THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN tells the story of a Mormon missionary, John Groberg, who is sent to a South Pacific island. John's attempts to win the natives to Mormonism are opposed by the native Christian pastor, who even sends thugs to beat him up. John performs several alleged miracles which, like the gospel John warn, mock and diminish the true miracles which are available to all who call upon the risen Savior, Jesus Christ. Eventually, John finishes his missionary stint and the Mormon church has grown stronger on the island just as the true church of Jesus Christ has waned.
From a Christian point of view, THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN presents a false gospel. The pathetic nature of the miracles in the movie and the legalistic answers that John presents to the natives highlight the deficiency of the gospel he is preaching. It would be extremely unfortunate if Christian critics who don’t understand basic theology promoted this false gospel. Since some of them are doing just that, we pray that the movie will not lead more impressionable people astray as John led the natives to THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN - which is hell.
(PaPaPa, FRFRFR, AbAb, L, VV, S, N, A, M) Mormon worldview with some anti-Christian elements as well as mock miracles; two obscenities, several discussions of relieving yourself and some theologically inaccurate uses of the name of Jesus, the divine Savior, and the Holy Trinity; rats eat soles of Mormon missionary’s feet, dreadful typhoon at sea almost drowns missionary, long period of starvation, mosquitoes breed elephantitis, thugs threaten to beat up Mormon missionaries, comatose boy comes back to life; girl drops skirt and offers herself to missionary (nothing shown), rum traded for girls and girl led into room by slave trading white captain; naturalistic upper male nudity; alcohol use; no smoking; and, discussions of God seeding the universe and God’s plans for the family.
Gerry Molen is a good friend of the MOVIEGUIDE® staff, a wonderful person and the producer of the quaint Mormon missionary movie, THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN. With this in mind, it is hard to criticize a movie made by a friend. In fact, from a Mormon point of view, this may be an encouraging movie.
From a Christian point of view, however, it is a cultic film that presents a false Gospel. Since one of the Christian reviewers at the screening did not understand the theological elements of Mormonism, which make this movie anathema for Christians, it is important to point them out so that the very elect will not be deceived – or anyone else who goes to see this move.
THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN is based on the true story of John Groberg. The narrator opens the movie by talking about little John Groberg growing up on his farm in Idaho while photos of the real John are flashed on the screen.
The story really starts, however, at Brigham Young University where John meets the love of his life, Jean Sabin, played by Anne Hathaway. Just as their relationship starts going some place, John is ordered to do missionary work on a remote island in the South Pacific.
John leaves home and, at every port of call along the way to his remote destination, he finds that his appointed contact has been misinformed about when he was coming. John persists in reaching the little island to which he has been assigned and is joined by his teammate, a native named Feki.
John not only has to try to win the natives to Mormonism, he also is opposed by the native Christian pastor, who even sends thugs to beat him up. At one point, when the soles of John’s feet are chewed by rats, the Christian pastor says that if John can’t walk in three days, then he’s preaching a false Gospel. Through the application of native remedies and the strength of his will, John does walk.
Another native brings John his young son who has fallen and lies comatose. John gives the boy a rudimentary form of CPR for nearly a day and the little boy recovers. These and other miracles, just like the gospel John preaches, mock and diminish the true miracles which are available to those who call upon the risen Savior, Jesus Christ.
Eventually, at the end of the movie, John finishes his missionary stint and the Mormon church has grown stronger at the expense of the true church of Jesus Christ, which has waned in this part of the world where the Gospel had once been so vibrant.
Throughout the movie, there are clear indications that this is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When Christians talk about the Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, they are referring to one God, not three. Furthermore, the God that Christians worship created the universe, and he is not just a Father who populates the universe with his seeds. God created Man who is adopted as a child of God only when he accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Jesus is not a man who has ascended to godhood, and people do not become gods of their own planets. Jesus existed before the beginning of creation and is one with the Father, not a child of the Father. These are just a very few of the contrasting viewpoints between Christianity and Mormonism.
What difference does these and many other theological distinctions make?
For one, if God is just a person who has ascended to some higher level, then he is subject to the same flaws as others, and for that very reason is not worth worshipping. Furthermore, he would not be omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent, and, therefore, incapable of answering prayers in the miraculous ways he has answered them throughout history. This limitation is clearly evident in the movie, because the miracles John performs are really just natural outworkings of persistence and available knowledge, not divine intervention.
Furthermore, Mormonism does not focus on the resurrection of Jesus Christ as does the Christian church. By his death, Jesus paid for all of our sins. By his resurrection, he made us more than conquerors. Without the resurrection, we are still dead in our sins, but the Good News (or Gospel) is that Jesus Christ rose physically from the dead and millions of Christians around the world have experienced His resurrection power personally.
The alternative to the Christian relationship with Jesus Christ is legalism, the same legalism which defines other religions. Christians are called to be in relationship with the risen Lord of the universe by the power of His Grace, not to work their way into the good graces of a demigod who rules over a planetary system. The pathetic nature of the miracles in the movie and the legalistic answers John presents to the natives are a sure sign of the deficiency of the gospel he is preaching.
For those who know the truth, this is sad, because it leads people away from a personal relation with the risen Lord and eternal life with Him in heaven, to the other side of heaven, which is hell, where all will go who die stewing in the juice of their own sin because they failed to call upon the one true Christ who can save them from their sins.
It would be more than extremely unfortunate if Christian critics who don’t understand basic Christian theology or conservative critics who populate Christian radio and television and yet have rejected Jesus Christ promote the false gospel of THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN. Since some of them are doing just that, we pray that the movie will not lead more impressionable people astray as John led the natives to THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN – which which is hell.
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