The Rise of Faith-Based Topics in American Film in the Last Ten Years

The Rise of Faith-Based Topics in American Film in the Last Ten Years


This paper will demonstrate the importance of understanding personal Christian faith as well as how that understanding can be applied to a specific field of communication, specifically electronic media such as television and cinemas. It is important to mention that I have an interest in pursuing media studies and working in the film industry and as such, it is imperative to use this paper to explain how I will apply my understanding of my Christian world view and faith to media as a field of communication. To achieve this, it is important to give a detailed description of how faith-based films have been fairing in contemporary media and society.

It is also important to mention that a worldview can be defined as the framework from which people view reality and even make sense of their personal lives and the world. In this regard, an individual with a biblical worldview like I do believes that the principal reason for existence is to love and serve the LORD wholly.

As aforementioned, I desire to pursue media studies because it will allow me to use my perception of faith to impact people through film and to motivate them to have a better, deeper perspective of Jesus Christ and a good understanding of GOD. This understanding will become the driving force behind their decisions, emotions, and actions, ultimately influencing how they respond in every area of their lives as they diligently learn, apply and trust the truths of God in every area of their lives through watching faith-based films. Through the influence of these films, they will acquire a profound, wholesome faith that will not relent in the face of the modern culture's non-biblical concepts.



What is a faith-based film?

            As harsh as it may sound, there has been a general underlying fear among many Christians that movies will grab the role of the church as a place of worship, and this fear has materialized with the recent advancement of contemporary cinema into movies that have religious themes. Many are continuing to marvel at the seemingly unforeseen success of faith-based films such as “God’s Not Dead,” and this success does not seem to wane out soon.

This then begs the question, what is a faith-based film? If a group of people was to be asked what this means, there certainly would be over five different definitions advanced, and this would also undoubtedly engender tension. However, it may be generally defined as a marketing term structured to render it easier and more convenient for the Christian audience to distinguish the movies that may be persuasive to them. Nonetheless, this definition does not end the debate of how faith-based films should be defined because, for instance, one would ask whether it is still a faith-based film if there is no scene depicting someone getting saved. Other may argue it is one if it shows anything to do with faith, while others regard it so if it aligns with their theology.

Depending on the lessons I have learned in class, I would define a faith-based movie as the term normally used to denote the many Christian-themed movies that have continued to come up after the successful "The Passion of the Christ" movie directed by Mel Gibson that came out in 2004. In this regard, it is then right to assert that a Christian movie is one that has the right kind of story, which may be based on real-life events but not be too bleak and must have characters who do not do drugs or engage in any illegal activity or even swear. A faith-based film must carry a moderately dramatic story and be inspiring, such as showing a man trying to break out of an addiction to pornography that is destroying his family or a wife trying to sustain her family as it faces the daily turmoil of dealing with an abusive husband and father.

In 90 minutes, the audience would have learned a probably previously unlearned lesson from the Bible and hopefully also found GOD. For instance, in the movie Miracles From Heaven, a sick daughter is healed miraculously by GOD’s love and principally because of her faith in GOD, which resonates with Christianity’s teaching that faith in GOD delivers the unimaginable. In Fireproof (2008), a husband overcomes his addiction to pornography and saves his family. In Heaven Is for Real (2014), a father has to grapple with the truth that his four-year-old son is passed on to heaven.

All these are movies that depict the fundamentals of the Christian faith, and in my opinion, they are impacting contemporary society and affecting our generation positively. The positive impact further accentuates my interest to desire to use electronic media to portray critical principles of my faith and hopefully get people to know GOD more and to form active relationships with Him. He is the ultimate helper in all kinds of trouble, something that people in the contemporary era increasingly need as life gets more complicated and confusing.

How is the contemporary society receiving faith-based films?

            One of the major reasons I desire to pursue media studies is because it will give me the opportunity to endorse the principles of my faith and belief in the salvation of GOD. I believe this is an important view for the world to have because as advanced in the Tenets of Christianity, GOD is the only one who can restore our dying world and heal it of its misery and moral degeneration.

Initially, faith-based films were not accorded the interest they are now receiving. It was so because, in the first place, it was even difficult to find a person who could openly profess their faith. The pattern was quite predictable because if for instance, persons of faith had regard for their job, they would not openly profess their faith while those who had better positions felt they were moderately free to express their faith. Only the retired people could openly and confidently profess their faith as believers because the repercussions would not be as severe as one who was starting his or her career. This was a good manifestation of how the media culture of the time was devotedly secular and even hostile to the worldview of the people of faith.

This world has however changed because today, there are thousands of people in New York media and Hollywood who regard their faith more confidently and seriously, which is incrementally compelling major television networks and film studios to pursue "faith-based" content actively. This is what I aspire to achieve with my personal understanding of my Christian faith. I want to use electronic media to draw more people to the faith and help them understand their world and their lives from a perspective of understanding God and entrusting their lives to Him, which is the essence of faith as shown in the various faith-based films. The films usually show people overcoming certain personal and often dangerous situations because of basing their faith in GOD.

Agreeing with observations advanced by Rothkopf (2018), there is no question that the success seen in the movie "The Passion of the Christ" directed by Mel Gibson was key to the resurgence of faith-based films. So receptive is the attention that faith-based films are currently receiving that even the major mainstream and successful companies are beginning to take an interest in them because of the highly lucrative faith-based movie market and are hence looking for ways of directly marketing to and engaging with the christen audiences.

However, in as much as they have this desire, the majority of them lack a basic understanding of what a faith-based film should contain. The companies are hence rushing to look for content creators to help them produce faith-based films. I hope to fill the knowledge gap in pursuing my career and using media to profess my Christian faith to the population, which I believe is the intention GOD has in continuing to increase the pervasiveness of media all across the world.

The movie “The Passion of Christ” is a good example of the success that can be realized in producing a faith-based movie by someone who well understands how to use media to portray faith. In this movie, Gibson hit upon a deeply felt cultural nerve among Christians in the United States, that their religion was being subjected to attacks by popular culture, even ironically believing that they were no longer welcome in a country that has been founded on the very principles that define the Christian faith.

Additionally, the persuasiveness of this movie was seen in the zealous acceptance of Gibson's movie by Christian film critics, which they received as a movie that responded to the sense of alienation that they felt, largely because the movie evoked more emotional reaction, sorrow and deeper reflection within people. Based on this knowledge, I have a good chance to use everything I have learned in my media career to produce

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