by John Ellis
Note: the response to this post has been somewhat surprising for me. Because of the overwhelming response, both positive and negative, I decided to bite the bullet, watch War Room, and write an actual review. That review can be found here.
“All the Satan-rebuking speeches in the world can’t make a story uplifting when it subtly suggests that you can tell a real Christian by the way everything always works out exactly the way they pray for it.” Scott Renshaw
I haven’t watched War Room, and I highly doubt that I will. However, having watched several of the Kendrick brothers’ movies, I’m quite familiar with their aesthetic M.O. (or lack thereof). Setting aside the many, many reviews, including Christianity Today, skewering the bad writing, bad acting, bad cinematography, and bad storytelling in general, I want to comment on the quote posted above.
That quote is from the Salt Lake City Weekly movie critic, Scott Renshaw. I know next to nothing about Renshaw’s personal life; I don’t know if he’s a professing Christian, a professing atheist, or something else. I do know, based on the quote and the review it’s from, that he has hit on my biggest concern in regards to the movies of the Kendrick brothers – the dabbling, at the least, in heresy.
Incredibly bad aesthetics aside, the movies of the Kendrick brothers (and many other “Christian” filmmakers, for that matter) are dragging people into the pits of hell with their heretical “name it, claim it” depiction of Christianity. For example, their second movie, Facing the Giants, taught that the “good” of Romans 8:28 is defined by the standards of a wealthy, individualistic, and hedonistic West. Years ago, my wife and I watched it together, and during the locker room scene, the “What are you living for?” speech, I turned to her, shook my head sadly, and sighed, “the only way that this movie can come even close to redeeming itself is if the team goes out and loses.” Of course, the team won – with a kicker named David kicking the winning field goal to beat a team named the Giants. Come on. But, I’m not writing this in order to talk about the bad storytelling. – During that locker room speech, the coach admonishes his team to praise God even if they lose. But, that admonishment came directly on the heels of the coach connecting God’s blessings to winning football games. That’s not surprising considering that in the movie, everything worked out for the Christians. And I do mean EVERYTHING. If someone were to believe Facing the Giants, and many unfortunately do, that individual would be left with the belief that if they do and say the right things, their life will work out as defined by Western success, their dreams will come true, and they’ll live happily ever after – God has a big basket of toys eagerly waiting to dole out to those who jump through His hoops (assuming those doing the hoop jumping don’t live in the Sudan, Syria, or North Korea, for example).
In Facing the Giants, God’s blessings are explicitly connected to Western ideals of “good.” In the Bible, “good,” as it relates to humans, is explicitly connected to God’s glory by our sanctification through the power of the Holy Spirit. And, as the history of the world teaches us, including and most importantly the Bible (think about, among many possible examples, the Apostle Paul’s beatings, shipwrecks, and eventual martyrdom), the Holy Spirit often uses hard providences to break us of our pride, our self-sufficiency, and our sin. Christianity isn’t a Tony Robbins’ style self-help/affirming program; prayer isn’t a magic spell; God isn’t a wizard. When a movie critic, writing about a supposedly “Christian” movie, points out that “it subtly suggests that you can tell a real Christian by the way everything always works out exactly the way they pray for it,” that movie is possibly dabbling, at the least, in damnable heresy.
Be careful not to fall into the trap set by buzzwords like “wholesome,” “family-friendly,” and “faith affirming,” among others. Be careful that in your desire to shield yourself and your family from objectionable elements, however that’s defined by you, that you’re not exposing your family to the false teaching of heretics and antichrists.
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” 2Timothy 4:3-4
 This will probably prove to be a point of contention for the movie’s defenders. Two things: 1. Many of those same people have probably uttered, in regards to an “R” rated movie or two, something like, “I don’t have to engage in filth to know that I’ll get dirty if I do.” 2. As noted, I have watched several Kendrick brothers’ movies; I know their storytelling model, and the bad theology has been consistent throughout their career. I’ve read several reviews of War Room and pretty much every single review bears out the continued theme of the “name it, claim it” heresy found in the brothers’ previous movies.
 I mean, if they really loved God, they’d move to America, right?
 Have you ever asked yourself what the “good” Romans 8:28 is referring to?