Why do we enjoy movies?
Simply stated: Movies allow us to escape.
But it’s more than that. Movies take us places we’ve never been, experience cultures and lifestyles different from our own. They move us to tears, make us stand up and cheer— they educate, move, and inspire.
Through a screen, movies offer us a “window” to a broader world while expanding our perspective.
C.S. Lewis writes in An Experiment in Criticism, we “seek an enlargement of our being. We want to be more than ourselves. Each of us by nature sees the whole world from one point of view with a perspective and a selectiveness peculiar to himself. … We want to see with other eyes, to imagine with other imaginations, to feel with other hearts, as well as with our own. … We demand windows.”
What about Faith-based Movies?
I’m going to be honest. I have supported Christian/faith-based movies for years even though with many of the films, I found myself cringing. Why? Most of them weren’t good. Gasp! Yes, I said it. Please don’t hate me. Frankly, I found them poorly written, produced and acted—each one with what I call a pick-a-plot— and lastly, just plain corny.
And yet, I still supported Christian films because of the underlying message of the Gospel.
Fast forward some years later (I was still supporting the films all along), the visual quality and caliber of talent on both sides of the camera began to dramatically improve. However, I still noticed the characters didn’t feel authentic. The people in the films didn’t behave like anyone from my church or life. They were more like caricatures of Christians. And Lord knows, we don’t need more of that!
Come on. The truth is, life is messy and complicated.
The sick person doesn’t always get better, the atheist doesn’t always give his heart to Jesus, the non-Christian is sometimes the “good guy,” and the Christian doesn’t always say and do the right thing or have all the answers.
Have you read the Bible? King David was an adulterous murderer, Rahab was a prostitute, Moses feared public speaking, Jonah was judgmental, Samson was prideful, Paul murdered the first Christians, and the list goes on.
The Bible is the bestselling book of all time for a reason. Theology is abundant with depth and imagination. With such great material to work with, Christian movies, in turn, should be deep, imaginative works of art that make us think and inspire. There should be complicated characters that wrestle with life’s biggest questions and struggles: why are we here? What happens when we die? What is my purpose? Christian films should be “windows.”
Our world craves authenticity. Another word for that is TRUTH. And our culture has had enough of Christian (albeit well-meaning) platitudes.
Despite it all, I continue to support Christian movies. I cannot help myself. I still love the inspiration of the gospel message when it’s put into a film. I’m just humbly saying I think we can do better. And you know what? Faith-based films have come a long way and I couldn’t be more pleased. Do I think they can still improve? Well, of course. After all, my own craft of writing is a work in progress. But I will continue to support Christian films and I think you should, too.
Why is it important to support Christian movies?
1. Plain and simple: Their message points to Jesus.
When all is said and done, nothing is more important than knowing Jesus. We all share the same fate of death, to which there is only one remedy: Jesus Christ.
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” ~Jesus Christ (John 14:6)
2. When we buy tickets, DVDs, and subscriptions—we are voting.
If we want to see more “clean” and faith-based films, then it requires faithfulness and a willingness to spend our time and money.
Here is an example. Have you heard of the 2016 movie Silence directed by Martin Scorses starring Liam Neeson? My bet is you have not. I hadn’t until recently. This was a film telling the story of two Jesuit priests as they travel to seventeenth-century Japan, a time when the country was growing increasingly hostile towards Christians. The priests are tormented by questions of doubt, forgiveness, and God’s continued silence as they watched their brothers and sisters lay down their lives for their faith.
Reviews called Silence “a monumental work of cinematic genius.” And yet, despite all the hard work and accolades, Silence was a box office flop.
3. Visual stimuli dominate our modern society.
Movies capture and explore the world in ways no other medium can.
When I had the honor of interviewing the writers/producers of the blockbuster faith-based film “Unplanned,” Carry Solomon said something that I believe is true, “There is power in film. We believe if the Apostle Paul was alive today, he wouldn’t go around door-to-door with the Gospel message. He would make a movie.”
World-renowned apologist, Ravi Zacharias says, “People today learn by the eye gate rather than the thought gate.” Zacharias continues, “How do we reach a generation that listens through its’ eyes and thinks with its’ feelings?”
One powerful way to reach the world with the Gospel message is through movies.
If you are already supporting Christian films, I urge you to continue and encourage others. If you have not, I hope you will consider it now.
Resources and Suggestions
PureFlix.com is a streaming-video-on-demand service (like Netflix or Hulu, etc.) that allows you to watch your favorite faith media. They offer family-friendly movies without language, violence, and sexual surprises. Pure Flix also provides TV shows and documentaries. And they even have a nostalgic “classic” movie guide 🙂
VidAngel is an American video streaming company that allows the viewer to skip distasteful content such as language, nudity, sexual situations, and graphic violence. The service also provides movies and TV shows to customers in a personalized and inexpensive format.
VidAngel states they do not claim to be a moral authority. Their streaming service simply “allows individuals, in the privacy of their homes, the personal freedom to watch that content in the way they choose. That right is protected by law.”
A few films to look for: Silence (on my list), The Case for Christ, I Can Only Imagine, The Least of These, Run the Race, Breakthrough, War Room, Unplanned (available on DVD in August), and A Heart that Forgives.
Available through VidAngel: The Chosen series. This looks AMAZING and I’ve heard great reviews on The Chosen.
Up and coming films to look for in theaters: Overcomer (releases in August), Finding Grace (releases December).
♦I’d love to hear your thoughts and “clean” film suggestions in the comments.