The movie "The Book of Eli" came on TV not too long ago. I was surprised by some of the ending plot and if you have not seen the movie you probably want quite reading this. SPOILER ALERT In the movie there are three types of people who respond to the Bible. One represents those who use the Bible for personal power and gain. There is a town leader; part mayor and all mob boss. He wants a copy of the Bible to be able to use the words there in to coerce those who are small in intellect to do as he says. There is second type of person who uses the Bible as a part of their personal quest and voyage in life. Eli is a wander; part super hero and part high plains drifter. He reads the Bible every day. He knows his own faults but also knows he is to live by the Bible. This is the type of Bible reader I want to be; minus gun fights, karate moves, and swordsmanship. Lastly there is the fellow in Alcatraz Island who is storing up the knowledge of mankind. He is attempting to build their worlds knowledge by amassing a library that is protected. He studiously copies the Bible by hand, prints it up, and then places it on the shelf among many other religions. For this man, the Bible is just another part of human religious experience, not a defining religious experience.
As I read my Bible I want to be wary of the two errors of seeing the Bible as a tool for my own ends or seeing it as a part human religious experience. I want to be on mission and give my life to the one who gave himself to me. The fellow Eli was a Christ figure in that he was misunderstood and also because he seemed to die and rise again. However, his resurrection is temporary, he eventually die due to his wounds permanently but fulfills his mission. Though he is a Christ figure in a literary sense, there is no mention of the Savior our Lord Jesus Christ. There is no Son of God mentioned in the film that I can remember. Perhaps that is the view point of the film maker, I'm not sure. But as I say I want to be one who reads the Bible like Eli, I also want to be distinct from Eli too. I want to always understand the Bible from the point of view that Jesus is the main idea of all the Bible, even the Old Testament. I want to always be Christ centric in my reading of Scripture.
Lastly it merits saying, Eli is black. Though it saddens me to say, I think African-Americans get the Bible better that white Americans do at times. There is a sense that the African-American church knows that God is good. I'm not sure if it is intentional in the movie, but in a sense, the man reading the Bible correctly is a black man and the other white interpretations are misguided. Again, I'm not sure that is what the film makers meant, but it something I got out of the film. As I read the Bible it is true and straight forward. It is a book about deliverance and grace. It is a book about freedom. I think that is how I hear the African-American sisters and brothers reading it. God is good all the time.
"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." (Gal 5:1 ESV)