Let the Lion Roar Has a Message the Church Needs to Hear

Let the Lion Roar ( DVD, Blu-ray & Book )

Let the Lion Roar begins with a reading of Amos 3:7-8, from which the docu-drama gets its name.  We are then introduced to our host and cardinal figure behind the project: Derek Frank.  Frank explains that he was first given a vision in the early eighties during a high point in the charismatic movement.  In the vision he was admonished to complete the Reformation.  It’s at this point that some cessationists may have the urge to stop watching entirely.  However they should be assured that while Frank’s vision was the impetus for Let the Lion Roar, his arguments behind it are based in history and Scripture.

Throughout much of the film, blurry pictures hang on a wall, only to become clear once Frank begins to address what they depict.  It’s an interesting device that keeps the viewer engaged.

Frank wrestled with how to complete the Reformation for twenty years.  After all, in what significant way could anyone improve on the important work of the Reformers?  Through study Frank became convinced that where the Reformation fell short was in understanding how Israel and the Jewish people still mattered in God’s plan.

In exploring this historically, Frank looks to Martin Luther’s anti-Semitism and John Calvin’s lack of initiative in welcoming the Jews back into Geneva (they had been exiled fifty years before Calvin’s arrival).  The consideration of these issues was a highlight of the film.  In viewing the trailer, this reviewer was worried that the Reformers may be too harshly critiqued.  This concern was allayed as Frank was quick to commend the Reformers for the important work that they had done in recovering the Gospel from the work’s based system of Rome.  Luther’s anti-Semitism is well known by even novice Church historians.  However, what is less known is that early in the Reformation, Luther was fond of the Jews and stood up for them against the oppression of the Roman Catholic Church.  Frank did not have to make this concession to Luther to make his point, but chose to do so anyway.  Any criticism of Luther and Calvin was done objectively and in areas where they did have failings. Frank explains, “It’s been suggested that whatever else the Reformation had changed, anti-Semitism was not touched by it.”

It’s at this point that the great deception is revealed as the teaching that the Church had replaced Israel in God’s purposes.  The Lion of Judah is then calling His Church to fulfill their end time purpose in coming to her proper relationship with Israel.  The roar of the Lion signals that the great deception is being brought down.

The great deception had been able to make it into the Reformation under the radar as it were, because it was so old as to be unnoticeable.  Anti-Semitism was common among Church fathers a thousand years before the Reformation.  Anti-Semitic quotes are provided from Hilary of Poitiers, Jerome, John Chrysostom, Ambrose of Milan and Augustine.  Frank does not exaggerate here.  In fact, he barely scratches the surface.  John Chrysostom penned eight homilies railing against the Jews.  He even warned that Christians sympathetic to the Jews faced Hell.  Ambrose of Milan stopped Theodosius from compensating a Jewish community in Mesopotamia when a synagogue was burned down by Christians.

Frank looks to several verses that affirm in no uncertain terms that God’s promises to the Jews were irrevocable (e.g. Jer. 31:37; Rom. 11:28).  He then ponders what it would mean for the Church if God was allowed to renege on His promises.  Frank rightly ponders that if this is true, how could we even be sure of our own salvation?  Frank concludes, “But questions like this just didn’t fit with the God I’ve come to know, who remains faithful even when we are unfaithful.  I could only conclude that the idea that the Church had replaced Israel was fundamentally flawed.”

Another highlight of Let the Lion Roar is when Frank engages in a fictional debate with John Calvin.  It’s a shame that this segment was soMatthew Bryce Ervin with Kevin Sorbo short.  More of these types of debates with historical characters would have strengthened the film.  As a side note, Calvin was played by Kevin Sorbo (who knew Calvin was so muscular!?).  I have enjoyed fellowship with Kevin, and it’s clear that he is a sincere believer in Jesus/Yeshua as God and Savior.

Frank makes the poignant observation that personal salvation was so central to the Reformers that it was to the degree that it overrode other issues in Scripture.  It was outrageous to claim that the Jews had lost their unique purpose.  Without the Jewish Messiah and Jewish writers of Scripture there would be no Church.  “For Satan to strike at the Jewishness of the Christian faith really was to aim at the jugular.  It was to perpetrate the most cunning lie of all time.”  Satan desires to keep the church from seeing beyond their personal salvation, thereby nullifying their purpose: to seek the Kingdom.  The Devil’s power to deceive should never be underestimated.

Frank invites the viewer to discover the truth about God’s chosen people and the Church’s destiny in a final segment.  He even warns viewers that if they continue they may be started on a journey that will have great consequences.  This could come off as a bit over the top to some.  To those familiar with the Israel issue, it’s hard to overestimate just how critical it is in shaping one’s Christian life.

