American Gospel: Christ Alone, Film Review
In the U.S. there has arisen a particularly virulent form of false teaching—a gospel which promises cash and comfort to Christ’s followers, and in so doing bilks the poor, the needy, and the ill.
One of the great blessings to the church recently has been the emergence of quality Christian documentary filmmaking. We’ve been blessed by the fruits of the creative labors of folks like Media Gratiae and Stephen McCaskell. The work of Brandon Kimber and his Transition Studios adds to that growing library of excellent films which are educational, entertaining,... Continue Reading
What the Gospel Co-Allies Could Learn from Non-Christian Movies
If everything has to have Christian significance, you are going to miss a lot of life.
A basic problem is an inability to regard non-Christians as confronting real life situations that believers also face, or portraying Christians as people with similar problems to non-Christians — juggling multiple loyalties, avoiding temptation, maintaining integrity, or even looking up to people without faith for insights into the human condition. Is it possible, for instance,... Continue Reading
Mary Poppins Returns: Echoes of the Gospel?
Mary Poppins Returns has so many (unwitting?) allusions to Scripture, an entire book could be written on it.
As Emily Blunt tells us as the “new” Mary Poppins, “Everything is possible, even the impossible.” Blunt captures the regal looks, facial expressions, voice, and mannerisms of Andrews in a remarkable fashion. But, the strength of this visual masterpiece is not the impeccable acting, whimsical music, nor the outstanding cinematography and CGI. It is the... Continue Reading
American Gospel is an excellent film to watch individually or as a family.
The great strength of the film is that it’s not only a negative examination of the Word of Faith movement, but also a very positive and helpful examination of biblical truth. Those who watch it will not only be convinced that the prosperity gospel is evil, but they will also know exactly why it is... Continue Reading
D’Souza and the “Death of a Nation” Documentary
Dinesh D’Souza has produced another provocative political documentary that targets the Democratic Party as the source of all evil; however the real battle in America is not political but spiritual.
As a theologian, what concerns me about the documentary is that most everything in the documentary appears to be viewed through the spectacles of pure politics. As one of my friends said to me after viewing the documentary, the real battle in America is not a political battle, but rather a spiritual battle. After seeing... Continue Reading
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” A Review of the Mr. Rogers Documentary
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” tells the dual stories of the long-lived TV show (1968-2001) and of Fred Rogers (1928-2003) himself.
Like many in the cinema where I saw “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” I had some tears in my eyes. I was deeply moved by how beautiful and powerful a loving heart can be. As I left the cinema, I almost felt a sense of culture shock. At a time when Hollywood relies on over-the-top... Continue Reading
Movie Review: ‘How Jack Became Black’ Questions Progressive Racial Politics
This must see doc examines the hot button issue sans the vitriol we've come to expect from first-person essays.
“How Jack Became Black” doesn’t sugarcoat the nation’s racist past. Early segments detail just how pernicious racism was in our nation. A segment on Louis Armstrong, who created an inoffensive persona to avoid his era’s racism, is captured by a framed portrait missing his signature grin. Steele even uses his own family’s bigotry to hammer... Continue Reading
‘First Reformed’ Imagines a Stunning Dark Night of the Soul
At long last, Paul Schrader’s cinematic masterpiece.
Perhaps more than a few Christians were heartened as much by Schrader’s path to success as by the early films to which he contributed. Part of Schrader’s legend was his strict Calvinist upbringing—it is said that his parents did not allow him to watch movies until he was 18. A graduate of Calvin College, his... Continue Reading
The Gospel of Inclusion
This American Life is debuting a movie on Netflix called Come Sunday, which covers the life of Pentecostal Carlton Pearson, his rise to fame, and sudden downfall.
In reruns of an older podcast called Heretics, Ira Glass describes Pearson as a “rising evangelical megastar” that “at the height of his popularity, became involved in a scandal: He didn’t have an affair, he didn’t embezzle money, he didn’t admit an addiction to prescription painkillers—no, no, none of that. He stopped believing in hell.”... Continue Reading
Heretic,’ and the Sad Stories of ‘Rebel’ Pastors
Two newly released films flip the usual script, pitching the “I was once a megachurch pastor” narrative as a renegade hero’s journey.
These films pitch their protagonists—Pearson and Bell—as brave rebels who challenged a rigid, bigoted, staid religious establishment in radical and costly ways. But if that’s the case, why are these films so tedious and flat? Perhaps it’s because the supposedly groundbreaking “rethinking” these men advocate is nothing new—just boring old heresy in modern new clothes.... Continue Reading