Below is a question from someone genuinely concerned that Calvary University would put on a production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Also below is Dr. Cone’s response. We hope you will find it encouraging. If not, please email Dr. Cone. He would love to hear from you! (He actually said that!)
Question from “Concerned About Calvary U’s production of Beauty and the Beast”:
Why is a “Christian” university that is teaching and preparing students to proclaim the Gospel and live out a biblical worldview to present a Christlike witness to the world put on a production like [Beauty and the Beast]? I will never support this or support any anti biblical, anti Christian, or anti Christ Disney production or any thing similar. This is antithetical to what I thought this university is about. Apparently it’s about money!
Answer from Dr. Cone:
I am so thankful for your email. I have told many of our alumni and donors to hold us accountable, and I am glad you are taking me up on it. I am appreciative of the courage it took for you to communicate your concern, and I am appreciative of the opportunity to help clarify for you that Calvary University is totally committed to undergirding everything we do with the Biblical worldview, and to help you understand how our Theatre Department and productions help us achieve that.
First, you are certainly correct, that Disney has produced some material that has been unfriendly to Christians and the Biblical worldview. At the same time, Disney has also produced some quality films that are even sympathetic to Christians and the Biblical worldview. I think about Pirates of the Caribbean 4’s portrayal of a Christian missionary and his commitment to truth, grace, and kindness. I think of Snow White’s prayer for her dwarf friends. The Hunchback of Notre Dame has some Christian-friendly themes. Then there is the grace message of Tangled and Cinderella. There’s Disney’s drawing attention to a Christian and his story of hope and perseverance in the movie The Rookie. And as for Beauty and the Beast, Dove Reviews acknowledges the incredible artistic value of the film, and observes that, “Overall, the positive messages about loving others, bravery and family support dominate the film.”
Now, my point here is not to defend Disney or their worldview. Rather my point is to say that they are a significant producer of stories in today’s culture. Some of them are good, others not.
Second, you are also correct in recognizing that Calvary University is committed to preparing people to live and serve in the church and in the world according to a Biblical worldview. Part of that is helping our students learn how to use the many tools of narrative and illustration in order to (1) glorify God, and (2) share His love and faithfulness with others. Just as some of the great hymn writers attached theologically rich lyrics to secular melodies, our students are learning how to engage the culture without being conformed to it. We are keenly aware of Paul’s encouragement in 1 Corinthians 5:9-10 that we are in the world and must engage those in it. Part of that means learning to speak their language. This is the same process as you would find in any missions organization – before a missionary is sent out to reach a particular culture for Christ, they must first learn the language and culture. Calvary University’s Theatre Department is doing that exact kind of training. We are committed to excellence in representing Him and His word, and we are committed to training our students with the highest caliber academic programs we can possibly offer. We are thankful for our Theatre Department, and for their contribution to Calvary’s overall mission.
Third, please know that our Theatre Department is one of our very most expensive departments, and it is certainly not a profit center. If Calvary was about money, we would definitely not have a Theatre Department. Performances like this one allow our students to gain incredible experience, and to grow in their skills, but they (the performances) hardly pay the bills. I truly hope you would consider supporting Calvary’s students and mission by visiting one of the performances. I think you will be truly impressed.
Finally, I thank you for your understanding – I know that you understand the importance of working with – at times – anti-biblical, and anti-Christian organizations, since you emailed your concern from your gmail account. Surely you are aware of the many anti-biblical and anti-Christian stances Google has taken. Yet this does not deter you (or us) from enjoying the benefits of their services, because even though they can be disagreeable at times, they also provide tremendous tools that help schools like Calvary University to proclaim the message of God’s grace through the gospel of Jesus Christ all over the world. While we certainly have our disagreements with Google, we are still thankful to have access to their tools, and we consider them a blessing in many ways – perhaps much like Disney.
Thank you again for communicating your concerns. I am sure that there are others who might share your concerns, so I am going to publish your comments – anonymously, of course – along with my response as an open letter, so that all who share your well thought out concerns might be encouraged to know what Calvary University is up to. We love you, are thankful for you, and encourage you to continue holding us accountable! We are at your service…
Christopher Cone, Th.D, Ph.D, Ph.D
President, Calvary University