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January 18, 2010

A Woman Rides the Beast

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Should Jesus Christ be portrayed on Film?

While most viewers that have commented on our new film, A Lamp in the Dark: the Untold History of the Bible, have said that it was a blessing for them, we have also received a few concerns.  In the film, we have included dramatic re-enactments of historical events, including imagery of an actor portraying the Lord Jesus Christ.  This imagery has sparked concern from a few believers who have presented arguments we have heard before.  Some have claimed that showing an actor play Christ in a movie is somehow a “graven image” or a form of “idolatry.”  Some of the main points of this argument will be discussed below.

We think it is important to respond to this issue, especially since we are a Christian Film Ministry, whose desire is to proclaim the true Gospel.  Furthermore, the sort of work we do is clearly against the idols of the world, encouraging all to put faith in the only true God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. God forbid that we should ever cause anyone to stumble through carelessness or by an unbiblical approach to our labor.  As such, it is our sincere hope that the following article will help those who may be troubled or confused on the issue of presenting imagery of Christ in film.

What the Bible really says about Graven Images

The objection to presenting an actor who portrays Christ on film usually begins with the second commandment:

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image,
or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above,
or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the
water under the earth; Thou shalt not bow down
thyself unto them, nor serve them; for I, the Lord
thy God, am a jealous God …” (Exodus 20:4-5)

It is important to understand the full context of this commandment.  God is specifically addressing the issue of making graven images that are then worshiped and served in place of God Himself.  The way in which this command is sometimes interpreted is not unlike those who interpret “Thou shalt not kill” to mean that killing any creature under any circumstance is a sin against God.  Obviously, such an interpretation runs into problems when God commands animals to be sacrificed and criminals to be put to death for certain violations of the law.  Because of this, we must consider the whole counsel of God, and examine all that God commands and expects of His people. 

Graven Images in the Temple

When God commanded the Temple to be built by Solomon, we find a number of graven images of things “in heaven above” and “in the earth beneath.”  Among these were the images of the angelic creatures known as cherubims:

“And within the oracle he made two cherubims of
olive tree, each ten cubits high … And he set the
cherubims within the inner house: and they stretched
forth the wings of the cherubims, so that the wing of
the one touched the one wall, and the wing of the
other touched the other wall; and their wings touched
one another in the midst of the house.  And he overlaid
the cherubims with gold.” (1 Kings 6:23-28)

King Solomon set up these gigantic images of angelic beings in the midst of the Temple of God, and then he overlaid them with gold.  Was he setting up golden idols?  Didn’t God command not to make any graven image of anything that is in the heaven above? 
Wouldn’t that include angels?

Not only did Solomon cast images of cherubs, he made images of oxen and lions as well (1 Kings 7:25-29).  All these were included within God’s original Temple in Jerusalem.  If “graven images” were, of themselves, forbidden, surely God Himself would have condemned Solomon’s actions.  Instead, when Solomon was finished, the Lord filled the Temple with His glory (2 Chronicles 7:1) and said to him:  “I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.” (1 Kings 9:3) 

Would God have blessed Solomon’s efforts if He objected to the graven images of cherubs, lions and oxen? Clearly, those images were put there to be symbolic, not to be bowed down to, served or worshiped.  That was the difference.

Moses & the Bronze Serpent

Yet even before Solomon, we have the account of Moses creating a graven image of the bronze serpent, which God had commanded to be made. 

“And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it
on a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had
bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of
brass, he lived.”  (Numbers 21:9)

Notice that the children of Israel did not bow down to the serpent, and they were not serving the serpent.  Yet God had ordained that when the people looked upon it, they would be healed from being bitten by the fiery serpents of God’s wrath against them.  Our Lord Jesus taught that this was a picture of His own sacrifice on the cross (John 3:14). 

In time, the children of Israel fell into idolatry over this bronze serpent, and began to burn incense to it.  As a result, King Hezekiah would destroy it (2 Kings 18:4).  Nevertheless, just because the people fell into idolatry does not mean that God had not inspired the making of the image to begin with.  God commanded the bronze serpent to be a blessing; but as is the case with so many things, the people abused the blessing.

Clearly, there are boundaries with all that we are given by God, including money, food, drink, our families and even our own bodies.  Having money is not necessarily sinful; but the love of money is the root of evil (1 Timothy 6:10); eating meat is not sinful, unless it is not done in faith (Romans 14:23); and loving our families is certainly no sin, unless we love them more than we love Christ (Matthew 10:37).  Hence, a graven image is not of itself a sin, unless men violate God’s boundaries and begin to bow down and worship it. 

