Elizabeth Prata of The End Time reviews the Christian film “War Room.” In part 1 she sheds light on some of the glaring theological problems with the film and also deals with other Kendrick brothers’ productions, such as “Fireproof” and “Courageous.” The brothers may have good intentions in making “Christian” films, however in so doing they have shown a stunning lack of spiritual discernment. I’ll let Elizabeth explain why Christians should not invest their time and money in “War Room.”
For Christians seeking family friendly faith based movies either as entertainment or as ministry the Kendrick Brothers movies from Sherwood Pictures have been the go-to series for many. Originally from Athens GA, the Kendrick Brothers are Shannon, Alex and Stephen. The latter two attended college, were ordained as ministers. Alex accepted a call to Roswell Baptist Church as staff, then later to Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany GA as associate minister of media. Stephen joined him there two years later. Shannon completed college and accepted a job at IBM.
It has been a lifelong dream of Alex and Stephen to make full-length Christian movies, and at Sherwood Baptist that dream came to fruition in 2003 with the independent production of their first film collaboration, Flywheel. After that came Facing The Giants, a huge hit in 2006,Fireproof in 2008, a bigger hit which starred their first bona fide professional actor Kirk Cameron, and then Courageous in 2011, yet another hit with secular validations of climbing the NY Times Bestseller lists and gate take to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. Movie #5,War Room, is due out Aug. 28, 2015.
After this the brothers split from Sherwood Pictures/Sherwood Baptist as their base for production and formed their own company, Kendrick Brothers Productions. Shannon, the eldest brother who had been working at IBM all this time, resigned to help his siblings with the management of their new company. Along the way much merchandise has been sold under the auspices of each film, notably the Love Dare and the LoveDareTest among LOTS of other merchandise from Fireproof, and the Courageous Resolution from Courageous, among LOTS of other merchandise from the aforementioned film. (2 Peter 2:3)
Many folks are pleased that faith-based honorable movies are being made which they say honor Christ, and are even more pleased that much merchandise is available to re-stock the movie company coffers so that these movies can keep being made. Churches who have been relentlessly pressured hype the films and in their church sanctuaries host previews, events, marital retreats, Courageous ceremonies, and ‘bible’ lessons accompanied by all the paraphernalia and curricula associated with the movies. Marriages are being saved. Fathers are returning to biblical duty. It’s all good.
I’d like to offer a different view.
My first introduction to the Kendrick Brothers was as a newbie Christian, hapless bystander of the waves of hype when Facing the Giants was released. The Baptist church I’d been attending at the time heavily promoted the film and everyone was encouraged to attend. No doubt, the movie was a tearjerker, a feel good movie that seemed right with Jesus- on the surface. I was discomfited by the thread throughout that when one submits totally to God is when things begin to work in your earthly life and all your temporal wishes will come true, like winning football games and getting a new truck. It seemed to me a kind of slick Christianity. But I was new to the faith and more to the point, new to church life, and didn’t know for sure.
Yes, it’s true that when one submits to God, we will be blessed, but the biblical Stephen was ‘blessed’ with a vision of heaven before the last killing stone crushed his head. Paul was ‘blessed’ with a thorn in his side which tormented him God called sufficient grace. Peter was ‘blessed’ with a long career preaching in a persecuting world that ended with martyrdom on a cross. Facing the Giants bought into and promoted every Western Christian cliche imaginable. I would like to have seen the coach get fired even if he had won the championships. Or what would have happened to their faith if they hadn’t won the championships. Or if they never had gotten pregnant. What then? Would THAT kind of faith hold true? But Facing the Giants isn’t that kind of movie.
Then Fireproof came out and I was more discomfited. The hype was louder and tsunami-like this time. I can’t tell you the pressure at churches when a new Kendrick Brothers movie is issued. It’s like the second coming and this movie is gonna solve everything. I am not exaggerating. It was almost as if I would be blaspheming if I said that I didn’t want to watch the movie or if I said that I didn’t like it. There were parts in Fireproof I enjoyed but my discomfort with the doctrine in Fireproof was more coalesced this time.
First, I hated Catherine.
I was aghast at her adultery and more aghast that it was never addressed. I was stunned that her act of filing for divorce with her signature on the decree was never addressed as unbiblical. She was never shown as repenting. Much was made of the male actor’s pornography viewing but not of her flirtatious adultery in lining up the Doctor as husband #2. I was sorry that her withholding of sex from her husband, unbiblical as it is, was never addressed but all the fault lay at the husband’s feet with his porn, anger issues and distancing himself from her. It takes two not to tango, but the woman’s culpability was never seen as an issue.
Worse, it was not clear from the hype, plot synopsis, or posters that Catherine was not a Christian. The husband, Caleb, might not have been but it’s more sure that Catherine wasn’t. The movie took the stance that it was a movie about Christian marriage but if it was, the writers would have to address being unbiblically yoked. If neither was saved when the movie began then it wouldn’t have been a Christian movie. Did you realize that? That one or both marital partners are not Christian in the film for most of the running time? Continue reading
Lazy Writing, Cheap Restoration by Kenneth R. Morefield, Christianity Today