Seven Major Christian Movies
It is quite surprising that such a number of Christian themed films would come out of the big movie makers in one year, especially as the media is constantly pushing humanist and atheistic agendas along with statistics showing that Christianity is on the decline with every new 'official' survey taken in the western world. However, movie makers know what is really popular, what really sells at the box office, and what is genuinely on the decline and it sure ain't Christianity! In fact, the world-wide figures show that the Christian faith is bigger than ever not only in numbers (which would seem logical following the huge increase in world population over the past century) but also in the percentage of adherents. Over a third of the people on this planet claim to be Christian.
A New Season in Hollywood
Not so long ago the movie industry was relatively hostile to Christianity, which was seen as austere and restrictive to the freedoms of the permissive society which dominated the movie world. There were of course the epic and classic Cecil B demille films which bucked the trend in the past, but generally Hollywood and other major movie makers have not favoured Christian or biblical themes. But things have changed dramatically since the 1990's.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy was incredibly successful despite being a Christian allegory. Oxford Professor J R Tolkien was well known for his deep Christian Catholic faith and his deliberate allusion to Christianity in his novels. Hot on the heels of Tolkien, his friend and Cambridge Professor C S Lewis's Narnia novels are also Christian allegories written by a man of strong convictions and a faithful commitment to the annals of the Church of England. The new millennium brought renewed interest from the film industry in both of these classic authors, and a total of six movies released between 2001 and 2010. These have been followed by Tolkien's Hobbit series with more Narnia films in store as well. With seven movies in 2014 alone, the major difference from the past is in the fact that a variety of directors and studios are involved, and nobody seems to be embarrassed anymore about their overt Christian content.
Noah led the way
Aronofski's 'Noah' was arguably the biggest release of the 2014 septuagint with top stars including Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone and Emma Watson. Although the story line has been criticised for not sticking close enough to the Genesis account, the elements of the film are still powerful arguments for major Christian themes of love, faithfulness, accountability, judgement and stewardship. 'Son of God', directed by Christopher Spencer, stuck closely to the New Testament accounts of the life of Christ. 'God's Not Dead' is an interesting film which explores a number of prejudices. The young Christian student eventually wins an all important debate on the existence of God, and the film explores the strains on relationships often brought about through conflicting beliefs. A sequel was also released in 2017. 'Heaven is For Real' is the true story of a young boy who has a near death experience (NDE) and relates things which he could not possibly have known other than through supernatural means. It is possibly the most challenging of the seven films and certainly leaves even the most ardent atheist with food for thought.
'Left Behind' is a big release remake of a 2001 movie dealing with a world in chaos following the pre-tribulation 'rapture' of the true 'church' of genuine Christian believers. It stars Nicholas Cage in a spectacular movie filled with special effects and a theme certain to challenge anyone with a truly open mind. The 'rapture' is a widely taught Christian doctrine that all genuine followers of Christ will be miraculously transported to heaven immediately preceding the final battle of Armageddon where the major powers battle for control of the world.
'The Perfect Wave' is another NDE film documenting the near death experience of diver Ian McCormack. Ian was an agnostic before his enlightening and shocking experience in Mauritius in 1980 during which he was pronounced clinically dead for twenty minutes before shocking an attending doctor by opening his eyes. Ian was profoundly changed by the experience and has since become a Christian minister. Former Charlie's Angels stat Cheryl Ladd plays the part of Ian's mother, a faithful Christian living in New Zealand who had a supernatural premonition of Ian's death. Ian attributes his recovery to her faithful prayers.
Moses gets a Makeover
Finally, the Hollywood epic 'Exodus, Gods and Kings' stars 'Batman' Christian Bale and is directed by Alien maestro Ridley Scott. It tells the story of how Moses leads the people of Israel from Egyptian slavery into freedom.
So why all of these films on the subject of Judeo-Christianity in one year? Not all of the directors and actors claim to be people of any faith at all, so why so many movies dealing with this subject? Well, the simplest and most obvious explanation would be the same as the subject of a number of these films. In a world which is supposedly becoming less faith-full, this is something of a miracle. Many believers would say that there is some divine orchestration behind it, and why argue with that? The suggestion is that God is making sure that his message is going to get through. Jesus prophesied that " this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." Matthew 24:14. In the past, Christian missionaries have covered as much of the world as they could with the good news, but some countries have remained closed to Christian missions. Now we have the internet, and we have movies. Not even the most extreme dictator is going to be able to stop their subjects from watching these films over the internet even if they can ban movies from theatres.
Finally, the number seven has an interesting biblical theme in itself and is often considered to be 'God's perfect number.' God made the world in seven days, Joshua marched around the city of Jericho seven times, the book of Revelation reveals seven angels, seven churches and seven stars, and Jesus taught that we should forgive 'seventy times seven' times. It seems fitting, if not quite supernatural, that the number of movies conveying God's message to mankind in one year should be seven.