1. Travis Perry says:

    Look, I just want to make it very plain that while I can agree that “spiritual rating systems” are full of problems and inherently limited, I do not think it is wise to come out against them in absolute terms. If a rating system is useful to the RATER, even if I think it is imperfect, let the rater be free to use it as he or she wills.

    I think this sort of thing falls perfectly in the realm of religious liberty outlined in Romans 14 and 15. Let each believer be fully persuaded in his or her own mind whether or not to use a religious rating system. If doing so, the limitations of the system should be made clear. If not, then the complete subjectivity factor or having no rating system should be seen as a potential hazard.

    Note that I do not know of ANY rating system that does not have deficiencies. There are movies which are rated G which have ideas very strongly expressed that I would hesitate to expose children to. There are R rated movies which are filled with Christian themes. However, I think the movie rating system, while not perfect, does supply some useful information.

    If someone can likewise supply useful information with a “spiritual rating system,” albeit imperfect information, I could imagine myself actually paying a bit of attention to such ratings, something I have not ever done up until now.

    • I agree with all of that, Travis. The only concept I critique here is the concept of establishing a personal rating system (with preferences and traditions) as a universal system for Christians.

  2. Khai says:

    “RRS passes on traditions as Biblical standards”

    Steve, and Charismatic “Spirit filled” Christian will ne Er refer to their beliefs about the Holy Spirit as a “tradition” but as God’s promise, God’s Word, or Truth. Otherwise, they wouldn’t believe it. Likewise, a devout Catholic will never call their view of what it means to be “Pro life” as a tradition, but part of living out the Gospel, preventing murder, honoring God in their marriage, preventing injustice (in death penalty). YOU know. Non negotiable stuff. Convictions of faith, not traditions.

    And every serious American Christian does this. It’s a quintessentially American interpretation of fealty, piety and freedom.

    SO….you’ve got a problem with that reason.

  3. HG Ferguson says:

    Brother Burnett scores again — I think. 🙂 With two caveats. One is, we all have our traditions and your roots are showing with your footnote about “Does God Whisper?” I’m a graduate of both Oral Roberts University AND Westminster Theological Seminary [cue the tro lo lo song here) so I am very familiar with both extremes of “new revelation” and the third member of the Reformed Trinity, The Holy Scripture (which is equated with the Spirit for all practical purposes). Yes, we all have traditions and this is one of the dangers of the RSS. You have yours also, and it is good to see you admit it — few do. Second caveat is, let’s be very careful about how we treat others here. Bergsland has become quite the target the last two or so weeks. While we may or may not like what he advocates, let’s be careful. I hope this anti-RSS and Bergsland’s ratings does not degenerate into attacks — which is not your intent, nor your tone at all. In our striving to apply the Word, let’s not lose it. Thanks for keeping a clear head and, I feel, an honest heart.

    • Khai says:

      Yeah, I’m going to read Bergsland’s book because I liked conversing with him on the comments boards and his thoughtful responses to my views. A man like that writes a book worth reading – which I plan to do. I encourage ANYONE with strong opinions on this subject to read his rating system book. Too much we talk about other people and what we think they think, and don’t examine their actual work.

  4. Stephen, while I agree with your overall direction, I have a very small quibble with your point 5 when you said

    Such websites teach mature Christian adults to remain immature.

    From your post, I surmise that the presence of evil in a movie is permissible if it is part of exposing it. I have questions about this. Are we to expose the evil of cursing, for example, by having cursing in a book or movie? I mean, isn’t that something we can hear pretty much any time of day in any venue? It doesn’t need to be exposed, in the sense that it exists. It might need to be discussed in light of what Paul says about course speech, but a story doesn’t seem to be the proper venue.

    On the other hand, in contradiction to exposing evil, 1 Cor. 14:20 says, “Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking. Instead, be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.”

    My opposition to rating sites is that they keep believers immature in our THINKING. Rating sites and systems give believers an alternative Big Brother to rely on, to believe in, to follow.

    I have no problem with reviewers, as I may have said previously. They can stimulate our thinking. But when we set up any to be the “go-to guy” who we rely on as our bible for . . . oops! There’s the problem. We already have a Bible, and it is to God’s Word we must go, not to a social media pundit who has done our homework for us (using, perhaps questionable means).


    • Amen to all that, Becky.

      I think people need to make more-careful arguments about things like questionable language. Blasphemy — the taking of God’s name in vain — is not limited to using His name as a swear, but that misuse of His name would count as an automatic sin. However, other “bad” words are more debatable, and fall under the category of shifting culture and language. (See also: pants on women.) People can use them as rebellion, or (most likely) in anger, or in shock, awe, or grief.

      Regardless, I would say this: Christians ought to recognize they cannot confuse the hearing of a swear word, vulgarity, or a blasphemy, with the actual commission of that sin. This builds a “fence” around the actual word of God.

      So I would also say that the inclusion of certain bad words in a story is not specifically necessary to expose, say, the darkness of swearing. I think it is necessary to show the world truthfully and thus expose the kinds of evil that make people want to swear — evils such as anger as well as our responses to consequences of evil. I think that if we make a rule like “no swearing in fiction, ever,” we are unable to see (or show) reflections of truth: this is how life really is, often nasty and suffering, so bad that we may be driven to swear. That’s a kind of exposing we ought not to obscure.

      As far as I can tell, we agree 100 percent on this — and on the err of an evangelical approach to “outsourcing” our discernment to reviewers rather than pursuing our own discernment (giving our own weaknesses and needs!) per the Bible and the Spirit!

What do you think?