Behold His Mighty Sword Of Wrath and Vengeance!
I don’t have a strong stomach for horror. One of my least proud cinematic moments was when I took a girl to the movies to see The Grudge. Let’s just say I didn’t make a very macho impression. I especially abhor the modern trend aptly dubbed “torture porn.” That stuff just grosses me out. I prefer creepiness and chills rather than gore and jumping out of my seat.
One of the creepiest and chilliest movies that I’ve ever seen is a little-known film called Frailty. It is directed by and stars Bill Paxton as a simple, hardworking father who feels called by God to rid the world of people infected by demons. Only he can see them, and only when he lays his hands on them. He enlists his reluctant sons on his bloody mission and as you can guess, things get pretty crazy. Despite being rated R, the violence is very subdued, but the atmosphere and vibe of the movie is extremely grim and ominous.
These “God called me to kill” movies have been around for a while, and some are more serious than others. The Boondock Saints movies turned religious vigilante justice into a stylish circus of carnage, while the new Amazon series Hand of God starring Ron Perlman features a corrupt judge who is suddenly born again in the wake of severe family trauma and sees visions which give him clues as to who is responsible for turning his family upside-down. Even my series The Age of Apollyon Trilogy finds many people falling under supposedly righteous judgment from the barrel of a gun.
There is usually a horrific aspect to the “God called me to kill” movie subgenre. The horror draws from many sources: it is quite a terrifying idea to be chosen by God as His avenging angel on Earth, and it’s even more terrifying to be chosen by God for annihilation. There is also the allegiance to a supernatural code that goes beyond normal vigilante justice. Being sent on a mission by God is very unpredictable and is likely to be confusing, frustrating, and will probably feel highly subjective. It is not based on the laws of man, which are presumably founded on logic and social morality. God’s justice, however, depends entirely on His divine whims, which means that no one is safe.
All of this is strictly in the realm of fiction (and in the minds of serial killers and cultists) and rightly so. The Old Testament contains many examples of God’s judgment falling upon the wicked but the New Covenant does not call for any individual or people to be singled out for retribution. “God called me to kill” simply doesn’t work anymore, because here on Earth, we as believers are called to do only one thing as it relates to other people: to spread the Gospel. God can certainly use individuals as tools of His punishment but no one is beyond salvation until the moment they die.
I believe that there are many people like Bill Paxton’s character in Frailty, blessed with spiritual gifts that let them see things that are not of this world. But God does not want them to kill those who are possessed by demons or are in the clutches of sin. Salvation is never found in a bullet or blade. This may make for good entertainment, but Scripture is very clear: Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord (Romans 12:19 KJV).
Um, that’s an ax.
I know 🙂 The photo is from the movie Frailty. I was going for a dramatic title and “Behold His Mighty Ax!” didn’t have the same ring.
But I’ll change the cover image so as to avoid confusion 🙂
Good post Mark! Nothing much more to add than that!