Eternity in Movies – Seeing and Using Redemption Analogies

David Thompson (Lombard, Illinois USA)

Archived discussion

About the presenter

David Thompson is pastor at St. Timothy Evangelical Lutheran Church (Evangelical Lutheran Synod) in Lombard, Illinois. He chairs the Apologetics Committee of the Evangelical Lutheran Synod and is the author of the book, "What in the World Is Going On? Identifying Hollow and Deceptive Worldviews" (Northwestern Publishing House).


In the '80's I came across the book Peace Child [1] written by Don Richardson, a missionary in Papua New Guinea. He, with a young family in tow, sought to introduce the gospel to an isolated tribe that had never heard of Christ or Christianity. Cannibalism had been one of their practices. Their various villages were often at war with one another. They were also known for cruel deception in order to murder unsuspecting men from another village. Though these indigenous people were respectful (and curious) of this missionary and his family, hardly anyone came to faith as the gospel was shared with them. The missionary was frustrated.

But then he observed their custom known as the "peace child." After bloodshed and warring with each other for a period of time, two villages could establish peace with one another by each village giving to the other, one of their infant sons – not to be killed, but as a living sacrifice. A father, with pain and tears, would take a son (sometimes his only son) and offer the other village this peace child, while the mother lapsed into despair. The other village would do the same. As long as the sons lived, the peace could continue. This became a picture and tool used by Richardson to help the gospel register, make sense, hit home. A conversion flood resulted. He called this (along with several other customs within the tribe) a "redemption analogy." [2]

So the question naturally arises, where, if anywhere, can we find redemption analogies today, especially in an increasingly post-Christian culture? One answer is fiction available to us, past and present, including fairy tales, myths, great novels, and movies. How does this work, especially from a biblical and confessional Lutheran perspective (which is where I come from)? [3]

As human beings there are several things we cannot not do; things inherent to being human that are rarely, if ever, found among other creatures of God. We do these things naturally, even though fallen. We experience anger and joy, awe and disgust. We make moral and aesthetic judgments. We pursue higher, spiritual, righteous, and eternal things; we recognize and affirm them. We create and invent for self or others. We seek peace and pursue it. We conclude things to be good or bad, true or false, right or wrong, beautiful or ugly, virtuous or evil. We value and pursue what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, excellent, and praiseworthy. We are profoundly moved by tragic loss, acts of heroism, and sacrificial love.

This is not to say our judgments, reasoning, experiences, feelings, and inventions are necessarily in accord with reality, truth, and God. They may or may not be. The point is, we do them (like no other creature). We cannot help it. And these things are no respecter of religion or worldview; they are universal.

The reason all humans do these is because we, apart from all others, are created in the image of God. [4] All those things mentioned above are what God has done and is doing. We connect with all other creatures horizontally in that we are created (and therefore finite and greatly limited). But we have this vertical connection with God — made in his image. In the words of Ecclesiastes, "God has put eternity in their hearts." (3:11).

Here is how this relates to fiction and movies. No matter who we are — regardless of our worldview or religion, whether we believe in the Triune God or are atheists — when we read certain poems, fairy tales, novels, or watch a movie, there is something about many of them that tugs at the heart. We can become gripped by them, even to the point of reading or watching them over and over, sacrificing time and money to do so. We may attribute that to the quality of writing or production or acting, but the deeper and higher things — the image of God within us — are the primary draw.

What great novel or movie does not include true love, romance, epic battles, something worth living for and dying for, the triumph of good over evil, the lie exposed and truth winning out, justice restored, evil punished, the innocent vindicated, the marriage finally occurring, the family restored, the nation saved, the downtrodden or the neglected raised up, the oppressed delivered, freedom won (at a great cost), faithfulness enduring and rewarded, the rightful and noble king crowned, the beautiful and distressed damsel saved by her true love, the prince and princess living happily ever after, victory snatched out of the jaws of defeat and even death, a life sacrificed so other lives are saved?