Above all this, it is important to remember that a human being is not a graven image.  A man is God’s creation, made in the image of God, by God Himself.  We will discuss this further below.

Biblical Warnings?

Those who object to images of Christ on film or in paintings, usually make the “idol” accusation, which we have shown is a provably false assertion.  Some have made reference to Moses’ warning in Deuteronomy where he says:

“Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves:
for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day
that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the
midst of the fire … Lest ye corrupt yourselves,
and make you a graven image, the similitude of
any figure, male or female, the likeness of any
beast, the likeness of any winged fowl … and
lest thou shouldest be driven to worship them,
and serve them …” (Deuteronomy 4:15-19)

As with the second commandment, the same warning is given about making graven images.  But again, the warning is specifically against those who would “worship” or “serve” such images. 

Furthermore, at this point in history, God had not yet sent His “express image” into the world.  Moses said in Deuteronomy, “ye saw no manner of similitude” of God.  But centuries later, once the Word was “made flesh” the apostle John writes “we have seen … the Word of life.” (1 John 1:1) With this, we are told repeatedly that the Word of God came into the world as “the Son of man” (Matthew 9:6).  Jesus was a man.  To this, all Christians agree.  And so again we say it is no sin for a man to portray the Lord Jesus Christ in a recreation of the Gospel story.  It is not a misrepresentation of Christ; rather, it is God’s representation of Himself.

Another scripture pointed to is where Paul writes to the Gentiles in Romans chapter one, where he describes the descent of mankind into idolatry.  It is important to consider that this journey into corruption begins with a proud and unthankful heart that refuses to glorify God.  It does not begin with making an image.  Paul writes:

“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified
him not as God, neither were thankful; but became
vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was
darkened.  Professing themselves to be wise, they
became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible
God into an image made like to corruptible man,
and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping
things.” (Romans 1:22-23)

It is significant that Paul makes reference to images “made like to corruptible man.”  Since man was made in the image of God, this cannot be referring to the “image” of man himself.  So, what is Paul talking about?  If one studies the gods of the ancient world (i.e. Zeus, Apollo, Neptune, Bacchus, etc.), it is clear they were all a bunch of drunken fornicators, adulterers, rapists and homosexuals.  Take the story of Zeus and Ganymede, for instance, where the “chief of the gods” changes himself into an eagle and kidnaps a beautiful “boy” to be his lover.  Numerous paintings have been done of The Rape of Ganymede in remembrance of this event. 

While many other examples could be given, the point is that Paul is not merely referencing “graven images” of men.  He is revealing that the heathen’s concept of the person of God became as vile and corrupt as man himself. 

Rome & Idolatry

We agree with our brethren who are uncomfortable with statues and icons of Christ, because of the use of these images by Rome through the centuries.  We would, however, draw attention to a few things.  First, Rome specifically encourages bowing down to images, and giving reverence to them.  This is generally the whole purpose of creating statues and icons of Christ, which is why they are often placed above the altars of certain churches.  When someone faces the altar to pray, they end up kneeling down and praying before some painting or carved image of Christ.  With this practice, we do not agree.

We do not believe, however, that an artist whose intent is to “tell the story” of the Gospel through a painting or drawing is necessarily in the above category.  We do not believe that he is sinning against God.  He is not setting up an image to be worshiped in place of Christ, but is simply communicating the Gospel message through a work of art. 

Some have said that the written or spoken word is the only acceptable way to communicate the Gospel message.  But if God only desired to communicate through the written or spoken word, He would not have sent his Son to be “manifest in the flesh” so that others could behold Him.  Yes, we realize that Rome has used a parallel argument to justify her idols.  But ask yourself honestly, has the Harlot’s intention ever been to communicate the true Gospel?  If so, why has she spent so many centuries burning Bibles and mass murdering the saints?  Is it really her images, or what they represent that is offensive?  Is it not that she has corrupted the image of Christ through her doctrines that is the true offense before God?  Whether Rome preaches a sermon, writes a book, sends out a newsletter, or makes an image: will any work of hers faithfully represent the Christ of the Bible? 

What is Idolatry?

