DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Morgan Freeman is Just an Actor

Written by: on January 17, 2019

“Secularism is the loss of the true life of the Church, the alienation of Church members from the genuine Church spirit. Secularism is the rejection of the ecclesiastic ethos and the permeation of our life by the so called worldly spirit. It should be stressed that secularism of the Church members is a gravest danger. The Church has several ‘enemies’”[1]. This quote seems to be an aggressive, and yet very appropriate warning to the church regarding the world-view of secularism. Paul the apostle warned Timothy that, “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.[2]” The church seems to be facing an even greater trial than disbelief; today, it faces the issue of dis-concern. Charles Taylor wrote, “The crucial feature here is a change in the understanding of God, and His relation to the world. That is, there is a drift away from the orthodox Christian conceptions of God as an agent interacting with humans and intervening in human history; and toward God as architect of a universe operating by unchanging laws, which humans have to conform to or suffer the consequences[3].”

The other day, I shared in an interesting conversation regarding the many roles of Morgan Freeman. On one hand, he has done roles for religious movies, such as Ben-hur and both Bruce and Evan Almighty. To the other side of the coin, he has played roles in “Lucy;” which is a movie boasting evolution; and “Transcendence;” which seems to follow the life of a man who is able to transform himself from human to deity. To further add to the variables, Freeman has also been known for making documentaries discussing the evolution of the universe as well as the origin of religions. When he was asked about God, the following was one of his responses:

“When did I say I was a ‘man of god’? …[I am a man of] faith! There’s a big difference… We take a lot of what we’re talking about in science on faith. We posit a theory… and until it’s disproven, we have faith that it’s true. If the mathematics work out, then it’s true. Until it’s proven to be untrue[4].”

My point here is not to attack Freeman’s faith or beliefs, but rather to demonstrate the variety of beliefs that plague the modern person. On one side the church cries out for the Creator; on the other, science is crying out for evolution. “Certainly belief is contested and contestable in our secular age[5].” Perhaps this attitude expressed by Smith is the point; unless we can re-establish the necessity for believing in the God of Creation; then why believe in anything. However, the struggle for the church to ever do this seems less likely every day; the reason…Christianity is a matter of the heart. According to Taylor, “the direction of the heart is that of the whole person, body and soul.[6]” Christianity expresses a similar concept through Christ’s teaching; “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also[7].” The world has decided to follow their own heart; in other words, they decided to follow what makes them happy, rather than viewing the long-term benefits of Christianity.

Aside from the numerous movies that came to mind through this reading, I also thought about the story of the Rich Young Ruler in Matthew 19. In this story, we see a young man that can only see his immediate wealth rather than the opportunity with Christ, who is literally standing right in front of him. Today, I believe the same is true of many: they have stopped looking for a long lasting, eternal relationship with God, and instead pursue the more immediate gratifications of the flesh. In fact, even those within our churches are attending less frequently; always justifying their absence with worldly excuses. We have decided that God will understand that we found other things more important to Him. I preached a lesson a few weeks ago that asked the question; “Where will you be when trials and persecutions come?” I talked a lot about the way the world speaks to us and the need to not listen to it. Following services, I was given many accolades and praises; and yet, Sunday evening showed only ¼ of our church population in attendance.

The reality is that the church is trying to overcome a very selfish societal attitude. Secularism…Individualism…or Ijustdontcareism is a plague that is infecting the masses and afflicting the churches. We started a new study in Proverbs this week, and I cannot help but relate to the imploring wish of Solomon:

 

“My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you, so that you incline your ear to wisdom, and apply your heart to understanding; yes, if you cry out for discernment, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasure; Then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.[8]

Though Smith wrote regarding Taylor by saying, “Our secular age is cross-pressured with respect to meaning– or more specifically, the ‘meaning of meaning;[9]’” I believe the problem is more selfish than that; I believe we have been taught for too long that life is about “you”. We are so self-focused on personal attention and personal gratification that we have become blind to the most important item…GOD.

Bibliography

Kershaw, Tom. The Religious and Political Views of the Influentials.June 18, 2012. https://hollowverse.com/morgan-freeman/ (accessed January 17, 2019).

Nafpaktos, Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos) of. Secularism in Church, Theology and Pastoral Care.2017. http://www.orthodoxresearchinstitute.org/articles/pastoral/hierotheos_vlachos_secularism.htm (accessed January 17, 2019).

Smith, James K.A. How (Not) to be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor.Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2014.

Taylor, Charles. A Secular Age.Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007.

 

 

 

 

 

[1]Nafpaktos, Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos) of. Secularism in Church, Theology and Pastoral Care.2017.

[2]2 Timothy 4:3-4.

[3]Taylor, Charles. A Secular Age.Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007. P 270.

[4]Kershaw, Tom. The Religious and Political Views of the Influentials.June 18, 2012. https://hollowverse.com/morgan-freeman/ (accessed January 17, 2019).

