#264 – Christian Movies



The J.J. Abrams sequel to Star Trek began filming this week. Even though nothing has leaked about the script or the plot, I am so excited. I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited for a movie beginning filming. In fact, I can’t think of a time when I even knew that a movie began filming.

When it comes down to it, I am far more excited about Star Trek 2 beginning it’s filming than I have been for the actual release of any recent Christian movie.

Fireproof? Didn’t see it.

Soul Surfer? Didn’t see it.

Courageous? Didn’t see it.

I have never had a desire to see any Christian movie. Not the direct-to-DVD movies or those with wider, theatrical releases. No matter how many people tell me that Soul Surfer is actually pretty good, I have made zero effort to see it or any movie like it.

There’s a part of me that’s jaded and cynical toward Christian artistic efforts. I don’t like most Christian music because it feels like an attempt to simply recreate a secular sound with a Christian message. I guess I have taken that same perspective and applied it to Christian movies. Part of me thinks that the best actors and directors aren’t making Christian movies so why should I watch them?

I know I sound completely ridiculous and uninformed because I haven’t seen any of the movies listed above. I am judging the movies because of their Christian label and allowing that to color my perception of them. I readily admit that’s bad and, unless I see those movies, I can’t allow my jaded and cynical perspective to influence my opinion of them.

It’s also important, though, to make sure our Christian perspective doesn’t push us to wholly ignore other movies.

Some people refuse to watch a lot of movies because of their Christian faith and perspective. I understand that a lot of movies have no intrinsic value and are probably best avoided. But there a lot of movies, even rated R movies with cussing and violence, that have value and are capable of teaching us more about ourselves and our lives with Jesus.

Braveheart is full of violence but shows what it means to live courageously.

Good Will Hunting has a lot of cussing but shows the value of honesty and authenticity.

The Shawshank Redemption depicts the disturbing nature of prison life but shows the importance of friendship and perseverance.

Would I show those movies to children? Absolutely not. If someone really wrestled with cussing or chopping people up with swords, they may not be the best. But, just because they’re not Christian movies, doesn’t mean they don’t have value for our lives. Just because they’re not Christian movies doesn’t mean they can’t show us how to live more in line with Christ and his desires.

Christian movies are great and have a great message. But a movie doesn’t have to be Christian to have a great message and show us what it means to better live for Jesus.

What secular movie has impacted your life with Jesus?


5 comments on “#264 – Christian Movies”

  1. Hm, that’s a tough question. I don’t know that I can honestly say any “secular” film has influenced my faith in Jesus one way or another. More often, I see (or think I see) parables of God’s ways with us because I do have faith in Jesus. I am one of those few fanboys, apparently, who will stick up for “Spider-Man 3,” for instance, because I think, intentionally or (likely) not, it is one of the most artistically and successfully sustained reflections on the nature of sin I’ve seen in movies. But that’s for another time!

    “Forrest Gump,” though not one of my favorite films, struck me at the time as having a Christian message, in Forrest’s unfailing and never-ending love for the woman (sorry, I forget her name). I kept thinking of Hosea and Gomer throughout. The way Hosea loves Gomer, the way Forrest loves the woman (Betty?) – that’s the way God loves us.

    Among genre films, if pressed, I might have to say the one that spoke the most to me spritually is the much-maligned “Star Trek V.” I know, I know… but hear me out: for all that it was panned as “the Enterprise goes looking for God,” it isn’t really that at all. It’s about a religous fanatic who hijacks others into his misguided quest for God, only to discover that his “God” is no God at all. “What does God need with a starship?” – that’s the iconoclastic question we, as followers of Jesus, have to ask ourselves when confronted with anything or anyone making god-like claims on us. How does this claimant measure up when judged against God’s fullest self-revelation in Jesus Christ? And, even though the coda scene about “Maybe God’s not out there, but in here – the human heart” was no doubt intended as another espousal of Trek’s secular humanistic philosophy (the franchise is my major sci-fi passion, but a spade’s a spade), I think we Christians can, looking at Romans 5.5 and other texts, agree that God, through the Spirit, indwells us and can (and must) be known through the kind of friendship and love the three main characters have for each other.

    I will also say Franco Zefferelli’s “Jesus of Nazareth” (I know, not a “secular” film – but not exclusively made by or marketed to Christians, either; it was mainstream TV fare when originally aired) had a huge impact on me as a kid, deciding to make my first public expression of committment to Jesus. I was born and raised in the church, I have never really known a time when faith was not a part of my life (though of course it has waxed and waned over the years); but watching that movie made me think for the first time that this story really had something to do with me. Watching it now, I am well aware of its thoroughly Anglicized, fair-skinned, blue-eyed Jesus, and other faults; but the Spirit spoke to me through it at the time, and I’m grateful.

    (Also, like you — can’t hardly wait for Star Trek 2!)

  2. Soul Surfer was about as good as a typical sports movie and shows Christianity in a positive light. It’s chief problem was the immodesty(understandable given the climate) especially the “photoshoot”(which the heroine herself rather disliked and which was exhibitionistic rather then pragmatic). It showed a message of friendship, family, and faith and was well done, and though “you go handicapped person” is not a new theme, it is not a bad theme. It also captured the heroine fairly well(she is surprisingly like the way she appears in the movie when she talks on her facebook page) and has the bonus that you really do get to see Bethany Hamilton surfing as there are not many one-armed surfers to do the stunts.

    As for other Christian productions, they are really often to preachy. Amish romances don’t necessarily have that fault but they are a niche market.

    Blue Bloods is a decent show. It is not a Christian show, but it has heroes who are Christians and stick by their family, etc. It has a lot of brutality, some of it unnecessary to the plot, but it also gives good messages.

    White Collar is a secular show. In a way it is show of redemption and highlights a relationship between mentor and pupil quite well.

  3. TBH, Fireproof has received a lot of bad cred because it glosses over addressing the issue of porn use within marriage, but also because the wife’s actions. She left the marriage and flirted with another character whom she was unmarried to, and a lot of people on the blogosphere interpret that as using porn use as an excuse for a divorce. Also, a lot of people don’t like that the husband was the one to bend over to get the wife back, and the movie didn’t place near the same amount of responsibility on her as it did on the husband.

    Soul Surfer, however, was a good movie. I find the issue of immodesty interesting because she was a surfer and where she lived. I mean, do we expect that surfers should wear burkinis? Sometimes modesty becomes idolatrous, and what I noticed the most from the heroine is her attitude displayed the utmost modesty. She was still gracious to that girl who was mean to her from the start, even after her accident.

    1. Well, yes that was kind of my point. I never blamed Bethany for it, though being raised in northern climate makes it offend me against my wishes. If you want to like someone you want to ignore what bothers you and vice-versa which is a good lesson. If I can’t handle it at a given time, having it on computer allows me to shade out the color, I don’t need to see to hear the dialogue. and Bethany usually wears a blazer over her swimsuit during the surfing scenes. What was more annoying was the photos because I thought showing off was a bit different then just going around in that because it is hot(no pun intended). I was bringing up the subject not to condemn but because it is a problem to get around.

      Aside from that it was a pretty good movie. It wasn’t a great movie but it was a good movie. And seeing someone with such a knack for joy helped bring me out of a period of depression.

      1. Honestly, I always thought it was a bit unfair to Bethany to be made a role model for hordes of hapless teenage girls. Minor faults and weaknesses and simply things that look like faults but only come from one’s context can be magnified out of proportion. If I became a hero, faults of mine like getting into net flames might be noticed.

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