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The 34th Street Apologetic

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Gary discusses the classic Christmas film, Miracle on 34th Street and many instances of how this film presents opportunities for thinking through worldviews and Christian apologetics.

Most evangelicals tend to think in “words.” This is certainly understandable because of the Protestant focus on the Bible as the sole authority (sola Scriptura) and the Lutheran concept of the “priesthood of all believers.” When this is applied to storytelling and film, this primary focus on word over image ends up killing the spirit of the message in favor of trying too hard to make sure the message is clearly heard. Dr. Thom Parham puts it this way:

Film excels at metaphor—forging a connection between dissimilar objects or themes. It doesn’t fare as well with text messaging. Show, don’t tell, is the rule of cinema. Christians, however, can’t seem to resist the prospect of using film as a high-tech flannel board. The result is more akin to propaganda than art, and propaganda has a nasty habit of hardening hearts.[1]

In other words, when Christians think about story and movies they invariably look for ways to present the Gospel in clear and uncertain ways. For them, the end determines the means and the finished product usually suffers as a result, coming across as lifeless and artificial. Two very well-known Christmas tales transcend this trap of overt evangelism and manage to tell a Gospel story without having to resort to “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” as the conclusion.

Using Classic Films to Teach the Christian Worldview
Using Classic Films to Teach the Christian Worldview

In this talk, Gary DeMar makes the point that classic movies are excellent teaching tools for a Christian worldview—for children and adults. Classic movies are often heavily dialogue-based, which provides a necessary counterpoint to the visually stimulating and soundbite-driven modern method of moviemaking. Real life is about real conversations, and classic movies provide a great virtual training ground for thinking and living in the real world of ideas and consequences. Also includes illustrated PDF ebook that helps to reinforce and explain the concepts discussed in the lecture.

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Gary discusses the classic Christmas film, Miracle on 34th Street. He points out many instances of how this film (and every film for that matter) presents opportunities for thinking through worldviews and Christian apologetics. Many questions are asked throughout the movie that may seem silly at first glance but are actually quite perceptive and help highlight the issue of ultimate authority.

Click here for today’s episode

Click here to browse all episodes of The Gary DeMar Podcast


[1] Thom Parham, “Why Do Heathens Make the Best Christian Films?” essay found in: Spencer Lewerenz and Barbara Nicolosi (editors), Behind the Screen: Hollywood Insiders on Faith, Film, and Culture (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005), 57.

American Vision’s mission is to Restore America to its Biblical Foundation—from Genesis to Revelation. American Vision (AV) has been at the heart of worldview study since 1978, providing resources to exhort Christian families and individuals to live by a Biblically based worldview. Visit www.AmericanVision.org for more information, content and resources


Source: https://americanvision.org/posts/miracle-on-34th-street-and-christian-apologetics/


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