Why the Movie "Courageous" Is Not
(10/5/2011) Spoiler Alert: This review will expose some details of the movie, but I don't think anyone who reads this review will be discouraged from seeing it. When all is said and done, because of the film's technical and artistic proficiency and its cinematic sophistication on every level, the movie is a riveting--and compared to other so-called "Christian films"--an even breath-taking breakthrough in contemporary Christian communication, and should be seen if for no other reason.
Why the movie is not courageous takes some explaining but the explanation is necessary because unless somebody outs this movie, most people are apt to buy its definition of courage and think they've learned something true about the courage of Jesus Christ. Big Mistake.
As the title proclaims, on the surface the movie is all about courage, the courage of police determined to protect the citizens of Georgia. (That's right, the movie is set in Albany, Ga, the state where I am running for Governor. And, as you will see if you read this, that's not the only direct point of contact between my personal story and the plot of this movie).
So through its widest lens the movie is a model cop movie about all the police in the USA who are putting their lives on the line to protect all the citizens of the USA.
To see why the movie has the polar opposite definition of courage than the courage revealed by Jesus Christ, it is necessary to look closely at the story the movie is trying to tell.
It's a modern story. The movie beings with a car-jacking in a NOW service station, using NOW SUV's as the car-jacked and car-jacking vehicles. The movie says NOW, NOW, NOW, from the first frame to the last. That's the first thing you need to understand. This is not about any other time in history except today, NOW.
It's this ability to bring the audience into the NOW that is the heart of the power of this movie.
The theatre in which I saw the movie started the film with the words, "CINEDYME! A new paradigm for today." And that's what the movie is, a new paradigm, a new model, for courage, for the courage of Christians, specifically for the courage of Christian men.
Two pairs of Sheriff's Deputies, partners, on the road and in their families, is what the film is about.
But where this film diverges from most all the cop movies made from the beginning of cinema until today is the movie focuses on the family life of the cops as much as, or more than, when the cops out on the street are protecting people like you and me from the bad guys.
The plot revolves around how men are to be Christian fathers.
A subtle but most important additional theme is how men learn to be Christian fathers. And this subtle theme is the thing that the viewer needs to watch for when they see the movie. Since the cops are walking around with deadly power on their hips, having shoot outs and making the hard decisions about who lives and who dies and who goes to jail and who gets to have the well-paying jobs, it's easy to miss the fact that behind the cops in this film are the Christian Pastors who "mentor" them in the day-to-day decisions the cops make, the decisions that create the events that show us what courage actually means in the film. But the Pastors are there, present in every word of the film, every action sequence, every heart-wrenching family moment.
And what do the Pastors teach the cops about courage?
In this movie, courage begins with the cop realizing that no matter what he does on the street, it's what he does as the father of his family that determines whether he is a courageous man. And that courage is based on what the cop does in relation to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The movie makes that statement as clearly as any film in the history of cinema. There is no doubt about it, this film creates a huge breakthrough in bringing the modern gospel of Jesus Christ to a mass audience. The modern gospel is there: unadulterated, powerful, overwhelming.
So what's the problem? Why am I criticizing this movie as the most dangerous piece of false Christian teaching every foisted on an unsuspecting public?
It's the modern gospel that is the problem.
Remember that I said this movie defines itself as a paradigm where the Christian father is defined as the model of God the Father's relationship with this world, as a model of Jesus Christ's relationship with this world. (Literally those words are spoken by one of the characters in the movie).
The problem with the movie and with its definition of the gospel is the movie is all about the father focusing on his own personal family as his first priority. That's what the whole movie is about. Every event, every moment of Christian counseling, every Resolution signed by the men in the movie is all about the father's duty to make his own personal family his first priority as a model of what a Christian father is supposed to be.
And in that message the movie changes the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ into a selfish message about God loving His Family as His First Priority.
That is not the gospel of the Jesus Christ who actually walked the dusty roads of Israel and Galilee. That is a different gospel, a different gospel that is cursed by God instead of blessed.
