A Reply…Concerning Movies

A writer is greatly delighted when he finds out that his articles are read and even discussed. So I was delighted when I received various letters from those who had an interest in what I wrote concerning our latest Young People’s Convention and that I had but one criticism to offer, n.l., “Personally I disapprove of movies at our conventions”.  I answered those who wrote me that I would give my reasons for my disapproval of movies at our conventions in our December issue of the “Beacon Lights”.  And Miss A. Reitsma asked me in our last issue to do this.  So with thanks to those who wrote me, I hope to make my position clear.

First of all, I want to make myself clear on this, that I do not believe the movie camera, as such, an evil thing.  Many of us own one and such a movie camera is no more evil than any other camera.  These are all good gifts of God.  We have no argument with anyone on this score, even though the institution that has developed from this has been and remains a great evil.

Secondly, we believe that the argument that movies are of great educational value, is greatly exaggerated and is not in its place in this connection.  Educational standards certainly have not been raised in recent years since the introduction of movies in our education institutions.  The educational standards were higher years ago then they are today with the movie.  Besides, the movies were not shown at our convention with a view to education, but to entertainment, even though the beauty of nature, such as the trip to the Northland and Yosemite National Park, were shown us.  I once attended a father-son banquet at the Chicago Christian High School and there too, the program included some so-called educational movies.  There was one entitled: “Wheels of Progress” which might be classified as such, but when finally, “Mickey Mouse” was shown, the folks present surely revealed, by their applause, that the latter picture entertained them the most.  We believe that entertainment by movies is wrong and will lead to such kind of entertainment as indulged in at Chicago Christian High School.

Thirdly, we do not believe that the revelation of God in nature, as those movies of our convention were supposed to depict, may be divorced from the revelation of God in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. (See Cor. 24:6).  Even the heathen peoples see beauty and power and wisdom in God’s creation, but they see not the beauty and power and wisdom of God “in the face of Jesus Christ”.  In old Israel, the children of God were instructed to destroy even the pictures of the heathen peoples they conquered in Canaan.  See Num. 33:52.  And our fathers said in Lord’s Day 35: “God neither can, nor may be presented by any means but as to creatures, though they may be represented, yet God forbids to make or to have any resemblance of them, either in order to worship them or to serve them…..for we must not pretend to be wiser than God, Who will have His people taught not by dumb images, but by the lively preaching of His Word”. (I italicize, L. V.)  Certainly we all believe that God reveals Himself in both nature and the Word, but centrally always in Christ Jesus.  And outside of the Word, we have no revelation of God, not even in creation.  See John 1:1-5.  Now this revelation of God in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour certainly was not given us in the movies at our latest convention.

Fourthly, I believe that movies at our convention are an offense to many of our good, Christian people.  It breathes a spirit of worldliness, which certainly must be fought instead of encouraged.  The movies, even those that appear so innocent, instill in our youth a desire to see more and more and lead to the movie house of the world.  A truly God-centered instruction is the goal of all those who love the Protestant Reformed truth.  That is why there is such strenuous effort made to have our own Protestant Reformed Schools in distinction from the so-called Christian Reformed Schools.  And we did not see such a God-centered movie at our convention.

Finally, I would remind our readers to read and re-read an article that was written way back in April 15, 1927 in our Standard Bearer.  In that article the author attacks the movie as positively and principally wrong, even as the drama is wrong, for they are really one and the same.  The Christian Reformed Church as early as 1928 defended the principle of movies and claimed there are good and evil movies.  But there is no such thing as a Christian movie, for no man can nor may act out either good or evil for God requires truth in the inward parts. Ps. 51:6.  “There is no good movie.  A Christian theatre and a Christian movie are a contradiction in terms”, see The Standard Bearer, vol. 3, p. 320.  With this we are in hearty agreement, though at one time we had a somewhat different idea of this.  I repeat: Personally, I disapprove of movies at our conventions.