A "CHRISTIAN' ANIMATION OR A DECEPTIVE IMITATION?
by Berit Kjos - December 2006
"Kids will love this animated action movie! Angel Wars is an animated DVD featuring an epic, supernatural adventure of angels battling fallen spirits." AFA Superstore
"Angel Wars Guardian Force rocketed to success this fall as children in more than 2,000 American churches buckled up and strapped in to the high powered adventures of Michael, Swift, Kira and Ariana." Review by Joe Montague
"I made them for my boys who love Pokemon and Power Rangers," Chris Waters, Angel Wars' creator
A spiritual war is raging, but help is near. Here come the angels!
But wait! These warriors look more like Power Rangers or Superman. Some soar the skies on skateboards; others fly spaceships that remind us of Star Wars battles. Like sorcerers and superheroes, they can invoke power and protection through magical objects, and even "good" angels have bad attitudes and act like rebellious teens. So who are these new masters of the universe? What do they teach our children? Surely not Christianity!
No, these angels are marketing a tempting counterfeit. According to hollywoodjesus.com, their "creator" Chris Waters (who "moonlights" as a youth pastor) did "extensive research on the 'tween market." He "believes the best way to reach today's 8-12 year-olds is through visual entertainment, and hopes Angel Wars will be a portal through which they will come to understand the nature of a complex spiritual world."[4
This "complex spiritual world" scorns the Biblical order. "Rather than being overt with morality and Biblical teachings," explains Joe Montague in his review of this anime-like DVD series, "Waters relies on action-packed scenes, a high tempo musical score delivered by acclaimed veteran music producer Christopher Stevens and the strength of good character development to flesh out the message."
And what is that message?
"Drawing a similarity between his work and C. S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, [Chris Waters] says that both have hidden Christian meanings in them yet remain 'one step removed, so that someone who isn't a Christian can still appreciate the struggle and not feel like they are being preached to or being smacked over their head.'”
In other words, his message presents a mythical illusion designed to appeal to the world. Purged of any offensive reference to the gospel, it fits Time Magazine's 1993 observation: "For those who choke too easily on God and his rules... angels are the handy compromise."
There's nothing really new or holy about today's "cool" angelic images. Awesome angels have been popular topics through the ages. Remember all the angel books back in the 90s. Fueled by the TV serial, "Touched by an Angel," that fad birthed a revolution in the public perception of supernatural forces. As truth merged with myth and fantasy, Biblical discernment plummeted, and fascination with "other gods" and popular supernaturals soared.
The Angel Wars illustrate the process. Each episode starts with the same introduction -- a strange blend of truth, myth and fantasy. In this context, Biblical words such as "redemption" are linked to angelic efforts, not to the crucified and resurrected Christ. Our sovereign, personal God is replaced with a remote creator-god who plays no further part in the action:
"In the beginning there was One, the Great Maker King who called forth all that was. The first of the Maker King's creations was the glorious race of angels, with none so bright as the Daystar. But the crown of His creation was earth, where lived a race of mortal beings so like the king that it maddened the Daystar. Drawing to his side a legion of angels, the rebel sought to overthrow the Kingdom of heaven. His rebellion squashed by the righteous guardians, the rebel fled to earth where he found his opportunity for revenge. From that day to this, a war has raged for the hearts of mortals, one side bent on destruction, the other redemption."[6, see note]
How "righteous" are these angelic guardians? This letter from a concerned Christian illustrates the answer:
"It is hard to see these 'angels' as having anything to do with the Bible. Other than the reference to the "great maker king" at the beginning of episode 1 and the same thing in the middle of episode 2, I don't remember anything at all to do with Jesus, the Father or His Word. The angels travel around in a cool looking spaceship and form wings on their backs when flying out of it to go on their assignments..... except the young angels, Kira and Eli, who fly out on skateboards shaped like small wings. Eli cloned himself in his first fight scene when he was outnumbered by the enemy.
"The most disturbing thing for me, as far as the visual images went, was the faces of the evil characters, especially their eyes. I can still see the images in my mind. I would think this could cause some kids to have nightmares. I am at a total loss as to how this could be considered Christian entertainment. But I understand why they would love these angels, especially if they are fans of Power Rangers, robots and Transformers."
Yet, both Family Christian Stores and LifeWay Christian Stores spread this promotional message: "Angel Wars: Guardian Force is an epic, animated, supernatural adventure of angels battling fallen spirits. Eli and Kira, two junior members of the Guardian Force must grow up in a hurry when their first mission to earth takes a detour, pitting them against Morg, a deadly but long forgotten foe. In a race against time, the Guardians must uncover the source of Morg's power, defeat his crafty minions, and stop the ruin of a mortal life, all while learning to work together."
