By: Andrew M. Gilhooley
At least once a year, I make an effort to take three hours out of my day to watch Mel Gibson’s Braveheart. Every time I view this film, it is as if I am brought from within the walls of my house to the very highlands of Scotland and behold the country’s serene beauty; or to the gory battlefield at Stirling and learn the art of courage; or even to the castle at Edinburgh and sit in the midst of the Scottish nobles. While it is certain that there are many ahistorical scenes in Braveheart (e.g. William Wallace’s affair with Princess Isabella, Robert Bruce’s betrayal at Falkirk, etc.), the movie is still nonetheless superb.
While the film in its entirety is stirring, the battle scenes continue to impact me the most. Whether it is the uprising of the villagers in Lanark or the battles at Stirling and Falkirk, Mel Gibson phenomenally portrays the horrors of medieval warfare by means of close graphic shots of hand-to-hand combat. These scenes can often be emotional, as viewers receive a taste of such ancient forms of horrific combat. If one dwells upon these scenes in length, it is near impossible for them to walk away from the movie unscathed.
Sometimes such wars are a necessity, and let it be known that Scotland had a just cause to rise up against the English who had unjustly invaded and occupied their lands. Such a right, however, does not change the horrors and brutality of war, which in part is pictured in Braveheart. Men made in the image of God are still killing and mutilating other men made in the image of God in horrific ways, even though it may be for a just cause. Every time I watch this film, I cheer on the Scots as they fight justly for the sovereignty of their occupied lands, but my heart is also broken as it is a token of the reality of the history of humanity. Not only is the history of Scotland and England defined by wars, but the history of the world as well, both past and present, is defined by the wars waged by the nations.
This warring of nations is a result of the Fall, but more so it is a consequence of God’s judgment at the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11). It was there that God confused man’s common language and dispersed them throughout the world into ethnical pockets. As a corollary of God’s judgment at Babel, distinct nations were formed; and from that time onward nations have been in conflict with other nations and have been waging war on one another, for just and unjust causes alike. The centuries of conflict and wars between Scotland and England is one example of such enmity which exists universally among the nations.
While God’s judgment at the Tower of Babel divided nations resulting in wars, the Cross of Christ unites the nations resulting in peace. Through the vicarious death of Jesus Christ and by the power of Holy Spirit, the enmity which exists between nations and ethnicities is destroyed. The Apostle Paul writes concerning this to the Galatians,
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. – Galatians 3:28-29
While in this world we are physically identified with our ethnic ancestors, if we belong to Christ then we are spiritually identified as Abraham’s descendants (Gal 3). Whether you are Scottish, English, African, or Asian, if you believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ then you are sons of Abraham and true-latter day Israelites. For the elect Scotsmen there is now no longer enmity between his neighboring elect Englishmen, for in Christ they are brothers. Through Christ the warring nations are able to be reconciled.
As I cheer for the Scots while watching Braveheart, I also continuously look forward eschatologically to that day when the nations shall wage war no more. I look forward to that day when Christ returns and renders judgment and consummates His eternal kingdom and annihilates his enemies and puts an end to the warring of nations. I look forward to that day when nations will no longer rise up against nations, but live in peace in the unbridled presence of our triune God. I look forward to the new heavens and earth, where instead of death, pain, enmity, and war, there will be life, healing, unity, and peace. Babel brought forth enmity and war but the Cross brings forth unity and peace.
Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. – Revelation 22:1-2
--Andrew M. Gilhooley is currently a sophomore at Reformation Bible College in Sanford, Florida. Among his hobbies are fishing, archery, playing piano, writing, and reading classic literature. Upon graduation, Andrew plans to attend graduate school and possibly enter into Bible translation ministry.