Tuesday, January 17, 2006
To See or Not To See: End of the Spear

Coming this Friday to a theater near you, End of the Spear. The Voice of the Martyrs Persecution Blog summarizes the movie as "...the dramatic representation of the true story seen in Beyond the Gates of Splendor. End of the Spear follows the life journeys of Mincayani, a Waodoni warrior who led a raid on five missionaries in 1956, and Steve Saint, son of missionary Nate Saint." Stacy Harp concludes the post by saying (in bold), "If you love missions and the gospel, please see this movie and tell all your friends to see it too."

However, others are not as enthusiastic about this film's release.
Randy Brandt and Jason Janz have both pointed out that Every Tribe Entertainment has chosen gay activist and actor Chad Allen to play Nate Saint and Steve Saint in the movie. Tim Challies has posted on it twice: here and here. What is the conclusion of some? Boycott! We must not support this movie!

In response, Justin Taylor has posted a much needed reply on his blog. Taylor's main thought? "Film acting is a sophisticated form of make-believe. Good-looking people who talk and memorize well are paid lots of money to act out stories. In my mind, the main issue is whether they do a good job with the task." I agree.

Please do not misunderstand me. I do not necessarily deny that Every Tribe Entertainment could have hired a better actor to play the part. I also question hiring someone for this film who is politically involved in the homosexual cause. Additionally, I wonder about the movie's faithfulness to the true story. Nevertheless, I do not believe the proper response is automatic condemnation and refusal to watch the movie.

Honestly, the argumentation from those against the movie leaves a lot to be desired. Here are a few reasons I do not find compelling:

1) The Christian message and the messenger are intricately related. If this movie was being used evangelistically, then this argument may hold more water. But to my knowledge, pastors and others are not using this movie as an outreach tool. I do not see it being used as the Jesus film or a Billy Graham evangelistic movie. It is retelling the story of Mincayani and Steve Saint, and it should be judged in this light.

2) We will be giving a homosexual activist a platform of influence by watching this movie. As Tim Challies says, "...when we accept a movie, and thus accept the actors who act in a movie, we provide them a platform. This may be unintentional, but it is also undeniable." I agree, but I ask: are we to blame for the existence of this platform? Our country undeniably has a "cult of celebrity" problem, but the fact that a number of uncritical entertainment lovers may hang on to the uninformed words of actors and actresses means very little to me. I pray they will see the light. At the same time, my paying to watch a movie is not responsible for the incessant thoughts and ramblings of celebrities. They have a voice because others will (unfortunately) listen.

3) We must clearly hold and explain the biblical truth that homosexuality is a sin. Absolutely! But how does my watching a movie deny this? Is it because of the platform reason mentioned above? Again, I don't think the case has been made. Cannot we maintain both that we love the movie (if it is good) and that homosexuality is a sin?

I fear more heat than light is coming out of this discussion. Why not share with Chad Allen the good news that Nate Saint died for, rather than simply judging him as a rebellious sinner? The later may be true, but only the former will make him right with God.

UPDATE: Tim Challies has included this post in his daily "A La Carte," suggesting that I seem to misunderstand him in thinking he is calling for a boycott. This was not my intent. I included his blog posts with a group of different individuals criticizing the movie, going on to state that some individuals desire a boycott. I was not necessarily including these critics in the call for a boycott. Regardless, to be clear, Tim Challies is not one of the individuals requesting a boycott of this film.
posted at 5:00 PM  
Comments (11)

At 1:22 AM, Blogger james said...

After hearing Chad Allen's comments on Larry King last night I am convinced that he needs to hear the gospel and not the ridiculous banter of those who are rising to oppose this film. The testimony of those who would 'boycott' this film because of Allen's role in it are likely to do more harm than good. Chad is a deeply troubled individual from the comments he made about his own religiosity on Larry King Live and he needs to hear and experience the love and truth of the Gospel not judgement and condemnation.

At 12:12 PM, Blogger nhe said...

Hi John...thanks for being a voice of reason on this issue. I agree wholeheartedly, especially with your point regarding why concern over "giving Chad Allen a platform" is unwarranted.

As a Christian, I welcome the challenge, bring it on!....especially in a forum like Larry King held last night. Moehler proclaimed truth in love, which will always prevail in public debate.

For this reason, I think its actually better to have a gay agenda representative (be it Allen or someone else) espousing their views in a debate format with a well-prepared, loving Christ follower than it would have been to just have Moehler talk to Larry King in a one-on-one, non-debate format. Truth shines brighter when held up against that which is false.

Why do we as believers shy away from these opportunities, or show concern about opposing views having a platform?

I must say, I don't mind a good fight, so take me comments in stride.

On another subject John, my daughter is a senior in H.S. who has made several Mormon friends. She'd appreciate any thoughts you have on how to approach them lovingly with truth......if you can email me via my blog - that'd be great!

At 3:30 PM, Anonymous Amy said...

