Martin Luther would have empathized with these film depictions of Christians who found themselves in situations that required them to defend their faith against great odds. You might say they became leaders unintentionally, as did Luther himself. Facing the Diet of Worms in 1521 he said,
“Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason, I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other. My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me.”
Both films feature a main character who risks virtually everything to defend his or her Christian beliefs. Both are vindicated and triumph over systems that seek to ridicule and belittle them. Both had very good presentations of the logical, scientific and historical reasons to accept Christianity (the big word for this is apologetics.) I found them inspiring and entertaining. (Of course, I know I am years behind in my movie-viewing and probably most readers have already seen the films — if you haven’t, you can now easily get them from the local library).
I do have a few criticisms: most of the characters were almost cartoonishly one dimensional — the Christians are obviously good, the atheists bad, and not much room in between for the doubting or seeking. Conversions and answers to prayer come quickly….but this is a movie, right? Things have to move rapidly (after all we only have 120 minutes) and I can’t expect the character development I might find in a good novel. So I can let that go.
More seriously, the discussion of free will in the first film, and the implication in the second that we must “ask Jesus into our heart” conflict with Lutheran theology. God choses us, we do not chose Him, and we do not have free will over our salvation (although we do in other areas.)
The Newsboys are not my favorite Christian musical group, but I’ll include the song for those who enjoy them: