Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” - John 7: 24 (NKJV) The Christian world is all a-flutter at the impending release of the feature film, The Son of God. I have seen post after post on Facebook from giddy Christians looking forward to Hollywood's newest attempt to bring the story of God to the big screen. I have seen talking head segments on cable gushing at the potential reach of a film like this for those who may not share our faith. While I certainly don't want to be a killjoy here (stop laughing), I feel I would be remiss if I did not try to temper our expectations a bit and call for the Body of Christ to enter the theater this weekend as Bereans would. I would be remiss if I did not call for the Body of Christ to do what the Bible implores us to do - discern! Now, I pray that this movie is an accurate, biblical portrayal of the life of Jesus Christ but I would be lying if I said I was not a bit skeptical. Let's take a walk through my skepticism. First of all, you are associated with the company you keep and this movie has all the top named false teachers bursting at the seams with excitement. Joel Osteen is distributing 8000 tickets himself. Rick Warren has rented out eight movie theaters in Orange County. TD Jakes has given it a ringing endorsement. Warren (who has seen the movie already) has actually said it is the best portrayal of Jesus in 50 years of movies about Him. Forgive me for being doubtful but when the false prophet parade is endorsing you, I tend to worry a little bit. Secondly, the producers of this film are the same pair that brought us the Bible miniseries on the History Channel. Roma Downey and her husband Mark Burnett are the power couple here and their portrayal of the Bible was filled with errors and avoided all the seriousness of the Gospel account itself. I wrote about it back then and pointed out that a lot of the criticisms were petty and they were. But the serious errors were serious. For example they completely omitted the entire creation account to avoid having to disagree with evolution and never having to address the touchy subject of sin. They again dodged the sin issue when they showed the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah but left out why God destroyed the two cities. When it comes to Jesus He was portrayed as a hunky rock star healer who seemingly never asks anyone to repent, even though that is completely contrary to the Gospel. One of the largest errors however was when they included the famous verse "I am the way the truth and the life" but carefully left the second half of the verse on the cutting room floor. Jesus never says that none come to the Father except through Him in the Bible miniseries, seemingly to not alienate anyone who was watching it. But Jesus Himself said He did not come to bring peace but a sword that would divide families against each other. In the Gospels, you have to make a choice but in celluloid you are never challenged with it. For those who may be saying that this movie represents something new and different than the Bible miniseries - prepare yourself to be vastly disappointed. It is my understanding that this movie is largely a re-edit of the Jesus portions of the Bible miniseries. If some are thinking that the Bible miniseries doesn't set precedent, again I think you may need to prepare yourself. It has already been reported by Downey and Burnett that "Satan has been left on the cutting room floor." Downey seemed concerned that including the devil would distract from Jesus. Only in Hollywood...and church pulpits across this land of course. Downey is only presenting the seeker friendly gospel that she hears so often in this country. A gospel however that pretends Satan does not exist is a gospel that does not save anyone. Besides a Satan-less and sinless portrayal, what else might be of concern? How about the closing song being sung by a man who has also graced us with song titles such as, "Closet Freak" and the even less pious, "F*ck You!" Or maybe it might be a concern that Downey is at best a New Age Christian, fully equipped with a "Spiritual Psychology" degree and having Eckhart Tolle as one of her favorite authors. Does any of this mildly disturb you as a Christian? Because it certainly ought to. I understand that none of this bothers Hollywood, who is seeking to make money. I understand that none of this bothers false teachers because they do not know what the real Gospel looks like to begin with. Beloved, if this movie ends up being what it sure looks like it will be it is no wonder that Joel Osteen is backing it. This is his jesus. A rock star with throngs following him. No serious discussion of sin and repentance. A jesus who is willing to say he is the way but leaving the door open for other paths. It is the jesus the world wants and unfortunately too many Christians want. A jesus that is easy on the eyes and easier on the conscience. A jesus that doesn't challenge us and just wants a big group hug. But here is the problem beloved. That jesus is not real. It is man recreating God in our own image. Maybe he can motivate you like a Joel Osteen. Maybe he can leave you warm and fuzzy like a Rick Warren. But at the end of the day he cannot save anyone. At the end of days we will stand before the real Jesus and He will say to some of us - "away from me - I do not know you." So all I am asking is that we walk into the theaters with our discernment up and ready. Do I expect Hollywood to get all theological nuances correct? Of course not. They had Mary Magdalene as an apostle in the miniseries! I am OK with that as absurd as it may be. But if you present a feature length film about the life of Jesus Christ and you avoid sin, repentance, the devil, and the exclusivity of the Gospel then you may win an Academy Award but you will not win any souls. And shouldn't that be what this is about? If your church buys out eight theaters or you give out 8,000 tickets but no one actually hears the Gospel - what did you accomplish? That people are talking about Jesus? Not the one who can save them. That this is an opportunity to evangelize and discuss Christ with the lost? Do we really need a largely inaccurate portrayal of Christ in order to discuss Him? I would never suggest not seeing a movie because at the end of the day it is just a movie. But we should at least slow our roll a bit until we actually see it. We should stop fawning over something that in the end may prove more harmful than good. While everything might be permissible not everything is beneficial. Discern my brethren, discern. As we look at the key verse it seems that we have judged by appearances up to this point. Now, it is time for some righteous judgment. Rev. Anthony.