Sunday, April 27, 2014

On Leadership

Sorry for the hiatus; life got blessed.

Tonight, I'm writing in brevity a few thoughts on leadership. I usually write in the mornings as that is my most productive thinking time, but tonight I managed some space, so I thought I'd take advantage of it.

Spiritual Gift of Leadership

I don't really want to comment too much on the Biblically-mentioned gift of leadership because, to be honest, I'm not entirely certain on where to draw the line between natural leadership and "supernatural, spiritually gifted" leadership; that is, I feel like the line is kind of blurry. I feel like there is no real reason to think that spiritual gifts are permanent or that a person is only allotted one, so I think it is more helpful to evaluate oneself in light of where one's passions lay - there a person will perform the best services. We need the Spirit to be effective Christian leaders, but I don't feel like this is essentially different than being a leader in general.

What's a Leader?

Truthfully, the best answer I have heard for this question is simply "those who have followers". I know it seems silly and simple, but the truth is there are people who gain followers no matter where they are. I reflect at the men in my family and every one of us naturally get people following us without really even trying. Now, to be sure, there are different kinds of leaders and my father, brother and second son are more alike than my oldest son and myself, but we all lead naturally in our own way (side bar: I left out the women because I am not a woman and cannot really relate to leading as a woman so it's hard to make intelligent comments in that regard). The best example of this is when I take my eldest son to public places such as a park or basketball game and, sure enough, before long he has a pack of kids - not all younger - following him around and doing whatever he says. This is leadership in its most raw form.

So What?

The basic point I want to make is that, as Christian leaders, it is imperative that we take that role seriously. Like many Biblical figures, leaders don't often ask to become leaders; in fact, it is often their reluctance which most qualifies them for the job. In any case, when one finds oneself with followers, it is important to do a few things:
  1. Be like Jesus - It's really the only right thing to do with any kind of influence. In this way, we love God.
  2. Delegate - No one man is truly qualified to do all tasks that eventually pass in front of a Christian leader's eyes and there's usually someone better suited for the job.
  3. Trust - Trust God, your followers, your team and your gut. Holding everything and everyone suspect usually saves you some headaches but you miss out on adventure.
There's more - much more - but here's a primer for you. If you survey your life and find that you have followers, be serious about it. Honor that role; you were given it for a reason. Conversely, if you find yourself constantly searching for a leadership role to fill and cannot seem to find one that fits just right, perhaps you're not naturally (or supernaturally?) gifted as a leader and there are more effective, purposeful and fulfilling ways to spend your energy.

In all things, pray and search the Spirit of God which is within you for guidance and confirmation of your calling. We're all here to bring the Kingdom of God into reality; do it with fervor and wisdom.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Resurrection Sunday!

Christ is risen from the dead, trampling over death by death.
Come awake, come awake, come and rise up from the grave.

Here we are, Resurrection Sunday! Today is a day when we can all breath a sigh of relief and whisper a prayer of gratitude. It has been a weekend riddled with drama; from the death of God to the quiet despair that comes with the tomb, we have once more walked our hearts through the path of Christ.


The story does not stop there; we are not followers of a God that can be kept in a building, a book or a tomb. We are the adopted children of the One who breathed movement into atoms and first erected the cell walls of life on this planet. The incarnation, ministry, death, burial and resurrection of our God is now our family heritage.

I went through a phase in my spiritual development where I seriously doubted if I wanted to be a Christian any more. After all, I said to my older brother, "if we are Christians, then our spiritual heritage is one of butchers and pirates (and not the cool kind)". The fundamental flaw in my assertion was that I had forgotten that our primary heritage is that of martyrdom and love.

This is the relevance of the resurrection

That by the awakening of Jesus on Sunday morning, we may join in God's victory over death. The gospel or good news is not that God beat death - of course he beat death - the good news is that God wants to freely share that victory with us; he wants us to be one with him. 

Adam of old was deceived:
Wanting to be God he failed to be God.
God becomes man,
so that He may make Adam god.
- "Doxastikon at the Praises," Feast of the Annunciation.

By our baptism, we are joined in the process of deification, the union of man and God. Make no mistake, the creature will never be the Creator, but now we are joined in that creative energy which is the foundation to all life and all nature: grace. The truth of the events of the resurrection is that it necessarily elicits a response and only one is appropriate. We devote our lives to taking the same course as our savior and brother, Jesus. Our lives are now intrinsically oriented toward martyrdom; we take up our cross - our sin and sickness - and carry them towards the death of the corrupt us so that the resuscitation of the new us can thrive.

