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The Christian "Horror" Film Designed to "Scare the Living Daylights Out of Non-Believers"

This is what happens when you lose confidence--or if you never had confidence--in the power of the gospel to create faith.  The same thing holds true for those who do not regard the sacraments as the divinely-appointed means to sustain that faith created by the gospel (cf. Heidelberg Catechism Q & A 65).  Without confidence in God's chosen means to create and sustain faith, why not engage in evangelism by manipulation?

Billed as the "scariest Christian movie ever," "Final Watch: The Rapture" is marketed as a sure fire way to scare someone into accepting Jesus by using the horror film genre to warn unbelievers (as well as careless "professing" Christians) of the terror of being left behind after the Rapture occurs (h.t. Gene Veith--Cranach).

There is no question that the final product is slick and well-presented (the website is first rate).  I do not doubt for a minute, the movie will achieve its purpose--to scare people.

But for the Christian, the return of Jesus Christ is pure gospel, and not something which should frighten us.  Jesus' return is the blessed hope (Titus 2:13), when we shall see Jesus as he is (1 John 3:2-3).  It is that moment when death is finally defeated, when the curse is overturned, and the time when every tear is wiped from our eyes (Revelation 21:4).  For those in Christ, the return of our Savior is not to feared, but is something for which we eagerly wait. 

For the non-Christian, however, the second coming of Christ is pure law (Matthew 25:41).  There is not one bit of hope or good news for those outside of Christ, once he returns and every eye beholds him and the heavenly host in their collective glory.  For those who have rejected the Savior, this is the moment in which the terrible realization dawns that it would be far better to be buried in an avalanche (Revelation 6:16) than face the wrath of the lamb!

In the hands of film-makers seeking to terrify people so as not to miss out on the rapture, the gospel is mutated into something like the old Sunday school refrain, "oh be careful little hands what you do."  The law, on the other hand, becomes trviialized into yet another post-apocalypse Hollywood thriller, the likes of which every fan of The Walking Dead has seen many times before, and to which viewers grow increasingly desensitized.  The law is now presented as "you certainly don't want to live through anything like that!"

We should not be surprised that this happens when folks don't really believe that the preached gospel is the power of God unto salvation, or that the penalty for breaking God's law--even but a single time (James 2:10)--is to face the wrath of God for all eternity without a mediator or his cross.

I don't question the motives behind those making and distributing the film.  I grew up in the dispensational world where such things are common--remember Thief in the Night and Left Behind?  In fact, I assume that folks behind this movie have the best of intentions--a desire to see people come to faith in Christ. 

Because of my own personal interest in eschatology, I'll stick with the preaching of the law in all its terror, and the gospel in all its wonder.  Scaring the living daylights out of people in this manner falls far short of the power of the means which God has given us in his word.  And even worse, The Final Watch trivializes the blessed hope, by reducing Christ's return to the Netflix category, "Horror."  Attempting to scare people into the kingdom (based on an improper view of law and gospel) will help create that myriad of scoffers about which Peter has warned us (2 Peter 3:1-13). 

Reader Comments (9)

Very-well said, Kim!
March 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrian Davilla
Just watched the trailer... This is going to be just terrible.
March 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDSY
Couldn't agree more - thoroughly understand the discussions MR and Mrs. Sanderson used to have.
March 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHB
At the end of the trailer a man shouts "This can not be happening!" That is my line after watching the trailer, This can not be happening!!!! Why do believers insist on this type of manipulation? Why did they think fear will translate into a lasting encounter with a loving God? Scripture says its contempt, "Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?" (Romans 2:3-4) when we try and use fear as a motivator. Also apart from bad doctrine this is just another bad film in a long line of poorly acted, produced and edited films to enter the market, spare me please!!!
March 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commentersolarwind
This reminds me more of a trailer for Obama's coming New World Order after the banking system collapses and Martial Law is declared. Maybe 'The Rapture' here refers to the mass disappearance of Christians who have been rounded up and sent to Obama's "community re-education centers."
March 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBob Reese
Looks scary!!!!!!!!!!
March 14, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermatt
Best snippet: when the Bible doesn't work against your enemies, pull out your glock.
March 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterZrim
So... isn't 'scaring the living daylights' out of people the same tactic that Christians (and so forth) have been using since time immemorial to convince people to fall in line?
March 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJim
The movie brings out the self-preservation aspect of the person. In other words, embrace Christ so you won't get thrown into hell. There's no true law and true Gospel in this, from what I can see. Another movie that will change the world, another flop. Rince and repeat.
March 21, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterScott Oakland

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