Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Great Controversy Over "The Record Keeper"



This afternoon, I watched "The Record Keeper" again - the SDA funded film based on Ellen White's Great Controversy. I was again impressed by it. It's still my opinion that the suspension of the film was a mistake for the following reasons:

  1.  I've seen the Record Keeper several times now. I realize full well I am looking at an allegory. There is a precedent for allegory in the Bible. Technically 7 lean cows could not eat 7 fat cows. They don't have the teeth for it and the thing, where the image Nebuchadnezzar saw is struck by a stone, didn't really happen.
  2.  Cancelling the film is a huge waste of resources. The film was vetted at every step and still somehow after spending a million bucks or so, the GC didn't like the results. I don't like my tithes and offerings wasted in that fashion.
  3. The failure of the GC to approve a film about The Great Controversy surprises me not a bit. The General Conference would never have allowed Jesus to tell the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus, much less include it in Scripture. Christ's parable, after all, contains "theological inaccuracies".  
  4. An allegory or parable is not intended to be accurate in every detail  It's designed to make a discreet and specific point and make a point it did. It's not a documentary. It's not historical fiction. It's a way to introduce the idea of the war in heaven and to draw viewers into a greater understanding of the cosmic impact of the little drama we're having here on planet Earth.
  5. The Record Keeper does an excellent job of introducing the story of the war in Heaven, something most Christians know little about. It puts flesh on angels and broadens the perspective of Christ's mission to Earth and what it was about. It's a good starting point for a discussion.  
  6. And no, angels aren't ninjas. It's not likely anyone will come away from the film thinking otherwise. We have no idea what a war in heaven would look like, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't a College Bowl debate. The portrayal in this film only makes it clear that the conflict was really war - albeit of a sort we probably can't understand.
  7. We really need some new ways to mine souls from the culture as it is. Jesus was accused of being a drunkard and a glutton for spending too much time with sinners and not paying court to the ruling elites of the church. I think the criticism of the film is uncomfortably similar to the accusations of the Scribes and Pharisees.
  8. Science Fiction readers and viewers are actually really more open to the story of the Cosmic Conflict as Great Controversy is alternately titled than we give them credit for. A friend of mine became an Adventist because he picked up a copy of The Great Controversy thinking it was science fiction. By the time he finished it, he was looking up the location of the nearest Adventist church. It was seeing the war between good and evil in a cosmic context that did it for him. And this was back in the 60s. It's even more so now. If we can put Christianity into a broader context, i.e. an intergalactic war between beings we would see as aliens should they reveal themselves to us, we might just reach some folk we aren't going to reach with talking heads and sermons in our media.
  9. We paid for it.  I think it was  a huge mistake to abandon the Record Keeper. I don't think the controversy over it would have been damaging to the church. It might well have been invigorating. I think every Adventist whose tithes and offerings went to fund this million dollar project should be give a copy of it for free. 
  10. We church members should be allowed to decide if what we paid for is worthy. We don't need a GC nanny state. We work for Jesus. HE is our immediate supervisor.
The nice thing about digital media is that it's easy to pass around. You can find the entire 11 episodes of The Record Keeper on Youtube at the link below. If you find it useful, it's not hard to find the study guides that go with it.

Just sayin'

Tom King



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