Everyone's favorite movie or novel has one or more of these themes. I am suggesting these are connected to the image of God within, and that most fall into the category of redemption analogies in some way or another.

I am not saying all these novels and movies have a happy ending. But they are at least expressing that the good, right, beautiful, true, and lovely ought to prevail. That is a given.

Not all will agree on every movie or novel, but I would bet my next paycheck there is significant consensus on the ability of many films to "tug on" and "grip" the heart for the reasons stated above. They stir up a sense of the eternity within. Consider movies [5] such as Braveheart, Pride and Prejudice, Mary Poppins, To Kill a Mockingbird, It's a Wonderful Life, or The Sound of Music. Or the great attraction of Marvel and Star War movies (or offshoots such as Mandalorian). Romcoms are not merely funny romances but can bring tears to our eyes as they too touch upon deeper truths: The Princess Bride, The Man from Snowy River, You've Got Mail, While You Were Sleeping, Sleepless in Seattle, The Legend of Zorro. And don't forget movies like The Rookie, Parent Trap, and Rudy. Animated films have followings (even among adults) for the same reason: Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, The Emperor's New Groove, Toy Story. You can even see the appeal to the image of God in Napoleon Dynamite where those who are despised or losers — Napoleon, Pedro, Kip, Deb, and even Uncle Rico — all win in the end in a wonderful and touching way, even while we laugh and say, "This is crazy!" They draw us in. They point us toward beauty, love, truth, sacrifice, justice, victory, and a happily ever after. They have a connection to the redemption.

This concept is brought out in a striking conversation between J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis when Lewis was still an atheist. Both Lewis and Tolkien were gripped by myths and fairytales. Lewis loved them, treasured their idealism, and felt them deep within. But at the time he considered them to be nothing more than fiction. They were beautiful stories, but worthless in the end. Myths and fairytales, he said, "are lies breathed through silver."

Tolkien responded by saying no! He contended that they point to an underlying reality, and somehow reflect Christ. Lewis insisted that Tolkien had bought into the grand myth — the lie of Christianity. "I wash my hands of the whole nonsense," he said. To which Tolkien replied (to paraphrase), "You act as if Jesus Christ is one of many myths, but this one is the true myth. This is the one that makes sense of all the others. It is the one to which all the others point. Everything that moves and grips us in all the others that we love is there in this one; everything the heart desires."

It was this conversation regarding fiction that was instrumental in the conversion of Lewis. Tolkien made use of redemption analogies.[6]

By the way, this image of God within (which no one can truly rid himself of) explains why Hollywood, known for some of the most detestable and anti-Christian productions, can still point to spiritual and eternal truths. It also explains why the hard-core materialist cannot live consistently with his belief that there are no absolute truths. [7]

But there are clear biblical limits to such fictions and movies. There are two doctrines in particular that act as curbs to keep us within bounds as we think about and use movies in the service of evangelism. One is the doctrine of sinful depravity. In the words of the Small Catechism, "I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him." Sin runs deep. We are dead in our trespasses and sins. Neither our mind nor our imagination effect conversion. The other doctrine is grace alone. Again, the Small Catechism: "But the Holy Spirit has called me by the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith…" (emphasis added).

Here is how another Lutheran confession applies these biblical teachings:

Therefore, before the conversion of the human being there are only two efficient causes, the Holy Spirit and God's Word as the instrument of the Holy Spirit, through which he effects conversion; the human creature must hear this Word but cannot believe or accept it on the basis of its own powers but only through the grace and action of God the Holy Spirit. [8]

Redemption analogies are not the gospel. They are analogies. The gospel alone is the power of God for salvation. The gospel is specifically about who Christ is, what he has done, resulting in the forgiveness of all sins of all people. Unless that message is there, any and all redemption analogies are useless and powerless. It is only when this gospel message is connected to redemption analogies that they can play a role in true evangelism and conversion.

