Indiana Jones and the Holiness of God

As we psych ourselves up for the release of the new Indiana Jones movie this weekend, read this discussion of the character and of why the first movie, “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” was so good. Note the good lines about how the evil archeologist dared to looked into the abyss of the Ark of the Covenant and “the abyss looked back,” the folly of looking into the face of God, how Indy somehow knew that sometimes one must look away.

This reminds me of the great theological message of that fun popcorn fantasy, which, for all of its lightness and entertainment value, conveyed back to our jaded and secularized imagination in an unforgettably tangible way that God is holy, as poor Uzzah learned when he so much as touched the Ark while only trying to help. We have so abstracted and sentimentalized and domesticated God that we sometimes forget why we need a Mediator to come into His presence.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I’m very much looking forward to seeing the new Indiana Jones movie. Very much wondering if it is as good as episodes 1 and 3, while hoping it isn’t anywhere near as bad as episode 2.

    I think I saw “Raiders…” in the theater as a young boy. I wonder if my parents knew how scared the opening of the ark scene made me. I of course I knew all about the ark from Sunday School and I think it did serve as a poignant memory device for my very young and pietistic heart. During that scene I remember peeking through covered eyes at that German face melting away! You don’t want to mess around with a holy God.

    But that is exactly what does it for most American Christians these days – just trying to mess around with their spiritual boyfriend Jesus and gaze into his dreamy spiritual eyes. Never mind that they’re shacking up, or trying to cheat their neighbor out of every spare penny, they have a personal relationship with Jesus. They better watch out! Hmm. I wonder that Jesus dying on the cross thing was about?

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I’m very much looking forward to seeing the new Indiana Jones movie. Very much wondering if it is as good as episodes 1 and 3, while hoping it isn’t anywhere near as bad as episode 2.

    I think I saw “Raiders…” in the theater as a young boy. I wonder if my parents knew how scared the opening of the ark scene made me. I of course I knew all about the ark from Sunday School and I think it did serve as a poignant memory device for my very young and pietistic heart. During that scene I remember peeking through covered eyes at that German face melting away! You don’t want to mess around with a holy God.

    But that is exactly what does it for most American Christians these days – just trying to mess around with their spiritual boyfriend Jesus and gaze into his dreamy spiritual eyes. Never mind that they’re shacking up, or trying to cheat their neighbor out of every spare penny, they have a personal relationship with Jesus. They better watch out! Hmm. I wonder that Jesus dying on the cross thing was about?

  • LAJ

    We have lost much of our awe, respect, and fear of God. When I was a child, I was not allowed in the pulpit area of the church at any time. It was a place set apart and if I crossed the line, I was put in my place. Do parents or even pastors still do that? In our church it’s not as big a deal although it is discouraged.

  • LAJ

    We have lost much of our awe, respect, and fear of God. When I was a child, I was not allowed in the pulpit area of the church at any time. It was a place set apart and if I crossed the line, I was put in my place. Do parents or even pastors still do that? In our church it’s not as big a deal although it is discouraged.


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