Today, let not a moment more go by before you acknowledge the new essence in your being, the deep connection we now have with the divine. Rejoice indeed and come awake.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Dissonant Saturday

 Today - Holy Saturday - we mourn at the level to which humanity is capable of stooping. The crucifixion is, if nothing else, a glaringly obvious example of the enormous capacity that mankind has for evil. Why do I point this out? Because

it is good for Christians to exist on Saturday.

What I mean is that so often we reach Good Friday and talk about the events of Christ's crucifixion and how incredible they were - and we should. Also, we like to spend time on  Sunday and before talking about how incredibly joyous an occasion the resurrection of Christ is - and it is. But what about Saturday? What is the purpose?

We mourn

You see, the problem with shaking our heads on Friday and clapping our hands on Sunday without bowing our hearts and bending our knees on Saturday is that we are able to simply say "Jesus died and Jesus was raised". The truth, however, is that there is a Saturday and it exists to give space to reflect on the events at hand. The sin of humanity, the missing of marks, the shortcomings and sickness in our hearts which put Christ to death.

We chose to kill God.

We do so with every act of evil.

 Every act.

 Let us take this time to remember that despite our incredible capacity to accomplish the seemingly impossible (cell phones, moon landings, DNA splicing, etc.) we are intrinsically missing something.

Goodness; we're missing goodness.

Jesus of Nazareth - a lay worker, a brick-layer and an innocent pauper - shows humanity how evil it is by willingly being crushed and laying cold in a tomb.

We know what comes next, but let's not gloss over the ugly part for our own sake. Look at the tomb. Look at the blood on the ground. See the weeping mother and brothers. We did this and we deserve no forgiveness for it.

Reflect and pray


Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Note on Palm Sunday

Today is "the Lord's Day" or Palm Sunday or the day of the Triumphal
Entry into Jerusalem. Each of these names indicates a certain understanding of the events of Jesus' coming to Jerusalem to be crucified. I don't want to spend a lot of time on this today because I think that reading the Bible and meditating on it yourself would do much better than anything I could say; the Spirit of God tends to be a better teacher than me ;-) I digress, there is one thing I'd like to tell you and it is my mindset going into leading worship today.

We are with Jesus

At Advent, we remember that God is with us and during Lent remember that we need that. Here on Palm Sunday we remember that we are with Jesus in this journey to martyrdom and on Easter we celebrate the beginning of a reconciling process between creation and Creator. In this spirit I encourage you to spend time today - at your church gathering or on your own - thinking about how the Christian life is to parallel Jesus' life. We're truly born at our baptism, this sets out the beginning of the Christian journey. We live and grow, learn and teach and when we come to points in our life (as there are many) in which we have to choose to be of Jesus' Kingdom or that of darkness, we die to ourselves; this is why the command to take up our cross is a daily-fulfilled command.

So, today, we walk toward the cross with Jesus, bearing in mind that this shameful and low event is not the end of our journey. Martyrdom - our daily bread - is the beginning of our life in Christ. Just as Jesus death was the beginning of the Church, so too are our daily "little deaths" the beginning of being re-created again and again.

Pray for your brother's and sisters throughout the world today as we all remember our relationship to Jesus and each other this week.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Killing the Gospel Message

I have been a part of America's Christian subculture for my entire life. Honestly, I am grateful to say that. That being said, there is one thing that has recently been in my mind and I'd like to share it with you. Just to keep this post honest, I will be up front with you, my reader, this is a charge against Evangelicalism as it has come to be represented today. My charge is this: in Evangelical Christianity - which represents a large portion of the Christian presence in the world - we have become increasingly concerned with the spreading of the Gospel message; in fact this term "Gospel message" is often used (or its derivatives, message of the Gospel, message of Jesus Christ, etc.) with little explanation or correct context. Furthermore, I would simply like to conclude that

The Gospel is not a message but a story

It's pretty common knowledge in Christian circles that the word "gospel" translates fairly accurately to "good news" and while a "good news message" makes sense in our linguistics and "good news story" seems a bit odd, if we understand what the content of that good news is, then the latter becomes the more desirable understanding.

