Tag Archives: faith-based films

Persecution of Christians

My family and I watched God’s Not Dead II last Saturday, and everyone agreed it was a quality movie. The focus of the movie is the pressure, or persecution, being applied to Christians living their faith in public. Such a premise is timely considering the numerous cases reported in the news of public displays of religion being challenged through the legal system. Still, much of the world sees what the Christian community is complaining about as nothing but whining. For instance, I recently stumbled across this quote, attributed to Jon Stewart:

Yes, the long war on Christianity. I pray that one day we may live in an America where Christians can worship freely! In broad daylight! Openly wearing the symbols of their religion… perhaps around their necks? And maybe — dare I dream it? — maybe one day there can be an openly Christian President. Or, perhaps, 43 of them. Consecutively.*

So, in the eyes of Stewart, Christians are simply imagining things. But, it is not just Jon Stewart who feels this way. Many people believe that the Christian community is just crying over little issues and, essentially, making mountains out of mole hills. Even worse, is the fact that there are many Christians who feel this way.

My question, however, is: How long are we to wait before acknowledging the changing tides? Sure, what we are presently seeing is more along the lines of “pressure” than “persecution.” But, after a while, this simply turns into a game of semantics. Belittling the idea of persecution now, on an individual and small-scale level, will allow the ease of transition into more widespread, governmental persecution. We must always remember that Russia was once a staunchly Christian nation that underwent a radical change in a very short period of time.

So, should Christians stand up and speak out when we witness the silencing of the Christian witness in our land of freedom? Absolutely! I cannot help but be reminded of “First they came…” the famous poem from Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.**

In much the same way, I wonder how long before the church can easily change the words “Socialists,” “Trade Unionists,” and “Jews,” for things like “Christian business owner,” “Christian politician,” and “Christian educator”?

* http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/1719-yes-the-long-war-on-christianity-i-pray-that-one

** https://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007392




Two Faith Based Movies – Two Very Different Outcomes

I do my best to support Christian films. In the past, this has often been painful though there were exceptions). Anyone who survived watching Noah, knows that its handling of the biblical text was almost as big of a disaster as the actual flood. It was a travesty through and through. Another big release was Exodus: Gods and Kings. Barf. That is all I can say about that one. And, we can’t forget the remake of Left Behind. Yikes! Fortunately, the quality in recent years has improved dramatically. So far, faith-based films in 2016 have included Risen, The Young Messiah, and Miracles From Heaven. While I have not seen Miracles From Heaven, I have seen the other two; which is why I am writing this post.

Risen was a fantastic movie that dealt fairly with the biblical text. The story follows a Roman Tribune who has been tasked with finding Jesus of Nazareth following rumors of his resurrection. While some artistic license is taken to make the story work (there is no Roman Tribune hot on the case in Scripture), the overall film does an excellent job of capturing and telling the story of Jesus’ resurrection. This is a film that I can heartily recommend.  By the way, the actor playing the Roman Tribune also had the lead role in another excellent Christian film, Luther.

The Young Messiah, on the other hand, was a complete dud. Even before going to this movie I was skeptical simply because of the lack of material we have on this part of Jesus’ life. Still, I went with hopes that I would be proven wrong. After all, there were rave reviews for the movie on many Christian websites. Sadly, however, my worst fears proved true. This movie was like watching a bad movie based on the few accounts of Jesus’ childhood that are almost universally regarded as fantastical and having no real value in historical Jesus research. So, as much as I want to encourage people to support Christian films, this is an example of an exception.

The problem is not that there is a lack of Scriptural content for people to work with. Indeed, the exact opposite is the case. The trouble, as far as I can see, is that secular movie companies feel that they must be careful about “endorsing” messages that some viewers will taken offense to. That is why you will probably not see a faith-based film dealing with hot-button moral or social issues coming from a secular movie company. On the flip side, Christian movie companies do not have the deep pockets their secular counterparts have.

Let me add in one more note about content. The Bible is loaded with material that could be made into movies, or even a series – think of the Old Testament historical books. So, why is it that so many Christian movies are fixated on the rapture? I cannot understand this phenomenon. Sure, it makes for an interesting movie. But, come on, there is so much more that can be worked with outside of this one item.

Now, let me say that there have been a number of watch-worthy Christian films through the years. I have always enjoyed the films produced by the Christiano Brothers, and Cloud Ten Pictures, when it was up and running, turned out quality movies. PureFlixPureFlix has made some very high-quality films recently, and will open God’s Not Dead 2 on April 1st.  If you are looking for single website that focuses on Christian movies, then please check out Christian Cinema.   For more on Christian entertainment, please take a look at my earlier post on the topic.