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May
8

God’s Not Dead

In the movie, God’s Not Dead, college freshman Josh Harper has his sights set on a future law degree. In order to acquire the necessary credits to achieve his academic goals. Harper signs up for a Philosophy class that is taught by a professor who is notoriously hostile to Christianity. The professor offers an assignment to his class asking them each to affirm the statement, “God is dead,” so that they can move on with their future coursework without being burdened with pesky notions of theism (belief in God) creeping into their future discussions. This causes a test for Harper. Does he go along with the assignment (and the rest of the class) just to get a good grade and pass the class, or does he end up attempting to defend his Christian views against a hostile professor and non-supportive classmates? He chooses the latter. His grade ends up being determined by what the class (not the professor) decides about the merits of his arguments. He faces conflict from his girlfriend who wants him to just do what it takes to get his grade and not rock the boat. It is a real ethical dilemma for Harper. On the storytelling, on thing I enjoyed about this film is how all of the main characters (10 or so) were all intricately connected to each other relationally, even though they weren’t necessarily aware of it. There was, in some cases, one degree of separation for each person, but their lives were all rather intertwined in a very cool labyrinth. I thought it demonstrated well how our lives effect people even indirectly, through a kind of ripple effect, and the choices we make will impact people we have not even met. Regarding the Apologetics of the film, it is proposed by Harper that both he, and the professor, begin with certain presuppositions and assumptions, and that neither can ultimately prove or disprove the existence of God. So he says they need to look to the evidence. At this point, the viewer assumes that the main approach will be Evidentialist Apologetics. It is not. Harper utilizes Classical Apologetics, with the Cosmological and Moral Arguments for the existence of God being primary. It is unrealistic to think that a typical college class will contain all of the elements reflected in this film (a rabid atheist who rails against Christianity, a class that is completely skeptical of Christianity,  a student who can hold his own...
Jul
9

Creed of Gold – Movie Review

The Independent Christian Film genre has grown exponentially over the past 8 years or so. The vast majority of these new independent films have been produced by young, homeschooled graduates (and their families). Creed of Gold is a fine example of the expanding nature of these films.   This is an action, adventure film that takes on a James Bond style storyline, while still pointing the viewer towards a Christian worldview. What I like about the film is its ambition in tackling a rather controversial topic (the Federal Reserve), its ability to keep the story moving and the well-executed humor that punctuates the action and drama. This film points the viewer back to the necessity for moral absolutes, and reveals the danger inherent in losing those fixed reference points. With all independent films, you need to judge them within their genre, not up against epic movies with budgets in the 9 digits. In that respect, Creed of Gold is a quality film that exhibits some ground-breaking elements, pushing the limits of what is commonly attempted by most independent Christian filmmakers. If there is a down-side to the film it would be the elaborate back-story. I’ve seen the film three times now, which is rare as I usually never watch a movie twice. This is a compliment in that the film is compressed enough that there is something new to be gained from additional viewings, but I still don’t understand the entire back-story. It is largely told (in conversations), not shown (a no-no in film-making), and it was too in-depth for me to catch it all. I think Creed of Gold needs to be released as a novel for those who really want to enjoy the intricate historical plot that underlies this story. So with that said, even if you couldn’t explain to someone about the back story, the movie really doesn’t hinge on it in many ways. You can fairly easily follow the modern-day plot and all you really need to know is that the modern-day bad guys are somehow inextricably linked to the bad-guys of yesteryear. Problem solved, now you just need to enjoy the film! Here is a description of the film from the producers (to help you with my dilemma!): A secret group that financed the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 did not break any laws but was what they did ethically right? The film follows three college students as they investigate this shadowy secret group of individuals who influence...
Apr
21

Important Mini-Movements in the Christian World

In his book, Revolution, which focuses on the life of the American church, researcher and cultural analyst George Barna uses the term “mini-movements” to describe a number of forces that are shaping the landscape of modern Christendom. According to Barna, research is showing that the most dramatic life-changing catalysts at work among believers today are mini-movements that are not connected with any particular national denomination or specific local church effort. What are some of these movements that are challenging people to become more serious in their faith and to embrace a comprehensive lifestyle of following Jesus in every area of their lives? The following are some of the movements that I think are the most significant in our day and age. They are not given in any particular order of chronology nor importance. They each have their place and are likely indispensable in the overall big-picture of God’s plan for our day and age. Homeschooling I have to start with this one because it is the one to which I’m most intimately connected. The modern Christian homeschooling movement has been nothing short of a move of God on our land. It reflects the heart of Malachi 4:6, where God promises to turn the hearts of fathers back to their children, and children to their fathers. Christian parents must take responsibility for the spiritual upbringing of their own children if they want to see Christianity survive the forces of postmodernism and Islamo-fascism rampant in our world today. Creationism Beginning in the 1960s with John Whitcomb and Henry Morris, the return to a Biblical view of origins and the emergence of a new breed of Bible-believing scientists, has revolutionized the Christian world. I believe that the Creationist movement in many ways helped to inspire a new interest in Christian education, encouraging the expansion of Christian schools and later homeschooling in America. This was in many ways a movement of reformation, calling Christians back to believing in the inspiration and authority of the holy Scriptures. Christian Financial Management When the late Larry Burkett first emerged on the scene in the late 1970s, talking about financial stewardship, he stuck out like a sore thumb. Today, there are hundreds of Christian financial coaches, and a number of national ministries dedicated to helping believers to become good stewards and managers of God’s resources. There is much work yet ahead, but the groundwork has been amply laid for this important movement to stir hundreds of thousands...
Apr
6

Christian Filmmaking – Interview with Rich Christiano

Rich Christiano, of Five & Two Pictures is a follower of Jesus Christ who makes quality films for the glory of God. His movie Time Changer is one of my all-time favorite movies. It is a very solid, God-honoring film that is great for audiences of all ages. He is also the producer of Unidentified, another very popular Christian film. Rich was gracious enough to spare some time to share with me about his views on filmmaking and also his new feature film, to be released later this year. Israel Wayne: How did you first get involved with film making? Rich Christiano: In the late 70’s, when I was only 20, my brother Dave and I went to Hollywood.  We wrote a script and tried to sell it.  We got two offers but never made a deal.  In 1980, I became a born-again Christian that totally changed my life.  My brother did also. Israel Wayne: What inspired you to make Christian films rather than working in the secular film industry? Rich Christiano: A lot of people think that when they become a Christian, they need to move to Africa or something to minister. My brother and I wanted to make films and we felt the LORD saying to us to make them for HIM!  We left California and went to graduate school for Radio-TV-Film at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, AR.  My brother Dave eventually got a teaching job in San Antonio where he met a guy who was making Christian films and encouraged us to do the same.  We made our first film in 1985 and now have produced 12 movies between us. Israel Wayne: What are your primary goals when you make a film? Rich Christiano: First, to please the Lord.  John 15:5 is my film making verse.  Jesus says ”Abide in Me and you will bear much fruit because without Me, you can do nothing.”  I believe this.  If we really want to reach people for Christ with our ministry, we must first please HIM.  Second, I want to make films that will motivate, challenge, and inspire the believer.  Give him some food for his soul.  Third, I want to put the gospel in our films so that a non-believer may consider Christ as a result of seeing the movie. Israel Wayne: What are your thoughts on the new Independent Christian Film movement? Rich Christiano: I think there are some major issues.  It seems most Producers are just wanting to make films that are family...

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© Israel Wayne.