We must also consider that Paul tells us that “covetousness … is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5).  He is providing us with an important clue to understanding idol worship from a spiritual and Biblical perspective.  As a practicing witch once said, “Witchcraft can be summed up in one phrase: getting what you want.”  The lust of a person’s heart is where idolatry begins, which Paul affirms in Romans chapter one:

 “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness
through the lusts of their own hearts … who changed
the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and
served the creature more than the Creator …”
(Rom. 1:24)

Notice, that just as is spoken in the second commandment, the central issue with idolatry is the “worship” and “service” done toward an idol.  It is not merely the image itself.  When we consider the element of “covetousness,” we can see why God specifically speaks against the “idols in their heart” (Ezekiel 14:3).

If one studies the occult through history, it becomes quickly apparent that the purpose of seeking the gods (demonic entities) was so that they would provide a person with whatever they lusted for: knowledge, wealth, power, or vainglory. This is why there are gods for various needs: a goddess of love, a god of war, a god of wine, etc.  When Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters … Ye cannot serve God and Mammon,” (Matt. 6:24) He was specifically making mention of the ancient god of riches and avarice.

In Roman Catholicism, people bow down to statues of Mary, St. Peter, St. Francis and others – to make petitions to these various “saints” to help them get whatever they want. Jim Caviezel, the actor who played the Catholic Christ in The Passion admitted to relying upon “Saint Denisius” the patron saint of actors to help him achieve a great performance in Mel Gibson’s film.  In the book of Jeremiah, the children of Israel worshiped “the queen of heaven” because, they said, “then had we plenty … and were well, and saw no evil.” (Jeremiah 44:17)  Their idol supposedly got them what they wanted. 

Most Christians (or non-Christians for that matter) do not go and bow down to actors who portray Christ, worship them, or live their lives to serve these actors so that they can fulfill their covetous desires.  That is simply not what happens when Christ is portrayed on film.  While there might be some audience members who become enamored of an actor who plays Christ, the same danger exists with a favorite pastor or teacher who preaches the Gospel.  This happened to the apostle Paul continually, which we will show later.  Nevertheless, the Biblical teachings on idolatry do not fit when applied to having an actor play Christ in a film. 

The Image of God

The Bible tells us clearly that God created man in His own image (Genesis 1:26).  But what does the Bible tell us about the “image” of God? 

Because Jesus said that “God is a Spirit,” (John 4:24) some teachers have wrongly asserted that Adam was originally a spirit.  But the scripture tells us that God made man from the “dust of the ground” (Gen. 2:7).  Is the dust of the ground spirit?  No.  Adam was formed from dust and then God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”  God did not breathe into a spirit; he breathed into a flesh and blood man.  Add to this that the scripture specifically tells us that Adam was natural and not spiritual.  The apostle Paul makes this clear distinction:

“There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a
living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.”
(1 Corinthians 15:44-45)

The “last Adam” is generally agreed to be a reference to Christ.  According to the Bible, the soul and the spirit are not the same thing (Hebrews 4:12).  The soul is that place from whence comes the lust, pride and vanity of man.  The word “natural” (psuchikos) comes from the same Greek root as the word “soul” (psuche).   Hence, the word natural is literally soulish.  This is what Paul means when he says “Adam was made a living soul …” Then he explains further, saying:

“Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that
which is natural (soulish); and afterward that which is
spiritual.  The first man (Adam) is of the earth, earthy: the
second man (Jesus) is the Lord from heaven.”
(1 Cor. 15:44-47)

To understand the importance of this for doctrine’s sake, consider that Paul had told the Corinthians that:

“… the natural (soulish) man receiveth not the
things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness
unto him: neither can he know them, because they
are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14) 

According to the scriptures, Adam was not created as a spirit.  The scripture says clearly that he was a natural (soulish) man, while the Lord Jesus Christ was a spiritual man.  Now, why is this important?

When God said in Genesis that man was made in His own image, what did He mean?  Exactly what or rather WHO was the image of God at the beginning?  In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  In the book of Hebrews, we read that Jesus Christ is the “express image” of the “person” of God (Hebrews 1:3).  And so, the first man Adam was not created as a spirit being, but rather, was made in the image of Christ Himself.  Christ was from the beginning, and man was made in His image.  This is why Jesus said, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end” (Rev. 1:8) and “Before Abraham was, I am,” (John 8:58) and “He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father” (John 14:9) and we read that “Jesus Christ [is] the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8)

To take the point even further, the apostle Paul wrote that women should pray with their heads covered, but that a man ought not to cover his head “forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God …” (1 Cor. 11:7)  Was Paul promoting the New Age concept that “man is God?”  No.  But his words teach us that it is no sin to acknowledge that a man represents the image of God; and as the scripture tells us, the image of God is Christ.    

