Guest Blogger: H.G. Ferguson
It’s October, that time again. Again, Halloween looms. It is also a time when TV is stuffed with various and sundry offerings of such a nature that many, if not most, Christians shun them as they would a Black Mass. I refer of course to the horror film (and TV), which is a subset of what I like to call …THAT… — which is again the attitude many, if not most, Christians actually call or think of the horror genre. …THAT… We’re Christians. We don’t do …THAT… because …THAT… is by definition of the Devil. Everybody knows …THAT…
From where did this notion originate? It’s devilishly hard to track down. It may be a mutant spawned off the hardline fundamentalist all-movies-are-evil-and-we-don’t-as-Christians-watch-movies mindset. It was also fueled by two other things: a video about getting monsters out of your house by a very influential and extremely narrow-minded Christian performer, and the actual content of many Hollywood horror films themselves. After all, all one has to do is LOOK at a movie about …THAT… and it’s clear, yep, it’s Satanic. It also asserted that since horror involves violence and some of it quite graphic, Christians should not watch anything to do with it.
Really? Some of these same Christians have no problem with heroic R-rated action films with at least as much graphic violence as some horror films. That smacks of hypocrisy to me. If the objection applies to …THAT… it ought to apply everywhere.
As far as the getting the monsters out of your house video goes, it’s almost laughable (and it is humorous in spots) that the video makes no distinction — no distinction, mind you — between The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Alligator People. In the performer’s mind and the minds of those broadcasting it, any and all horror films are by definition of the devil, period. It doesn’t matter if they are a gristmill of graphic human suffering or a bad B-movie. But putting those two movies together causes me to ask, “Really? Are you serious?” Apparently they are. Their argument runs that since these films promote fear and fear is of the devil, therefore they all are of the devil, period. Let’s examine this.
We are commanded by God to test the spirits and see whether they be of God (I Jn. 4:1). I submit to you that this wholesale damnation of an entire genre is precisely because of fear, the very thing they claim to want to avoid. It is also born out of a deep-seated prejudice. …THAT… does not appeal to me, therefore it should appeal to no one. And this is the CHRISTIAN position.
We are commanded to test. But what happens in this attitude is nowhere near a test. In fact, it is a refusal to test, to discern, to actually LOOK AT THE CONTENT and come to a biblical conclusion. This attitude actually abrogates God’s clear commandment. We don’t have to test, because it’s …THAT…
In addition, this hatred of the horror film is also caused by the content of some horror films themselves, particularly the latest brand. Some of these films ought never to be viewed by the Christian or by anyone else. But just because SOME of these films actually do glorify Satan and promote the wrong kind of fear does not mean they ALL do. To say ALL horror films are wrong is like saying all romance movies are wrong. Is that the case? Is that TRUE? Of course not. Sabrina (1995) is not Fifty Shades of Gray. I think I made my point there.
Discernment is required
Some horror films do indeed promote the right kind of fear — the fear of God — and have a unique spiritual dimension that is compatible with the Bible. Those should not be shunned. Horror in and of itself should not be shunned. It should be discerned. It is hard cold fact that the horror story’s mother and father are Mary Shelley (Frankenstein) and Bram Stoker (Dracula), both of whom wrote out of a biblical worldview. Modern attempts by critics to discredit Stoker’s research in particular are significant. They don’t want to discredit Stoker so much as they want to discredit his worldview. They want the vampire amputated from the Judeo-Christian outlook Stoker held. They want Stoker’s vampire, but they do not want Stoker’s God. This is why so many — but not all — most recent treatments of vampires throw out the Cross as a means of dealing with them. The critics understand Dracula was written from a Christian worldview. Why don’t evangelicals? Because Dracula is …THAT… and we need to get the monsters out of our house and we don’t do …THAT… because we’re Christians.
I call the evangelical church to biblical discernment. You want some titles? Curse of the Demon (1957) is not Hellraiser. Darkness Falls (2003) is not Ouija. Curse of the Werewolf (1961) and Dog Soldiers (2002) are notThe Howling and The Howling II. Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983) is not The Devil’s Rejects. The Stand (1994) is not the Saw franchise. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994), Brides of Dracula (1960), Forever Knight (TV Show 1992-1996) are not Hostel, Hostel II and Hemlock Grove. Test the spirits, actually DO what God commands and you will see I am right. All of these, and I could cite more, promote either biblical worldviews or values Christians hold dear. ALL OF THEM.
Finally, if you are still unconvinced …THAT… can be a legitimate vehicle to glorify God, look no further than The Walking Dead, Season 3, Episode 15, where Hershel reads Psalm 91 to comfort his two daughters. Here is a link, audio only: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2L170u2fpk Millions of people watch this show. And YHWH, who does as He pleases (Ps. 115:3), was pleased to have every single one of those millions of people hear His Word through this medium. If God is so pleased to use …THAT… to proclaim His Truth, I for one am NOT going to say to Him,”Uh, Lord, You shouldn’t do …THAT…because You’re God and You don’t do …THAT…”
When He is so pleased, He most certainly does. And so should we.
Author, theologian, graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary and Oral Roberts University, H.G. Ferguson brings biblical truth and articulate power to bear upon matters of both spiritual arcana and his work as a writer of horror fiction from a thoroughly scriptural perspective. Always outside the box of convention, but never outside the lines of what God has told us in His Holy Word.