You see, a message is static; it's unchanging and non-evolving.  While there is great theological grounds for arguing the immutability of God (though I don't personally believe this is so), we ought to be careful to not project that quality onto the events of the incarnation. The good news is that God came to show us how to be human and reestablish the connection between Creation and Creator; this is really good news and this is not a static idea. A message is given once and does not change after it is given. You can rephrase a message, you can twist a message and you can import your own meaning into a message, but a message is what it is regardless of the interpretation.

By contrast, a story is inherently evolving; it is full of life and energy with surprises and struggles, conflict and resolution. There is an outcome in a story and there is a core theme that guides the story, but there are also developments and the introduction and exit of characters. Sounds a bit more like life, doesn't it?

The Gospel is not the sum of the events in the first century 

Instead, the Gospel is the good news that our Creator longs for us to be right with him again and so the greatest lengths were not too far to go. The events of the incarnation are a testament to the reality that God loves creation. 

It seems to me that throughout human history, God had consistently tried to bring this Gospel to humanity by directly speaking to humans. We see it with Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David and so on and so forth, but each time, humans took the story of God's love which is inherently full of life and turned it into a stagnate message in the form of laws. Let us not do the same. For Evangelicalism, the charge is turning the story into a message for our own ego gratification. We need to know that we're right, we need to know that I'm going to be on the ark while the rest of the world drowns, that I have my golden ticket into heaven. But this kills the spirit of the story of love - the Gospel that Christ brought to us. So, God decided to adopt a different tactic; he came himself in a way that was not so obvious to hand deliver, so to speak, this story of love. The author stepped into the story and flipped the world of the characters on its head.
The most beautiful truth is this:

We are a part of the story

Humanity hasn't gone extinct. Christ has not returned yet. The story is not over.

When we shape our work in ministry and Christian living around portraying a message, it becomes like trying to ask your wife to buy a new guitar (personal experience here people) without making it sound like you're just being kind of selfish with the family money. If, however, your concept of being a representative of Christ is shaped around a story, your interactions with everyone become more about telling them about your childhood, about a road trip you took once or about good memories with friends.

The Gospel is our responsibility as Christians; the story of love that God told us with his own mouth is ours to retell. Kill the message of the gospel so that the story of the Gospel can live.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Don't Build Communities

Have you ever had one of those days where you think that you'd be just absolutely happy with life if you were locked away in a log cabin somewhere in the back mountains of Canada or something? No? oh, well, I have those moments.

Truth be told, despite being a very outspoken and out-going person and despite having been exposed to stages and performance of one type or another since toddler-dom, I am a very introverted and private person; that is, I am refreshed by solitude and quiet. The level of quiet that I enjoy can drive some people batty; but it works for me. I think that this is partially why I have a natural affinity for the mystic corners of my Christian faith and find asceticism very attractive; namely, because I like to sit, think, be out in nature and embrace solitude. While there is great benefit to being able to stop, think, meditate, work through, feel and meet with the divine, I think that there is also a greater calling on the life of a Christian.

We are to love

Simple, right? Well, yes and no. If we're to love like Christ did and be known by our love...furthermore, if God is love....then one thing is certain: we must be with people. For some, like my brilliant wife, people are where it's at. She thrives off of hosting gatherings and going out to do things for people; it's one of her most beautiful qualities; this is not so with me. In fact, sometimes after being in large crowds for a long time, I feel drained and empty. What does this mean? well, what it doesn't mean is that I have a free pass to disconnect with people - even for "holy" reasons.

Love, you see, is intrinsically social - you need people in order to do it. Sure, there's self-love or a certain love for inanimate objects, but the deepest and most meaningful types of love are reciprocal.

As a member of the millennial generation, I know all too well how easy it is to disconnect because we're so "connected". Call me old fashioned, but it makes me sad to be in a room of people and observe all of them staring at little plastic boxes of wires, circuits and electricity in the palm of their hands. What happened to conversation? What happened to meeting new people? My dad is a master at the art of befriending strangers...rather, he has his Doctorate degree in spending hours in the aisle at the store talking to a person he just met....if there's a degree for that.

The Church today - the people of Christ - need to be intentional about building connections; if we do this, community necessarily follows. Sometimes we try to build communities through programs and schemes like small groups or Sunday school classes or church outings or "coffee hours" and some of this works but if we're looking for real relationships - something deep and lasting - the kind Jesus built with his followers, we need to focus on simply connecting with individuals, individually. By setting out to build a community instead of setting out to get to know the smelly kid at the end of the pew (no pun intended), we're essentially trying to become an Olympic level athlete in a week after being a couch potato for 20+ years or (to use the old saying) we're trying to eat a whole elephant at once. Attacking the big picture in one shot is self-defeating because we forget that communities are intrinsically built on a base of individualism - no one wants to just be a face in a crowed, so why do we approach Christian community this way?