Therefore, to have a man portray the Lord Jesus Christ in a dramatic telling of the Gospel is an accurate representation of how God chose to send His Son into the world. It is not a sin, and it is not a form of idolatry.  But this brings us to the next point, and the one that some believers seem to be most ensnared by.

What Did Jesus Look Like?

Incredibly, there are those who somehow think that the physical appearance of our Lord has something to do with what He taught or did during His earthly ministry.  It is sometimes thought that unless an artist can fully portray what Jesus looked like with 100% accuracy then he is leading people into deception.  This is an illogical assertion, one that could only impair those whose faith is immature. 

The only physical characteristic of our Lord Jesus Christ that matters is that He was Jewish.  This is according to the scripture which tells us that Christ is “the seed of David according to the flesh” (Romans 1:3).  None of us can truly say that we know what He looked like physically.  I will certainly agree that we ought to resist those who declare that Christ must have looked this way, or that He must have looked that way.  Yet to insist that He did not look a certain way is almost as bad as saying the opposite. 

If you declare that Jesus did not have blonde hair and blue eyes, how do you know?  What are you going to do if you get to heaven and find a blonde haired, blue eyed Jesus sitting on the throne of God?  Will you reject Him?  Will you choose to go to hell rather than live in eternity with a “white” Christ?  If you insist that he had black hair and dark skin, how do you know?  Were you there?  And do you really believe the so-called “experts” who appear on The History Channel?  If a dark skinned Jesus is found in heaven, how will that impact your view of God?  Will it change your view of Christ?  And if so, is your present view of Christ really Biblical?

“Wherefore, henceforth know we no man after
the flesh; yea, though we have known Christ after
the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him
no more.” (2 Corinthians 5:16)

Some argue that to portray a “white” Jesus somehow excludes blacks along with the rest of the world.  But would a black Jesus exclude whites?  Does a bearded Jesus somehow disenfranchise those who are clean shaven?  Does a red haired Jesus refute those with brown hair, etc.?  It is obvious that Jesus looked like something.  He had features like those of an ordinary man.  He had some kind of hair, some kind of height and body weight.  No, He does not have to look like everybody in order to be the Savior of all mankind.  I think this view of Christ must be resisted above all.  Trying to amalgamate Christ into some kind of racial “everyman” is part of the move to create a one world religion.  It works hand-in-glove with the philosophy that everyone’s opinion about God must be considered valid and acceptable.

A Long Haired Jesus?

Here is an example of another objection that we received from a concerned believer:

“… the DVD (A Lamp in the Dark) perpetuates and reinforces the false image of “Jesus Christ” as a longhaired effeminate male that permeates Christianity, although the apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:14, “Doth not nature itself teach you that if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?”” – L.S., Bermuda

The idea of “long hair” is almost entirely relative.  How long is long? When the Beatles first came to America, they were said to have had long hair.  But compared to hair styles today, nobody would think that a man who had his hair cut that way was long haired.  Depictions of European monarchs from the Middle Ages show kings and princes with significantly longer hair than that of the Beatles, past the ears and nearly to the shoulders.  They were not considered “long haired” in their time.  The hair of women was much longer, often extending past the waistline. 

Furthermore, if we examine all the scriptures, we find that long hair is not categorically wrong for men.  For example, the Nazarites were not allowed to cut their hair for lengthy periods (Numbers 6:1-5), and “long flowing hair” is said to have been one of their characteristics (see the Jewish  Samson was a Nazarite “from the womb” (Judges 13:5) whose strength from God was related to his long hair – and nobody ever thought Samson was “effeminate.” We all know that he lost his strength once his locks were cut by Delilah. 

Also when Paul writes about the length of a man’s hair, he is specifically making reference to women praying with their heads covered, saying that the “long hair” of a woman is a covering for her, in contrast to the shorter hair of a man, who should pray with his head uncovered.  Paul also says in these passages that a woman should either pray with her head covered or “be shorn” (1 Corinthians 11:6).  How many women have shaved their heads at your church?  How many pray with their heads covered? 

