Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Dark Knight

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. 1 Corinthians 15:17-19 (ESV).

I recently read that The Dark Knight was the highest grossing film of 2008 and the second highest grossing film of all time behind Titanic. The Dark Knight is more than a simplistic story of good versus evil. It explores several competing, and sometimes disturbing worldviews. Two of the main philosophies expressed are humanism and nihilism.

Although Batman is a very complex character, I believe he is best described as a humanist. He believes that the citizens of Gotham are basically good and, through their own strength and perseverance, they will build this utopian society. There is nothing that the human spirit can not overcome. The Joker, also a very complex character, could be labeled a nihilist. Life is without meaning and is void. Accordingly, he calls the people of Gotham to give up on the idea of civilization.

I have seen the movie twice now and I am as fascinated with it as I am disturbed by it. Ultimately, both of these worldly philosophies are Christ-less. Nonetheless, I have to say that the Joker’s approach seems more honest. Unlike Batman, the Joker, at least understands the hypocrisy of the humanistic world and, although he does not recognize it, he does not attempt to excuse his own depravity. In the Joker’s world, the thin veneer of a seemingly moral society only covers up the violence and chaos brewing just under the surface. Maybe that is why so many young people seem to be attracted to the Joker’s character. Perhaps they understand their sin better than their parents.

If it were not for the grace of God and His assurance of the forgiveness of sins, I might also be found in the nihilist camp. Fortunately, this foolishness will save those that believe.

First Fruits

In the course of time Cain brought to the LORD an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. Genesis 4:3-5 (ESV).

Just before Christmas, I saw a story on Fox News regarding a new trend of online tithing. Apparently, some churches believe this will help with contributions in a strained economy. This got me thinking about how our worship services may be influenced by technology and an increasingly cashless society. What if at some point, in the not so distant future, all cash and checks are completely eliminated? Instead of offering plates, we will find the ushers passing some type of electronic gadget down each isle for the congregants to enter their pin and tithe amount? Personally, most of my bills are paid through electronic transfer. One of the few checks I write is to my Church. Thus, this doesn't seem like science fiction to me.

Of course, as Dr. Micheal Horton has exclaimed, if American Christianity can be described by only one word, it is "practicalism." With this in mind, it makes sense why online giving would be embraced. But a simple survey of the scriptures tells us that we worship a God who appreciates forms and styles. We worship a God who loves beauty. Accordingly, do we lose something if we eliminate the offering altogether from our services? I think we do.