Don’t lose your bearings with the golden compass

Jack Sin
Jack Sin He is pastor of Sovereign Hope Bible-Presbyterian  Ministry and an adjunct lecturer at Biblical Reformed Seminary Yangon, Myanmar, and Indian Reformed Biblical Seminary, Bangalore.
01 March, 2008 5 min read

Don’t lose your bearings with the golden compass

The Golden Compass, which hit the big screens recently, is a PG rated blockbuster that was touted as a must-see event for 2008. This much acclaimed movie tries to make evil look attractive and witchcraft seem heroic (there are powerful animal creatures and other occultic icons that smack of Harry Potter).

he heroine is a little witch. According to the trailer, the movie’s main message is that the truly brave will fight against God and will never submit to him. It promotes a contradiction, claiming that God is the source of evil, and evil the source of good.

Killing God

This is the first movie based on Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. The Golden Compass is an epic fantasy, at once complex, mystical and spiritually dense. But one thing is clear: Pullman’s novels have everything to do with rejecting faith and destroying or inhibiting the desire to seek God.

The ‘golden compass’ itself is an ‘alethiometer’ – a fictitious instrument that measures truth (alethia is Greek for ‘truth’). In the story, it is a spiritual device invented by a metaphysical scientist in the 16th century which bears on its ornamental surface 36 symbols.

When combined together in different permutations these symbols (reminiscent of horoscopes and astrological signs) supply the truth on any matter. Only the house of the heroine Lyra has the secret to unlock the mysteries of the golden compass.

So, should a Christian watch this film? Isaiah 47:13-14 suggests not: ‘Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee. Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame …’

The film is about power – about those who seek to control and manipulate life on Earth and mislead people, including children. It promotes ignorant, even violent, atheistic thought and belief, seeking to alter our thinking processes and convictions.

It presents a ‘God of organised religion’ who promotes ‘numb groupthink’ – and who is annihilated at the end of the movie by a child. The aim of both the movie and the book is to kill religious authority and destroy God.

It is strange and almost insane logic that an atheist, who supposedly does not believe in the existence of God, is trying to kill him off!

Soft-selling godless beliefs

While the movie is brilliantly produced – with stunning arctic scenery and fine stagesmanship – it has a powerful and subtle message, promoting magic and the occult and seducing young minds. It encourages children to try and trust the occult. Yet to accept these things is to undermine true saving faith in Christ, if that were possible.

Christ warns us in Matthew 24:24: ‘there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect’.

The shameless and most outrageous thing about the Golden Compass Trilogy is that it is designed to soft-sell godless beliefs to young souls while misleading parents into thinking that the story is actually harmless!

The fact is that the author is trying to indoctrinate young minds with scepticism and unbelief, teaching them to hate God and true religion. Pullman had done ‘very well’ by human standards in this movie, as a man with a clear mind, a powerful product and an evil agenda.

Parents should pray and consider this subject carefully. It is a solemn parental duty for Christians to keep our children from spiritual harm. This occultic film (and the books) is paraded as innocent and harmless entertainment, with stunning and seductive previews. But this is another diabolical attack on the theistic community – this time aimed at gullible young people and innocent children.

The antidote

There can be only one antidote to this most recent spiritual assault on our children – young souls must be educated in the truths of the Christian faith set forth in the all-sufficient Word of God (Revelation 22:18-20). This will equip them to defend themselves against the lies and deceptions of this seductive movie.

We should not grow slack in this vital spiritual exercise but be rooted and grounded in the glorious truths of Scripture so that we grow and mature in the most holy faith. A good start is to read Leviticus 19:26-31 and Deuteronomy 18:9-14; Galatians 5:20; Revelation 21:8; and Isaiah 47:13-14.

We must help our children develop spiritual wisdom and right judgement – to understand that there exists both an ultimate evil and an ultimate Good, an objective truth in Christ which cannot be overthrown by myth, magic and diabolical atheism.

Quotes from Philip Pullman

Let us hear directly from the horse’s mouth. Below are some noteworthy quotations from Philip Pullman, author of the Golden Compass series:

• ‘I’ve been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry [Potter] has said. My books are about killing God’, he explained. (Terry Mattingly, Scripps Howard News Service, 17 November 2007).

• ‘I’m an atheist. There’s no God here. There never was’. (Pullman vs the Magisterium by Terry Mattingly). Pullman has created a DVD for 11-year-olds called, ‘Why Atheism?’ In the video, students talked frankly about their atheism and why they left their religion. Pullman wants atheism to be taught in the schools, which is why he made the DVD. (‘Why Philip Pullman wants to teach children about atheism’, The Independent, 10 July 2007).

• Two of his central characters, Will and Lyra, ‘are a sort of Adam and Eve’, notes Deborah Ross, but ‘instead of reaffirming the Creation story, C. S. Lewis-style, they subvert it’. According to Ross, Pullman is ‘all for Eve listening to the serpent and trying the fruit’. Pullman himself admits that ‘I see it as a positive act’. When asked if Eve’s defiance shows curiosity and a willingness to embrace life, he answered, ‘Yes. Absolutely’.

Take care

The main target audience of this movie are young people who have not been brought up to know the truth. To many young people the Bible is just another book in the library. We must pray that this trend will be reversed by God’s mercy and grace.

Christians should not support any movie that goes against a belief in the God of the Bible. By explaining the Scriptures we should protect both ourselves and our children from anti-God multimedia propaganda that spiritually corrupts

Many have not hid the Word of God in their hearts to fortify and defend themselves against the fiery darts of the evil one (Psalm 119:11). Let us pray and do our part that God will protect our children’s minds from such sinister brainwashing.

As Christian adults, too, we must be careful what we watch and read. Books and movies that seem harmless on the surface – mere fantasy and fun – can affect us subconsciously and open a door to false teaching and demonic influence.

Witchcraft, spell-casting, magic and sorcery – even in Harry Potter movies and some Walt Disney cartoons – can have unseen spiritual and mental effects on both children and adults.

Those who love the Lord will not pay to see this movie or buy these occultic books (Acts 19:19). The atheistic author receives royalties from them and we would be supporting the production of such God-dishonouring media.

Signs of the times

We are witnessing here further signs of the end times – spiritual deception, scoffers, moral perversion and the falling away of our last-days generation (2 Peter 3:1-3). We are witnessing the fulfilment of Bible prophecy; as Jesus said, the last days would be similar to the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37-42).

That is what we are witnessing today. People are doing what is right in their own eyes. The evil in men’s hearts grows worse and worse with the passage of time (2 Timothy 3:1-10). We must do whatever we can to communicate the gospel of everlasting life and God’s gracious love to a sinful and depraved world.

The church of Jesus Christ needs to commit as never before to prayer for discernment and spiritual revival – being vigilant, watchful and led and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Let us employ the full armour of God against the wiles of the devil (Ephesians 6:10-18).

A lost world needs to seek and know the good news of God’s only begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the news that is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16).

Pray, reach out, warn and witness for Christ to those who need to hear the gospel. Otherwise they will surely follow the defective and deceptive golden compass – and lose their souls for eternity.

Jack Sin
He is pastor of Sovereign Hope Bible-Presbyterian  Ministry and an adjunct lecturer at Biblical Reformed Seminary Yangon, Myanmar, and Indian Reformed Biblical Seminary, Bangalore.
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