In a recent sermon, Mark Driscoll, pastor of Seattle's Mars Hill Church, denouncedAvatar as "the most demonic, satanic movie I've ever seen."
Driscoll denounced its "demonic paganism" and its portrayal of a "false Jesus" and a "false heaven." He also took issue with the film's depiction of "connecting, literally, with trees and animals and beasts and birds." Driscoll also said, "That any Christian could watch that without seeing the overt demonism is beyond me."
Well, count me and many of my friends among them. Did James Cameron take a "Christian worldview" into this imaginative, fictional world? Nope. But did I find it "overtly demonic"? Heck no – and even on the contrary. I saw some distinctly Christian themes in the ideas of self-sacrifice, unconditional love, incarnation, and even a model for missions. (Driscoll even takes our review to task in his sermon.)
Taking Driscoll to task, Houston Chronicle faith-and-art blogger Menachem Wecker, in a post titled "Does God Hate Blue People?", writes, "I don't think that Driscoll is correct that the Na'vi are demonic or that the film is demonic. If anything, Avatar should be applauded for celebrating a spiritual approach to life." He also notes that he was "struck" by the film's "Christian undertones."
In a post titled "How Not to Exegete Culture: Driscoll, Satan, and Avatar," the Children's Ministry and Culture blog elaborates on four mistakes that Driscoll made in his attack:
1) Misunderstand or Oversimplify What the Author is Saying; 2) Not Letting the Author's Universe Exist on Its Own Terms; 3) Choose Combat Over Conversation; and 4) Failing to Find the Redeemable in the Movie. Read their explanations of these mistakes here.
Here's the part of Driscoll's sermon that is drawing so much attention: