Christian Critic Responds to Nativity Story Lashes

Some movie reviews of "The Nativity Story" bashing the traditional portrayal of the Christmas story left one Christian film critic outraged.

"The most negative responses to the movie reflect a clear inability to accept any movie that deals reverently in any way with beloved Bible stories like the birth of Jesus Christ," said Dr. Ted Baehr of the Christian Film and Television Commission in a released statement.

"The Nativity Story" debuted with $8 million this past weekend, placing it fourth at the box office.

While Baehr had praised the film as it put Christ back into Christmas, several critics had called the film "boring" and "stillborn."

"Don't buy these outrageous, disingenuous lies," Baehr urged moviegoers in a statement. "'The Nativity Story' brings the Gospel alive in a compelling, captivating, entertaining, and inspiring manner that shatters expectations. It has one of the best scripts of the year."

A review by the Los Angeles Times commented on the film telling the Christmas story the traditional way.

"This is not a chance to 'experience the most timeless of stories as you've never seen it before' but just the opposite: an opportunity, for those who want it, to encounter this story exactly the way it's almost always been told."

It further called the film "a cinematic Bible class that flatters the chosen but has little to offer anyone who is not already a believer."

"What that says to me is 'Bravo. Somebody has not taken the Christmas story and made it non-traditional, new cutting-edge," said Baehr in response to the LA Times review. "This is a traditional Christmas story and that's what upsets him. This is lifting up the traditional vision of Jesus."

The Chicago Tribune, along with a host of other media outlets, had a more positive view about the film playing it safe.

"The moviemakers haven't embossed ‘Nativity Story’ with greeting card imagery or sentimentalized, overdramatized or stuffed it with contemporary political parallels," said the Tribune review. "Instead, they've told the story with a measured seriousness but also with an often fiery, youthful quality. I wasn't much moved by 'Nativity' – perhaps it was too careful and intelligent – but, as I watched it, I could sense some of the urgency of its belief, the universality of its themes of God, loneliness and redemption. 'Nativity' is a movie that may not take full advantage of its tale but doesn't betray it either."

The New York Times reviewed, "Rather than trying to reinterpret or modernize a well-known, cherished story, the filmmakers have rendered it with a quiet, unassuming professionalism."

Baehr confirmed the authenticity of "The Nativity Story" to Scripture.

"The movie verbally affirms that this is the Christ," he said, "that this is God made flesh. Once you hear all the credo affirmations there, this is credoly ... from the Apostle's Creed on, very solid."

Although some say the film tries too hard to avoid offense or misinterpretation, Baehr commented, "You can either take the positive view or you can be nit-picky."

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