by Stephen Skelton
Primetime Parable Ministries, 2011.
Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 is the hottest movie in the theaters right now. Fans of the Twilight Saga, which I count myself among, have been patiently waiting to see this first installment of the fourth book added to this film series which is just as beloved as the books. Although most popular with youth, many adults also enjoy the romantic, action-packed, and fascinating story of the love between a teenage girl, Bella, and a teenage vampire, Edward. Christian parents, teens, and adults may be concerned about the use of vampires and werewolves to tell such a passionate story that so many have loved so much. Stephen Skelton addresses some of these concerns and takes a look at the faith message represented in the Twilight series in his DVD, Insight: Twilight.
You may recognize Steve Skelton from the popular Mayberry Bible Study Series. Skelton owns the Entertainment Ministry that produces DVD-based Bible studies that look at themes of the Christian faith in popular television shows and movies. In addition to The Andy Griffith Show, Skelton has produced Bible studies using The Beverly Hillbillies, Gilligan’s Island, The Lucy Show, John Wayne’s The Angel and the Badman, and A Christmas Carol, all of which are available from the Conference Media Center. The new Insight series chooses hot topic television and movies to examine using three questions: What does the author say?, What does the story say?, What does the Bible say?
The first in the Insight series was Harry Potter, also available from the Conference Media Center. While the Harry Potter study showed how that story is in line with Christianity, the Twilight study shows how its story is in line with Mormonism. The author of Twilight, Stephenie Meyer, is Mormon, active in her church, attended a private Mormon university, and has taught the Book of Mormon at her church. She has talked in several interviews about the strong influence Mormonism has on her life and her writing. Skelton takes participants through how Mormonism plays out in the Twilight series, specifically the concepts of free agency, natural (fallen) man, and sacrifice, all of which Meyer has referenced in her interviews.
As Skelton points out, these concepts are not offensive or foreign to Christians in and of themselves. However, in Mormonism, these concepts are part of a works-based salvation where the saving power of Christ must be combined with good works in order for humans to become their own gods. Skelton quotes major Mormon leaders on these issues and translates the themes of the Twilight series into what could be seen as a Mormon parable where the choices that Edward and Bella make decide their fate which is ultimately salvation from their enemies and an eternal happily ever after.
Skelton is making readers aware of the role of Mormonism in the Twilight series not to condemn the series but to provide Christians with a starting point for talking about their own faith. He provides excellent examples in the leader’s guide of how to turn a conversation on the Twilight series into a conversation on the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
There are many opportunities for your small group to interact with this study. Try role playing a conversation about Twilight as illustrated in the leader’s guide. There are also ten thought-provoking discussion questions that will really engage your group and may raise more theological questions about our own faith. The Media Center owns a privilege of copyright so that the study guide can be copied for everyone in your group, but almost all of the study guide is covered in the 25-minute DVD. The entire study can be done in one session or broken into three sessions. The study will work best with groups that are already familiar with the Twilight series, but it will equip every member of your group to have an educated conversation about the role of faith in this wildly popular series.