While the above passages are admittedly challenging, it seems clear that Paul is referring to local customs, which is why he says, “Judge in yourselves …” (v.13) and concludes by saying, “But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.” (v.16) Why does Paul say “we have no such custom” and “neither [do] the churches of God?”  Because nowhere else in scripture does God forbid men from having long hair.

Are Modern Depictions of Christ Presenting a False view of God?

The image of Jesus that most Americans have grown up with is that of a bearded man with shoulder length hair wearing an ancient Jewish robe of some sort.  Now as we consider this, we must think soberly.  There is no doctrine here.  Most artists (whether painters or filmmakers) are not insisting that Jesus must look a certain way, or that the Gospel is somehow changed by the imagery of Christ.  Films that give a false view of Christ (i.e. The Passion or The Color of the Cross) are flawed because of the doctrines they promote, not because of a certain type of imagery.

While the scripture tells us that Christ is the express image of the person of God, it does not tell us that His hair color, eye color, or skin tone are to be considered profitable for instruction, reproof, or for doctrine.  The scriptures alone provide such boundaries (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and tell us as much as we need to know about the physical characteristics of the Lord Jesus.  Yet they provide no boundaries in terms of representing the physical person of Jesus to others, other than that which pertains to prophecy. 

Jesus most likely had a beard according to Isaiah 50:6.  It is important to remember this when some are teaching that a “bearded Christ” is somehow based on the pagan gods of the ancient world.  The earliest images of Christ were of a youthful, short haired, clean shaven man; but these were done by Greek and Roman Gentiles who had probably never seen Him in person.  They seem to picture Christ as someone from their own culture, which is not uncommon. According to scripture, the Lord on earth was not physically beautiful (Isaiah 53:2) and as said before, he was of Jewish descent.  We also know that the garment He wore was without seam (John 19:23) which compelled the Roman soldiers to cast lots for it; but other than these few things, we are told little else. 

Imagery in Church History

With the references to idolatry put aside, are there clear biblical warnings against telling the story of the Gospel through images?  Is there evidence in the New Testament?  If we consider the environment in which the New Testament is being written, and those to whom it is being written, there is an important historical context to consider.

There is imagery of Christ that dates back to the second and third centuries, and appears to have been rendered by Gentile churches.  The reason is because most of these images are of Christ dressed in some kind of Greco-Roman clothing, which makes sense considering that most of the churches established by Paul were Greek, while the first Gentile convert was a Roman centurion (Acts 10:1).  Usually, the early images are depictions of the life of Christ, of the things Jesus did and taught. 

The Greeks and Romans had for many centuries prior been in the habit of depicting historical events and figures in works of art.  It is not uncommon to find murals or paintings of ancient heroes, the gods, or famous battles.  The apostle Paul would have surely been familiar with these, even as he was familiar with Greek poetry (see Acts 17:28).  It seems reasonable that there would have been artists among the Gentile believers, and that some of them would have attempted to communicate scenes from the life of Christ in works of art.

If such imagery was to be strictly forbidden, is it likely that Paul – the apostle to the Gentiles – would have made no mention of it whatsoever?  Paul is writing to the Gentile churches about avoiding fornication, honoring the Lord’s Supper, and making sure women pray with their heads covered – but he makes no mention of avoiding images of Jesus?   Is it likely that the Holy Spirit would have given no specific warnings through Paul concerning this, if it were a real issue?  Imagine if Paul had written:

“Even now I tell you weeping, brethren, that
after my departing some shall of you shall depart
from the strict use of the written word only; and
shall think to teach through works of art and
depictions of the life of Christ, deceiving many
souls by giving an imperfect view of how our
Lord looked during his time upon the earth;
and the skin tone of Christ shall be changed, and
his hair also, and men will be deceived concerning
his color of garment and the gesture of his hands …”

Do we have any scriptures like this?  No.  There are none.  In fact, if one reads the hypothetical passage above, the ridiculous nature of certain so-called Biblical “warnings” begins to unravel.  Furthermore, our recently done research into Biblical history revealed many ancient Bibles (not all of them Catholic) that are often illuminated with images, including images of the life of Christ. 

One of the most powerful works of the last 2000 years is the Tyndale New Testament, translated by William Tyndale who was called “the apostle of England.”  It is to this day second to none in the English language in terms of its influence.  It turned England upside down, away from Rome, and toward faith in the true Gospel.  Tyndale’s translation would directly influence nearly every other English Bible, including the King James Version of 1611 – eighty three percent of which is said to be his work.  As we show in Lamp, many well known Biblical phrases such as “Let there be light” and “Our Father which art in heaven,” come directly from his efforts.

