The Problem with Christian Films

Over at ZekeFilm, Andrew Barber has written a critique of the Christian film industry, which has exploded in popularity over the past year. Christian-themed movies are being churned out at unprecedented levels, but unfortunately, quantity is no substitute for quality. Every recent major Christian film has been shredded on movie critic sites such as Rotten Tomatoes. Is this confirmation of persecution at the hands of unbelievers? Or is there a simpler explanation—maybe we’re really just making bad films?

I say “we” because, for better or worse, these Christian films—such as God’s Not Dead or Persecuted—reflect on all Christians. Whether we like it or not, as a result of these movies, we all get lumped together in the same pop evangelical, politically right-wing, quasi-prosperity gospel bucket.

Andrew puts forward two major criticisms of Christian films, both of which I think hit the nail on the head. First, Christian films are inherently dishonest. By this, Andrew means that these films often employ bait-and-switch tactics with their unbelieving audiences, effectively turning the climax of the film into an altar call. Second, these films generally engage in what C.S. Lewis has called “egoistic castle-building.” In other words, they only serve to reinforce our positive self-image. But in so doing, they lose authenticity.

About Kyle Dillon

A teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), assistant pastor of theological instruction at Riveroaks Reformed Presbyterian Church, and theology/languages teacher at Westminster Academy in Memphis, Tennessee.

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