Many are dubbing 2014 the “Year of the Bible.” Within three months, there have been three Christian films released which portray various stories from the Bible that are receiving favorable reviews from audiences and larger than expected box office numbers. This Christian entertainment surge has led me to believe that maybe Christians aren’t as few in numbers as members of the secular left would like us to believe. With today’s Hollywood blockbusters usually consisting of blood, guts, sex, and God knows what else (a la Wolf of Wall Street) it is reassuring to see our faith and its stories coming to life on the big screen with such a large audience reception.
Son of God, the first religious film to be released this year, is an extension of the 2013 History Channel hit miniseries The Bible. The film, however, focuses solely on the life and death of Jesus Christ from the manger to the cross. Since its release on February 28th, the movie has grossed over $56 million and has received mixed reviews from across the spectrum. Sheila O’Malley of rogerebert.com gave the movie 2.5 out of 5 stars, Rotten Tomatoes gave it 1 out of 5 stars, and Michael Medved gave it a 2.5 out of 4 stars. I suppose when reading the ratings and reviews of Christian films, consider the source.
The second film, God’s Not Dead, speaks to Christians in a way they can truly identify within today’s world. The film features cameos from Duck Dynasty’s Willie and Korie Robertson and depicts the story of a Christian college student who refuses to denounce God as mandated by his atheist college professor. Sound familiar? The student is then given the choice to either drop the class or defend his faith in God to his classmates if he wants to pass the class. The film also contains various sub-plots of individuals in different situations that illustrate their faith in God. The film has received both positive and negative reviews, and landed 5th place at box offices nationwide during its opening weekend on March 21st.
While it’s easy to see why Christians would identify with and appreciate a film like this, some movie critics don’t see it that way. A.V. Club’s Todd VanDerWerff gave the film a “D-“ and closed his scathing review by stating the film, “…finds its stakes in the suggestion that the greatest persecution of all isn’t dying for your beliefs, but being forced to accept that other people might believe something different.” Wow Todd, I hope you didn’t burst a vein trying to come up with that one.
Newsflash to the secular left, this movie reaches out to Christians because we know firsthand what it is like to have our faith questioned, belittled, and dismissed all the while being expected, even forced, to respect and acknowledge other “faiths”. We are humiliated, called bigots and racists, yet all our faith asks of us is to love God and others. No suicide bombers or child brides over here, but you might be able to find them over at the “religion of peace”…
The third film, Noah, hits theaters Friday, March 28th and has already received both acclaimed reviews and criticism from audiences. The film, as its name reveals, is the story of Noah, a man chosen by God to build an arc and save each species of animal from an apocalyptical flood resulting from human sin. Boasting a larger than life budget and star studded cast including Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connolly, and Emma Watson, the film has been acclaimed for its special effects and portrayal of the story—which is ironically the same reason it has been criticized.
Many who have seen the film have said that one of the shortcomings of the film was the “creative interpretation” of the film. Because the story of Noah and the Arc is so brief in the Bible, the creators of the film were left to produce a film that could both tell the story and be entertaining to audiences. Karen Covell, Founding Director of Hollywood Prayer Network, was quoted in a recent Huffington Post article as referring to the film as “a wonderful story and still points us to major truths of God, the consequences of sin, a fallen mankind, divine justice and divine mercy.” Amen, sister.
Despite our society’s need to filter and suppress religion (i.e. Christianity), I believe the number of Christians in America greatly exceeds what the secular left is willing to admit. With being forced to be free from religion and not freedom of religion, these films allow us Christians to see the stories that we’ve read about come to life. Their success and reception has not only proven Christianity in numbers, but also that Christians are looking for real hope through their faith and this is one way for them to do it. By telling these stories on the silver screen, filmmakers have given Hollywood and their leftist agenda a backseat and created a piece of art that truly has substance. Like it or not, we are living in trying times and Christians today are seeking a hope that only God, our creator, can provide. These films remind us of God’s promises, miracles, and blessings.