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Should Christians Watch Movies Depicting Jesus?

by Stephen Davey

Thomas asked:

What is your take on movies based on Bible accounts of Jesus? Is that different than the graven images in the OT?

Hi Thomas,

In a world where visual media is one of the primary modes of storytelling, movies about biblical narratives, including the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, have become increasingly popular. While these cinematic portrayals offer an opportunity to visualize the Gospel stories, I find myself hesitant to engage with films depicting Jesus. My reservation stems from a desire to preserve the purity of the biblical depiction of Christ, without it being colored by Hollywood's creative liberties.

Visual media has a profound impact on how we perceive stories and characters. Once we see a particular actor embody a role, their portrayal can influence our interpretation of the character long after we've left the theater. For example, when you are reading a gospel narrative about Jesus, you might begin picturing the actor and the movie scene that you watched months or even years ago.

My decision to abstain from watching movies about Jesus is rooted in the desire for a pure, unmediated connection with Him, as revealed in Scripture. I desire to keep my understanding of Him as close to the biblical text as possible. I recognize and respect that, for many, these films can be a powerful tool for understanding the storyline of Scripture. However, I would encourage believers and seekers alike to continually return to the Gospels themselves as the primary source for understanding Jesus. There is no substitute for the Word of God in nurturing our relationship with Christ.

Regarding the second part of your question, I don't think that a modern movie about Jesus is the same as creating a graven image. When you watch a movie about Jesus, you are not making that actor an object of worship, and you are not committing idolatry. As I mentioned above, I do caution believers in this regard, But I don’t consider a portrayal of Jesus to be sin, unless it is done in a blasphemous way. 

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David says:
Thanks for this answer! I asked myself the same question about 3 minutes ago. God bless you!
Patricia Small Simpson says:
I agree, wholeheartedly with your answer and feel the same. I am not able to watch any Bible movies without getting upset because of the liberties taking with the word of God and changing events recorded in scripture. The first time I saw ‘The Ten Commandments,’” I kept jumping out of my seat and saying, “No no that’s not what happened, why do you have to change everything? It was a good enough story as it happened..” So many people are ignorant in scripture and will rely on what they see on a screen. If I were going to produce a Bible-based production , I would do it with fear and trembling because I would be standing on holy ground.