After all the discussion and controversy I’ve been reading, I went tonight to see the film War Room, and decide its quality/worth/heresy for myself. Here are my thoughts on the film. Be patient, because it will take me a bit of time to express them. For one thing, I think I know now why someone said that film critics are not the target audience for this film. One simple reason would be that War Room is intended to speak to believers. No one else could even begin to connect with it or understand it. It would be foolishness to them.
Let’s remember that the Kendricks began as a couple of guys on a church media staff. Their films began as an outreach ministry of their church, and this latest film is in the same vein. Each film has examined a certain theme/issue and has aimed to leave a personal challenge in the viewer’s lap. They were:
1) Flywheel – simply intended as a church outreach to be shown for a few nights in the local cinema. Basic theme of the movie – make sure, for Pete’s sake, that if you call yourself a Christian, you really are one and then endeavor to live like one. It was a big surprise when demand for this fun (and funny!) little movie spread wider than expected.
2) Facing the Giants – Basic theme was faith, particularly faith exercised in times of defeat and discouragement. (I love this funny, heartwarming film and occasionally rewatch it.)
3) Fireproof – Basic theme was the importance of marriage. Kirk Cameron starred. (I think this is my favorite of the bunch. It made me laugh, gasp, tear up, and yes, appreciate my husband more, too!)
4) Courageous – Basic theme was fathering, its strategic importance in all our lives. (A fun film, as well. I love the scene in the back of the police cruiser, where the bad guy is freaked out by a Chick-fil-A order given in Spanish.)
Just imagine you’re the Kendrick brothers. You started out making a little film for your church. Here you are years down the road, successful beyond your wildest – yes, truly wildest! – dreams. Along the way, you’ve challenged folks to check out the genuineness of their Christianity, to trust God in tough times, to reaffirm and value their marriages and their commitment to their children – what next?
Well, what’s the one thing most neglected in the lives of Christians? I think it is prayer. After all, “we wrestle not against flesh and blood.” Let’s be honest and admit prayer is the most neglected aspect of the Christian life. We’d much rather brainstorm or teach or write or lobby or almost anything than pray. This was a worthy theme. The Kendricks hit the nail right on the head with this theme choice. Hats off to them for addressing it!
There were a couple of things that I felt weakened the film. (Spoiler alert!) One weakness was the short timeline. Apparently from the time the prayer war room was initiated until the answers were received was only a matter of weeks. This can happen, of course – God could change things instantaneously, if He so willed – but I felt it was a weakness. There is something to be said for perseverance in prayer, as well. And I didn’t like it when the husband read a strategic text on his wife’s phone. I just don’t think husbands usually read their wife’s texts, and so that seemed contrived.
On the other hand, I did not find the scene where Satan is rebuked to be a serious doctrinal problem. It was a somewhat literal response to a verse from 1 Peter, which the character was repeating to herself, considering how to implement it – “resist the Devil, and he will flee.” Many of us would never think of challenging the devil outright in this way. Is this because we truly think it is unscriptural? I do have reservations about it. But then again, perhaps whether it is unscriptural or not may be irrelevant; we might not have the faith to do it, anyway.
I was impressed and touched by the list of colleges and universities who were credited at the end, along with several dozen churches. Also, the list of the prayer staff of the film was eye-catching. Yes, they had a prayer staff with its own leaders and organization. These people walked the talk! They have prayed over every day of every film since the very beginning years ago, and it was good to see that they are still doing it.
Do I think War Room is a timeless classic of cinema achievement? I do not. Do I think it is worth watching? Yes, I do. Do I think it teaches heresy? No. Has it challenged me? You bet! And I’m guessing that, warts and all, it will have a ministry with lots of other folks, too.