Last week I saw This is The End.
On RottenTomatoes it earned on the Tomatometer an 85% from critics and an 84% from fans. These reviews, especially from the critics, surprised me because I thought the film was ok in humor but poor in message. I get why people liked this movie. It is irreverent, funny, and movie stars play a version of themselves that poke fun at the Hollywood lifestyle. It had funny parts and I laughed, but it wasn’t funny a-la Pineapple Express. I’ll be honest, up front, as a theologian I couldn’t get past the soteriology (the method a person is saved) in the film.
For the plot of the movie read this wiki entry.
The theologically inclined person will immediately notice that this movie is set within a world similar to Tim Lahaye‘s Left Behind Series with its rapture/tribulation theology. But, This Is The End has a stoner Hollywood twist.
So, after the good people are raptured, all hell breaks loose on earth: sinkholes, earthquakes, fires storms, and roaming devils. The gang waits it out for a while, but eventually decides they have to do something and get out of the house they are held up in. Through a series of events, they realize that if they are self-sacrificing and do a good deed, they will get beamed up to heaven.
The movies soteriology is clear: Doing Good Deeds = Going To Heaven.
I think American popular culture believes this for the most part. If my good deeds outweigh the bad, I get into heaven. It should be pointed out that this is not a Christian understanding of salvation.
In the end the gang makes it into heaven, which is a cloud city where people have wings and get whatever they can imagine. One character imagines a live performance by the Back Street Boys and the movie ends with a ruckus concert. This is not a Christian understanding of the afterlife.
I worry that Christians will see this film and it will provide fodder for poor theology. A theology where good works get a person into heaven and where in the afterlife a person gets whatever they want.
Maybe I’m thinking too much about the theology of a stoner movie, but I can’t help but think that if it’s in the public arena it should be used for discourse.
Did you see the movie? What did you think?
What was your take on the theology of the movie?
How does it similar or different to what you believe?