The concluding segment emphasizes that the Reformation must be finished and provides the tools to equip the viewer in helping to do so.  These tools include three truths that must be understood and five theses to add onto Luther’s ninety-five.  For example thesis five is, The widespread acceptance of the truth will have many consequences for both the Church and the salvation of all Israel.  The Church will be able to recover her full identity, realize her destiny and bear the fruit that she is meant to so that the Lion may roar.

Finally, several individuals (e.g. luminary Messianic singer Paul Wilbur) recite key verses regarding God’s purposes for the Jewish people including unconditional and eternal promises.

The only notable weakness of the film is that more of what the Bible has to say regarding Israel’s significance is needed.  At the very least a brief survey of God’s unconditional covenants with Israel would have been foundational.  The project calls for the Church to realize her destiny yet does not provide sufficient resources in equipping layman for this great task.  And with the movie clocking in at just over an hour (including credits), there was time for another segment.  If the producers felt that such academics would have made the film too slow for the average viewer they could have at least provided a key lesson or two as extras.

I didn’t agree with every interpretation of Scripture provided or with some of the nuances in the historical claims.  Overall though I heartily agreed with the film and was edified in watching it.  Frank’s movement and call to complete the Reformation isn’t new.  Many followers of Jesus/Yeshua understand that the Church didn’t replace or fulfill Israel and that only when we return to what the Bible teaches on this issue can we work in complete purpose.  However, many other Christians are absolutely in the dark as to the central importance of Israel and the Jewish people in God’s prophetic plan.  Derek Frank and everyone else involved in the project have done a great service to the Church and Israel.  Let the Lion Roar is a film desperately needed for such a time as this.

Understandably Frank could not provide every verse that speaks to the Church’s importance in relation to Israel.  One of the absent passages teaches that one of the Body of Christ’s purposes is to make Israel jealous so that they may come to salvation.  I leave you with Romans 11:11-12:

So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.  Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!  (ESV)

Comments

  1. Thanks so much for your review of our film! Glad you liked it and have shared it with your readers. We’ll be sharing a link to your review from our Facebook page soon!

  2. David Morsillo says:

    God’s purpose in causing a deep sleep to fall upon Adam was not to leave him in that state but by means of cutting off a part of him, made Eve, after no suitable partner had been found among the animals. Adam recognised his wife and through two becoming one, life was brought to the world.

  3. This is the perfect example of taking a bit of truth and then using it to construct a big, false story.

    The true: Yes, Luther, to his shame and discredit, absorbed the anti-semitic views of the medieval Catholic church that he came out of. That is true.

    The semi-true: Later reformers were anti-semites as well. But as the reformation went forward, there was less and less anti-semitism. By the time the reformation spread to places like England and Holland, there was much less of it. It got entrenched in Germany because Lutheranism became the State Church of Germany – which is a whole different discussion.

    The un-true: There was some grand conspiracy to make the Bible an anti-semitic document. This is just pure foolishness. There’s no documented evidence of this.

    This is a really good example of how poor scholarship (i.e. not knowing Church history) and bad hermaneutics (i.e. dispenationalism) leads you to some crazy conclusions.

    • Matthew Ervin says:

      Have you watched the documentary? I ask because there is no mention whatsoever of a conspiracy, “to make the Bible an anti-semitic document.” That’s not only a straw-man but it’s incredibly dishonest.

      You admit that there was anti-Semitism in the Roman Catholic Church and among men like Luther. And yet you then make the accusation that there was a lack of knowledge of Church history in the film. In what way was in inaccurate? Can you provide even one example where the film misrepresented a given person’s anti-Semitism? As a Church historian I wouldn’t even consider someone an amateur in the field if he or she knew nothing about the anti-Semitic influences of John Chrysostom for example.

      Again, your comments indicate to me that you didn’t watch the documentary. As the film notes, Luther was not anti-Semitic at the beginning of the Reformation. In fact, he defended the Jews from the RCC. It was only later in his life that he became indignant toward them and wrote his demonic, “The Jews and Their Lies.”

      Also, the film makers are most obviously not Dispensationalists. They clearly teach that the tree in Romans 11 is Israel and that Gentiles are grafted in. I happen to disagree with that, understanding that the tree represents the covenant blessings. However, I am not so petty as to hate a film’s general message because I don’t agree with every nuance.

      Soften your heart and consider the following free from any bias in Romans 11:28-31:

      “As regards the gospel, they [the Jews] are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy.”

      For your personal study I recommend Our Hands are Stained with Blood.

      P.S. You may not like Dispensationalism. But a literal grammatical hermeneutic is hardly, “bad.”

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