‘The Golden Compass’ is a blatant attack on Christianity, Mohler says

Communications Staff — December 5, 2007

‘The movie “The Golden Compass,” set for release this weekend, is a direct attack against Christianity that concerned Christians must meet with biblical truth and see as an opportunity to engage people with the Gospel, R. Albert Mohler said Dec. 3 on his radio program.

The film opens in theaters Dec. 7 and Mohler said the film, designed for children, will present a particularly delicate challenge for Christian parents.

“This is the first time, as far as I know, in modern American popular culture that a movie based upon a series of books that is so explicitly anti-Christian has been brought to the big screen in a sophisticated motion picture directed primarily toward children,” he said.

“The movie is brilliant. The acting is crisp. It is far superior to any children’s movie I have ever seen. In terms of cinematography it is nearly flawless. It is a cast of stars who produce a stellar performance. New Line Cinema has produced what I believe will be a blockbuster film.”

“The Golden Compass” features a top-level cast, including Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig (the latest James Bond actor) and Sam Elliot. Ian McKellen (Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, also produced by New Line Cinema) provides the voice of Iorek Byrnison, the bear, and Dakota Blue Richards plays the central role of 11-year-old Lyra Belacqua.

“The Golden Compass” is based on the first book in the trilogy “His Dark Materials,” written by Philip Pullman. A British author, Pullman is a professing atheist.

After reading John Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” a retelling of Genesis 3, Pullman came to believe that the teachings of Scripture were contrary to the way things ought to be, Mohler said. In his books, Pullman seeks to reverse the entire story of Christianity, beginning with the fall and original sin, Mohler said.

“Pullman has an agenda. That agenda is atheism,” Mohler said. “His great enemy is the Christian church. He believes that the Christian church is a corrupted institution that worships a corrupted and decrepit God. At one point, he himself said, that he was killing God.

“With all of the controversy over the Harry Potter series, he said that he couldn’t understand why there was so much controversy over Harry Potter rather than over his books.

He said that he is ‘saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God.’ And they are, really. All three of them. They are comprehensively a narrative about killing God.”

Pullman is answering and providing an alternative to C.S. Lewis’s “The Chronicles of Narnia,” Mohler said. Pullman described the classic C.S. Lewis work as “morally loathsome” and “one of the most ugly and poisonous things I ever read.”

“He (Pullman) said that ‘His Dark Materials’ is the opposite of ‘The Chronicles of Narnia,’” Mohler said. “Speaking of ‘The Chronicles of Narnia,’ Pullman said ‘that is the Christian one, mine is the non-Christian one.’”

The great enemy of humanity in the three books — “The Golden Compass,” “The Subtle Knife” and “The Amber Spyglass” — is the Christian church, identified as the evil Magisterium, Mohler wrote in his blog, Dec. 4. The Magisterium, representing church authority, fears human freedom and seeks to repress human sexuality, he wrote.

In today’s world, the Magisterium is the authoritative leadership of the Roman Catholic Church, but in Pullman’s story it represents Christianity as a whole, Mohler wrote. Pullman writes about John Calvin assuming the papacy and moving the headquarters to Geneva, thus combining the Catholic and Reformation traditions into one.

In the story, the Magisterium uses the biblical narrative of the fall and the doctrine of original sin to repress humanity and will stop at nothing to protect its own interests and to preserve its power, Mohler noted.

The entire premise of the trilogy is that Lyra is the child foretold by prophecy who will reverse the curse of the fall and free humanity from the lie of original sin, Mohler wrote. Pullman insists that Eve and Adam were right to eat the forbidden fruit and God was a tyrant to forbid them from eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Mohler wrote.

“God turns out not to be a Creator, that turns out to have been His lie,” Mohler said. “He turns out not be omnipotent and all-mighty, but a decrepit creature not even worth destroying. He falls apart into particles as soon as the two young protagonists of the story find Him.”
The most direct attacks upon Christianity and God do not appear until the last book in which Lyra and Will, a boy her age, eventually kill God, Mohler wrote.

“If you take this trilogy as a whole it is much more explosive than if you just take the first book,” Mohler said. “The really explosive stuff comes in the last volume. I think an awful lot of people will see the first movie, not get it all in terms of an attack against Christianity and get hooked.”

Should Christians see the movie, or should they boycott it altogether? While Christians should not publicly boycott the film, Mohler warned that they must proceed with caution.

“If a Christian parent has a child that is really interested in apologetics, is very sophisticated in terms of worldview, is well-grounded in the Gospel and you say, ‘Let’s go see this in order that we can think about how to answer this argument and respond to it with the Christian story, that is one thing,” he said.

“But I am certainly not suggesting that people go see the movie or take or allow their children to see the movie, and I am not proposing a public boycott of the movie. I think there is a difference between not seeing the movie, not taking your children, and joining in a public boycott that gets in the media. I don’t think that is helpful.

“Should we be concerned that people, young and old, will be confused by this movie? Of course. I am very concerned when I think of so many people being entertained by such a subversive message delivered by such a seductive medium. We are responsible to show them, insofar as we are able, that the Magisterium of The Golden Compass is not a fair or accurate representation of the Christian Church.”

Mohler said Pullman makes personal autonomy the greatest
good and anything that compromises autonomy is considered to be evil. Mohler said Christians must respond to this challenge to the Christian message with the truth of Scripture.

“The Gospel of Jesus Christ has enemies; this we know,” he said. “We must take the responsibility to use interest in this film to teach our own children to think biblically and to be discerning in their engagement with the media in all forms. Philip Pullman has an agenda, but so do we. Our agenda is the Gospel of Christ — a message infinitely more powerful than that of ‘The Golden Compass.’”

Both Mohler’s blog and the audio from the radio program are available at www.albertmohler.com.

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