The Son of God’s Not Dead: The Gospel in Film

150px-Pictograms-nps-services-theater-2.svgIf you like Christian/Bible themed movies you are in for a good year.  If the story of an Australian gladiator and his ninja-like family building a giant cruise-liner to survive the world-wide catastrophe brought on by man-made climate change is not your cup of Joe, there’s always the new Ridley Scott film where Batman leads a host of Aliens out of Egypt.  Or something like that.

For those who get excited about evangelifilms (a term I have personally coined to describe movies geared toward sharing the faith – ok, I may not have actually coined it, but I’ve never heard it before so I’m going to let myself think I did), there’s the upcoming God’s Not Dead, as well as this week’s The Son of God.

Opinions on the quality/accuracy/technique of these films varies. Both films have their supporters and detractors.  Opinions on using these films as evangelistic tools range from the robustly optimistic (Think: The Passion of the Christ is going to bring about the next Pentecost) to acerbically critical (Think: The Passion of the Christ is a heretical, bigoted, Mel Gibson-ego-driven disaster that is the worst thing to ever happen in the history of Christianity).

Occasionally someone asks my opinion of a particular film.  I’ve become hesitant to endorse anything anymore (except my wife’s cooking and it’s AWESOME!) so I’d like to just offer a few general thoughts about “evangelifilms.”

1. Practice discernment.

Don’t promote any film (book/website/etc.) that you know little to nothing about.  Just because it claims to be Christian/Bible/good doesn’t mean it is.  Conversely, don’t bash a film that you know little to nothing about.  Just because it’s a film doesn’t mean it’s evil.  When you do watch it, engage your critical thinking skills in order to have a discerning evaluation of it.

2. Know your expectations.

You should have expectations but avoid undue expectations.  If you are looking for a super-accurate theological masterpiece you’ll likely be disappointed by any film. So don’t look for perfection or 100% agreement. Know what you expect the film to be before you watch it.

Also, don’t solely rely on the film as witnessing tool.  Some seem to think if they can just get their unbelieving friend into the theater they will be magically converted.  That’s expecting too much.  No evangelistic means is the “silver bullet” that will do it all.  Don’t expect it.

3. Talk about the Gospel

If you watch an evangelifilm with a friend, let it be a springboard to a conversation about the Gospel.  Be prepared to talk further. Even if you disagree with something in the film, it can become the catalyst for sharing the Gospel more accurately or fully.  Films can be effective tools in planting a seed, but it needs to be watered and cultivated.   And seriously, don’t wait for a movie to come out to talk with your friends and family about the Gospel.   Let the film be one step in the ongoing process.

Most of all, always remember that your Christ-like love is the most powerful apologetic.  Your life of grace will be the strongest witnessing tool you have.  No film can replicate that!

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2 thoughts on “The Son of God’s Not Dead: The Gospel in Film

  1. I agree with what Tim Challie said on his blog in a post titled “Writing Checks to Mel Gibson” [http://www.challies.com/articles/writing-checks-to-mel-gibson]. Here is a clip from it that speaks about the evangelistic impact of The Passion movie.

    “In the film’s aftermath George Barna got to work and found that the results we saw were far more typical than what Warren reported. “Among the most startling outcomes is the apparent absence of a direct evangelistic impact by the movie. Less than one-tenth of one percent of those who saw the film stated that they made a profession of faith or accepted Jesus Christ as their savior in reaction to the film’s content.” Either The Passion was not actually a great opportunity for evangelism, or most churches botched it.”

    • Excellent article from Challies. I’m not out to bash these movies, but we have to be realistic in what we expect them to be and accomplish.

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