As important as our family is, as important as the family of God is, there is another focus that the Lord Jesus Christ tries to teach people. That focus is not primarily on His Own Family, but on the whole world, even the people unwanted by every one on earth. His own family is not ignored and is provided for, but it is the whole world that Christ is dead for. The very people that those who consider themselves the family of God despise, those same ones Christ is dead for. Those unwanted people are the first priority of the Jesus who walked the roads of Galilee. Read about the Good Samaritan and you will see the true paradigm that reveals the true priorities of God and shows the essense of the gospel.
Why are the people who don't know they are members of His Family, the unwanted people of the world, God's First Priority?
Because God wants them to know Him, that's why. There are those who don't know Him like those who know they are members of God's family know Him. Because they don't know Him, God makes them His First Priority on earth. Read Acts 17 where Paul told the pagans in the Areopagus why God chooses the time and place where every person He creates is to be born, and you will hear the beginning of the gospel, the bedrock foundation of the gospel, the message to the world that must be in place or the gospel is not being told, the message that if it is changed one jot or tittle changes the gospel into a different gospel than the one proclaimed by the Lord Jesus Christ. God wants every person He creates to seek Him. Change the Acts 17 message from Paul into a message where God has as His first priority looking after those people who treat Him as Father like this movie does, and you have changed the gospel, you have defined a different God other than the God Paul worshipped, a different Jesus than the One Paul called Lord and Christ.
This movie alters the gospel. And it does it because that is what modern evangelical Protestant Christian orthodoxy has done with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The great thing about this movie is it documents the blasphemous confusion that has become orthodox Christianity in the South.
As is usual with Christian orthodoxy in our modern context, the real blasphemy of this movie is most clearly revealed in the way it "takes care" of legalized abortion.
The rookie cop, the youngest of the four cops who star in the movie, starts out as a typical pagan. Not only is he not Christian but he is also the only unmarried one among the group of married fellow-cops, all of whom are Christians.
The rookie's part in the movie is revealed early in the film when he makes a confession to his fellow cops. He was playing ball in college. He "hooked up" with a cheerleader. She got pregnant. He tried to get her to "take care of it" but she didn't "take care of it", so even though he was not married, he had a kid, a four-year old girl: that's his confession.
As the rookie is led to realize his need for Jesus Christ and to realize there is nothing that stands in the way of his receiving the forgiveness offered by Christ Jesus, he decides to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
After his conversion he realizes that even though he is not married he has an obligation to his daughter like the other Christian men have obligations to their families. So he contacts the mother of his daughter who has remained unmarried and gracefully tells her that he's not putting pressure on her in any way but wants to begin to take responsibility for this daughter. He sends a check for $500 to validate his stated intention.
The mother accepts the check and allows the man to have access to their daughter, who, as you can imagine, is four year old movie-star precious.
That's where the movie really ran off the tracks for me and crashed all the cars, some of which exploded releasing toxic chemicals capable of destroying everything...everything.
Here we have a cop. And even though he's a rookie, we've already seen him risk his life in defense of everybody around him. And when he was in college this cop literally decided to "take care of", to kill, to execute, his own daughter. And the only reason his daughter wasn't murdered was her mother wouldn't kill her.
Yet this film doesn't even notice that the story of legalized murder by cop is being told in the movie. The story of how close he came to murdering his own daughter is told literally inadvertently in the film.
Only people obsessed with legalized abortion would even notice that there is this totally evil subplot in the movie, a subplot that the movie totally ignores as it goes about being this new beacon for the gospel of Jesus Christ in our present generation.
What subplot? The police, the Christian police, that we have hired to protect us from the bad guys are themselves as likely as not accomplices to the murder, the butchering, the slaughter of their own children; and they don't even know it.
Why don't they know it? Because their Pastors didn't include that knowledge in their Christian mentoring program, that's why. In fact, their Pastors totally omitted most of the details of that part--the legalized abortion part--of our contemporary walk with Christ.
Instead of helping this nation see how powerful the temptation to kill an unwanted child has become, so powerful that even the people who want to be policemen are tempted to kill, to murder, to "take care of" their own child if they are created by God at a time when they are unwanted, the church that made this movie utterly ignores that part of the reality that exists today in the United States of America, and in its decision to sweep that part of the story of the American churches under the rug, the church becomes a part of the temptation itself, the temptation to murder our own children if, for whatever reason, we don't want them to be alive right now.
