Movie Review: Holy Ghost

Recently I was given the opportunity to watch this movie for the purpose of reviewing it.   It made me very uncomfortable.  I’m going to break the movie down into 4 very specific sections, but first let me explain the purpose of the movie.

The concept of the movie, is the director wants to film a movie (documentary style) completely led by the Holy Spirit.  Going where the spirit leads him, encountering those whom the spirit wants them to encounter, and doing what the spirit leads them to do.

In essence, that is not necessarily a bad thing.

There are 4 sections in the movie’s progression:

Section 1:  2 Men head into a city which is predominantly Mormon.  They are claiming to heal people, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Section 2:  We head to an interview with Brian Head Welch from the band Korn, who became a Christian.  We get some personal testimonies of God healing people from addictions.  As part of this portion, they head into the crowds before a concert to perform healings, again through the Holy Spirit.

Section 3:   The team heads out of the country to Italy, where they are to have an adventure with a boat.  While there, there are are some prayers for healing (physical and emotional).

Section 4:  The team heads to India, to an incredibly dangerous area for Christians.  To share the gospel.  Healing prayers occur, but not as much of the main focus.  In fact, most of the focus here is simply that they are doing something dangerous and being protected by the Holy Spirit.

We are called to test the spirits, to discern false spirits.  We are told to test the word, to discern lies and misrepresentation.  I also need to acknowledge that I am a very skeptical, skeptical person.  It’s not that I don’t believe that divine healing is possible, or that God doesn’t still give us the gift of healing today.  However, I also don’t believe every instance we see proclaimed on television is real.  In part, because we have seen this exposed in the past.

In the end, after reflecting on the movie, doing some research, and prayer… I can NOT recommend this movie.  Let me explain why, section by section.

Section 1)  I am very suspect of the “healings” we see her, but rather lean toward these are tools of the power of suggestion.

  • There is no sharing of the Gospel in this portion.  In the scriptures, every healing was a tool to share the gospel.  Jesus revealed in the healing, and in ministry after Jesus final ascension into heaven… healings were a tool of the Gospel. Additionally there were instances were people were not healed, Peter, for the glory of God.
  • In their “prayers” for this healing they Command the Holy Spirit to heal, they are not asking.  In fact in one of their prayers, the person praying said “Holy Spirit, I give you permission to enter this man’s ministry.” – At what point do we as humans give the Holy Spirit PERMISSION to do anything?
  • In their prayers, only one did they ask for the healing in the name of Jesus.
  • In the actual acts of healing, the men are essentially having to convince the person they are being healed.  This is a power of persuasion.  In all but 1 account in the scriptures, was healing not instantaneous.  A woman was completely healed of her illness by touching the hem of his garment.  In this movie, the accounts of healing take repetitive suggestion.  Do you feel a difference?  No.   — pray again— How about now?  Do you notice any difference?  A little. — pray again— How about now?  A little bit?  — pray again — How about now?.      In scriptural healings it was that miraculous total healing that got the person’s attention.  Jesus and his disciples didn’t have to coax a healing.  Not one time.

Section 2)  Section two really started out well done.  We get an opportunity to hear the personal testimony of someone who was rescued (instantly) from a life of addiction.  Brian Head Welch’s testimony, and that of his bandmate, could have stood on it’s own.  It would have been a big redeeming from Section 1 of the movie. Unfortunately, the directors toss in another “healer” and they begin the same tactics as Section 1, but in the crowd of people at one of the concerts.

  • I question the legitimacy of the prayer healing tactic, because in the case of celebrity status… these are fans, and they’d say just about anything to be close to the two members of the band.
  • The “healing” tactic used on the atheist man’s is a well known deceptive technique.  He is positioned in such a way to give an illusion of healing (known as leg pulling).  Fact is, if the Holy Spirit wanted to heal this man… sitting was not required.
  • Again, the Gospel was not shown.  Instead we heal a bunch of people, and because you buy this… let’s accept Christ as your savior.   While I can hope that this illusion would at least plant a seed, to make any of these people dig deeper into belief.   I’m suspect.  And, when the atheist finds in a matter of days or weeks that he isn’t healed… this show did more harm than good toward leading him to Christ.  It becomes further evidence that we are just another bunk religion.
  • I also believe that this takes some of the creditability away from Brian Head Welch’s testimony, being associated with this production.

Section 3)  So, this big “boat adventure” is nothing, really.  They see the boat, they get on the boat, and then almost immediately leave the boat.  The rest of the section takes place elsewhere in the city. On the docks, in a restaurant, in a bar.  If the Holy Spirit tells you directly, that you are going to have an adventure on a boat, you have an adventure on a boat.   You don’t visit a boat.  The Holy Spirit didn’t tell them you will encounter someone with a boat.  Or, you will know them by their boat.  Their clear “divine” instructions were that they would have an adventure on a boat.

  • The boat, the whole inspiration for this trip, is totally inconsequential.
  • The boat owner, becomes their shift to explain the deviance from their original mission… is also really inconsequential.  I felt more like what I was seeing was a make shift therapy session & not a spiritual divine appointment.  People, have problems. It isn’t hard to find a person who doesn’t have some sort of struggle.
  • The other encounters (3) on this “adventure” were also inconsequential, and we are given no real explanation of how this was important to the Gospel.
  • There was no sharing of the Gospel message.

