“The world does not need more Christian literature. What it needs is more Christians writing good literature.” – C.S. Lewis
Lewis’s quip to the over-enthusiastic woman who suggested that the world could use some more “Christian” cowbell should be paraphrased, printed, and dropped from C-130’s in all 50 states so that we can be sure that the next frustrated youth pastor with a camcorder doesn’t quit his day job. At least until he’s read Lewis Sperry Chafer’s Systematic Theology. (All eight volumes.)
Look, I sit patiently when the seven-year-old girl with the squeaky violin butchers What Child Is This at the Christmas gala. I’ll even clap afterwards because she’s a kid, it’s worship, she’s not charging me $9.75, and she doesn’t water board me for two long hours with enough sermon-speak and cheesy clichés to make ritual seppuku seem like the reasonable response. Oh, and she doesn’t advertise it as “The best Christian violin solo of all time.”
That’s right, War Room is now asking the question in advertisements – “Is War Room the Best Christian Movie Ever?” After the last couple of “Christian movies” made by the sappy evangelical wing of Sony movies, I’m ready to leave the whole “Christian movie” thing to the sozzled chain-smoking Catholic with the Russian girlfriend that secretly records their breakups.
I know I risk offending my brothers and sisters for pointing this out, but let’s be real, slapping a Christian label on something is all that it takes for most of the brethren to stand up and cheer. And if you “mean well” to boot, we’ll gladly part with a few shekels to offer support and encouragement. But isn’t that what gave us the Duggars?
Spoiler Alert: If you don’t want to spend the money on this movie and subsidize more of the same, then I can sum up the movie for you in one phrase – Jesus can be your life coach.
All you have to do is throw the devil out of your house, (because he is actually there, which I didn’t know – I thought he’d be about the bigger things going on but I was wrong – he was in a suburban house in Atlanta trying to ruin a marriage. This is now, apparently, the prime motive for the Angelic Conflict).
Folks, the devil is not omnipresent – he wanders to and fro. And when you grant him the attributes of God, you commit soft blasphemy. So if he’s hiding in your basement to ruin your marriage, he’s not in Washington D.C., Moscow, Tehran, or NBC studios.
Trust me on this one, most people screw up their own marriages and the devil never even has you on his radar. Like those wannabe disciples in the Book of Acts who the demons slapped down – “Jesus I know and Paul I’m acquainted with, but who the heck are you?” – (Kirkwood paraphrase).
I’m pretty confident that our own sin natures are enough to screw up our marriages. Deal with the devil inside before you stage a pretend exorcism in your living room. Prayer can actually help you with that.
Anyway, once you throw the devil out of your house, you can solicit the power of God to fight for you. This will manifest itself in truly mysterious ways, like telling a mugger to “go away, in Jesus name!” And of course, the knife-wielding crack head travels hence.
So a prayer life is kind of like that Jedi mind trick, you know, “You don’t want to sell death sticks, you want to go home and rethink your life.” “You don’t want to take our money, you want to go home and contemplate Jeeezus.” Try that in Humboldt Park and you’ll be a grease stain surrounded by a chalk outline and I’ll be praying over what’s left of you at your memorial service.
As a man of the cloth, I am a strong believer in prayer but when I’m walking through a parking lot in Chicago I rely on the Holy Spirit and Smith & Wesson.
But now to the best part – If your husband is stepping out on you, and you plan the timing of your prayer just right, God will give him a stomach ache so he can’t close the deal with the business bunny who wants to take him back to her pad for a bit of crumpet. I guess the Duggars didn’t have a War Room. Too soon?
John Mark N. Reynolds writes in his review Genie Jesus and the War Room Problem:
“This is a bad film. It is a film that might cause some women to stay longer in an abusive relationship. It is a film with a bad view of prayer. I don’t dislike it because it is simple, but because it is simply unreal. We often pray and things go badly . . . not because God is not listening, but because God is bringing what is best for us in an eternal perspective in the constraints of a free will universe. The martyrs of Syria, Iraq, and Iran cry out against this facile film making. The martyrs of the Soviet Union cry: “How long Lord!” Meanwhile, the American multiplex spits on their suffering by pretending, somehow, they did not pray hard enough or in the right way. After many films, these filmmakers are still presenting Genie Jesus and not the Jesus of the Cross, the martyrs, and the real world.”
There is power in prayer and prayer with Biblical discernment can swing open the doors of confusion and tear down strongholds of doubt, but it is utterly contrary to the testimony of Scripture to suggest that it will cause a reluctant God to stir from his lazy chair and give you the keys to the Escalade, heal your mother-in-law’s gout, raise your daughter’s hamster from the grave, ward off violent criminals, and send your scoundrel of a husband a tactical tummy ache when he’s about to go hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Prayer is worship, not witchcraft. God is our Father, not our butler. The Kendrick brothers may mean well, but that’s not an alibi for a gospel that ignores the cross and turns Scripture into a sanctified Aesop’s fable. It is high superstition to believe that the proper incantation uttered at the proper time under the right circumstances will release the divine genie from the bottle to grant you your wish. – “Not thy will, but mine be done!”
So when you hear things like “Plug into the power of prayer,” or “Prayer is the key to unlock all doors,” you are hearing the mumblings of a warlock who is invoking a Djinn, and you are reducing God to the level of a rabbit’s foot.
War Room, the best Christian movie ever? Child, Please! As for me and my house, we’ll stick to the top grossing R-rated movie of all time – The Passion of The Christ.
If however, you believe that God sent His Son to die to be your marriage counselor, personal trainer, financial advisor and life-coach; and you believe that prayer can turn Padawan into Jedi master and stir the power of the force, then this movie is for you.
And may the farce be with you!