And yet this church has the audacity to hold itself up to the world as a model of courage, a model of a church that teaches the gospel.
Is there any wonder that the American Christian churches today are seen by the world as models that have nothing to do with Christianity as it revealed itself across the last 2000 years?
In fact the world would laugh at the definition of courage being held up to the world by American Christians today were we not so blood-thirsty deadly in our power to kill. Witness the drones flown by kids, most of whom call themselves Christians, playing with computer joy sticks as they rain down death all across the world, even on American citizens. Witness the slaughter of the least of God's children legalized in this nation. That's why the world does not laugh at our current definition of courage.
And look at the definition of courage given us by the movie called that. Just as in the movie "Courageous" the Pastors define a kind of courage that makes the Christian father's first priority his own family, and does not require police to protect the lives of unborn babies if the Supreme Court has decreed the unborn to be outside the protection of "the law", or protect the lives of anybody if they have been decreed to be just objects for execution in the war on terror, so too have the Pastors defined a lie about the courage of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the picture we were supposed to see about God the Son: In His courage we were supposed to see the True Love of the Father who was willing to give His only begotten son, not for His family only--those who believed in Him--but for the world, even for those who did not know Him, even for those who the world itself would just as soon "take care of." Giving life to all those people together--those who believed in Him and those who were His enemies--all at the same time, was the First Priority of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Lord Jesus Christ's courage put Him in death's way for the least of these, for all those He understood to be His brothers and sisters but who didn't know Him at all, were, in fact, His enemies. That is the gospel of the Christian Bible.
But the gospel revealed in this movie doesn't tell us about that kind of courage. Instead we learn about a selfish gospel, a gospel that has God concerned about His family as His first priority...unless we hire Him, like we hired the cops in the movie, to enforce the law we make up for ourselves, a law like in legalized abortion that can be the diametric opposite of what God is alleged by these same Christian Pastors to teach in Holy Scripture.
Sheesh. Greater confusion simply cannot be created by Christians on earth.
1Ti 5:8 "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."
The point is that even infidels know they are supposed to provide for their own families.
If Christian men don't have that much knowledge in Christ, no wonder they don't understand the horror of legalized abortion. They are nothing more than babes in Christ, little girls in Christ. Such Christians know nothing about what it means to be a man of God.
And if Christian Pastors think they can ignore people being legally murdered around them and teach people that the gospel of Jesus Christ allows police to provide for their own families as their first priority while ignoring other people who are being murdered without raising people who are not Christian at all but just as bad and as selfish as the worst infidel, all those Pastors need to do to see how evil the world will become is take their eyes off the movie "Courageous" and look around at the world today, look in the mirror even. Such Pastors themselves know nothing about being a man of God.
So the movie "Courageous" is just the latest example of what this generation of Christians does best: mingle with the world, twist the gospel so that it sounds like whatever the generic feel good message of the day happens to be so the return on investment--which in the case of this movie was millions--will be a positive example of how effective Christianity can be in maintaining a healthy economy and law and order in a secular society.
Now you know why my most ardent enemies are the Pastors of Georgia, who hate me exactly the way the people down at Planned Parenthood hate me, and who hate me for the same reason: like the Directors of Planned Parenthood "clinics" they know I'm trying to interrupt their cash flow, to put them out of business. The only difference between most Christian Pastors and the Directors of Planned Parenthood is the people at Planned Parenthood think they're insulated from the Truth so if they can keep me from standing in front of their buildings, they tend to leave me alone. Most Christian Pastors don't believe that at all: they know the power the Truth has, and fear me for that reason. That might be the best thing that can be said about most Christian Pastors in the USA today.
Now you also know why when I run for Governor of Georgia to outlaw abortion and sodomy, not one Christian Pastor in Georgia has yet to offer to let me speak to his congregation. Because they know I accuse American Christian Pastors of teaching a different gospel, one that they will be cursed for teaching unless they confess their sins and receive the forgiveness that only the Lord Jesus Christ can bring.
To see that this theme of the new selfish Christian gospel is not a fresh revelation with me, read about The Pro-Life Traitor