But Biblical angels don't start out as immature teenagers who must grow up and "learn to work together." Instead, they obey God and continually carry out His will. His holy messengers, first introduced in the Bible as sword-bearing guardians of God's garden (Genesis 3), don't need high tech assistance to traverse God's infinite space. Nor must they, as the DVDs show, earn credits in order to get their wings.
UNDERMINING THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD
The American Family Resource Center shows the same disregard for Biblical integrity. Ponder its promotion of the second and third episodes, which it offers at a discount: "With his angel hostage in tow, the archangel Michael on his tail, and a symbiotic stone taking control of his body, the demon Morg flees to the underworld where he quickly establishes a new base of operations. Feeding off the demon’s pride, the symbiotic stone slowly transforms Morg into an all-consuming beast with the power to threaten both Heaven and Earth."
Who is considered sovereign in this story -- our God, the evil Morg, or the angelic "Guardian Force"? In contrast, what does God's Word tell us about His sovereignty and the destruction of the earth? Compare His ways with man's arrogant speculations:
"I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.’" Isaiah 46:8-10
Young fans may never forget these counterfeit angels that corrupt the Biblical worldview. As brain research has repeatedly shown us, such thrill-driven stimuli will more effectively change beliefs and values than real (but less thrill-driven) facts, truth and logic. [See The Power of Suggestion and Unconscious Learning]
But that's not all! These unbiblical images and suggestions can now be reinforced through an additional DVD! Called "Drawing With Dan," it will help children learn "to draw angels like the pros.... setting them on a course to artistic glory unrivalled in all of history."
In other words, children not only learn to blend truth with myth (DIALECTIC thinking), they also practice what they learn (PRAXIS) by reproducing the images. Through this praxis, these practiced fantasies become part of a child's new understanding of heavenly realities.
Christian children, whose home-taught beliefs are "challenged" by these mystical alternatives, are likely to experience "cognitive dissonance" -- a mental and emotional confusion caused by the clash of opposing beliefs and values. When trying to resolve this confusion, today's children tend to side with their peers and pursue the new thrills. [See Brainwashing and how to resist it]
THE NATURE OF GOOD AND EVIL
The "Rotten Tomatoes" website tells us that "ANGEL WARS is designed to appeal to young teens while teaching them lessons about the nature of good and evil." But the "good" in the movie distorts what God calls good! Unlike the remote Deist-like deity of Angel Wars, the true God never abdicated His role as Lord and Master. He continues to wield and delegate power according to His will and plan! Though He warns us repeatedly not to add to His Word or delete from it, these animations add unforgettable impressions that stretch and transform God's own revelations about Himself into a mystical fable.
Our Lord has no appreciation for clever marketing strategies that appeal to human nature. He despises our foolish attempts to hide the victory of the cross and the power of Christ's redemption behind enticing lies. Instead He seeks faithful followers who will teach truth to children and trust His Spirit to make it alive in their hearts.
In conclusion, those who have -- by God's grace alone -- been "raised up with Christ" (Ephesians 2:6) have the privilege to view reality from God's heavenly perspective. That worldview will enable us to --
1. Love and worship God, not angels or any other spiritual forces.
2. Build our understanding of God on His word, not on popular entertainment.
3. See God's angels as ministering servants of God, holy messengers doing His will.
4. Use Biblical words correctly.
5. Reject marketing that appeals to the flesh and stirs cravings that clash with the Spirit. "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish...." Galatians 5:17
"For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God...." 2 Corinthians 2:17
"...we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully...." 2 Corinthians 4:1
"Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Corinthians 15:56
2. Joe Montague, "Angel Wars Guardian Force," www.tollbooth.org/2006/features/angel.html
3. Joe Montague, "Angel Wars: Animating Biblical Truths in an Epic Struggle of Good Versus Evil," November 28, 2005. www.sightmagazine.com.au/stories/Features/angelwars28.11.05.php or
5. Nancy Gibbs, "Angels Among Us," Time (December 27, 1993); 56.
6. www.hollywoodjesus.com/sites/angel_wars_clips.htm. The main problem is that unchanging Biblical truth has been converted to an evolving myth. In spite of it similarities to God's revelation, it's still a myth -- disconnected from actual Truth. Tolkien and Lewis did the same with their fantasies. See Christian Romanticism, the Inklings, and the Elevation of Mythology at www.crossroad.to/articles2/006/nathan/romanticism.htm
www.familychristian.com/shop/product.asp?ProdID=11366 and www.lifewaystores.com/lwstore/product.asp?isbn=1415898367
9. www.crossroad.to/articles2/suggestion.htm and www.crossroad.to/articles2/MovieMagic.htm