Some Christian thoughts on the movie: The Dark Knight (the new Batman Movie)

WARNING: IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THE MOVIE YET WHAT YOU READ MIGHT SPOIL SOME OF IT.

We watched the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight today. I have three thoughts on the movie. First, my wife pointed out, rather insightfully, the way Batman is a Christ figure in the way he sacrifices and takes the blame for something he did not do in order for the good of those he seeks to serve. That would have been a noble thing to do but the way it came about and the statements that showed the rationale behind the supposed “heroism” really showed the skewed vision of virtue that is popular in this culture.

Which leads to my second and third points: I observed pragmatism and virtue of faith in and of itself. Batman had two lines at the end that were rather striking. First he said, “Sometimes the truth is not good enough.” Then he said, “Sometimes people need to have their faith rewarded” (even if it meant, as in the case of the circumstance in this particular scene in the movie, faith in a lie). In saying that truth is not good enough in the situation and that the lie will better serve Gotham city reveals that for Batman and the movie writers, what’s best and good and virtuous is not always the truth.  Sometimes lying is best. This presupposes that truth is not always virtuous. It also presupposes that sometimes we can make a better call on how to handle a situation then doing what is consistent with the truth. Christians must not make decisions or celebrate decisions based on pragmatism over against truth.

Thirdly, Batman wants to reward the faith of the city in good by putting forth a man who was not good but was thought of by the city as someone good. Batman wanted their faith in good through this man to live on, even though it is a lie. I hear echoes of thinking: it’s good to have faith in what people think is good, even if it is not true. That is not the kind of faith God commends and commands in the Bible. He commands faith in the truth, faith in what he has revealed, not faith in positive thoughts or good sentiments that are not true. The world thinks your faith is good if it does good by their perception (pragmatism). The Bible says that faith is worthless if the object of that faith is untrue. The good that one thinks and sees coming from such deluded faith will at best be short-lived and weak, and at worst cause further despair and discouragement quickly when realizing it cannot deliver the good one foresaw.

All in all, I think it was my favorite movie of the summer, but I say that with an awareness that what it was trying to get me to boast in and be inspired by had some good and some bad, which on the whole is bad if one does not discern at which points it goes wrong.  The action was good and the Joker was a great villain.  I enjoyed watching this one and look forward to seeing it again on DVD.

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About pjtibayan

I love Jesus Christ and live to share life and share Jesus together with First Southern Baptist Church of Bellflower primarily to Southeast Los Angeles County.
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9 Responses to Some Christian thoughts on the movie: The Dark Knight (the new Batman Movie)

  1. You are such a hunk! Thank you for your thoughts/insights and the reminder to watch with a discerning heart. I love you and enjoyed watching it with you. Not sure if it is my best summer movie but it was up there.

    -wifee

  2. P.J.

    I watched the movie yesterday and had exactly the same thoughts you set forth. I thought it was entertaining and well done, but there were serious ethical distortons. I wonder how many professing Christians will be able to detect these skewed beliefs or will be leavened by them. Thanks for writing this post. Very helpful!

  3. pjp says:

    What about someone getting a pencil through their forehead? What about people being shot at point blank range? What about a bomb planted inside someone’s belly and then exploding?

    What about “I will set no evil think before my eyes”?

    How do we reconcile all this with the Christian worldview?

    “My parents almost never went to movies, and I almost never go to movies. The reason is very simple: there are almost no movies that don’t ask me to be entertained by attitudes, motives, and actions which Jesus died to eradicate. My heart will not allow me to be entertained by worldliness.”

    -John Piper (Bethlehem Baptist Church)

  4. pjtibayan says:

    PJP,

    Thanks for the comment/question you raise. I think the Christian worldview acknowledges the reality of sin and violence. Being entertained by and approving of these sinful things is wrong. But being aware of the sin and seeing the sin with a broken or grateful heart or seeing it as God wants us to see it is not irreconcilable with a Christian worldview. Scripture conveys content of violence that we are apparently supposed to be aware of (babies smashed on rocks, David cutting off Goliath’s head, etc.). The world pushes us to approve of these sins so that sin looks normal and righteousness seems strange. Being aware of where and how it tries to do this in this movie can actually strengthen discernment and holiness, depending on how one responds to what is seen.

  5. Paul says:

    Thank you so much for your post! You just confirmed my own ideas. During the movie, I noticed the same line about truth, and it struck me forcefully. I was left thinking, “but real justice cannot possibly exist without truth, for God exists in both truth and justice, and He is the real hand of justice.” One thing that this allowed me to acknowledge, is that the movie speaks to man’s longing for true justice in this world. And that it doesn’t exist here, cannot prevent us from hoping for it in the afterlife.

    God bless,
    -Paul

  6. Matt says:

    I agree, for the most part, with your analysis. You’re right in saying that one should discern which points are consistent or inconsistent with a Christian worldview. I believe I did this and therefore submitted a blog with a slightly different perspective regarding a few of your points. The title of the blog is “The Dark Knight on a White Horse.” Check it out: http://www.mattdodrill.blogspot.om

  7. healingkid says:

    One gist of the movie: Batman is not God or Jesus; Batman is not righteousness or goodness or necessarily moral, even in the fictional eyes of Gotham’s residents.
    He fights for the integrity of Gotham’s community in a worldly, physical way, in a way.
    He doesn’t fight for their enlightenment or spiritual well-being or even their financial prosperity.
    He’s not bent on having the world like him or love him or even agree with his choices.
    He has no supernatural abilities, no absolute governing of the future, or other people’s wills.
    He’s not claiming to be good.

    He is, however, consistent in a way.
    He’s effectively voting. For hope in a way Gotham could be.
    He’s putting resources, including his time, safety, and will into the fray.

    For better or worse, he’s “being the change he wishes to see in the world”

    and he does it to rather dramatic effect 😉

    he does aspire to be consistent to something beyond himself. apparently, it’s a tough mix, a tough struggle.
    There’s also an element of “don’t try this at home” — Batman’s way needn’t be a guide for life, even if it makes for interesting film.
    Some would consider his choices wrong, evil, and spiritual suicide. Or at least human, limited, and “not advised”. Similar things can be said of the everyday choices we make in this great, big, kindergarten.

    Keep on discerning, kids, sinners.

    Maybe there’s evil in Batman or me, or you. Maybe we’d do well to judge very very carefully, if at all…and discern within.

    Batman = choice, greyly hyperbolized, with flare.

  8. Great article, PJ. I definitely agree that it was troubling when Batman said what he did, yet despite this and other areas of disagreement with his actions, I was amazed like your wife at how closely Batman paralleled Christ. I wrote my own “Christian Thoughts on The Dark Knight” article that examines more parallels. Do I have your permission to leave a link to it for you and your readers?

  9. Thanks for your prompt e-mail response. Here’s the link:

    http://www.slaying-dragons.com/2008/07/review-of-dark-knight-christian.html

    I hope you enjoy the article.

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