Narnia's Significance in Christianity

NEW YORK -- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe debuted over the Dec. 9-11 weekend at $67.1 million – exceeding all profit expectations – and filmgoers rated it a rare A-plus on an out-going survey. But on the subject of the film’s impact on Christendom, Christian leaders and laymen rated it a great conversation starter, but not a significant cinematic achievement.

“I think it’s a great movie,” said Melvin Rivera, on staff with world-renowned Mosaic Church in Los Angeles for their movie-savvy and seeker-oriented culture. “We use a lot of movies just to start conversations. We use them in the service just to complement whatever the subject is. It doesn’t really require a Christian film to start conversation. On that aspect, there are numerous other movies that I think can start better conversations.”

“I think that a number will see this as an opportunity for sharing faith, and that’s really where it’s going to be,” said Senior Pastor Glenn Blossom of Bethel Evangelical Free Church in Staten Island, N.Y. “I don’t necessarily think the film, without a context, will make a significant impact.”

“I felt that Hollywood could have done a better job on a Christian film," he added. "I felt that, as a script, it could’ve been an Academy (award winning). It was not the plot that kept it from being that.”

Hollywood and Christians failed to understand that "it’s not simply a redemptive story,” he said.

While the cinematography could’ve been better, using such films to reach non-Christians and minister to Christians is very important, many said.

The movie is just "another tool that we can use just simply reach our friends," said Eric Bryant, one of the leading pastors at Mosaic.

“When you are more concerned with reaching your friends and children than maintaining your traditions, then you are willing to do things that are outside the norm,” he said in reference to the concerns that some may have about using culture for preaching.

The purpose of the church is a place to care for others' needs, he said, not to fulfill the needs of Christians.

Still, Blossom explained that pastors find it difficult to balance preaching the unchanging truth of the gospel with adapting to the culture.

It's difficult to "stand unchangeable on the unchanging, and at the same time, to know how to clothe that in the cultural milieu," he said.

But the film does mark an evolution towards stronger and more diverse Christian messages, said Christian filmmaker Bryan Coley. Coley directs Art Within, one of the nation’s few Christian screenwriters guild to foster better Christian writers.

“I think this is opening doors for us to have a vision of what it looks like to blend a Christian worldview and blend our faith more innovatively, and to have better faith representations than just the apocalyptic tale,” said Coley.

“Could it be with all the reality shows with makeovers that people desire to know that there is such a thing as hope and that change can happen in their lives? Maybe we should be telling them stories that say yes, that’s possible."