all over the blogosphere, and even into more mainstream media in places. The casting of homosexual activist Chad Allen has created a great furor. Lesser furor has been boiling over the presentation (or lack thereof) of the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
For those unfamiliar with the story, End of the Spear is a presentation of the story of five missionaries who were martyred in their efforts to reach the Waodani Indian tribe of South America. After months of trying to establish a friendly contact, these five men, all with wives and families, decided to take it a step further by landing their airplane on a nearby beach and hoping for the Indians to come out to meet them. On January 8, 1956, all five men were killed by the Indians. In the aftermath, some of the wives of these men were able to establish contact, and lived among these Indians, sharing the gospel of Christ with them and seeing these Indians follow Christ for salvation.
It is sad that the producers of this movie showed show little discernment in casting Allen as a lead role. It is hard to imagine a poorer decision could have been made. Allen stands diametrically opposed to the message of the lives of these men, and has no use for the God for whom these men gave their lives.
It is equally sad that there is no clear presentation of the gospel of salvation by faith alone in Christ alone in this movie. That is, after all, the point of the story. These men did not give their lives for social reformation, or merely to teach people to love others and get along with them. It was not a mission in social dynamics. They gave their lives because they knew that this tribe was hopeless without Christ and they determined to take the gospel to them at any cost.
So what now? Given the poor casting choice, and the lack of a clear gospel, how should we respond? My answer may surprise some.
First, if you were not going to go see the movie anyway, I would not worry yourself about it. There have been far worse movies with far greater media coverage with far less church attention. Go about your life and serve God passionately with the heartbeat of these five.
Second, if you may be inclined to see the movie, go see it … or don’t. But realize that it has already been made and cannot be changed. Hopefully Every Tribe Entertainment (the production company) has learned its lesson.
What about a homosexual activist playing a lead role? He will play it whether you see it or not. I am totally against it. It was a bad decision, but it is done. And God has worked his will through great sinners before, and even a donkey. So Allen fits right in there. Had we never known about Chad’s activism, the message of the film would be the same. It will admittedly be harder to watch, and some may decide not to see it because of this. That’s fine. I would urge you not to blast away at your brothers and sisters who do decide to see it.
What about the lack of the gospel? In God’s work, gospel presentation is not always the first thing on the agenda. In many cases, there are necessary precursors to the opening of the heart to the gospel, precursors that God has ordained to use in people’s lives in his sovereign opening of their hearts to belief. God has used seemingly small and inane things to do his work in the past. He has used relationships (even unwise relationships), health and sickness, financial loss, family problems, and much more. God even used a donkey to open the eyes of Balaam. So, if he chooses, he can use this movie to spark someone’s interest in the gospel. A sovereign God can work in mysterious ways.
The fact that the gospel is not overt is not necessarily compromise. You might invite someone to dinner to get to know them, in hopes of building a relationship that will open the door for the gospel. You don’t bombard them with the gospel in the first five minutes of the conversation. You wait until later, maybe even a day or so later, or a week. View this movie as the first part of a conversation. If you never get to the gospel presentation, you have sinned. If you start the conversation first, then get to the gospel, you have done only what evangelists have done for two thousand years. So use it.
Let’s face it. In reality, this movie might be better than The Passion was, since those committed to preaching Christ will not have to overcome a faulty gospel to get to the real thing.
So ask your friends, “Did you see End of the Spear yet? What did you think? Did you understand what it was about? Can I tell the whole story?”
The old saying goes, “Do not look a gift horse in the mouth.” It fits here. This movie is not the way it should have been done. But it is done, and God is still sovereign. So if the door is open, walk through it. If the door is a ajar, push it open. See it … don’t see it. But be willing to tell the “rest of the story.”