Instead of communities, we should try to build connections.

So, while I might love to be alone and while we might keep an eye on the "big picture" in terms of building Christian communities, we must also realize that not only do we need people, but we need individual connective relationships. These have longevity and show the glory of the Kingdom of God just a little more clearly than otherwise.

Things to think about:
How do you build community?
How do you build connections?
Are you one who likes to hide from people or go out?
Could you or your church be better at connecting people?


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Are You in Ministry?

"I'm going to go into ministry..."

This is what I told my dad when I made the dramatic degree change from biology to philosophy and religious studies. I was surprised when his reaction wasn't excitement and it was difficult to hear his council that "not everyone needs to study that to be in ministry." What did he mean? My older brother was a youth pastor, so I thought that this news was going to be better received. His wisdom and experience, however, allowed him to see my zealous naivety. This side of a Bachelor's and most of my Master's degree, I see now what he meant.

One of the major distinctive beliefs of German reformer, Martin Luther's theology was what has been termed as the "priesthood of all believers". In a way, this is what my dad meant; that is, ministry is not a profession but a vocation. What? Are those not the same thing?

No, a career is not necessarily a vocation.

A career is what one does with the time that they have in devotion to an end (be it provision for family or passion for the career). Career's are essential to being a productive human and can be the same as a vocation, but the differences are real. A vocation, when properly understood, is a calling. In fact, the word "vocation" is based on the Latin root-word voca which means "to call". This is a much more profound concept than simply a career. So what does it mean to be called?

I find it most helpful to understand a calling as merely that "thing" that you cannot help but feel inclined to do. A calling is not a logical choice in which you see the kind of life that a specific career leads to and decide "I'll do that because of the pay out". Instead, a call is that deep seated, gut knowing that "I must do this with my life if I want to live any kind of full life." As such, a calling can be a job or it could be a hobby; either way, it is seemingly unavoidable and usually pleasurable.

going back to the question which titles this post, there is a certain sense in which one can be called to ministry. I would caution, however, from confusing this with the calling of all believers or Luther's "priesthood". I would equate a calling to formal ministry as analogous to a calling to work with mentally handicapped or troubled teens; specifically, it is not in everyone's capacity to possess the skills or to learn the skills to serve these specific cases with passion, day in and day out. Similarly, though all are called to be a witness to the light of Christ, not all are called or gifted with the ability to serve and lead in a formal capacity. This is important for believers who, in their passion for their faith, run out and make big decisions which disappoint in the end. I fear too many leaders are in positions in which they are not equipped and the modern expectations of  many pastors often do not match that pastor's gifting; this exponentially compounds the problem.

So, is there anything wrong with having "just a career"? No, as long as you are passionate enough to do it well; everyone needs to be productive with excellence and this glorifies God in and of itself. I would also say that a person could have more than one voca or callings. In all of this, the important thing is to self-reflect and decide for yourself what you are meant to do with your natural gifting and passions.

So, are you in ministry?

Yes, you are... and maybe no...but mostly yes. :)


Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Short Discourse on Prayer

I recently had a conversation with a good friend of mine - lets call him Jeff - who has been dealing with some things. After an hour or so in which we framed the problem in a spiritual warfare model, I encouraged him to not only draw near to God in his personal life and via Scripture but to pray. I can't profess to know the inner workings of Jeff's spiritual life, but I know that he is a believer. One thing I cautioned against is exactly what I wanted to tell you about. What I said was this:

Prayer is not magic

"Well duh!" you might be thinking, "Prayer is talking to God and magic...well, isn't". The truth of the matter is, however unfortunate it is, many modern Christians that I've been exposed to treat prayer like it is merely a matter of saying the right incantation. We don't usually think of it this way, but magic is essentially trying to control the naturally uncontrollable by our own means or efforts. Prayer, by contrast, is the enacting of one side of a relationship. Just like we are given a measure of control over the things of this physical world (whether that be in our personal relationships or our buying power or our social media platforms, etc.) we are also given a measure of control over the things of the spiritual world, though these things are shrouded in mystery. When we pray we exercise this measure; this is why Jesus tells us to pray for our Father's will.

So what does this mean? A few things...

