This compass points in the wrong direction

Published: 27 December 2007 (GMT+10)
Poster from Movie poster
The Golden Compass is part of a trilogy designed to counter the message of C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series.

Review of the movie The Golden Compass


New Line Cinemas’ latest movie is exactly what one would expect if an atheist were commissioned to write a fantasy story in the same vein as C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series.

In Narnia, Lewis, one of the most beloved Christian authors of the past century, weaves unmistakable Christian themes into his mythology. In Compass, author Philip Pullman weaves in atheist themes. The ‘good guys’ are the rebels who seek to promote ‘free thinking’. The ‘bad guys’ are ‘The Magisterium’ who seek to eliminate free will so that they can control what people think.

Seen by many, including Pullman, as a direct rebuttal to the Narnia series, viewers of this first movie of the trilogy might wonder what all the fuss is about, because atheistic themes are only lightly introduced. However, book two in the series is much darker, and in the third darker still. So success with this movie will provide a platform for stronger indoctrination in subsequent movies, as with the books. Pullman told Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald, ‘My books are about killing God’.

Believable acting, a brisk pace and stunning visual effects all help to draw the audience into the story. The high production quality of the movie makes it a powerful tool for the indoctrination of children. I saw many parents in the theatre with their young children. It was ironic to me that the preview for the next Narnia movie, Prince Caspian was shown before the movie began.

Should Christians go see the movie?

One of the goals of CMI is to supply information that Christians can use to show non-believers not only that what they believe (evolution) is wrong, but that Christianity is true—a robust faith capable of demolishing the arguments of the skeptics.

We focus on the origins debate and the historical accuracy of the Book of Genesis because every major Christian doctrine begins in Genesis. We encourage parents who are well equipped with creation information to take their children through evolutionary natural history museums. It provides a great educational opportunity for parents as they strive to fulfil Deuteronomy 6:6–7: ‘And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.’ This verse is saying: use the experiences of life to teach children about God. Even secular museums display God’s handiwork with beautiful exhibits (although the captions try to say otherwise).

Even though this movie falls outside of our specific ministry focus, it does fit into the ‘big picture’ of the struggle between Christianity and the secular world of which the origins debate is a foundational part. Parents who choose to take their children to the movie, and are well equipped to refute atheistic arguments, will find ample opportunities to do so after watching this picture. For example, the movie begins by stating that there are ‘many universes and many earths’. The typical church stereotypes are in place (although ‘The Magisterium’ is clearly modelled to represent the Catholic church, not the Protestant church). A good discussion regarding the value of ‘free thought’ vs God’s authority could also come after viewing this movie. The movie could be used as a springboard for many such topics. However, unlike with a museum visit, parents will not be able to counter the points as they are made, which could leave lingering doubts in the children’s minds, so viewing this movie would carry a much greater risk. And the risk is compounded because a movie can bypass our mind via our emotions with its powerful and subliminal images and surround sound. Furthermore, the next two movies in the series will likely be more blatant in their anti-Christian content. This first one seems designed to get people ‘hooked’ on the series and prepared for the content to come. Jesus warned against putting stumbling blocks in front of children.

Believers who are uncertain whether Christianity is up for such a challenge should consider what my colleague Dr Jonathan Sarfati has said referring to skeptics’ arguments against the Bible, ‘While salesmen have the motto “the customer is always right”, Christians should have the motto “the skeptic is always wrong”!’ Christianity can stand and has stood against skeptics’ arguments in the past, and it will stand again today. To some extent, every Christian today needs to be armed with some basic reasons for what they believe (1 Peter 3:15), even just to explain their faith to themselves. A good place to begin is right here at <> Visit the following areas to get equipped with some answers to atheists’ arguments against the Bible.

Christians certainly don’t need to watch the movie to stay current on the latest atheist propaganda—there’s plenty of it in books, the media and the education system. It may be far more appropriate to save money on theatre tickets and instead head to the local video store (or bookstore) and pick up a copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. We would also not be contributing to the success of The Golden Compass movie.

For a more detailed examination of the movie read Dr Albert Mohler’s review, posted on December 4, 2007 (unfortunately Dr Mohler does not counter Pullman’s ruse that the Fall was sexual in nature; it had nothing to do with sex).

Published: 27 December 2007(GMT+10)