For hundreds of years, Christianity and its followers in the church were heavy influences upon art and the subculture that came with it. Many of the classical paintings that people still admire today, like Raphael and Da Vinci’s takes on Mary the Virgin, for example, show how God and faith impacted art and was commonplace and respected. However, a time came when the church turned away from contemporary art and the multiple, different forms and mediums it ended up branching into. For some people, that’s changed with things like Christian filmmaking (with products such as God’s Not Dead 1 & 2, To Save a Life, Risen and so on). Yet, the more I look at it, the more I see incredible differences.
These movies have suffered ridicule from almost every outlet that’s given them the time of day. For some, that’s just people who “don’t understand the faith,” but it really should be more alarming for a believer than we’re making it out to be. For example, when you look at the art that came from the generations before us, you can see struggle, pain and questioning from the artist, as well as the beauty and skill that has made the piece so timeless. This is the case because the people and stories of the Bible were just considered human stories — they belonged to humanity in its whole, not to Christians alone.
Many of these artists were bringing the stories to life and showing the story through the work, not presuming you knew it already and letting the church decide the message for them. Everyone has struggles and may have questions that they need to search for with their faith, and that’s something that I think the religion portrayed in today’s films isn’t giving you the chance to do.
Christian films are seen in a similar way today like horror films are — profiting off of a low-budget production that guarantees viewers to come out. We’ve let these films waste an opportunity to ask questions about ourselves, and have made Christian viewers lazy. We’re not being challenged by these films. We should be trying to confront ourselves in our faith to strengthen it and learn why we believe as we do, looking for answers and being willing to step out of our bubble. Instead, these films serve as safety nets — they just reinforce what we believe and make us feel good about the shallow message of the movie. We don’t need to be reinforced on shallow lessons learned in less than five minutes. We should write stories that relate to the struggles and obstacles that we’ve all dealt with in our faith, ones that people pretend don’t exist.
The story isn’t some run-of-the-mill, happy ending for us, and our lives don’t end after a credit roll. Make sure to accept challenges and questions and learn from them. Don’t push them away and take solace in these potentially damaging films.