  1. It means that we need not waste time and energy praying the same thing over and over as if God did not hear the first time. When we pray from our deepest person that God's will is done and made our preferences known, we then release the situation as we have done all that we can do.
  2. It also means that we can be confident when a prayer of petition is not answered the way we want because God, who is our Father and the giver of good things to his children, wants what is best for us and thus will work things to that end within the confines of the contextual situation. We rarely know all of the factors that play into any one situation and though God does, he gifts all of humanity and angelic beings with truly free will (which necessitates that he does not intervene at his leisure). This is a picture of our incredible God who can allow for truly free creatures and still be in control of the larger picture regardless of our choices. We can trust this God and so when things don't work out the way we want, we can take comfort in the fact that it was the best that could happen with all of the factors in play.
  3. It means that we ought to pray often. If we think of this in terms of voting power (though I think that this is an extremely limited analogy as prayer is intrinsically relational and voting is intrinsically legal), we ought to exercise our vote in God's favor all of the time. This is how we help the furthering of the Kingdom of God and help situations in which we feel powerless.
These are merely three of many many ways that framing prayer in this way is purposeful to our spiritual lives and I encourage all who read this to try to think of three more. Furthermore, scour Scripture for light in this matter; use the index in the back of your bible to look up passages on prayer, but don't look for a word-for-word "how to" (because it isn't there), instead look for a "how did" - that is, how did prayer function in this example? By this, we learn how to use our measure of control in the spiritual realm and thus serve God better.



Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Lost Art of Play

"I, God, am your playmate! I will lead the child in you in wonderful ways for I have chosen you. Beloved child, come swiftly to me for I am truly in you. Remember this: The smallest soul of all is still the daughter of the Father, the sister of the Son, the friend of the Holy Spirit and the true bride of the Holy Trinity."
                                           - Mechtild of Magdeburg

You've probably never heard of Mechtild so let me get introductions out of the way. This German laywoman and mystic was a member of the Beguine movement and lived from 1210 - 1282. She kept a life-long journal which later was published and called Flowing Light of the Godhead. As part of the Beguine movement, she (along with her fellow Beguines) was threatened and attacked by the Pope who condemned the women's movement seventeen times. Nevertheless there are traces of that tradition that survive today in Sweden, other parts of Europe and some in America.

What I want to talk about today is the lost art of play. I know you're probably thinking "how is play an art and where has it gone?"...or maybe you weren't thinking that and you were just nodding in agreement. Either way, Mechtild's above quote is beautiful in it's voice; she speaks from God's perspective and reminds us that there is a child in each of us. Most people remember Jesus telling his followers to come believe and become like children; few, however, link this idea to more than just salvation.

What if Mechtild is right and becoming like a child means tapping into that part of you that was once innocent, trusting, believing, hoping and playing. I have a 6 year old and a 2 year old and I am constantly amazed at their little lives. It's worth it to watch how they interact; the edges of their world are full of wonder and possibility. They dream and plan and execute the most outrageous stories; they believe in a world where they are not forced into categories that they don't choose themselves. It's beautiful really.

Rewind to innocence. 

We often talk about how salvation is a metaphysical reset to innocence in our soul, but we forget that our soul is a complex thing and when it is made new, it cannot be simply a transaction of categorical standing. Instead it is making it okay to to trust again, making it okay to believe again or even make believe again. As adults we become jaded with disappointment and loss; children naturally have little reference for ideas like funerals, backstabbing or being taken advantage of (sadly, I feel more and more are learning earlier and earlier). So when we read about Jesus wanting us to be like children, we should understand that it makes it okay to be soft again, to sleep soundly and, yes, to play.

So why play, specifically?

In playing, our hearts are open for anything possible and, what's better, anything impossible. If you ever watch children dancing to music, you know that the reservations of adulthood have not burdened them yet. Mechtild is telling us that God wants to be our playmate; he wants to remind us to dream and believe and build and explore. Playing is how we reawaken those parts of us that were once dead and practice the freedom we've been given by our rebirth.

So now what?

 Now go play! It seems silly and flippant, but truly in moving our bodies in play and dreaming with friends and simply encountering the world with light and open hearts, we are doing exactly what Jesus says to do. Our bodies are a part of our person and to think that our baptism into the Kingdom and family of God is some abstract metaphysical transaction only is a deprivation of the true extent to which we can be changed. Honestly, CrossFit has become a way that I have regained that play-aspect in my life. Perhaps that's not your outlet; maybe its bike riding, dancing, or yard work. Whatever it is, believe that it's worth it to find space and outlet to play; let your inner-child play with God. As Mechtild says, he is your playmate, brother and father. Realize that all of your play is actually a practice in relationship and, as such, is holy.

