2/03/2006

Earthen Vessels or Dirty Vessels?

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. II Corinthians 4:7

But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. II Timothy 2:20&21


The controversy over The End of the Spear seems to be destined to last longer than the movie itself. After a disappointing first week of release, the movie has tumbled so fast that its gross receipts are no longer being tracked. The production company's decision to use outspoken gay activist Chad Allen to play the role of missionary Nate Saint at the very least calls their judgment into question. As I noted earlier, the story of the missionary martyrs is one of the most inspiring in modern church history, and to see it debased in this way is very disheartening.

Perhaps even more disheartening has been the response of some church leaders. Rather than condemning wrongdoing, they have cried foul and launched assaults on those who pointed out the error, most notably Jason Janz of Sharper Iron. The lack of willingness to stand up for Biblical truth is striking. One of the most revolting defenses I've read (in several places) is the line that it shouldn't be that big a deal because "all of the actors are sinners."

That's true. And it's irrelevant. We are, as Paul noted in his epistle to the church at Corinth, earthen vessels--jars of clay to coin a phrase. But a pot made of clay is not necessarily a dirty pot. Its essential nature, what it is made from, cannot change. But it can be cleaned, "purged" in Paul's formulation to Timothy. A sinner who is repentant and striving to please God is an earthen vessel, but a clean one. A sinner who is campaigning actively and publicly to promote his blasphemous view of God and for acceptance of his perverted lifestyle is a dirty earthen vessel.

Those who stood up and spoke out for righteousness on behalf of a self-proclaimed "Christian" entertainment company were right to do so. Crying foul in response and attacking the messenger only compounds the original error. I hope that ETE will somehow learn a lesson from this, but their responses so far do not lead to optimism on that score. Even worse, the modern church's casual approach to sin has been revealed yet again, and sadly that does not seem likely to change either.

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