And yet, these redemption analogies found in fiction, myths, novels, and movies can be the very tool that can be used to point to and explain the gospel to our neighbor, the gospel which can bring about faith in Christ.

In other words, evangelism is not really evangelism if we simply have our unbelieving neighbor watch a movie that clearly has embedded within it a redemption analogy. He needs to see his sin (he needs to hear the Law) and needs to see and hear about Christ on the cross and resurrected for him and his sins. That's the way it works.

Now some may ask, "Then why use movies and novels at all? Why not just read the Bible to him"

Paul's answer is that we need to "be all things to all people." We approach them where they are at. And where all people are at — what they all have in common — is this longing for the eternal. They all have the image of God within that makes them yearn for a peace that surpasses all understanding, even while they rebel and reject the God who alone has established that peace.

To cite a different but analogous situation: An unbelieving man falls madly in love with a Christian woman. As the relationship develops, they discuss spiritual matters and faith in Christ. He eventually believes and they get married. When asked why he became a Christian, he says, "Because of my wonderful wife." We would not say to him, "No, you are a Christian because of the message of Christ, the gospel." The point is, both are true. But God used this man's deep love for her to point to the powerful gospel — the essential cause of faith.

The same is true with redemption analogies within films. They can tug at and grip the heart, just like that Christian woman. But they cannot stand alone, for they find fulfilment only in Christ.

I believe we ought to use films in this way much more than we do. While recognizing man's fallen nature and the power of the Word of God, we can use them with wise recklessness! One never knows when the ultimate Peace Child might finally be realized.


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[1] 1974, Regal Books.

[2] In 1981 he wrote another book, Eternity in Their Hearts, in which he explains other redemption analogies throughout history in various cultures (Regal Books).

[3] Several presentations in previous GOWM conferences have touched on this: "How Christian Was That Movie?" (T. Kuster), "Superhero Films — Unlikely Sources of Truth" (D. Locklair), "Eyes to See — Jesus in Film" (J. Wampfler).

[4] Over the years I have distinguished between a narrow and broad definition of the image of God. The narrow — that which all humans (except One) have totally lost — refers to the original and perfect righteousness Adam and Eve had before the fall. The broad definition is what I am using here: those characteristics and abilities that set us apart from all other creatures and we still retain, though they are marred by sin, shells of what they had been, and can or will be used in the service man's sinful nature.

[5] These movies are from a list of my personal favorites. Excuse me if none of yours are not mentioned. I perhaps have not seen them.

[6] For a description of this conversation, see the lecture by Tim Keller, "C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien on the Power of Fiction."

[7] In her book Finding Truth (2015, David C. Cook), Nancy Pearcey quotes a number of materialistic atheists who demonstrate this. For example, Prof. Rodney Brooks from MIT: "[W]hen I look at my children, I can, when I force myself ... see that they are machines." He goes on to say, "That is not how I treat them. I interact with them on an entirely different level. They have my unconditional love, the furthest one might be able to get from rational analysis." He honestly concludes, "I maintain two sets of inconsistent beliefs." (p. 164).

[8] Epitome to the Formula of Concord, Article II. The Book of Concord, Kolb/Wengert, eds. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000) 494.

