Al Mohler on “The Golden Compass”

For those of you who know me, I absolutely love Mohler and always have my ears open as to what he has to say.  If you are wondering a Biblical reaction to something going on in our culture would be, chances are Mohler has spoken about it.  This includes the furor growing around “The Golden Compass”.  If you were wondering how big of a deal this movie is and how it has touched off many a debates, all you have to do is look at the popularity of the post I had on it.  To date, the post has received 256 hits.  That doesn’t even include people who look at the blog and read that post with others.  That is those who have individually clicked on the post, or found it through a search engine. And that is just since November 14th, when I wrote the post.

So, needless to say, the subject has become very popular, as I knew it would.  I wanted to include some thoughts that Mohler brought to his blog.  As he always does, he puts it much better than I could ever explain it.  Here are some blurbs:

This is not just any fantasy trilogy or film project.  Philip Pullman has an agenda — an agenda about as subtle as an army tank.  His agenda is nothing less than to expose what he believes is the tyranny of the Christian faith and the Christian church.  His hatred of the biblical storyline is clear.  He is an atheist whose most important literary project is intended to offer a moral narrative that will reverse the biblical account of the fall and provide a liberating mythology for a new secular age.

This point has been humorously debated by atheists, and even Pullman himself.  He denies that this was his motivation, but that is either an incredible case of denial of the obvious or he’s trying to cover his tail to silent some of the furor, in hopes that it does not detract from the success of the movies, which would lead to further success of the books.

The most direct attacks upon Christianity and God do not appear until the last book, The Amber Spyglass, in which Lyra and Will (a boy her age who first appears in the second book) eventually kill God, who turns out to be a decrepit and feeble old imposter who was hardly worth the killing.

I include this note, just because I didn’t read the last one, and I didn’t want to quote a source that I didn’t necessarily trust, but Mohler’s word can be trusted.

In response to the question, ‘Is Pullman’s attack on Christianity exaggerated by his critics?’ Mohler had this to say:

No — his attack is neither hidden nor subtle.  The entire premise of the trilogy is that Lyra is the child foretold by prophecy who will reverse the curse of the Fall and free humanity from the lie of original sin.  Whereas in Christian theology it is Jesus Christ who reverses the curse through His work of atonement on the Cross, Pullman presents his own theology of sorts in which the Fall is reversed through the defiance of these children.  As Pullman insists, Eve and Adam were right to eat the forbidden fruit and God was a tyrant to forbid them the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Mohler quotes Pullman saying a few things about “The Chronicles of Narnia”.

Put simply, Pullman hates C. S. Lewis’s work The Chronicles of Narnia.  He told Hannah Rosin that Lewis’s famous work is “morally loathsome” and “one of the most ugly and poisonous things I ever read.”  Narnia, he said, “is the Christian one . . . .  And mine is the non-Christian.”

When the first Narnia film was released in 2005, Pullman described the books as “a peevish blend of racist, misogynistic and reactionary prejudice.”

Yeah, the whole ‘good overcoming evil’ theme is just loathsome.  (Now atheists, I know there are other things that Pullman would object to, but it just seems quite humorous that he finds them so despicable.)

In Mohler’s conclusion, he has some good points:

The Gospel of Jesus Christ has enemies; this we know.  Christian parents must be informed about His Dark Materials and inform others.  We must take the responsibility to use interest in this film to teach our own children to think biblically and to be discerning in their engagement with the media in all forms.  We should arm our children to be able to talk about this project with their classmates without fear or rancor.

Philip Pullman has an agenda, but so do we.  Our agenda is the Gospel of Christ — a message infinitely more powerful than that of The Golden Compass.  Pullman’s worldview of unrestricted human autonomy would be nightmarish if ever achieved.  His story promises liberation but would enslave human beings to themselves and destroy all transcendent value.

Another thought:

This is about the battle of ideas and worldviews.  While Christians will not celebrate the release of this film, we should recognize the mixture of challenge and opportunity that comes with millions of persons watching this film and talking about the issues it raises.  When the movie is mentioned in the workplace, in school, on the playground, or in the college campus, this is a great opportunity to show that Christians are not afraid of the battle of ideas.

We should recognize that the Christian Church has some very embarrassing moments in its history – moments when it has failed to represent the truth of the Gospel and the love of Christ.  Authors like Philip Pullman take advantage of these failures in order to paint the entire Christian Church as a conspiracy against human happiness and freedom.  Of course, that charge will not stand close scrutiny, and we can face it head-on with a thoughtful response.

I couldn’t say it any better than Mohler, but this is not something we should run from.  Over the next couple of weeks, I will be posting some thoughts and evaluations of the “New Atheism”.  I realize that these will be lightening rods for some Atheists, particularly those who have frequented this blog over the last few weeks, but so be it.  This New Atheism is not tolerant of Christianity, or those who tolerate it.  They desire to see it broken, destroyed, and obliterated, and they seek to shame those who would even dare to tolerate it.  I think this calls for some familiarization with some of the thoughts of the movement, who the personalities are, and some of the arguments that will become louder as the movement grows.

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