Monday, June 19, 2006

The Devil's Advocate: Theology on the screen

I had a chance to watch the Devil's Advocate (the movie) last night, having never seen it before I was expecting a horror flick, I was pleasantly surprised by the film. The show gets into some deep theology over the question of satan: his intentions, the way he works, and humanism. After watching that show it really got me thinking about what was being said in that show.

For those who never saw the show basically it's about a law firm run by satan. It attacks issues of all sorts and how 'sin' can destroy the human life, which in this show, seems to be Satan's plan. It was weird to watch a show that displays a theology proposed by Christiandom, on the views of what Satan is all about. What's even weirder is that I learned something from it. What did I learn?

Humanism is a theory that devises against humanity, not for it. In the show the devil says 'he is the last real humanist'. Giving humans what they always wanted, without judgement, unlike a God who he calls a 'watcher'. It gets a lot deeper but I got the point. As humans try to search for answers they mostly look to what is around them. So they delve deep into lust, vanity, war, and greed, which results in ultra-humanism (we are gods). All of this taking place on a world stage where humans effect politics, business, communication, the environment, and law. What's so dangerous about us humans? We are destroying ourselves and the world because of the loss of ethics and concern for all people.

The saying 'do unto others as you would have done unto you' was something that was really re-inforced in this film. It seems each step we take away for this moral the closer we get to true evil. Every step we take closer to valuing this ethic, the closer connection is developed amongst humanity and a sense of love. This ethic drew a defining line between God and satan's definition of humanity. God created and values humanity and does not want to see it's mass destruction. Satan has hated the human from existence, it's demise would prove God doesn't love them. The thing is we aren't 'pawns in the game'.

The strongest point of the film was that humans ultimately decide their fates, free will is a gift that allows us to make the world better or worse. So there are two sides in humanity, one representing good and one representing evil, but you are prone to nothing except your choices. This is where theology gets deep. God created us as good beings, in His image. We are creatures of free will, so even if God loves us, it may mean little if the creation puts itself above the Creator (also humanism), coincidentally the same thing satan was cast out of heaven for. Point being, we have to make the choices that will define our life, our world, our ethics, our relationships, our faith, and ultimately the lives of those around us.

And this is where I chime in. Spirituality is devised of relationships. Our relationship with God and our relationships with others. Spirituality is passed from person to person in each and every interaction, whether for the good or the for the evil. We have the power to both create and destroy the lives around us. Some might say 'we have nothing if God didn't allow it', well the fact is He did allow's called choice and that's the spiritual battlefield. I see that in choice we have the ability to reason, within ourselves, for ethics that promote the 'greater good' or the 'greater evil'. What I see on earth, as it is, is the promotion of choices. The key to it all is responsibility. We have to take responsibility for our actions (call it repentance). True responsibility speaks of 'doing for others as we would want done for us'. Apparently, on this saying hangs all the law and the prophets (the whole OT). It is in that saying we see spirituality to it's highest degree.

So all that from a movie. I have to say I enjoyed the film since it got to me to think what is truly destroying this world. Satan's vices have no power unless we so make it that way. God's will has no power lest we so make it that way. Maybe I am promoting a type of humanism in saying that but that's why 'choice' is the battlefield. What cannot be mistaken is one of these 'wills' is being played out by us everyday, that is why have to start determining our ethics.


curious servant said...

I haven't seen the film. I'm glad it is thought-provoking. Do you suppose that it would affect non-believers?

SocietyVs said...

The film had Pacino and Keanu Reeves in it, from 1997. It was a block-buster so I am guessing a lot of people watched it.
Will it effect non-believers? I would say it might get them thinking about vice and virtue, maybe even their dis-like of God.
But I bring a 'scriptural' background when I am watching the movie so maybe I got more than most people that watched it. Still, a good attempt at showing how wicked the world is and why that may be so.

Karl Mueller said...

I saw the film a few years ago. A terrific movie that would be great to use as a teaching tool in church -- but one really couldn't because of the language and some of the scenes.

Mark said...

Thanks for this blog from long ago :) Very astute observations. Ive always loved this movie for its intelligent and subtle portrayal of the Enemy's tactics and humanity's willingness to play into them. Having recently given my life back to the Father it seems even more poignant now.