While interviewing the curator at the William Tyndale Museum in Vilvoorde, we found it interesting to learn that Tyndale himself had done the illustrations for his New Testament Bible. Among the imagery he included is at least one image of the Lord Jesus, picturing His arrest in the Gospel of Matthew (1536 Edition).  If Tyndale were somehow guilty of “idolatry,” would God have chosen him to suffer and die as a martyr for Christ?  From my own study of the Reformation, it has become my opinion that there is no single man who more closely resembled the first century disciples, in example, influence, suffering and martyrdom.  It’s hard to believe that God would have so honored his work if it were tainted with the stain of idolatry.

Does Intent and Sincerity Matter?

We believe that the intent of an artist or filmmaker, much like the intent of any believer, is of paramount importance in these issues.  We should all be sensitive to the fact that the natural tendency of man is to “worship and serve the creature more than the Creator” (Romans 1:25).  Because of this we should be careful how we present ourselves, our message and our labor for the Lord.

As stated above, any pastor or teacher could be held in too high esteem, and be in danger of being exalted in an unbiblical manner.  The scriptures tell us of a number of occasions where believers exalted the apostle Paul and others “above measure.”  Paul reproved the Corinthians for saying “I am of Paul, and another, I am of Apollos” (1 Corinthians 3:4), and then warned that by doing this they may “defile the temple of God” (v. 17).  He concludes, “Therefore, let no man glory in men” (v. 21).

Did Paul stop teaching the Corinthians to avoid the danger of having them exalt him?  Clearly not; but he gave them instruction about it, and redirected their thoughts toward the foundation of our faith, Christ Himself (1 Cor. 3:11).  Paul later told the Corinthians that he was given a thorn in the flesh “lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me” (2 Corinthians 12:6).  When the people of Malta saw that Paul suffered no harm when he was bitten by a viper, they said that “he was a god” (Acts 28:6). 

It was clearly not Paul’s intent to have anyone wrongly exalt or worship him; yet the reaction of the people cannot always be controlled.  When Paul healed a lame man in Lystra, the people thought the gods had come down among them (Acts 14:11-13) and tried to offer sacrifices to both Paul and Barnabus as a result.  Was it their fault that the people responded this way?  Was this their intention?  Did the fact that some people fell into idolatry mean that healing someone is a sin?  Did it mean that Paul’s ministry had brought forth evil fruit and therefore could not be from God?

There are some who have said, “Even if an artist is sincere and well meaning, he can still lead people into deception if he presents a less than perfect image of who Christ is, or of how things looked two thousand years ago.”  It is unreasonable to expect that anyone (outside Biblical authors) whether on film or by the written or spoken word is fully able to present an infallible picture of Christ and God. We would remind our brethren of how our Lord said:

“Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with
what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and
with what measure ye mete, it shall be
measured to you again.” (Matthew 7:1-2)

In other words, the same standard by which we judge others will come against us concerning our own works.  So, if a minister writes a flawed book, or preaches a less than perfect sermon, or mails out an imperfect newsletter: is he leading people into deception?  Was he well meaning?  Was he sincere?  Did he hope to lead people to faith in Christ?
Should we say of him, “He might have been sincere, but unless he can communicate an inerrant message about Christ, he should stop writing and preaching.  Let him open a printing press, and just make copies of the Bible.”

“Well,” you say, “there are no errors in my own work that I am aware of.”  Could not the same be true of your brother who is an artist?  And do you imagine that you have ever produced a book, a sermon or a newsletter that was perfect and without flaw?  If so, we should staple it to the back of our Bibles and include it in the canon of scripture.  But unless you are the Pope of Rome, and have declared your teachings to be infallible, then you must admit that you are a flawed creature and that your works are and have been less than perfect. 

The same grace that we desire for ourselves and mercy in sincerity of faith should be also extended to our brethren.


Concerning whether Christ should be portrayed in film, we conclude the following main points.  Please remember that our view pertains to sincere, faithful, and doctrinally accurate representations of Jesus Christ and the Gospel in film.  We believe that:

1) An actor is a man who was created by God, not the filmmaker.  Hence, the actor is not a “graven image.” 

2) There is a difference between icons and statues of Christ which were created for the specific purpose of inspiring worship; as opposed to drawings, paintings or films that include imagery of Christ, but are developed to “tell the story” of the Gospel.

