Reviews > Culture

Of biblical proportions

"Of biblical proportions" Continued...

Issue: "The tolerance police," Dec. 19, 1998

DreamWorks took great care not to offend Christians, Jews, or Muslims, leading some to suspect that the movie might turn out to be so inoffensive that it would be bland, nullifying the Bible's edge. But today's trendy neo-pagans may well be offended. The God of Abraham and Isaac is presented as being in stark opposition to the Egyptian pantheon. The priests of Ra (Steve Martin and Martin Short) are portrayed as sinister but comical buffoons, who, in their attempts to duplicate the miracles of the true God, soon get in way over their heads. All spiritual roads do not, apparently, lead to the same goal, not according to the God of the burning bush.

But even more offended may be those who believe in today's domesticated, omni-tolerant god of niceness. Watch for many viewers to criticize the God in Prince of Egypt as being "too judgmental." They will sympathize with the human saga of Moses and Rameses struggling with their identities, but they will be disturbed by this mysterious and utterly transcendent God, who intervenes into his creation with mighty acts, a God of judgment and mercy who provides the Passover lamb.

Many people today are quite willing to believe in a nice god under their control, a projection of their own desires, but The Prince of Egypt—in following the text of the Bible—evokes a God who is "wholly other," set apart, whose righteousness and infinite power are dangerous to sinful mortals (unless they are covered by the sacrificial blood). The Prince of Egypt, of course, is only a Hollywood entertainment, but if it can inject into the popular culture the barest glimpse of holiness, it may play a providential role in bringing a biblical worldview into the public imagination.

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith

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