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Judy Kuster 2021-10-19 5:41:38am
Thank you for an interesting article explaining why so many movies that create a redemption message touch our hearts, and can lead to a discussion. One bridge to the discussion can occur in movies that simply show a professed Christian living his/her life. Finding good writing that puts a Christian message into secular movies is a treasure. I appreciated that your article sent me online to find lists of secular films that have a Christian message including some films I've seen and others I will check out.
Your article also reminded me of many films with a Christian message that have left a mark on my life – some in the rather distant past – The Robe, Quo Vadis, Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, Sergeant York, A Patch of Blue, and a more recent one I’ve never seen listed in various “lists of Christian films” - The Good Lie.
David Thompson 2021-10-19 5:06:47pm
Hi Judy, Thank you for your comments. Looks like a good list of movies that are saying much of what I said in my presentation. I usually distinguish between movies that have a redemption analogy (movies which we usually call secular) and movies that have a "Christian" message. The reason I do so is this: when the word "Christian" is mentioned, the thinking is that this IS Christianity or this IS about Christ. Redemption analogies in secular movies, on the other hand, do not intend to proclaim Christ and his work (though, perhaps some writers/directors are intending to do that, e.g., Brave Heart, The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe). But in most secular movies, redemption analogies are there, you might say, accidentally (though not without Divine intention). They "become" Christian when the clear biblical gospel is explained and then attached to the movie. Otherwise, they fall short of being truly Christian in the strict sense.
Nicole Tessmer (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2021-10-24 4:55:00pm
Before reading your article, I had never thought of using secular movies as an evangelism tool. Redemption arcs are seen in so many films which provides a great opportunity to start a conversation with someone. Finding common ground, like a favorite movie, is a great first step in evangelism as you build that relationship and then can grow the conversation into something more. If the movie already provides that avenue with a redemption arc, then you can use that analogy to help explain God's Word. I agree with you that we should use films more in our evangelism. While Christian films are a great tool as well, we should not avoid the wide resources we have with all the films that have been created. Being able to start the conversation in a way the other person already understands is a wonderful avenue to start telling them about the redemption we have through Jesus. Do you have any suggestions or tactics on how to bridge the conversation from redemption arcs in a popular film to a conversation about Christ?
David 2021-10-27 5:00:50pm
Hi Nicole, Thanks for your comments and insights. One of the things we can do with such films is help our children to understand how they point to a higher truth fulfilled only in Christ. Of course, they are (hopefully) already believers. But such films can strengthen them and other believers as they remind us of Christ the real hero and savior. As for unbelievers, there is the passage where Jesus says to one man, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." (Mark 12) Those that think about or sense the deeper messages in these films can, at some point, be asked, "Why are we so moved by these fictions?" And, "Perhaps there is one fiction that is more than a fiction." Or "What do you think this means?" Or, best yet if it occurs, wait for them to ask a question or make a comment that lends itself to going in the direction of truth and Christ, and especially the fact that the gospel accounts are not merely "religious," but which claim to be eyewitness accounts or careful research of eyewitness accounts. This is how Tolkien challenged the atheist C.S. Lewis, eventually leading to faith in the one Lewis had thought was merely a made-up character and a lie.
Kenton Dvorak 2021-10-25 12:40:28am
In the article you reference Paul's answer "we need to be all things to all people." Could you explain in more detail the context in which Paul used this phrase?
David 2021-10-27 5:18:23pm
Kenton, Thank you for your question. In 1 Cor. 9 Paul talks about different peoples and where they are coming from (Jews, those under the law, those without the law, the weak) and becoming like them in order to save them. He is not talking about compromising truth (as is done too often today), but understanding where a group or person is coming from so he can explain the gospel in a way that hits home. Thus the "Peace Child" in my presentation. But my overall point in referencing 1 Cor. 9 is to point out that what all people have in common is this sense of eternity, this understanding there is more than the here and now, this realization that there is or must be real truth. And many movies can help bring this out. We are moved because they "touch an eternal nerve."
Kenton 2021-11-04 6:05:25pm
Thank you for the response. I think peoples awareness of eternity is an extremely deep topic. It becomes interesting to see so people recognize the state of worldly eternity (space and time) and spiritually eternity(after life). The majority of people automatically commit to one or the other when contemplating the definition or meaning of eternity.
Tom Kuster (Christ in Media Institute) 2021-10-26 4:40:38am
As this conference discussion is open, we are seeing lots of publicity for the new film version of Frank Herbert's book "Dune" (one of my favorite SciFi reads). It has a strong and quite explicit "messiah" theme. That film (which I am eager to see) should provide many opportunities to see it with a friend, and then discuss the real Messiah.
David 2021-10-27 5:22:16pm
Another one to add to me "must see" list. Thanks.
Joshua Pahmeier (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2021-10-27 3:33:31am
As a big movie buff, I loved this article and your discussion of Christianity and popular movies today–it was truly fascinating! I wholeheartedly agree that movies with redemption arcs in them can be used as Christian analogies. Movies containing redemption arcs and fights against adversity often contain happy endings, which are generally received well by audiences. While you specifically said that not every movie with subliminal Christian messaging has a happy ending, I think the reactions to movies with sad/not-happy endings goes to show the extent to which movies containing stories of redemption (which emulate Christ dying for our sins) are accepted and appreciated. I think of 2016's La La Land, which has a very abrupt ending to a romantic musical. As a result of this ending, a lot of people I have discussed the movie with have shared that they despised the movie because of its ending. Seeing as many dislike movies that do not have a happy ending (even though the characters may strive to become better), it goes to show the human tendency to watch movies and root for characters who look to do something greater than themselves–as Jesus did through his suffering and death.

