“Left Behind” recently joined the influx of “Christian” films that have recently plagued the big screen. To put it bluntly, “Left Behind” was unrelenting in its awfulness, but Christians should be concerned about more than this movie.
Yes, there can be discussion of theology, poor writing and frustratingly bad acting in the case of “Left Behind”, but even more concerning is why Christians feel the need to support weak films simply because they are explicit in their religious messages.
There is no reason why Christians shouldn’t attempt to impact the film industry, and Christians should support other Christians that are doing so (if they’re good). However, there are dangers to supporting a poorly made Christian film like “Left Behind”, and here are three such reasons:
1. It hurts our witness: “Left Behind” got a 2% on Rotten Tomatoes. And yet many Christians are hailing it as fantastic simply because they appreciate a film that shares their belief system. It’s fine to like it; that’s a person’s prerogative. But if we support a movie only because it’s “Christian” and we don’t acknowledge that it’s a pretty weak film as far as critical analysis goes, we start looking like we don’t know what we’re talking about. We need to be academically honest and critical when it comes to art, even art done by Christians.
2. It’s not really evangelism. One poster for “Left Behind” stated, “Please don’t bring unbelievers to this movie. –Satan”. Yes, our God has the ability to work in mysterious ways, but there have not been many atheists coming to faith after seeing “Left Behind”. In fact, there seems to be many blog posts, comments on social media and personal discussion proclaiming quite the opposite. Poorly made films like “Left Behind” confirm a sort of “backwards” view of Christians; we make bad art and worse still, we pretend like it’s good. The “unbelievers” don’t seem to be converting, so it doesn’t seem like Satan had a lot to worry about.
3. They make us prideful: It’s great when “Christian” films can minister to the hearts of Christians. The Holy Spirit uses many mediums, and this discussion of Christian films is not meant to diminish that. Christians can like Christian films because they feel good when they watch them and their faith is renewed. However, Christians need to be wary of the fact that often Christian films are simply designed to reaffirm us in our current cultural engagement. They do little to challenge our stereotypes of other groups or our own failings. For example, “Left Behind” relied heavily on racial, cultural and religious stereotypes with those who were left behind, only reaffirming for many Christians that we have all the right answers and we can’t learn from those sinners. Christian films can serve a great purpose in ministry within the church, but they also carry a great amount of risk in perpetuating hatred and pride.
It is time for Christians to stop making excuses for poorly made “Christian” films and demand excellence in the art form. We don’t have to support them simply because we share beliefs with the creators or storylines, and they are not currently doing all the good things we try to say they are.
Film is a great chance for Christians to share the good news, but with the current quality of “Christian” films being produced, we seem to be leaving that opportunity behind.