I've seen the movie. Everyone should see it. Anyone who boycotts this movie will cheat themselves out of the experience and also hurt the company that's trying to bring this story to the public--a story, by the way, that shows the power of the gospel in undeniable ways. What can be gained from that?

This is the first I've heard of this controversy and I find it completely ridiculous.

At 8:07 AM, Blogger Fred Butler said...

I think before folks dismiss the criticism of Allen being cast for this roll as coming from a group of crackpot fundamentalists, it may be wise to actually read Jason Janz original article addressing his concerns over at the Sharper Iron blog.

On the contrary, Allen does view this role as a positive and pivital turning point between evangelical - homosexual community relations and cooperation. This should not be; particularly in the way Allen views the so-called relations.

John, you stated:

1) The Christian message and the messenger are intricately related. If this movie was being used evangelistically, then this argument may hold more water. But to my knowledge, pastors and others are not using this movie as an outreach tool. I do not see it being used as the Jesus film or a Billy Graham evangelistic movie. It is retelling the story of Mincayani and Steve Saint, and it should be judged in this light.

A couple of things. Normally I would agree with you. In a movie, the role of the character is not necessarily related to the personal character of the actor. In this instance, I believe it is genuinely the case. Allen has made this role a means to promote his activism. Then secondly, I have heard many advertisements encouraging churches to use this movie in an evangelistic opportunity. This is further affirmed by other believers I know living in other parts of the country. So, even if ETE only intended to make a film about the life of Steve Saint and Mincayani, the promotion of this film, both secular and Christian, is pushing the evanglistic angle. I find that troubling seeing that Saint himself is on record saying they weren't meaning to make a "preachy" movie.

Hip and Thigh

At 11:57 AM, Blogger Stephen A Morse said...

Does this movie even share the gospel at all? I am not asking if you can read between the lines and incorporate what you've read about this story 'into' it.
I saw the documentary film released last fall as the prelude to this. Was the gospel shown? Maybe Oprah's gospel but not Christ's. Is it any better in the current movie? Probably not.
To see it or not?
will probably wait for the DVD!

At 12:22 AM, Anonymous TJR, ville said...

Regarding the movie itself...Can't we consider it a simple tool for the "sake of the gospel." Are we so inept at talking to people within our personal relationships that we have to have a movie articulate the entire plan of salvation in order for it to be worthwhile. I have seen the movie, it was very powerful for me in a number of ways. It did not mention the name of Jesus. It did have several sections of dialogue that I think clearly pointed to the grace of Christ's sacrifice and the dicotomy between those prepared for heaven and those who are not. Again, this movie is a tool, granted it may be a hammer with a loose handle, an axe with a chip in the blade, or a rake with missing tines (have I beat the analogies enough?), but like any tool it is for us to use how we may for the sake of the Kingdom. Are we really still waiting for that perfect evangelistic MOVIE?!?

One thing that is powerfully clear in the movie. The forgiveness given and demanded by Creator God can change everything. It can allow us to forgive the worst of offenses. I think that is a message both believers and non-believers need to hear.

Am I thrilled that Chad Allen is in this film. No. I think ETE was foolish in their choice, and I wish they had chosen otherwise. Although I do understand their reluctance to dump Allen after he had already been offered the part. Can you hear it? "We're all about the power of the gospel to change lives...oh, your gay, sorry our relationship stops with you now, hope you find someone to show you the gospel elsewhere." I think you get my drift.

Go see the movie. Be moved and consider who you need to forgive. Talk to a lost friend (assuming we all have them) and help them understand the power behind the movie. Better yet forgive the friend and tell them why. Send a note to ETE and tell them to use better research, discretion and discernment next film.

That's my rant thanks for reading.

At 12:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the sinner, hate the sin. That is not what such boycotters are doing. Its not our place to decide whether or not someone is a Christian or has the right to play a Christian role. End of the Spear is an awesome movie that puts across MANY wonderful messages. I plan on using it in my own ministries when the opportunity presents itself. Not only that, but HALF the proceeds of this movie are going towards bringing the Good News to those who have never heard it before. By attending this movie, you not only provide yourself with an opportunity for spiritual nourishment, but you also provide one for someone who has much fewer than you do!

At 8:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is absolutely no credibility to an arrogant, practicing, unrepentant homosexual - or any other blatant and willful sinner - sharing the gospel. This is a perfect example of unequally yoking good(story of Nate Saint) with evil(actor Chad Allen) as the Bible speaks of in 2 Corinthians 6:14.

2 Corinthians 6:14 says, Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

If an openly gay person is the front man for Christianity, God help the people whose souls will be lost by the hypocrisy of that message. Strong rebuke should be heaped upon on Every Tribe Entertainment as well for being so willfully in opposition to God’s word by employing a blatantly unrepentant sinner to portray a man who was by all accounts a God fearing missionary who died a martyr’s death.