Considering the movies that you listed in your article, I have to ask: Have you seen Pixar's Soul? The movie is currently streaming on Disney+, and released on the platform Christmas Day of 2020. The director of the movie–Pete Docter–is a Christian, and I think it is VERY evident that this plays into the plot of the movie. While Pixar and Docter certainly would not advertise the movie as Christian, I often describe the movie as Christian to others. In Soul, we see the redemption arc and pursuit of something greater throughout the entire movie, literally from the start of the movie to the closing credits.
David 2021-10-27 5:31:04pm
Joshua, Thank you. I have not see this movie. I will try to watch it soon. It is interesting how, once in a while, these Christians sneak their way into such professions dominated by non-Christians and are able to make a confession of faith, indirectly perhaps. However, they may soon be found out and ostracized or, due to pressure, compromise and deny Christ. But this applies to all of us, no matter what our vocation. So we should pray for them.
Joshua Pahmeier (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2021-10-27 11:14:30pm
Soul is a phenomenal movie–not only does it feature a story of redemption, it is an incredibly entertaining movie overall and features beautiful animation. Though movies may not be the most conventional form of witnessing, they can be used as a witnessing opportunity nonetheless. As we continue to delve further into the digital age, movies, TV shows, social media content, etc. with sublimated Christian messages present a witnessing opportunity to large audiences. While watching a movie such as Soul or the movies mentioned in your article may not fully explain God's Word, they can at least play a substantial role in sharing the Gospel in getting the ball rolling, potentially opening doors for those unfamiliar with the Bible to open their hearts and minds. While we certainly should pray for such individuals and for our own strength in such situations, I think that we should also pray that they increasingly use their platforms and opportunities–again, though it may be unconventional–to witness to others.
Tom Kuster (Christ in Media Institute) 2021-10-28 1:41:29am
In this connection, check out the challenges faced by Christian screenwriters at the top of the industry, as described by professional screenwriter Jas Lonnquist in the spring 2016 GOWM conference: copy and paste the URL
Elizabeth Kanzenbach (Martin Luther College) 2021-11-03 9:25:00pm
Pastor David Thompson,

Thank you for your time putting this webpage together. I have always enjoyed watching movies, and I have never realized that scripture lessons can be taught through the emotions films cause. This comparison provides a new way to evangelize to many others who have not yet experienced the intense feelings that come along with growing in God’s Word. I think that spreading the truth in this way would be less nerve-racking for those evangelizing, for they can discuss their favorite movies as an ‘ice-breaker,’ allowing for the conversation to flow smoothly. Have you ever tried this technique while evangelizing? If so, did it go well?

