We live in a world of entertainment for all ages. Some of it is good, and the rest — well — not so much. We would think that “Christian” movies are about as good as it gets. But some have raised the idea that we might be doing more harm than good by letting children watch Christian films. Being one of the self-proclaimed top apologetic voices of the Christian movie industry, we could not resist weighing in 🙂
It All Started With a Catalyst
It all started while I was reading a blog post recently written by Benjamin Corey where he essentially makes the point that it is not advisable for children to watch “Christian” movies. One of the ideas that Benjamin proposes is that whoever makes, produces, and stars in a Christian movie ultimately has an agenda which leads them to press their theology, or to compromise their theology. So we should not simply accept movies that are labeled “Christian.” And this is a defendable point. (Of course of I’m oversimplifying so I can make my own point, check out Benjamin’s full blog post for the details). However, as I was thinking about it, I saw additional angles to consider.
Flawless – An Unrealistic Expectation
When someone is making a creative fiction Christian movie, they nearly always draw from their own beliefs, experiences, and views to develop the plot. And there is nothing wrong with this, when you are creating a story you are limited to what you understand. However bias is going to be introduced by osmosis. No one has perfect theology, so the movie is going to reflect their errors. But you could say the same thing about every church, book, and Christian leader on the PLANET. If you decide Christian movies are a bad influence in general then you must also conclude that churches, theology books, and pastors are a bad influence as well. (For the record, I’m a big fan of all three!)
Are there bad Christian movies? Most definitely. Are there really bad Christian movies that I would never watch myself or let anyone I know watch? Oh yea. And there are also bad churches, books, and leaders. But that does not mean you abandon them all. If God will give wisdom and discernment for selecting a Church and leadership then He will give insight to filter movies also. And I think Benjamin Corey would agree with me in saying that we definitely do need to filter these movies, I mean the ideas range from inspired to invented. It is just wise to get in the habit of reading the movie review, watching the trailer, and then praying for at least 8 seconds.
Truth – Aka ‘The Real Thing’
However the whole idea changes when we shift from creative fiction movies, to true story movies. A true story Christian movie in its purest form does not interject theology and ideas, it tells the story of what God has done (whether we clearly understand and can theologically quantify it or not). Sure, there is a human factor involved which can introduce error, but the core is grounded in truth.
What really happens is not always pretty, clear cut, or a theological case study. But it is the truth. I don’t know about you but I do not know of one person’s life that was a perfect theological case study. We need to be exposed to more truth, to more of the things that God has done. It is important for children and adults to mindfully watch true story movies and to hear people talk about true stories.
God is truth, and the simplified Bible definition of truth is “reality” or “the way it really is.” We need to be more reality-minded, and a great way that happens is when we observe reality, particularly reality that does not perfectly fit within our theological box. That does not mean we just buy into whatever is filmed, but we seek out the truth in it (even if it stretches us some).
Do We Need Lines Drawn in the Sand?
I like creative fiction Christian movies for the most part; I watch them for entertainment in place of a lot of the dark and spiritually dead movies that are saturating our culture. But when it comes to true story movies, for me those are the cream of the crop. They are not just for entertainment value, but there is spiritual life in them. Especially the ones that are well done and true to actual events.
Of all the cartoons, fairy tales, mythical worlds, and imaginative characters out there, is it not of infinitely more value to fill our children’s minds and thoughts with testimonies of God’s hand in action? Isn’t this just as important for adults as well?
Keep Your Eye Full of Light
We become what we behold. It is a spiritual principle. And I would much rather have me and my house behold the truth of God’s work (even if it is contaminated by imperfect humans) than fill our eyes and hearts with works that do not acknowledge or honor God.
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