Pastor Kevin Sanders

"He must increase, but I must decrease." -John 3:30

Avatar: Movie Review and a Christian Response

I’ve finally watched Avatar. Let me explain just how popular this movie is before I get into the review. I was originally planning to watch it Monday evening with a buddy of mine. I arrived at Mall of Asia before 5 to discover that tickets were sold out for both the five o’clock and eight o’clock shows (the only available showing was 11:00). This kind of surprised me, especially considering the tickets (Imax) cost twice that of regular movies. The evening plans were kind of ruined, but I went ahead and bought tickets for Saturday (five days ahead).

So, what did I think?

Avatar was a truly awesome visual experience—I’ve never seen anything quite like it. The movie brings viewers into a brilliant world of colorful creatures and landscapes, not to mention some very satisfying action sequences. I don’t regret forking over the money to watch the Imax version.

Having said this, I need to challenge some of Avatar’s ideological and spiritual pretenses.

First, there’s the not-so-subtle political message: capitalism, corporations, and Caucasians are all inherently evil and oppressive. The world would be better of if we’d all just trade in our iPods for spears, move into mud huts, and become one with nature. Needless to say, I can’t agree with any of
these presuppositions.

But I want to spend more time on Avatar’s spiritual message. I want to help you, my reader, discern truth from error in what you watch. The movie’s alien race worships a female deity called Eywa, the “All Mother” who is the collective energy of all living things. This is known as pantheism, and it is not a Christian idea.

Pantheism is nothing new. Since the beginning of time, people have mistakenly assumed that creation and Creator are one in the same (which led to worship of the sun, rivers, etc). We take Genesis 1:1 for granted, but it was completely radical for its time—One God who created everything, yet exists independently of His creation.

The Bible teaches that God created everything; pantheism teaches that God is everything.

I’ll give you another illustration that may help. A pantheist would argue that I am to God as a drop of water is to the ocean. Wrong—if this were true, then God would not be holy—He would be reduced to the sum of creation.

Here’s an illustration that more accurately reflects the nature of my relationship to God: I am to God as a statue is to a sculptor. I am part of God’s creation, so I reflect His character. But God is still God, regardless of whether or not I ever existed—He exists completely independently of me and everything else He has chosen to create.

You’ll see this time and again in movies: pantheism has been called “Hollywood’s religion of choice” for this generation. “The Force” of Star Wars, for example, is the same idea: an impersonal force that flows through everything in the universe.

Here’s my conclusion: Avatar was very entertaining, but not the least bit enlightening.

3 Comments

  1. I’ve heard so much about this movie from people who’ve seen it because of the graphics and really wanted to see this.

    I watched the extended version of the movie trailer on youtube and it isn’t what i had thought. You see, there’s an anime called “Avatar” too and thought it’s something like that but so different.

    We’ve planned to watch it twice and both got shelved. Having read your review, i still want to see it (the graphics at least) but don’t feel so bad anymore if I don’t get to.

    You know the same thing happened with the last “transformers” movie. I wanted to take my nephew to see it til your review came out and you said it had soem scenes not suitable for kids.

  2. Good review. It is good to discern what we are feeding our mind through movies. I haven’t watched Avatar yet but still am planning to.

  3. Note: The director of Avatar, James Cameron, produced a documentary film shortly before Avatar questioning the idea that Jesus ever even lived.

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