[5]Smith, James K.A. How (Not) to be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor.Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2014. P 61.

 [6]Taylor, Charles. A Secular Age.Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2007. P 276.

[7]Matthew 6:21.

[8]Proverbs 2:1-5.

[9]Smith, James K.A. How (Not) to be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor.Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2014. P. 122.

 

About the Author

Shawn Hart

8 responses to “Morgan Freeman is Just an Actor”

  1. mm M Webb says:

    Shawn,
    Welcome back and thanks for bringing the Bible right into the not so apologetic argument by Taylor-Smith about secularism. Yes, there are plenty of warnings in Scripture for those with or without faith to apply to our world condition. If readers are to follow Taylor’s arguments, they might think God is losing the battle between good and evil.
    I think of Gen. 3:1 when Satan gave the first temptation, “Did God actually say?” So, what’s new today? New clothes, cars, airplanes, and new tech, but the same old problem; how does one successfully resist Satan. Adam and Eve were superhumans compared to us. They walked and talked with God, and even still they fell prey to a subtle lie and the temptation to be like God and know good from evil.
    Thanks for speaking plainly when plain words are needed. Taylor makes up words and uses words when they are not needed. When did Jesus ever “speak above” the people he was healing and showing the way to salvation? Don’t we have an indwelling person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit to help translate the Scriptures in ways we can understand and apply them to our daily lives?
    Excellent post and thanks for your prayerful wisdom and discernment on these evil schemes like secularism.
    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

    • Shawn Hart says:

      Mike, I just got back from a gospel meeting in Jamaica; and even there, they are experiencing a struggle with getting their members to see the importance of placing God first. The preacher there told me that it is a constant struggle to enforce in them that God should be their #1 priority.

  2. mm Dan Kreiss says:

    Shawn,

    Thanks for the post. There were several comments that resonated with me. When you said the Church “faces the issue of dis-concern,” I believe you have captured one of the most pressing issues in our secular age. It may even be that it is less about dis-concern and more that people actually don’t know what they don’t know.

    I was also interested in your assessment that; “The world has decided to follow their own heart”. and wonder if and when that was not the case. Has there ever been a period of history where humanity didn’t? I think even the accounts of the Hebrews in the Old Testament demonstrate that.

    I do wonder about the tendency of the Church to make the Christian faith a commodity. I don’t think it is done intentionally but our language reflects this belief. Even your own words “viewing the long-term benefits of Christianity” suggest that the pursuit of a relationship with Jesus is about the benefits that could be ours. I know you well enough to know that this is not your motivation either for your own faith or the Gospel you share. But, in our hyper-materialistic society you can see how this language could be misconstrued. We all know that the Christian life is challenging thus that language is particularly confusing in the secular/materialistic age.

    I think the value of the texts this week is that they remind us that the Church has also been effected by our secular age, even in small ways like the language we use.

    Thanks for being on this journey together.

    • Shawn Hart says:

      You too Dan…glad to see you hanging in there. And I agree…I don’t believe secularism is new…I just believe it is growing as a problem the church is having to face.

  3. mm Jason Turbeville says:

    Shawn,
    As I read this week I had some of the same feelings of looking back on our history (the church) and seeing some of the same things. Humans have always sought to do what is right in their own eyes. I like how Taylor and Smith have hope that though we may be in a secular age, it gives us the opening to have the Christ conversation as part of a bigger conversation of life. It opens the possibility to talk of spiritual things with those who are open to many things. Then we let the Holy Spirit do his job. Just a thought.

    Jason

  4. Shawn Hart says:

    I have found it interesting to find just how many people, when asked what they believe, just reply with, “I am not real sure.” That creates, just as you are saying, a potential window of opportunity. I hope we figure out how to capitalize on it.

  5. mm Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Shawn,

    Welcome home!

    What a statement, “The reality is that the church is trying to overcome a very selfish societal attitude. Secularism…Individualism…or Ijustdontcareism is a plague that is infecting the masses and afflicting the churches.” I believe you are on to something with the “Ijustdontcareism”, although I have never heard of that one (grin). Apathy certainly is a prevailing problem spiritually.

    I found myself wondering exactly what does Morgan Freeman believe? Here is the first thing I found in researching him further. In a 2012 interview with TheWrap, Freeman was asked if he considered himself atheist or agnostic. He replied, “It’s a hard question because as I said at the start, I think we invented God. So if I believe in God, and I do, it’s because I think I’m God.”

    I am still confused on Freeman…

  6. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    Good job Shawn. I wonder if you personally see secularism as an entirely evil force, or if is possibly an advantage for us in some ways.

    Also I don’t understand your point about only 1/4 of your church being in church on a Sunday evening service. I’ve found that the secondary timeslot usually will have about 1/4 to 1/2 regular attendance. Are you suggesting they are move ready for the end if they are found in church?

    I see it the other way, because the world is so secular… I hope they are found out in the world ministering.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *