Several weeks ago, I joined some Christian friends and headed out to see The Book of Eli. I have long been a fan of Denzel Washington, and was curious to see how this movie was going to portray the Christian faith. Known in Hollywood today for his strong Christian beliefs, Washington grew up in the Pentecostal Church of God in Christ, where his father was a minister. In The Book of Eli he had the opportunity to channel his Christian beliefs and behavior into an intriguing character.
The Book of Eli is truly a story about the struggle between good and bad, the light and the darkness. It is also about the testing of our faith. Taking place in a post-apocalyptic world, the movie soon makes very clear to the viewer that life has become extremely difficult for those who have survived “the last war.” The main character, Eli, is on a mission from God himself, after hearing very specific instructions. His journey revolves around his ability to get the only remaining Bible, a King James edition, to “the west,” in order to share the Word of God.
Eli’s personality is peaceful, a seeker of solitude.
He has a firm-enough foundation in his faith to know not only when God is speaking to him, but also to listen intently and carry out God’s instructions. The movie really stirs up the question: How far will we go to accomplish what God has asked of us?
The movie forces viewers to take a step back and ask ourselves some important questions: Are we so distracted by the hectic schedule of life that we aren’t listening to God? When God does speak to us, do we truly listen to every word and do what is asked of us, or do we hear what we want to hear and go on with what we think we should do?
While on his mission, Eli comes across several mischief-makers and hooligans that try to take him off course, and they all get the surprise of their lives. Although Eli is a loner who doesn’t want any trouble, he will fight to the death to protect the treasure that he is carrying, earning the movie an R rating for several scenes of violence and language. Although some of these scenes are brutal, I feel they are necessary to make the movie work and remind people that in life we will be brought up against some very difficult and scary situations. It is our response to these situations that truly shows our Christian character. How do we react when someone is trying to harm us? What is our response when someone is trying to attack the Word of God? Eli’s faith never falters, and his character portrays a solid walk with God throughout his entire journey.
Not giving away too much of the movie, there is one villain in particular that Eli comes across who senses that Eli is no ordinary man. He knows that something within Eli makes him stand out from everyone else that he has ever met, and he becomes envious of Eli and his faith. This man’s discovery about Eli’s character creates an opportunity for all of us to ask ourselves, as Christians, if we are bringing light into this world. Do people see something so wonderful and extraordinary within us and in our lives that they want to know what it is?
The Book of Eli has been called an “Action movie flop but a Christian blockbuster” by a mainstream source. I thought it was a great action movie, one that kept my attention. It could definitely be in the Christian Hit category. I feel that it is a rare gem to see a movie of this magnitude – made by such a large film studio – that portrays the essential, main character as having such a firm belief in Christ. Eli never wavers and truly wants to stay on the path that God has laid before him. There are so many different messages in this movie that Christians will be able to ask themselves about their own Christian journey. I encourage everyone to take the time to go with friends to see this Hollywood rarity, discuss the various questions the movie asks and consider how they relate to your faith.