I remember when I started seeing advertisements here and there about the Kendrick brothers’ new movie ‘The Overcomer’. I didn’t have the obligatory “I’ve GOT to see it!” feeling then and I don’t now, for reasons that might become clear in this article.
Please don’t hate me,
This morning I saw on Facebook a post from a friend and one of the Chaplains who serves at the chapel we attend here n Colorado. It was a link to an article from The Christian Post titled ‘”Overcomer’ opens in top 3 at box office, grosses $8.2M”. I read it and clicked the link to a previous CP article about the movie called “’Overcomer’ doesn’t water down the Gospel, still appeals to nonbelievers, filmmakers say”, which I had previously read. There a few bits from both articles I found interesting that I will share with you.
First of all, let me be really clear that I am not condemning the film,, it’s admirable production value., the churches taking busloads to see it, or any individual who pays to see it on the big screen, especially non-Christians who watch it and become interested in knowing more about Jesus Christ and saving grace as a result.
On to the subject of my lack of excitement . Also bear in mind that I have not watched the film yet, a cardinal sin worthy of a certain level of condemnation from some of my Christian brethren. At the same time, the fact that a few remarks from these articles caught my attention just might mean that I have been paying attention while engaged in reading the Bible and studying its doctrine.
Since the article about box office results after the grand opening was the first article I read this morning, Keep in mind that I often read these sorts of articles about Christian film productions with the question “Did it/will it present a clear message of the gospel of Jesus Christ?”
The movie’s theme centers around a basketball coach in a manufacturing town who loses his tem when the plant sits down and a lot of people leave town. He ends up coaching a sport he doesn’t even enjoy and ends up realizing that his true identity is found in Christ, not in his own accomplishments. The ‘gospel’ moment in the article was this:
“As previously reported, the film does not shy away from the Kendrick brothers’ Christian message and centers around the message of Ephesians 1 and 2, which focuses on identity. The movie includes a scene where the sinner’s prayer is spoken and touches on things like learning how to pray and how to know God.”
That the sinner’s prayer is spoken could be a good thing, if what precedes the praying is an accurate discussion of WHY it needs praying – that all of , until God saves us, ‘dead in our trespasses and sin’ and ‘by nature children of wrath’ , as we are told in the first few chapters of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, which seems to be the source of the film’s argument that our true identify is in Christ, not our accomplishments.
The article tells us this:
“As previously reported, the film does not shy away from the Kendrick brothers’ Christian message and centers around the message of Ephesians 1 and 2, which focuses on identity. The movie includes a scene where the sinner’s prayer is spoken and touches on things like learning how to pray and how to know God.
“Satan loves to convince people that they’re the opposite of what Ephesians 1, 2 and 3 say they are,” Alex Kendrick told The Christian Post during a sit-down interview with CP earlier this month. “
While I agree with the above sentiment, it is nowhere found in the referenced Ephesian text. The actual text focuses on our natural state without Christ , (‘dead in our trespasses and sin’ and ‘by nature children of wrath’ . Then we wee in the text of Ephesians what are perhaps the most important words in all of scripture “But God……”, followed by a beautiful description of God’s complete sovereignty in the salvation of men, It is God who raises up dead men, makes them alive in Christ , and gives them a new identity.
This new identity in Christ is very real, and the result of God’s intent to save all of his people, through the shed blood of his only Son.. Does ‘Overcomer’ address the ‘dead n trespasses and sin’ and ‘by nature children of wrath’ pieces of the puzzle?
On to the second article, ‘Overcomer’ doesn’t water down the Gospel, still appeals to nonbelievers, filmmakers say, which preceded It preceded report of the film’s opening by a few weeks.
While it provided a more detailed description of the movie’s theme and story line, it also said this:
““There’s a temptation to water down the truth, and the whole time we’ve been very overt and open about what we believe,” Stephen Kendrick said. “This story doesn’t water down the Gospel, and it’s embedded with the truth. We believe, now more than ever, that the Church needs to hear overt truth.”
Stephen Kendrick tells us that ‘there’s a temptation to water down the truth” (very true), and that ““This story doesn’t water down the Gospel”. (It doesn’t?)
“But we also understand the need to go to nonbelievers and communicate biblical truth in like a parable format as Jesus did. We try to package truth in an inspirational story that anybody can relate to. Everybody’s going to be touched by marriage difficulties at one point or another, or the trials that come with losing your identity. So regardless of what you believe, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll enjoy the movie, even if you don’t know the Lord. We try to include the Gospel in all of our movies so that a nonbeliever will hear it and hopefully come to Christ as a result of it.”
