Okay, I’ll confess it. The other night I watched Angels and Demons, the sequel to the movie The Da Vinci Code. While I never read either book, I watched the first movie mainly because of all the hubbub about it and because I wanted to be able to discuss it with people who had seen it, particularly non-Christians. And, as everyone knows, the movie had some very heretical statements. While Angels and Demons also had some points where The Vatican is covering up issues from the past, I found the movie to be overly spiritual in its content. At the heart of it are two questions: Can science and religion co-exists? and Is there a God?
While I don’t have the time to go into detail, I want to share two pieces of dialogue from the film that really stuck out to me. The first happens towards the beginning of the movie when Tom Hanks’ character, Dr. Langdon, is speaking with the young priest Patrick McKenna:
McKenna: “Do you believe in God, sir?”
Langdon: “I am an academic, and my mind tells me I will never understand God.”
McKenna: “And your heart?”
Langdon: “It tells me I’m not meant to. Faith is a gift that I’ve yet to receive.”
The second is a conversation, again, between Professor Langdon and Cardinal Strauss:
Strauss: “Thanks be to God for sending someone to protect his church.”
Langdon: “I don’t believe he sent me, Father”
Strauss: “My son, of course he did.”
While we never find a conclusion (at least in the movie – I’ve not read the book) on how Langdon responds to this conversation, it strikes me as one of those God paradoxes in which He uses someone who doesn’t even believe He exists to accomplish His will. I’m reminded that God works in many ways. Granted, this story is not true, but I believe the plot is very familiar: God chooses to use someone who questions – perhaps even denies – His very existence to work through to accomplish His purposes. In His infinite grace God here offers to reveal Himself to the one who most ardently opposes that grace in the first place. At the end of the movie Langdon has a question he must answer, the same question we all are asked: What will you do with God?
In all honesty, the movie was more like watching National Treasure that The Da Vinci Code and I found it to be a very spiritual movie – there are very few movies I watch that days later I am still contemplating what it was that I saw. I know that many Christians – particularly those of us who would be labeled as “Evangelical” – denounced the first movie, though I heard very little conversation about the second. The movie, though, if viewed through the lens of faith, offered a great visual of the grace of God offered to imperfect men. It would be very difficult to walk away from this film without asking the question, “Is God real?” For even the movie strongly points the involvement of a God who takes care of His people – even if it is through the hands of an unbeliever. It also acknowledges the sovereignty of God and the fact that faith in and of itself is a gift. Perhaps Langdon might realize towards the end that the gift has been offered to him.