“The Debate Begins September 26” is the tagline for A Matter of Faith, the newest faith-based film from Christian producer Rich Christiano (Time Changer, The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry). Debate is an appropriate word to describe A Matter of Faith. Not only does the idea of debate encompass the main premise of the film—a college freshman torn between six-day creationism and evolution—but also the controversy Faith is already generating.

Placing aside the issue of whether evolution and Christianity can coexist (an entire subject in itself), the film’s trailer presents a number of problems, one of which is the exaltation of triumphalism at the expense of evangelism.

In a recent blog post, Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis writes: “Atheists and compromising Christians are going to hate A Matter of Faith!” While yet to see the movie personally, Ham writes that a staff member at Answers in Genesis served as a consultant for the film. Later, Ham seems to contradict himself. “This is a movie you can take friends and family to—and rest assured that both the message of the film, and the conversations that will follow, will turn minds and hearts directly to the gospel!”

So who is Faith’s intended audience? Christians, or friends and family members who are not Christians? What if they are atheists?

Ham’s statements seem to highlight the predicament facing numerous faith-based movies today. Many are released with a stated purpose of evangelism—Christiano himself said about his prior release Time Changer, “We have learned how to present truth so that it will not be a turnoff.” Yet Christians seem to be the only ones enjoying “Christian” films.

While we acknowledge that the gospel is offensive to some, at what point do we distinguish between the gospel and our personal agenda? In his book Tactics, Gregory Koukl writes that the goal of a religious debate shouldn’t be to conquer one’s opponent. Koukle instead argues for what he calls the “stone in the shoe” method. In other words, our objective shouldn’t be to “win,” but to give our critics something worth thinking about. Koukl says, “Dropping a message on her [an unbeliever] that is, from her point of view, meaningless or simply unbelievable doesn’t accomplish anything. In fact, it may be the worst thing you can do.”

If Christian filmmakers desire to use their art as a way to lead others to the gospel, they might want to take the “stone in the shoe” method seriously. Unbelievers—atheist or not—ought to walk away from a faith-based film saying, “I may not agree with their position, but they gave me something to think about.”


10 Comments

  1. I’ve found using mainstream movies are a better jumping point to talk about faith. Often the most effective preaching is when people do not realize the preaching is taking place. Hollywood preaches and offers Christians the opportunity to discuss serious topics with a Gospel worldview.

    1. I agree. Last year, I felt like two of the best films, in terms of helping others wrestle with the Christian faith, were Philomena and Prisoners. They were both mainstream films.

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  3. many times “Christian filmmakers” spend more time of the message they try to portray than developing the story. they tend to tie the story up into an nice bow. not every story ends with a happily ever after yet most “Christian films” end with the happily ever after. it is no wonder that people fall from the faith when things go from bad to worst when they first come to Christ. “Christian films” present the message that come to Christ and your life will get better.

  4. Why must EVERY Christian film have the main theme of spreading the gospel? Yes, spreading the gospel is the main priority of a Christian, but can’t we simply enjoy a film with a Christian theme? I enjoy movies but I don’t want to see and hear all the sex, violence and cussing that most movies offer. Why can’t film makers make a film FOR CHRISTIANS and not worry about the message that non-Christian will get from it? I bet even Billy Graham doesn’t evangelize 24 hours a day.

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  6. We are sponsoring “A Matter of Faith” to come to our area and have seen the film 7-8 times now as we have been hosting pastor previews of the film for the last month. It has been very well received with the pastors feeling that it is a great opportunity for Christians to bring their un-churched, non-believing friends to.

    One of our showings was to a group of young people and among their comments were that they liked that “both sides” are presented so that you can make up your own mind.

    Given the past paragraph of this blog post, I think you will be very happy with this film’s treatment of the subject.

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