We are told that we all have marriage difficulties and trials that come with losing our identities, which is also true, Then comes the most troubling tidbit (at least for this guy):
“We try to include the Gospel in all of our movies so that a nonbeliever will hear it and hopefully come to Christ as a result of it.”
Doesn’t the Bible tell us that the unbeliever hates God and cannot please Him (Romans 8:7-8),or even understand spiritual things and considers them foolishness (which the gospel is) (1 Corinthians 2:14)?
Lastly, no unbeliever truly comes to Christ to ‘rediscover their identity’. There is one, and only one reason to embrace Christ – for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus died to fix our sin problem, not our identity crisis. ‘Overcomer’ might be a good movie fort hose who are already believers (like the movie’s main character) and having identity issues, but if it doesn’t discuss the issues of sin and repentance from it for the forgiveness of sins, it’s weak in the proclamation of the gospel. The ‘gospel’ that says Jesus died to solve your identity crisis (or any other temporal problem) can’t save anyone, but it might point them in the right direction.
Unfortunately, numerous articles are coming out slamming evangelicals BEHAVIOR, which in turn, is what is being called, creating atheists out of former evangelicals.
Evangelicals need to clean their own house before dictating to the atheists their sin nature.
Christians are a laughing stock to the world, and it’s the Christians fault, due to their own sinful behavior. I think the word is…hypocrites?
I think that is more pressing than a feel good Christian cheezy movie that talks about Ephesians. We Christians have NO ROOM TO TALK, it seems.
1. I’m not sure what you mean by ‘dictating to the atheists their sin nature’. If you mean beating them over the head with it you are probably right. On the other hand, if we don’t speak of sin as the issue for which Jesus died with those who need a savior, have we done justice to the gospel message?
Actually, using the first chapters of Ephesians to discuss our identity is commendable, just (IOM) not the main point.
Are we to NOT share the gospel until evangelicals stop sinning?
Me, I’d kinda be hesitant to begin with Ephesians as my main point. Ephesians is preaching to the choir, as far as I can see. The members of the church.
IMO, before you can preach about sin, they first have to believe in an afterlife. Otherwise, it’s pointless to point fingers.
1 Corinthians 15, which outlines the “gospel”, begins with first believing in an afterlife.
IMO, I think I would try a different approach. In today’s “climate” (pun intended) of global warming or climate change, science is the reason that they use.
I might retort with, “Well, I’m a Christian, and my bible states, for as long as the earth abides, there will be winter, summer, hot and cold…”
Anything to strike up a conversation with someone about God. We can get to Ephesians with them at a later date. I think we kinda gotta plant a seed first, and let someone else water it.
I disagree that you have to believe in an afterlife to talk about sin, at least I don’t think it necessary to ask an unbeliever about belief in an afterlife before taking a conversation to the issue of sin. Maybe I misunderstood what you were talking about.
1 Cor 15, addressed to a particular NT church, begins with Paul’s definition of what is of first importance, the gospel message that Christ died for the sins of men, and was resurrected, according to scripture. The theme of an afterlife is certainly significant in that without the resurrection of Christ our faith is meaningless.
Again, using Eph 1-3 to address identity issues is perfectly fine. The movie focuses on that topic with believers as the central focus, not unbelievers.
If I want to start a conversation with someone to point them to Christ, I will take it to the issue of sin because that’s the central issue the death of Christ address, the root problem.
Sin has no meaning unless there is accountability, judgement and justice in the afterlife. THEN you can say, “But Jesus came to…” . So, I think that the FIRST PART of 1 Cor 15 needs to be taken into consideration. That’s all.
Remember that Galatians tells us that the law is our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. The Law, meaning, Torah, not the Law of Moses.
It’s always good to start from, “In the Beginning”. But I digress.
Well, Ed, Since I am again at a loss trying to figure out what you are trying to say, perhaps I should leave it alone. I do think you might be confused about the Torah NOT being the law of Moses.
The law of Moses begins in exodus 20. The Torah begins in genesis 1. The law of Moses is within the Torah. In any case, I don’t see Ephesians as the place to start a conversation with an unbeliever. That’s all.
And neither did I.
Thank you for this; may we be discerning
If it misses the ‘rest of the gospel’ I pray there will be discerning believers who will fill in the gaps for others.
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