I think that the concept of applying God’s Word to movies can also be used in the classroom. My past grade school and some high school classes would take a small break once a school year from our studies. This break would usually consist of watching a movie that applied to the concepts taught in that specific class. I feel that along with highlighting the aspects that apply to that particular class, we could also apply the feelings generated from the film to similar feelings created and found in God’s Word.
Thank you for sharing this creative way to share God’s truth. I will be applying this concept to my future ministry.
David 2021-11-04 5:58:26pm
Hello Elizabeth, Thank you for taking the time to read this and comment. I have used this from time to time, in this manner: "Have you ever seen the movie..." What is better, however, is when the other person with whom you have watched such a movie (or watched it separately) suggests that Christianity is a similar fiction. Then the CS Lewis/Tolkien discussion comes into play. There also could be great benefit in sharing such a movie with one who is suffering in one way or another. The movie might somehow help him or her -- give or suggest hope -- which could lead to the real, true, lasting hope.
Anna Busch (Martin Luther College) 2021-11-04 3:17:12am
Pastor Thompson,

I enjoyed reading your presentation as I just finished Evangelism Day at MLC. I went to presentations discussing outreach. Your article gives me another tool as I consider outreach in my hometown and outreach at any future location where the Lord may call me to teach.

While considering what you discussed about movies having redemption analogies, I thought up a list of movies in my head, and that thought applies to every one of them. Unfortunately, I have unbelieving friends and relatives who I don’t think will reach this conclusion like you and me. What are some suggestions you have for bringing this up in a conversation? I think it could be an excellent start instead of just bringing up religion at a family gather, which can sometimes feel awkward. Movies are a common ground between many people, but I would be confused about the transition into discussing the redemptive analogy.

Thank you for this very beneficial article. My friends might not want to watch movies with me anymore when I start discussing redemption analogies during a sad part of a film, but this can be an exciting way to analyze movies with them. I hope to become a master at using popular films as an evangelism tool in my future ministry—God’s blessings.

David 2021-11-04 6:34:30pm
Hi Anna, Thanks for your good comment and question. Transitions are not easy. It is usually best for them to raise the subject. "Always be prepared to give a defense to anyone who ASKS you to give a reason for the hope that you have" (1 Pet. 3). In other words, We are to be ready to answer those who ask, not those who do not ask. However, that does not mean we are off the hook. If we never take the risk to bring up the issue, they may never hear. One thing I do is simply raise the question, "What do you thing about the resurrection of Christ? Could it be more than legend or fiction?" From there I go into the eyewitness accounts (it is good to keep in mind that the gospels are not just "religious" books, but also are also eyewitness accounts or accounts based on careful investigations of eyewitnesses -- something of value for both the unbeliever and unbeliever, 1 John 1:1ff.). In other words, "Hey, the evidence says this is much more than fiction..." I also often give them a copy of John's gospel to read. There's a lot more I do with the resurrection of Jesus if I have the time and opportunity (like what his resurrection says about who it was who then died on the cross, what that death says about the reality and seriousness of sin, and that sins and death have really been dealt with, that the hero we really need is a real hero in the most sacrificial way imaginable possible, and more). But the resurrection is a good place to begin BECAUSE it look like fiction at first glance.
Olivia Siehr (Martin Luther College) 2021-11-04 8:47:25pm
Pastor Thompson,

Movies have always brought my family together. We always popped some popcorn on the stove and would rent a movie and watch it in our living room. I have so many fun memories of watching movies with my family. It is something that brings many families and friends together. Like you talked about, it is one activity most people do. Lots of people like to watch movies. I was especially intrigued when you said that most people don’t use movies as a way to explain redemption or to connect with other people. I feel as if that would be one of the easiest ways to meet people.

After reading your article, there was one question that came to mind. You seem to have a lot of knowledge of this theory and I wanted to hear more about it. Did you ever actually use a movie as an analogy of redemption to explain how it worked to someone who was confused about it? If so, I would love to hear about that story. You said you believed movies should be used in this way more often. I definitely agree and I would love to learn more about your experience with it.

