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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Ten Great Movies to Use in Apologetics

Yesterday was the annual Academy Awards ceremony, where those in the motion picture industry celebrate their craft. It is a major event that is televised all over the world, primarily because of the huge amount of clout and status movies play in modern culture. Motion pictures influence our morality and our worldview more than most realize. Plato's statement "Those who tell the stories rule society" is shown to really be true.

In the past, I've offered a list of ten movies that Christians should see but are generally neglected today. However, in lieu of the Oscar festivities, I'd like to take a different tact. Here is my list of ten movies that you should be using in your apologetic. Each one of these movies will help you in some way share an important truth about the Christian worldview. If you'd like to hear more about exactly how these movies can be used in witnessing efforts, check out this CD teaching entitled "Using Hollywood Blockbusters to Share the Gospel".

10. The Book of Eli
How does divine providence work? If you have God's protection does that mean it will be easy? Here's a great way to see how God can be working in the lives of His servants like Eli who know that they must follow His calling even if situations don't fall into place as they should. The film is marred by a lot of gore and too much foul language, and that's how it gets its R rating.* It makes me wish I could own the version they show on the airlines, so know that going in, but the primary message is still fascinating.

9. The Matrix
Want to get a conversation started about spiritual things?  There's no better fodder than the original Matrix. Keanu Reeves stars as Neo, a young computer hacker who finds out that it is actually his mind that has been hacked and everything he thinks is real is nothing more than a computer simulation. This film, directed by the Wachowski brothers, takes on more philosophical and spiritual themes than you can count, but the biggest is the idea that the beliefs we're most comfortable with may in fact be false ones and we may need to give up our comfort for the truth.

8. Spider-Man 3
What if the thing that makes you feel better, more powerful, and more popular is also a more subtle and seductive side of evil that is unknowingly changing you into something else? Peter Parker must grapple with a temptation that is making his soul as black as his suit. This movie illustrates how sin works. Sometimes the thing that makes you feel better is not necessarily better for you.

7. Twelve Angry Men
This is the only movie that I repeated from my last list, but that's because it so poignantly  portrays one man's desire to sway others to the truth of a matter even if their prejudices make then want to believe otherwise. Henry Fonda must be understanding but firm, never giving up on his convictions. This is the way to argue for your position.

6. The Truman Show
The Truman Show has a single message: Reality is important.  Jim Carrey plays Truman Burbank, a person whose whole life has been fabricated for a reality television show. Sensing that there's more out there than he's been told, Truman becomes increasingly determined to find out the truth of the world, even risking death.  The movie is a bit heavy on the religious allusions (The show's and thus Truman's creator is named Christof after all!), this film demonstrates why seeking a reality beyond what one has experienced is part of what it means to be truly human.

5. Amazing Grace
This is the only movie with an overtly Christian message in the list, and that's on purpose. Most friends and family will roll their eyes at a Christian who wants to invite them over for a Christian movie night.  However, this story ties the John Newton hymn in with William Wilberforce's twenty year struggle to outlaw the slave trade in Britain, so it has broader historical implications. It is a fine example of both how Christians can lobby for unpopular views that are ultimately moral and how the Christian worldview, specifically that all men are equally valuable has played a major role in the betterment of civilization.

4. Inception
Can you change a belief?  While Inception spends a lot of time on the question of dreams versus reality, that's not its real target. No, Inception is about how we form beliefs. Cobb states that while he cannot make a man believe something by dreaming, he can plant a seed in a man that will then become a real belief inside the man. "The smallest seed of an idea can grow. It can grow to define, or destroy you."

3. The Dark Knight
Another of Christopher Nolan's films, this second installment of the Batman trilogy hits exactly on concepts of sacrifice and redemption, when Commissioner Gordon states "You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain." Certainly Jesus saw both of those concepts come to pass and in a similar manner, Batman must ultimately take the sin of others upon himself for the greater good of saving society.  However, this movie is not quite that neat as it also brings up the question of "Do the ends justify the means?" However, you fall on this, it makes for some great discussion.

2. To Kill a Mockingbird
Standing by one's convictions can be scary, even dangerous, but such acts can also have implications that ripple well beyond what one would expect. In this classic adaptation of Harper Lee's novel, Gregory Peck plays Atticus Finch, a lawyer in a 1930's southern town defending a black man against the charge of raping a white woman. Atticus' determination to do the right thing leaves a marked impression on his children and ultimately on all those who finally see the truth.

1. Lord of the Rings Trilogy
It would simply be unfair to leave off the superb film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's masterful tale. This is how the most unassuming of individuals can step in and do what little they can, and how it can mean so much. Tolkien infused not only Frodo, but also his heroic and reliable friend Samwise Gamgee with a will that overcomes the most difficult of circumstances in order that good should triumph. As Tolkien put it in the books "It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till." This is a call to apologetics if ever I heard one.

*Thanks to Trevor Sloane for reminding me to add this caution.


  1. Wow; what happened to Les Miserable? I know there are a lot of worthy movies out there but in my humble opinion this should have made your list hands down

  2. That's an easy answer, Kevin. I haven't seen it yet!

  3. "superb film adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's masterful tale"

    I disagree 100%.. Jackson ravaged the storyline and characters of the book to a point it was hard to recognize. I absolutely hated the movies.

    That said, good list overall. ;-)

  4. I guess truman Show was meant to denounce religion, or God in order to find a liberating reality, but why not turn it round..?


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