Now, before I move on to the 4th section, I also want to point out that there was ZERO follow up with any of these people who they “healed”.  They showed us only their initial encounters with these people, but not any follow up with whether or not these healings lasted.  In the scope of a documentary, they had to get permission (legal contract) to show this… so, there is no reason for them to NOT have contact information to follow up with these people.

This creates a feeling of suspicion in me, because if you were trying to PROVE something… you need evidence.  There is NO evidence.  No interviews later to see if the person was still healed, no interviews with their doctors to see if the doctors could explain it, etc.  This calls us to get caught up in the emotions that sensationalism evokes.

We want miraculous healing.  We want to believe it to be true.  We HOPE that it is.  As, believers, we also KNOW it is possible.  And because of all of these wants, hopes and belief… we are susceptible to the power of suggestion.

Jesus and his disciples healings had hard evidential proof.  A man born blind, that the entire community knew, healed… instantly.  This was not some random stranger that everyone had to simply believe his word that he was healed.  They knew him, they knew him since childhood.  They knew he was blind, without a shadow of doubt.  And he was healed.   In this particular case, there is evidence that the healing stuck, because a week later he was questioned by the Jewish Leaders.

This movie offers not a SINGLE evidence of proof toward of their healings.

Section 4)  The trip to India… this could have been the ENTIRE MOVIE for me, and done much more toward evidencing the proof of the Holy Ghost than the rest of the movie.   Overall, I agree with the amount of protection this DIFFERENT team had in their trip.  I cannot explain how they were not harassed, or how they were allowed into some of the areas they accessed.  Even the on the ground missionaries were shocked and didn’t believe them until they noted they had video of it.

  • Healing prayers were a very small amount of this portion of the film.  Only once, was there even a claim of immediate healing.  The difference, between the previous healings… it was IMMEDIATE, the reaction of the man was total shock and surprise.  Of all the healings in the movie, this is the ONLY ONE, that had at least some credibility.  The man’s response seemed genuine and it got the attention of those around him.
  • There was SOME Gospel introduction here, a stark difference to the rest of the movie.
  • While they exalted some of the moments were an local temple high priest was singing along with their worship music… I can’t ignore my skeptical side that wondered … did he know what he was singing, or just repeating words?  There are plenty of songs in Spanish that I enjoy and sing along to… but I have no clue what they are saying.  (I should probably look into that, ha.)
  • There was one point, where the crowd grows pretty big & at least someone from the crowd gets a bit aggressive.  They leave.  I don’t know if this counters that they were “protected by the Holy Spirit” or part of the protection, knowing that it is time to leave. So I can’t really give a solid opinion on that scenario.

When I watched the movie… at first, I was caught up in the emotions of it.  Even a skeptic like me.  However, as time passed, and I was detached from the emotional response… reservations begin to settle in.

Even when I searched for the youtube trailer, I began to find a LOT of videos and articles that debunked the movie.  These were well documented, well researched, and biblical sound arguments against the claims and behaviors in the movie.

In my own research in the scriptures, what they do here is not in alignment with how healing occurs in the scriptures.  It is also not in alignment with WHY healing was used in the scriptures.

You may ask… was there ANYTHING redeeming in the movie?  A little bit, but it is outweighed by the things that concerned me.  Which is what concerns me the MOST about the movie.  A little bit of truth can make a lie, misrepresentation, con, or manipulation seem TRUE.

I actually think this is a very dangerous movie.

That said, if there is anything positive I can pull from it is this…. THESE PEOPLE WERE BOLD.  They may fully believe that they are doing these things under the spirit, they may not be intentionally trying to scam or manipulate people.  But, there tactics are easily debunked.  The gospel is excluded from their mission.  There is no part of what they are doing that is in full concert with the scriptures.

But, they were bold.  I was very convicted by my own lack of boldness.  When those who are doing things outside of the scriptures are THIS BOLD… we as Christians need to be BOLDER.  Jesus was not timid when it came to calling out false teachers, false prophets.

If you are person strong in your faith, I think you could watch this movie and not be persuaded by it.

However, if you are a new believer, weak in your faith, or a long time believer who is not well versed in the scripture… this could be very damaging to your walk.

* The movie Holy Ghost was given to me by Family Christian for the sake of the review.  The opinions in this review are entirely mine, and not influenced by Family Christian or those who are involved in the making/production of this movie.  I received no cash payment for this review.

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How Does This Scripture Apply to Me? – WRONG QUESTION

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Early in my Christian walk, I read the bible to understand what Christianity was about.  I saw it as a collection of stories & history that explained how we (gentiles) came to believe in God, who Jesus was & why the crucifixion was needed, and to understand what awaits us in the future.  In time, as I would mature in my walk, I would begin to see that this was more than just a collection of information that justified or explained my faith.  It was the true Word of God, it had an enormous amount of value.  The scriptures are filled with stories of people, just like me, who failed miserably but that God could and would redeem.  It became a book of Hope for the weary, Faith for those who love Him, and Promises of an eternal heavenly future.

