Six Reasons Why Some Critics of Christian Movies are Wrong

Christian movie

Over at the The Gospel Coalition, Andrew Barber just penned a screed against Christian films, calling them “inherently dishonest” and concerned with “egoistic castle-building.”

Why are Christian films inherently dishonest? Because they tend to contain conversion narratives (yes, that’s his argument). He calls this a “bait and switch,” where Christians purport to present art but are instead scenes “more akin to interventions than film making.”

Why are Christian films exercises in “egoistic castle-building?” Because they are “evangelical fantasies” that tell apparently unrealistic stories like a college freshman besting a “learned” college professor in debate.

I find Barber’s piece singularly unconvincing. It is, however, fairly representative of other critiques of the new wave of Christian films — including this gem from a guy who panned the movie God’s Not Dead because it didn’t square with his experience at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where there are apparently “rock stars” in the philosophy department. (I’m confused. Does his experience mean that contrary experiences aren’t valid?)

Look, I get that there are people who don’t like God’s Not Dead or other Christian films and just don’t like the movies. Maybe the movies feel too preachy to them. Or maybe they don’t like the script or the performances. But ascribing moral defects to the filmmakers? That’s a bit much.

First, creating good art is hard. Barber displays zero appreciation for that rather salient fact. Many of these Christian films are being made with folks who are relative rookies in the movie world, without the benefit of the vast experience and talent of Hollywood. And because creating good art is hard, I always appreciate a bit of humility in critics and rarely find truly acerbic reviews to be amusing or interesting. I don’t mind being acerbic about vile messages, but the quality of the art? If it’s so easy, go create some yourself.

Second, calling Christian movies dishonest is . . . strange. Did any sentient person walk into God’s Not Dead and think, “Whoa! I thought this was an art house flick about debating Nietzche! WTF!?!” Of course not. The movie was marketed as a Christian film, by Christians, largely to Christians.

Third, I highly doubt that that critics like this have uniformly reviewed lefty “message films” in such a scornful manner. Are those kinds of films dishonest? Again, of course not. There is nothing dishonest about making a movie that advances your most dearly-held beliefs. “Message films” have a long history in the movie business. Some are good. Some are bad. In fact, there are Christian filmmakers who would feel dishonest if they didn’t include a gospel message.

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SOURCE: Patheos – David French