A Thief in the Night (1972): The Bad Pastor Makes Some Sense

I was recently watching the 1972 Christian apocalyptic movie, A Thief in the NightHere is an excellent article about the impact of the film.  (The article says that even Marilyn Manson was impacted by it!)

The Executive Producer of the movie was Russell S. Doughten, Jr.  Doughten also plays a pastor in the movie.  The pastor he plays is one who does not preach the Bible but rather his own philosophies, and he comes to regret that after the rapture.

The thing is, the pastor’s sermon (before the rapture took place, that is) makes sense to me!  The pastor is saying that a lot of these Christian doctrines that people have died for do not affect real life that much.  He asked if we would appreciate beauty any less if the virgin birth had not happened, or if we would treat our neighbors badly had Jesus not gone around the countryside performing miracles.  He also said that God is far more loving and merciful than we are, and so, if we wouldn’t consign people to eternal torment in hell, what makes us think God would do so?  The pastor then went on to affirm that the Bible encapsulated basic principles of human interrelationships, and he criticized conditioning relationships on acceptance of particular doctrines (i.e., a literal six-day creation).  You can watch the sermon here, starting at the 19 minute mark.

Do I agree with this pastor?  I’m not sure.  I think that he makes a good point about not conditioning human relationships on adherence to particular doctrines.  I have been guilty of this in the past, whether I’ve been on the right or the left!  Do I think that Jesus’ miracles are unimportant?  Well, I think that one can appreciate life and be a fairly decent person without adhering to certain Christian doctrines, according to the letter-perfect evangelical understanding of them.  But I also believe that Jesus’ miracles were important because they were God’s work of serving others and of healing a broken world.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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