The openly gay star of this movie, states and I quote “It is a deep-founded, faith-based belief in God based upon the work that I've done growing up as a Catholic boy and then reaching out to Buddhism philosophy, to Hindu philosophy, to Native American beliefs and finally as I got through my course with addiction and alcoholism and finding a higher power that worked for me.”

The God of the Bible I read has no part of Buddhism, Hinduism or American Indian beliefs.

The star of the movie also says and again I quote “I'm a part of a wonderful community church here in Pasadena that has a very different interpretation of those same gospels that they are speaking of. There isn't just one way to do this, there are a lot of paths”

The God of the Bible I read says “I am the truth and the light, no one comes to the Father but by me”. He also says “narrow is the path that leads to salvation” There is only one way and one path that leads to God. Unfortunately the star of this movie is on the path that leads to hell, not God and this is the person and the movie many churches are promoting on web pages and sermons as a good evangelistic tool.

This gay actor PROUDLY revels in his homosexuality and claims his “god” approves of his lifestyle. Rebuke this garbage and do it loudly. The message of the gospel in this movie is lost completely by a messenger totally opposed to Scripture. Would you invite an unrepentant, convicted pedophile to lead a youth group at your church? How about inviting an unrepentant, convicted rapist to lead single women at a church bible study? Better still, how about an unrepentant, convicted embezzler to be the treasurer of your church? Why then an unrepentant, flaming homosexual as a messenger for Christ? How weak some people's discernment has become.

Does anyone know the musical melody of the Madonna song “Like a Virgin”? Suppose I take that same melody and put Christian words to it. If I were to play you my “new” song, upon hearing the opening melody, are you going to be thinking about my new words or the old melody? How similar to Chad Allen giving a Christian message. Unless he repents of his sin, it is impossible to look past his current spiritual condition and that overshadows any message he might give and undermines ANY Christian movie he or any other PUBLICALLY unrepentant sinner is in.

Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction

Titus 1:9-16 says “9Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers. 10For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: 11Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake. 12One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, the Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. 13This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; 14Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth. 15Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. 16They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

People need to open their eyes and obey God’s Word, including a lot of lukewarm so-called Christian leaders that are starting to look more and more like Scribes and Pharisees!

At 2:46 PM, Blogger Pastor Robert Briggs said...

My wife and I viewed the movie last evening and there is no doubt that if you are looking for a clear portrayal that helps you fullly understand the events surrounding the lives and deaths of Jim Elliot and his friends you will be disappointed.

It is a moving film. If you have read Elisabeth Elliot's books then you will need to wipe the tears away as Nate Saint says farewell to his family, or groan as you view the spearing of the men on the beach.

However if you expect any clear verbal communication of the gospel or even clear verbal comments from the missionaries regarding the essense of gospel you will be disappointed.

If Elisabeth Elliot's books clearly portray the scriptural saturation of Jim's life then it is hard to believe these men did not communicate with one another as most serious believers do, talking about the Lord, about the work and about the plans. This was seriously lacking in the movie.

A great opportunity has been missed, Steve Saint's agenda was evidently not to present the gospel clearly. He was very successful at it. No doubt he accomplished his agenda.

Thankfully we do not need a movie to continue to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ.

I am personally sad for the memories of the men who are 20th Century heroes of the faith.The young men who lost their lives taking the gospel to the Waodani deserved better from those who have benefitted so much from their example. Men of whom the world was not worthy !

Their decisions with hindsight can be criticised and judged but their willingness to die for the sake of the gospel stands clear on the annals of Church History.

If pastors want to use this film in any way they need to encourage there people to read 'Shadow of the Almighty' and 'Through Gates of Splendor' in order to make a fair assessment.

When as evangelicals will we realize that hoping Hollywood will do us any favors is a waste of time and a guarantee of disappointment.

We press on looking for a city that has foundations whose builder and maker is God !

At 5:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For those who are curious, there is a film review by a Fundamental Baptist website:

End Of The Spear...Truly Disappointing:

At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would have to agree with james that Chad needs to hear the Gospel and not the condemning rhetoric of some closed minded people. I am a Missionary Kid, my folks are with Wycliffe Bible Translators, and I had the priviledge of knowing Rachel Saint, Steve's Aunt, and translator of the Waorani NT. I was a little shocked to hear that CHad Allen was starring as Steve and Nate, but then I got to thinking. That was the best place for him. Because I STRONGLY believe that not ONLY Steve but also the rest of the tribe that was there for the shooting, told Chad and the rest of the crew the Gospel.... THAT ALL have sinned and Fallen short. When we talk about the Homosexual, we talk about the need for them to repent of their SEXUAL sin....Folks they need to repent of their SIN PERIOD. I have a few Homosexual Friends, do I condone of what they do? No, But as the song from 4him I believe says...I love them like Jesus. We tend to focus on the Sin and not the sinner... and I think that is a BIG waste of time, when time is running out and the soon return of the Lord Jesus is comming quickly. so as painful as it must have been for Steve to make the decision to have Chad play Him and his Dad, I am SO GLAD that he did.


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