Thank you for opening my eyes to a new way to talk about redemption. I will definitely be finding a way to use this in my future as a called worker.
David 2021-11-09 8:51:29pm

Hi Olivia,
Check out my replies t Elizabeth and Anna above. I always like it best if the other person starts with a comment about a movie or book, or about some injustice in society, and then go in the direction of absolutes or truth since their comments are assuming truth (even if they say they don't believe in absolute truth) . So much of what I might say depends on how well I know the other person, the context, how much time I might have, previous discussions, etc. What is often needed is time. Lots of it. I have one friend who was an atheist, then an agnostic, then a kind of theist, but we are going on 4 years.
Abby Bloomquist (Wisconsin Lutheran College) 2021-11-04 9:47:21pm
Thank you David for your insight and perspectives as I found this point of view and information very interesting. I thoroughly enjoy your commentary on some of the popular themes we see throughout cinematic creations and how we can connect those themes to the larger idea of who our God is. I am curious if you can elaborate more on the presence of redemption in films. Do you think there are any movies out there that do not have some form of redemption? What do you think that says about our society and how creative stories and art forms will be told in the future? I found it fascinating that you referenced stories told by real people as well as animated stories. What are your thoughts on how those themes and takeaways are received in animated films vs. films with real people? Thank you again for your input!
Carly Heuer (Wisconsin Lutheran College ) 2021-11-05 12:51:43am
I think this is a new and inventive way that one can use to spread the gospel, especially across cultures. A year or two ago, I did research on fairytales and how they translate across cultures. I found that many fairytales across the world were similar if not almost exactly the same as the ones that we hear nowadays. Using stories could really open lines of communication to other cultures.
Rees Roecker (Martin Luther College) 2021-11-05 1:06:36am
Dear Pastor Thompson,

I thoroughly enjoyed reading through your presentation. I clicked on it because I thought it was a cool idea and possibility for evangelism. Honestly I had never thought about this before. I really liked how you had so many examples of different movies to prove different points. The examples made me think of the specific movies, and remember the plots and how they applied to the “redemption analogy” that you talked about.

Along with this, I did have a question for you. How would you go about presenting one of these movies to an unbeliever as a “redemption analogy”? It definitely makes sense to me as a Christian, but how would you explain to someone who doesn’t know who Christ is or doesn’t believe in Him that these movies are connected in some way? I really appreciate the time and effort in making this presentation, and I love the ideas. I am also excited to hear how we as Christians would go about doing this.

Thank you so much for your time and I pray that I may be able to use this one day in my ministry.
Jess Waege (Martin Luther College) 2021-11-05 4:33:59am
Pastor Thompson,
I really enjoyed reading your article, which gave me different perspectives on certain things. I also found your story of the book very interesting.
In your article, you mentioned how in Christian moves, there needs to be the aspect of when people need to see their sin or the law. I do agree with this because people cannot only hear the gospel. We need both law and gospel. However, if an unbeliever sees an ad for a movie where it tells them that they are sinful people, will they want to watch it? Yes, the same ad will probably show how God forgives everyone and can be saved, but even after hearing that, will they want to watch it? It would be fantastic for many unbelievers to watch these types of films because our whole goal in life is to bring people to faith, but what will interest them enough to watch a movie about something they disagree with?
Thank you for your time in writing this article and planning ways to reach unbelievers! I hope and pray these movies to work faith in many people’s hearts!
Isaiah Loersch (Martin Luther College) 2021-11-05 6:21:38am
Pastor Thompson,

Your opening story about the book Peace Child resonated with me. The idea that we are all people unified by our creation in God’s image is an idea imperative to understand when connecting with other people, especially in outreach. Although many people come from very different backgrounds, we can always find a way to connect with them. The way you tied the Peace Child story into the ending of your presentation was very well done. It caused me to go back and reflect on earlier parts of the essay, giving me a better understanding of the overall message.

