With the recent release of Risen, Young Messiah, and God’s Not Dead 2, a great deal of attention within the evangelical community has been turned toward faith-based (Christian) movies. I myself entered the fray by sharing an article titled “I Hate Christian Movies” in which the author shared extensive criticism of the entire genre. Though – unlike the author – I don’t hate Christian movies, I did think his article raised some legitimate concerns. If nothing else, it has certainly served the purpose of causing me to formulate some thoughts of my own on the matter – thoughts which I will share in the hopes they can be of some help.
- I really appreciate Christian movies for their attempt to provide clean entertainment. So much of what is offered as entertainment today is basically garbage – filled with a secular worldview, glamorized sin, sex, greed, and materialism. Faith-based movies provide a refreshing alternative to this constant barrage of immoral propaganda. I am grateful for entertainment that is safe to watch with my family without fear they will be exposed to something inappropriate or ungodly.
- I also appreciate these faith-based movies for their desire to promote godly values. Most Christian films go beyond simply being “clean” or “safe” and actually attempt to share biblical morals and godly values. This is certainly admirable. In a world in which morality is laughed at and sometimes even condemned in the media and entertainment, I am thankful that there are alternatives that present godly values in a positive light and even seek to promote them as beneficial.
- Another positive element of faith based movies is that many of them use their platform evangelistically. Regardless of any criticism that may be leveled at these Christian films, nothing should take away from their dedication to the spreading of the gospel. I am grateful to those men and women who choose to use their talents and finances to try to draw people to faith in Christ. This is the very essence of what is expected of us as Christ-followers.
Despite these appreciations for faith-based films, I also have a few concerns. Generally speaking, I don’t think these concerns outweigh the positives, but they are worth considering.
- I am concerned that these Christian films may not present the whole picture of what it means to be a Christian. In an attempt to persuade people of their need for Christ or to normalize Christianity, faith-based films sometimes paint an unrealistically positive picture of what life as a Christian is all about. The reality is that sometimes life is harder for the Christian and sometimes bad things happen and there aren’t always happy endings. I am fearful that we may accidentally pull a spiritual “bait and switch” in which we offer a movie version of faith that doesn’t match with the realities of following Christ on a daily basis.
- I am concerned that Christian films may actually push non-believers further from Christ by creating an adversarial environment. If we depict all Christians as nearly perfect heroes and all unbelievers as evil villains, we quickly create an “us against them” attitude that is counterproductive to our attempts to draw people to Christ.
- I am concerned that faith-based films may cause Christians to relax their discernment because of the label. While most Christian films have a positive message, there are certainly a number of films that have been marketed to a Christian audience that are not indeed truly Christian. Be careful to use godly wisdom in regard to what you believe, even if what you are hearing or viewing has been labeled “Christian.”
Ultimately, despite my concerns, I am grateful for the variety of Christian entertainment that is so easily accessible. Indeed, I am encouraged by the very idea behind faith-based movies – Christ can redeem anything, even film entertainment, and use it for good. So much of today’s entertainment, media and art is at best worthless and at worst a tool for evil; but we don’t have to abandon it altogether. God is in the business of redemption, and he can take a medium that has promoted evil and use it to spread his message.
Not only should we not abandon the entertainment industry, I believe we should pursue it aggressively. It is good for Christians to be involved in entertainment. God is a creative God and has given us His creative nature, so we should use that for His glory in every way imaginable – including arts and entertainment. I am hopeful that as more and more Christians recognize film and entertainment as a legitimate means of ministry and education that we will see increased quality and depth to the point that we might see the manifestation of the ideals that drive these movies. In the meantime, I will continue to support those who are attempting to use film in a positive way. Even if they aren’t perfect, we should applaud anyone who makes an effort to faithfully use their gifts to bring God glory.