I rarely watch Christian films. They are too poorly made. This is not true of Hollywood. In the Christian film industry, however, poor quality is an epidemic. One exception is Sherwood Pictures, which produced Flywheel (2003), Facing the Giants (2006), Fireproof (2009), and Courageous (2011). Another is Pure Flix Entertainment. After some poor-quality flops, this company finally produced Finding Normal (2013) and God’s Not Dead (2014). The latter is one of my favorite Christian films.
At least the pro-life movement is not suffering from this plague. Crescendo (2011), Gimme Shelter (2014), and October Baby (2012) are precious jewels in a swamp. Films made from Christian fiction are rarely afflicted either. Michael Landon Jr.’s The Last Sin Eater (2007), Love Comes Softly (2003), Saving Sarah Cain (2007), The Shunning (2011), and When Calls the Heart (2013) are well made. However, Beverly Lewis, Janette Oke, and Francine Rivers are not the only Christian novelists on the shelves. Filmmakers should create scripts from the works of other worthy writers. Lynn Austin, Sharon Ewell Foster, Tricia Goyer, Julie Klassen, Elizabeth Musser, and Bodie Thoene are some suggestions.
Still, I wish the creation movement had such films to its credit. The unbelieving world produced Creation (2009) and The Ledge (2011) to preach its atheistic gospel of evolution. Have believers produced anything of this quality? No. The creation film Gramps Goes to College (2014) is the latest Christian disaster. The script is mediocre, the quality poor.
Except for Amazing Love: The Story of Hosea (2012), Bible-based films are little better. For example, I have yet to see a Christian film about Ruth or Esther that is both accurate in content and high in production quality. The Book of Ruth (2009) and One Night with the King (2006) are the worst. Although Roma Downey’s The Bible (2013) and Son of God (2014) were well made, they proclaim a heretical gospel and are filled with New Age influences. Unbelieving Hollywood has produced the best quality films. The Bible: In the Beginning (1966), Jesus of Nazareth (1977), and The Nativity Story (2006) are my favorites. So it angers me that the Christian community has stood behind Downey’s unbiblical films.
“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the Word of their testimony.” – Revelation 12:11 (NKJV)
Between AD 70 and the Reformation, the Christian film industry is mostly silent. I also have yet to see a film about the Anabaptists or John Calvin, so films like Polycarp (2015) are filling a gap. The same is true for post-Reformation history: the Great Awakenings (minus John Wesley), the modern missionary movement (minus William Carey), etc. Even Albert Schweitzer (2009) and Amazing Grace (2006), an award-winning film about William Wilberforce and the slave trade, were made by Hollywood. No one is telling the stories of Annie Armstrong, Amy Carmichael, David Livingstone, D. L. Moody, Ida Scudder, Mary Slessor, Charles Spurgeon, or the Cambridge Seven either. If not us, who? If not now, when? I wish more Christian filmmakers would turn to history!
Films are the new literature. If we do not tell these stories on film, then they will be lost forever. Therefore, we need to reclaim Christian history for this generation.