I didn’t know before reading this presentation that C.S. Lewis was an atheist at one time in his life. I assumed, primarily because of the biblical references in The Chronicles of Narnia, that he had been Christian his whole life. I have a question about using films to make analogies for Christianity. How do you approach someone of another faith when talking about a movie having a biblical theme? Couldn’t they just as easily relate the movie to Muhammad or Buddha?

Thank you so much for sharing your insights into using film as a unique tool to evangelize.
Micah Schibbelhut (Martin Luther College) 2021-11-05 3:19:52pm
Pastor David Thompson,

Thank you for your service to God as a pastor and also for your willingness to share what you have learned. I had never thought of secular fiction as being particularly useful for evangelism, so I appreciate your viewpoint. I remember an experience I had not too long ago, when I spoke to someone who was not a Christian yet described the story of Jesus as “beautiful.” Personally, it can be frightening to witness because I often think that the majority of unbelievers openly reject everything in the Bible. However, your article encourages me to share the truth that the story of Jesus is not just a piece of riveting fiction but the saving Word of God.

I know you mentioned the book Peace Child as a great example of using a “redemption analogy.” Was this book your sole influence, or did other movies or interpersonal experiences also help form your opinion?

Thanks again for your research and time spent formulating and writing this presentation. It will definitely be an asset to me!
Corey Deyo (Martin Luther College) 2021-11-05 5:11:46pm
Pastor Thomson,

As a future teacher in the WELS system, I believe that it is part of my responsibility to reach unbelievers with the gospel in any way that I can. I am always looking for new ways to connect with people of different backgrounds and cultures. Your article gave me another great way that may help me reach more people. Using symbols and analogies is a very smart idea since those are some of the most universal things that unite us all as humans. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to learn and grow in my understanding of symbols and analogies.

I did have a question that came to my mind after reading your article. When reading stories, I do often notice many faith analogies, but people unfamiliar with the Bible may not see them. What have been some of your strategies with bridging the gap between the analogy and the gospel? I have spoken with many people about God’s word, but that always seems to be a difficult part for me. I can relate to them worldly, but I often struggle with knowing how to take the step towards the conversation of the gospel.

Thank you for taking the time to construct this thoughtful article. It was a blessing to be able to read it, and God’s blessings on your future endeavors.
Meg Zabell (Martin Luther College) 2021-11-05 6:36:15pm
Pastor Thomson,

I really enjoyed reading about your point of view on redemption analogies being all around us in movies, shows, novels, and more. What an amazing reminder of how the image of God is within all of us to a point -- even those who want nothing to do with Him. I found it incredibly interesting to read all about how these deep emotions within us seem to almost automatically be translated to the content we create (i.e. through movies and the like). They even pop up in movies we would never think they would pop up in, because these emotions are grounded so deeply inside of us and are a part of who we are.

I especially valued your opinion on how redemption analogies in movies can be used to proclaim God’s Word. It reminds me of the saying, “meet people where they’re at” when it comes to talking to someone about God’s Word. This does make me wonder, though, how does emotion play into teaching about God’s Word? Since deep emotions within us play such a big role in movies and shows, should that in turn lead us to discussing these feelings and emotions when eventually evangelizing to someone? What would be an eloquent way to do this if so? I can imagine it plays some sort of role, but how big of a role, I’m not quite sure.

Thank you for your message and explanation of how an aspect of God can be seen around us in pop culture today! This is a great way to open the doorway to someone who has never heard God’s Word before.
David 2021-11-09 8:49:04pm
Hi Olivia,
Check out my replies t Elizabeth and Anna above. I always like it best if the other person starts with a comment about a movie or book, or about some injustice in society, and then go in the direction of absolutes or truth since their comments are assuming truth (even if they say they don't believe in absolute truth) . So much of what I might say depends on how well I know the other person, the context, how much time I might have, previous discussions, etc. What is often needed is time. Lots of it. I have one friend who was an atheist, then an agnostic, then a kind of theist, but we are going on 4 years.