Last night, my wife and I did something we rarely do — we went to a movie on opening night.  The theater was packed.  In fact, the 7:00pm show was sold out at 6:30, so we had to wait for the 7:45 show.  That wasn’t too bad.  The theater was open and we had a nice quiet wait.  That is until groups of people started coming in waves.  It filled up fast.

I won’t give away any of the plot or the events of the movie.  And I’m not a movie reviewer, so take all my comments with a grain of salt and feel free to disagree.  But, as a pastor and a Christian and as one who is concerned with how we communicate our message to the world, I had several impressions that left me conflicted.

Here we go:
1.  It was a great Christian feel-good movie.  And sometimes we Christians just need to feel good about our faith.  Throughout the movie you knew who the evangelical believers in the audience were, with cheering, comments and laughs throughout.  But, I have to tell you, that if I was an unbeliever, I would have felt outnumbered and a bit disrespected.

2.  I think younger Christians would be encouraged that faith in Christ is reasonable.  That might help some of our teenagers and young adults stand a little stronger on their school campuses.  My hope would be that maybe this movie will be a motivation for many more Christians to study the reasonableness of our faith in light of a growing, loud, hostile agnostic and atheistic minority.

3.  The movie has too many storylines.  It doesn’t develop the characters deeply enough and I think misses opportunities to show that faith helps us really wrestle with the events and meaning of life.  It hints at this, but has a bit of a “Sunday-School” ending.  You know, an ending that is a bit preachy, cute and simplistic.

4.  I thought the presentation of the gospel was not clear for the uninitiated.  If you don’t know the gospel, you won’t really hear it here.  You will hear “accept Jesus.”  And we know that there is more to faith than that.  It will hopefully push people to ask questions about Christ, but it won’t offer any complete answers.

5.  Christian humility faded toward the end of the movie.  As we express confidence in our faith, it is easy to dismiss people, their struggles and their arguments.  An argument for the gospel shouldn’t become an argument against the people God loves.  As you watch it, I’d be interested in what you to find.  And maybe you’ll disagree.

6.  Calvinists won’t like the discussion on evil and free will.  This isn’t a real problem for me, but it is heavily biased toward the power of people to choose.

My recommendations:  This is a movie that celebrates faith in Christ.  It may be a benefit to those who just need a little encouragement in their faith.  After the opening weekends and the hoopla is over, it might be good for those who are unsure but open to faith.  I don’t think this movie will serioiusly answer questions for those who are opposed to Christians and Christianity.  In fact, I think it may play into some the common stereotypes that repel current-day agnostics and atheists.

I am prayerful and hopeful that God will use this movie in the lives of people.  It may be one more step or encouragement on the path of faith.  But it is important to remember that our best evangelistic tool continues to be a believer who has been changed through the power of Christ.  A believer who is growing in his/her faith, living in love and openness has the opportunity to display and discuss faith in Christ every day.

Should you see it? Definitely. It is better than most of the stuff we fill our minds and hearts with at the movie theater. And hopefully you will leave feeling a little more like serving our Savior and King.

I would love to read your comments!