So go move!


p.s. For all you link-junkies out there, my "apologies" at all the Rend Collective songs...I was listening to them while writing this and I think they have a unique way of capturing the same freshness of soul that I was writing about, so if you intend on meditating on this idea, listen to some of their stuff while doing it. You just may be inspired :) Also, check out this cool place.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Noah Movie - continuing the tradition

Ok, I said I wouldn't comment on the Noah movie, but I am... Don't worry, it'll be brief ;-)

I went and watched the Noah movie with my wife and was blown a good way. Honestly, the sheer artistic beauty of what was done with that film was incredible. I can think of two specific points in the movie in which I was moved to tears; one out of remorse for the condition of mankind and the other out of joy for the beautiful restoration that God provides humanity with.

I don't want this post to be a spoiler, so I won't give any details here. What I will say is that I think we need to see the movie as a part of a longer tradition of story telling. What I mean is, that we need to frame the movie into a larger context; one that includes the oral tradition of primeval mankind. What I haven't seen a lot of in online commentary is a nod to the flood narrative tradition that is evident in the ancient near east. Mesopotamia, being where Abraham was from, is of particular note with the Gilgamesh epic. In that story there are striking parallels to the Genesis account of Noah:
  • Character warned by deity to build a boat to escape the impending flood which is designed to wipe out humanity.
  • Boat is built
  • Storm happens.
  • After waters retreat a little, the boat lands on top of a mountain
  • A dove and raven from the boat are used to determine if the passengers can safely return to the land
  • Story ends with a sacrificial offering and a blessing on the survivors.
To me, these are too great of parallels to simply dismiss. It should also be noted, however, that there are marked differences as well:
  • Where the boat landed
  • The kind of boat built
  • The duration of the flood
  • who, exactly, was saved
  • The eventual outcome for the main character
  •  And - most vitally - the role of the deities involved

In the Gilgamesh epic, none were meant to be saved and it is by the betrayal of one of the gods that Utnapishtim (the hero) discovers the plan and builds his boat. Also, in the Gilgamesh epic, Utnapishtim saves artisans and historians in order to preserve human culture whereas in the Genesis account, human culture is largely the problem that the flood is to solve. Another parallel flood narrative from ancient Mesopotamia is the Atrahasis Epic which also has close parallels with some marked differences such as the flood being planned because humanity was too loud and numerous. Truthfully, the connection between these stories is something that is hard to nail down. What can be said with the most certainty is that it was more likely the case that all of these flood narratives were derived from a single source -- likely the event itself -- and it is not likely the case that any one borrowed too heavily directly from the other stories.

In all of these parallels, we must remember that the importance of the flood narrative is not in its detail, but in its meaning. "The ancient storyteller did not let variations in the traditions he received deter him from his purpose of weaving these materials together to say what he wanted to say about God."[1]
The most important thing to do when watching the movie is to watch it through to the end; here is where we see the true meaning of the events of the story.When we frame the history and tradition of the flood narrative accurately, we can see the work of Darren Arnofsky as a continuation of this tradition of story telling for the purpose of theology and not history or science; we realize that the details are not the primary point of concern, but the picture of God that is portrayed and, to that end, I commend Arnofsky.
I think that it's best put this way:

"Genesis is the book of beginnings and contains the foundations for much of the theology of the Old Testament...An understanding of the book's content and message is essential to the study of the rest of the Bible. It is not a book of science, though scientists are right to investigate its claims. It is not a book of biographies, though much can be learned from the lives of men and women portrayed in its pages. It is not a book of history, though history is the path it follows. It is a book of theology, though its task is not accomplished systematically."[2]
 For those that would like a more in-depth analysis of the movie and its importance to the church today, read here; just make sure you have a good cup of coffee before you sit down ;-) it is truly thorough. Also, keep your eyes out for a post on this topic at my brother's website; he always has good things to say.

Above all else, remember to view things in proper context and let God's Spirit which is in you dictate how you conduct yourselves no matter what your reaction to the movie.


[1] Tullock, John H., and Mark Harold McEntire. "Chapter 3 Israel Looks at the Beginnings." The Old Testament Story. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009. 2-51. Print

[2] Hill, Andrew E., and John H. Walton. "Chapter 4: Genesis." A Survey of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 2009. 78. Print.