Under the teaching of some very respected bible teachers, study authors, and church leaders… I began to read the scriptures differently.  I was taught to read the scriptures and ask “How does this apply to my life?”. Now, in some cases of scripture, that is a really easy question to answer.  The Proverbs are full of wisdom that can be applied to every day life.   But there would be times, when I would read a passage of scripture, that I was left scratching my head.  It just didn’t seem to apply.  I wasn’t like the person in the story, the situations I was dealing with in life were different than the point of the story.  I just couldn’t figure out how it applied to me, at all.  In those cases, I would cast it aside for the time being.  My reasoning was that it just didn’t apply at that moment.  But, I figured God revealed it to me because at one point it will.  I will recall reading it, and at that point in the future, I will know where I can return to find the wisdom and encouragement I need.

I am certain many of you who are reading this, are shaking your head in agreement.  But, what if I told you … we are totally wrong.  What if I said that is not the right question to be asking?  Hold on to your hats, if you are, because I am about to rock your socks.

I had an opportunity to attend an amazing conference that would forever change how I viewed the Bible.  I have never looked at a passage of scripture the same.  I study the Bible in an entirely different way.  It came from a group of very well known teachers, that a new question was posed.

You see, the scriptures are not about you and I.   The Bible is the collective story about God’s ultimate plan of redemption.

The Old Testament serves as a witness, or testimony, to how fallen God’s people are.  God gave us everything, perfect and in union with Him.  Man’s choice to go against God’s wills happened in the very beginning… when Eve and then Adam, took a bite of that forbidden fruit.  As the Old Testament unfolds, we illustration after illustration of a repetitive cycle of sin and redemption.

God sets rules.

Man breaks or can’t keep rules.

Man should be punished.

God ultimately saves them from themselves.

They thank God, renew promise to follow his rule.

They do for a while.

Then the cycle repeats itself… again and again…. and again.

Because man continually repeats this cycle, atonement has to be made for these sins.  The Gospels of the New Testament deliver to us a Savior, who will be the final lamb sacrificed for sins of a stiff necked people.  The New Testament continues, with the Good News spreading to new areas, the real life experiences believers faced, and leads us to the end… when Christ comes back for His church.

The Bible from start to finish, isn’t about you… or me… it is about Jesus Christ, our Savior.  The question we should be asking, first and foremost, when we study scripture is:

How does this passage reveal Jesus Christ to me?

Does it reveal the promise of his coming, his birth?

Does it parallel his life to death, on earth?

Does it reveal the need & promise of his sacrifice?

Does it reflect the call He puts on those who follow him?

Does it establish his person-hood, his divinity, his character, his love, his compassion, his mercy, his grace, his obedience… his example?

The Bible was written about Jesus Christ, for you. For you to see that you are not alone in your failures, that just like others in the scriptures you can be redeemed.  But that comes by first KNOWING HIM, and you will get to know Him best when you look for Him in God’s word, before you look for yourself.

I am not suggesting we don’t ever ask how it applies to our life, if that were the case there would be no need for the wisdom scriptures.  I am suggesting that before we can understand the wisdom & themes of scripture (as they apply to us), we have to understand the ONE whom the wisdom originates.  We have to understand how these pieces of scripture, stories and history relate reveal Jesus, first.

I understand that for a good portion of my readers, this a “DUH” moment.  Either because you already know it, or you are simply trying to figure out how you missed it.. it should be a given.  It is very easy for human beings to get so wrapped up in themselves or the situation they are seeking guidance through the scriptures for, that they forget to start with Jesus.

This past summer, I had an opportunity to do an in depth study of the book of Nehemiah.  It was conducted by a panel of biblical scholars; who worked independently on their assigned sections of Nehemiah, while making sure they stood in agreement as team under the Word of the scriptures.

On the surface, you could easily pull out some very “me centered” themes.

* It’s a story about a man who chose to make a difference in his community.

* It’s a story about a man who brings his community back together, back to God.

* It’s a historical point of time, regarding the city of Jerusalem.

* It’s a story about what we can accomplish, when we work together, for the glory of God.

On their own, none of these things are bad.  However, they do not truly reveal the point of the book of Nehemiah.  They don’t get to the heart of the story.  They don’t get to Jesus.

If you really take time to look through the scripture in Nehemiah, you will find that is parallels the ministry & purpose of Jesus.

The city is in ruin, the people are far from God.

Nehemiah leaves his comfortable position, with the king to go to the city & restore it.

While Nehemiah is present, restoration begins.

Nehemiah sets the example & standard.

Nehemiah returns to the king, leaving the people to continue on their own.

The people fail miserably in his absence.

Nehemiah must return.

When you look at the book of Nehemiah, with intention of revealing Jesus… it’s right there, plain as day.  You just have to get yourself out of the way to see it.  This is why, we must come to the scripture first, seeking to reveal Jesus.  It’s not about us, it’s about Him.  Always has been, always will be.

I challenge you to start looking for Jesus, when you study the word.  You will find him. 

In the next installment, we will address what the second question you should be asking is.