Christian film goes beyond subculture
The recent release of the movie “God’s Not Dead” has stirred Christians and non-Christians alike, causing many to run to their computers and post their thoughts and opinions on social media as to why Christian films continue to miss the mark of good filmmaking.
I must agree that Christian films lack a quality that the big names in Hollywood create, and “God’s Not Dead” is no exception. Cheesy scripts and bad acting continue to plague faith-based films, and I have begun to expect this whenever I sit down to watch a Christian movie.
However, I went into the theater with high hopes for “God’s Not Dead,” and despite the occasional chuckle at the poor performances of a few of the actors, I thought this movie showed more professionalism than other Christian films of similar budgets.
Despite this, many have taken the release of another unashamedly Christian movie as an opportunity to bash the Christian filmmaking industry. John Speed, a Christian blogger, published his opinions on his blog Gospel Spam, stating “God’s not dead, but Christian screenwriting is.” His argument provides positive qualities of the movie, but the majority of his blog states this movie is littered with blasphemy.
“God does not need us to defend him, as the hero of this movie states,” Speed wrote. “The atheist needs us to declare the truth to him so that he can be rescued from the wrath of God. To state the former and miss the latter is blasphemous. When we — even with the best of intentions — place God on trial in our personal evangelism or in big screen movies, we give the enemies of God occasion to blaspheme. And they are doing exactly that.”
Others made comments on the website Rotten Tomatoes such as “God may not be dead, but I’d be willing to wager this movie at least gave him a faint wave of nausea” and, “Any just God would likely recoil from the ham-fisted and spurious defense put forth in this film.” However, despite the fact that the website awarded the movie with a 20 percent rating, the general audience gave it 87 percent.
I would have to agree with the 87 percent of people who voted for this movie. While some, like Speed, believe that evangelism should be left to “everyday Christians,” and “Jesus did not command us to go into all the world and show movies,” we, as Christians, have the responsibility to reach as many people as we possibly can with the hope of the gospel. And this movie does just that. If we have the opportunity to use an industry that people all over the world have access to, then we need to take advantage of this industry in order to spread the name of God to all nations.
True, the evidence provided by the young college student in his defense of God may not give airtight proof for the existence of God, and not all atheists show the same hatred as the professor in the movie, but the story was powerful and provided an unashamed message of our forgiveness in Jesus Christ.
As with anything in the public eye, critiques, both positive and negative, come with the territory. But the critiques from Christians should not simply bash an industry that is continuing to grow. True, it is frustrating to watch faith-based films with the expectation that they will not be equal to that of a film produced in Hollywood, but how helpful is it to those who create and write these films when all they hear consist of reviews that tell them how terrible their work is? Will this encourage them to continue striving to make better movies, or will it deter them from continuing to try and improve if their fellow believers will not stand behind them?
If there are aspects of this movie that contradict our beliefs, as Speed felt, then this is an opportunity to take a deeper look at the Bible and decide how we would provide our own answers if someone told us God is dead. Will we all have the chance to stand up in front of a class and an atheist to defend our beliefs? Probably not. But this movie provides an example of how necessary it is to be able to defend your faith, regardless of the quality of the script or the performance of the actors.
1 Peter 3:15-16 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”