Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Making Christians, Making Christians, La La La

The title of this posted is warmly adapted from the song "Making Christmas" from "The Nightmare Before Christmas." This change has been made without permission from the original creators. I apologize if this gets anyone mad.

After watching the movie "Nightmare Before Christmas" back in October, I was struck with the desire to write a well thought-out and edifying blog post about it with some reflections. However, the study of the Hebrew language laid seige to my schedule and made several demands upon me so that I was unable to put out the post as I originally intended. (Note: And I got engaged over Christmas break, so don't hate) But here at last is the blog post, but I can't guarantee that it will be well thought-out or edifying.

I intend to use the film "The Nightmare Before Christmas" as an original illustration to make an un-original point. To summarize the movie quickly: There is Halloweentown, where monsters, vampires, goblins, and skeletons live and move and have their being. All they know and live for is Halloween. However, Jack the Pumpkin King is tired of Halloween, and he wants something else/new/more. He goes on a strange journey where he ends up in Christmas Town, where he sees and experiences the joys of Christmas. He returns to Halloweentown, intent on bringing Christmas to everyone in Halloweentown.

Then this is where I started to think and smile. To continue summarizing: Jack returns from his 'conversion experience' to Christmas, determined to celebrate Christmas in Halloweentown. He begins his process of 'Christmasization' by explaining to the Halloweentown folk what Christmas looks like (decorations, lights), what is done during Christmas (singing carols, giving presents), and other generic bits of Christmas faith and practice. And the town goes out to orchestrate their first Christmas.

But, as you can remember, Jack's Christmas fails miserably. In fact, their version of Christmas is really just Halloween but wrapped up in boxes with bows. All the presents are monsters that frighten and attack the children; same with the decorations. There are bats, spiders and skeletons in the decorations. This isn't Christmas!

Enough summary, time for my reflections. This movie made me think about the nature and content of contemporary Christian evangelism.* As Christians, we try to explain God and the gospel to others, much like Jack tried to explain Christmas to Halloweentowners. Yet, people have such a limited/skewed/nonexistent understanding of God and the Bible that they take our message and interpret it through their cultured preunderstanding (the $2 phrase of the day). The Halloweentown folk heard Jack's message of Christmas and by it simply reproduced Halloween because Halloween is all that they knew.

What the movie encouraged me to do is to work harder at giving a wider Christian worldview when sharing the gospel. Having come out of the "Grace-Man-God-Christ-Faith" style of evangelism, I want a full view of the Bible to drive my evangelism. That way I hope I would not only be able to share the gospel, but to re-orient the hearer's understanding of biblical truths and concepts.

Okay, I've said too much for one post, but not for just one post. I'll try to start a series of posts of my reflections. Pray for me.

*Confession: Whenever I see the phrase 'contemporary Christian _______' (or other similar forms) on a blog, I cringe. I do that because oftentimes the blog writer will follow that phrase with a series of unqualified and uncalled-for attacks/critiques that do more harm than good. I don't want to be like that. I don't want this post/possible series to be me taking my guns to my home team. Just because I'm in seminary to get a bigger debt doesn't mean I get a bigger mouth.


MT said...

Kevin, great thoughts. I think you're so right on the importance of an entire worldview shift not just a simple "added" belief. Plus, your humility is inspiring brother! Looking forward to reading more.

carissa said...

gg bf. i mean, f. that was worth waiting for.

Sarah Ailes said...

Great insights, Kevin.