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.