Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Movie Review: Courageous

Fireproof. Albany, GA: Sherwood Baptist Church, 2011. Movie. Theatrical Screener mp4 stream reviewed. www.courageousthemovie.com (N)

The Trailer:

Imagine a Sheriff's Department populated with familiar actors from Facing the Giants, Fireproof, and other Sherwood Baptist films. Their new film aims to do for fatherhood what Fireproof did for Biblical marriage and faithfulness. "To serve and protect" is a powerful motto for fathers!

Courageous is...
Heart-pounding action, clean humor, life and death, sin and redemption, church-going people, dancing, and a theme song by Casting Crowns.

At the shooting range, two deputies have a deep talk about guilt and judgment:
"I hope my good outweighs my bad."
"That's not how it works."
 Right. Jesus is the Savior. He chose us (John 15:16).

Unfortunately, the word "accept" hints at altar calls (like the final scene and closing Bible verse) and decision theology. The movie makers are Baptists, after all. 

I must object to the incomplete quote of Joshua 24:15.

Choose this day whom you will serve... But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”(Joshua 24:15 ESV)
I assert that it is inadequate and misleading. Consider the whole:
And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15 ESV)
You get a choice
"if it is evil in your eyes
to serve the Lord"
and your choice is between
one set of pagan gods
or another set of pagan gods.
Because it is NOT evil to serve the Lord, Joshua declares,
"But as for me and my house,
we will serve the LORD."
This is not a text to support
our choosing to be saved.
Jesus did it all:
It is finished!

After all, Ephesians 2 says: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.(Ephesians 2:8-10 ESV)

The fatherhood "resolution" presents challenges for a Lutheran to properly distinguish God's Law and God's Gospel in His Word, but could be considered similar to promises made at Confirmation or by a new member of a Christian congregation. I do like the idea of "ceremony"! (A copy of the resolution text was not provided with the screener of the film, but is available for sale here:

The title of the film comes from a pastor's call for the need for courage to live out the resolution. Films like this also lead to sales of associated "ministry" items. I have mixed feelings about that. I wouldn't be surprised if the DVD was available in time for Father's Day. 

And I'll buy a copy, but I recommend http://www.cph.org/p-18454-courageous-fathers-of-the-bible.aspx as a ministry resource instead. And I'll wrap-up any showing of the film before the very end.

Courageous succeeds because it has a purpose and a plot. Good family films (and good films, period) don't need large budgets and lots of special effects. I'll be watching for more from these filmmakers. I would recommend films on Biblical faithfulness, godly citizenship, and how God delivers His gifts on Sunday morning as the primary reason Christians go to Church.

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, a member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.