3) The Bible specifically tells us that God made man “in His own image.”  Any man is, therefore, the image of God (1 Cor. 11:7) because that is how God chose to create him.

4) The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is the “express image” of the “person” of God (Heb. 1:2-3) and that He came into the world as a man.  Therefore, it is not wrong or unbiblical to have a man portray Him on film.

Your brother in the Lord Jesus Christ,



Lamp in the Dark Reviews

As we have communicated to a number of friends and family members, our ministry has been greatly occupied with managing the promotion of our new film, which has been opening new doors of opportunity.  With these new doors, has certainly come opposition, especially on the issue of Rome.  Nevertheless, we continue to be pleased at the comments we’ve received from our brethren, some of whom are noteworthy ministers in Christ.  Here are a few comments on Lamp:

“… a work of inspired genius … Every lover of the Bible and historical truth should see it.  Your presentation of the translation of the KJV 1611 is brilliant in its clarity, detail and simplicity.  Mrs. Branson and I were moved near tears by it.” 
-- Dr. Roy Branson Jr., Landmark Revival & Publications

“I just finished watching A Lamp in the Dark, which is an excellent documentary tracing the origin and history of our King James Bible from Christ and the apostles through the AnaBaptists (Albigenses, Waldenses, Novatians, Donatists, etc.) and the Reformers onto King James and the Authorized Version of 1611.  It also documents the work of Wycliffe, Tyndale, and Coverdale as well as many others and speaks of their persecution and martyrdom by the Catholic church heretics.  I found it very informative in its historical content and very moving in its exposure of the greatest earthly enemy of the English Bible – the Catholic church.  It would be worth any Bible believer’s time to sit through this DVD with a pencil and notepad in hand.”
-- Dr. Dennis Corle, Revival Fires Publications

“Chris Pinto's amazing new documentary reveals how the bible has endured nearly two millennia of political oppression and religious suppression, proving it to be the anvil that has truly worn out every threatening hammer.   Lovers of God's Word will watch Chris' latest documentary with great joy as they gain a far greater appreciation for the bible itself, the martyrs who died to preserve it, and the one true God who inspired it! I hope and pray Christians and skeptics everywhere will sit down to watch this documentary and see just why the treasure of God's Word truly is A Lamp in the Dark.” 
-- Pastor Joe Schimmel, Producer, “They Sold Their Souls for Rock & Roll”

“I thought it was so good. I have passed it on to my clinic director Francesca who is Italian and raised Catholic. She is an on fire born again Christian, and she too thinks it is amazing. All the parts were informative and interesting to watch.  I never knew about the Waldensians, Lollards and Albigenses so that was interesting to me.  I think the part about the Jesuits is very interesting. It totally makes sense as to why the church is in the mess it is today.  The documentary really pulls you in and keeps you so interested that you can't stop watching it and you want more. So I can't wait to see the sequel!”
-- Leanne Key, Director, Pregnancy Crisis Clinic




Tom Horn is a dear friend of our ministry, and the author of a number of books.  His newest publication, Apollyon Rising 2012 takes a similar view of American history as we show in our documentary series, Secret Mysteries of America’s Beginnings.  What we really like about his book, is that Tom (a former pastor) brings the information around to a Biblical conclusion, and makes it clear that there is a prophetic purpose behind American history. 


“Tom Horn's latest book builds on prior research by Chris Pinto (who wrote the forward for this book) and others before him (as well as his own, prior published work), and adds his own unique recent findings about the occult timepiece built into the U.S. Capitol itself and other iconic American emblems, counting down to an impending time of potential dark worldwide developments. Since his claims are audacious, Horn responds by the use of copious references to undergird his claims, and raise the credibility of his fantastic theories, as a veteran author who is experienced in communicating complex information in a simple and effective manner.

“One needs to read this book, and other related references to begin to understand that, as opposed to the claims of most fellow American evangelicals, ample documentation confirms that a notable and prominent occult thread is woven through the founding and destiny of America, with influences and purposes that negate any claims of it truly being a "Christian" nation (if such a secular institution could even make such a claim). This discovery, while painful for rank and file American evangelicals (often resulting in the "denial" stage of grief over its acknowledgment), can lead them back to a more Biblically-consistent view of the "kingdoms of this world" (which do not exclude the United States) and their "ruler", which should never be confused with the "kingdom of heaven.”
-- Dr. J. Michael Bennett, Radio Host, Future Quake Radio


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