The End of the World (As We Know It)
Nicolas Cage stars in a movie about the End-Times.
Let the awesomeness of that settle in. Really picture it, and tell me you're not excited. The hammy overacting. The outrageous hairstyles. The sudden bursts of agitated anger. Those special lines you'll be quoting for years to come.
Hopefully this is a fun picture. And hopefully Nicolas Cage will help us have a good conversation about what the Bible really says about the end of the world.
I am a bit surprised they didn't set this movie for release on Halloween, as late October is perfect for those moviegoing audiences who are looking for a little scare on their Friday evening.
Then again, Cage's last horror attempts haven't turned out too spooky.
Why do we need to talk about the end-times?
This movie marks a very subtle shift in the way futurism is being talked about in church and culture. Many Christians hold the sincere belief that God is coming to rapture every true Christian away from the world, leaving the planet in the hostile hands of the antichrist. In the 1970s until now, this sort of belief was revered and respected, but never really questioned or challenged. If the love and forgiveness of Jesus was the "good" side of our story, then the coming Tribulation was the "bad" side. You would share one angle and then the other in tandem.
It's time for this viewpoint to be seriously examined.
A movie starring Nicolas Cage is often very entertaining– but his most recent roles are not so compelling they cannot be questioned. I have many great friends that hold to the end-times view that's presented in the "Left Behind" books and movies, and I hope the film does a good job representing how they feel about the end of the world, so a real conversation can begin.
I will confess I see the end of the world very differently, but I am in a process. And it is difficult for anyone, myself especially, to see the truth when it is clouded by fear. When I was a kid, I used to beg God to save me over and over after watching "The Thief in the Night", just so Jesus would actually rescue me from a dying planet to be executed by the devil. (This scene in particular was so scary to me. This earlier scene is what I was like when I thought I could miss the rapture, too.)
If this interpretation of the future is true, it needs to be understood without fear.
In the documentary "Hellbound", there is a scene examining the "hell houses" Christians have designed to scare young people into a relationship with God. Structured like a haunted house, these facilities have youth walk into graphic and gruesome scenes in each room (including moments of suicide and demonic torture) so those kids will run out of these places in trauma and tears, ready to pray whatever they need to pray to escape the kind of hell these manipulative people are "saving" them from.
There has to be a better way than this.
I don't think kids are going to run away screaming and crying from "Left Behind: the Movie"– at least not for the same reasons. Here's hoping a real dialogue can begin.