If you like the book of Judges (you know, that Old Testament book replete with swords, sexual assault, gore and God) then you'll love the Book of Eli. Denzel Washington's latest is a journey into the future to a time when the world as we know it has all but ceased.
This movie works on so many levels: Plenty of action, the last Bible in the world to be saved, a man trying to be faithful to God's voice and no gratuitous nudity. Though the latter can't be said when it comes to the language of this rated R movie. After seeing it, my wife and I tried to figure out how we could take our kids for the message while at the same time shield them from the features that earned the rating (no solution has presented itself as of yet). The moral is good and the ending was worth the wait--it's basically a Christian movie that Christians should be making more of if we are going to reach our culture but we don't because of reasons mentioned above.
Followers of Jesus have a lot to learn from the Book of Eli when it comes to living in post/pre-Christian America. One lesson comes from how Denzel's character interacts with people who have never read the book--specifically a young lady named Solara. We do not live in a day where Bibles are scarce (quite the opposite, they are so plentiful we can give them away for free) but in the lives of many people that we interact with the scriptures might as well be extinct. Eli, leads with the ministry of prayer rather than the ministry of the word and the result is a desire to be a follower on the part of Solara. An approach we might consider utilizing more.
Which leads me to my final point. Given the fact that many today will never crack a Bible we need to figure out ways to plant the seeds of the Gospel in places where people are looking with the hopes of fruit in the future. Carl Ellis calls this, "Cultural Seeding." Ellis writes, "What we need is an injection of the Biblical worldview into our culture...Simple, basic, fundamental truth must be planted in our culture before the fruit of the gospel can ripen." That is exactly what this movie does and what bELIvers need to become competent at in all spheres, be it movie-making or mothering. Ultimately, this is the task of the jazz theologian as it requires a deep understanding syncopation & improvisation. This movie will reach people in places that no pastor can go...people will turn back to God because of it.
(click below to see a Denzel Washington speak about the Bible and spirituality in Hollywood)