After feeling disappointed by God’s Not Dead, I’m happy to say that the latest film in what appears to be a long line of Christian/Bible-based films this year did not disappoint. A Matter of Faith was a film that surprised me in a good way. Seeing the trailer for this movie did not show much promise, and felt like it was just trying to mimic God’s Not Dead. Thankfully, this didn’t turn out to be the case. I went to see it with absolutely no expectations and I found myself enjoying it. Below are five reasons why I felt this film was good. As a forewarning, there are major spoilers to follow, so if you haven’t seen this movie and you want to, then I recommend you wait.
To start off, the plot of the movie is a girl named Rachael who graduates high school and is heading off to college to study biology. Her biology class is taught by Professor Kaman, who teaches evolution as fact (which is way more believable than a philosophy professor making the students write ‘God is dead’ for a grade). Because of this, Rachael begins to be influenced by her professor’s teachings, which concerns her father. As a result, her father ends up challenging the professor in a famous debate: Evolution vs. Creationism. Now to list why I felt this film was good:
1. This film has a much more straightforward, easy-to-follow storyline that doesn’t try to add in a bunch of subplots and extra side messages that many other Christian films attempt to do. The central lesson of this movie all comes down to this: Believing in a god that created the universe and choosing to have a relationship with Jesus Christ doesn’t result in a matter of ‘fact’, it results in a matter of faith, hence the movie title. It all comes down to what we choose to believe. Former Professor Portland in the movie spoke the truth when he said that we can argue back and forth with each other about how our beliefs in the origin of the world are logical, but it won’t change anything. People make the decision to turn to Christ through love, not logic. The logic of an intelligent designer is already around them, they just choose not to accept it. It’s the actions of Christians that win them over and it’s the love Christians show the others that gives us hope that others will change their minds about what they believe. Professor Portland displayed this by apologizing to Kaman for the bitterness he had towards him and he forgave Kaman for firing him from the school. That was a powerful moment that made me nod in approval in the theater.
2. Like I said above, this film doesn’t try to be something so big that it feels too overwhelming. This film feels much more focused and seems to know exactly what it wants to be at the end of the day. There’s also no Newsboys and Duck Dynasty to find here (thank God). In fact, there’s no mainstream Christian music in this film at all until the very end, but at that point, it almost felt fitting and was a welcome way to start rolling the credits. This film felt raw and honest, and I felt it had a little something for both sides of the issue. Almost all of the characters in this film played a big part in the story and contributed well. This felt more like a real movie that knew what it was doing instead of trying to be a Christian propaganda piece.
3. I really liked the fact that the Christians here weren’t portrayed as perfect people. Rachael was the character that Josh Wheaton from God’s Not Dead should have been. Rachael was conflicted, her faith was challenged, and she made choices that she would regret. I think a lot of Christian parents can relate to the fear of seeing their children off to college. Will their kids continue to hold on tight to their faith? Will they make the right decisions now that they don’t have their parents’ supervision? This movie takes a good look at that, without going through all the trouble of adding all the aspects such as alcohol, drugs, and sex to add more needless drama. Cracking eggs over a guy’s head promising him a hundred bucks and then cheating him from it, which sparked a trend that caused Rachael to get into an unhealthy relationship, was a decent way to go.
4. Making the professor’s ultimate decision at the end somewhat ambiguous was an excellent move on the writers’ part. The movie leaves it to the viewer’s imagination to wonder what the professor chooses to believe. I know that a lot of Christians would want to see a clear conclusion where the unbeliever chooses Christ and we can all rejoice for the character, but why not have a little bit of mystery? The important thing is that the debate got the professor thinking. He’s at least rethinking what he believes. His last scene in the movie where he’s looking deep in thought at the stuffed chicken was a great way for his character arc to end. Is anybody familiar with the fictional story An Imperial Affliction from The Fault in Our Stars? I think it’s about as powerful as that.
5. Finally, it’s important to mention that this movie also technically bashes the Evolution/Creation debate. Arguing with someone who isn’t a Christian is, at the end of the day, a horrible waste of time. It’s perfectly understandable that we want others to believe what we believe because, to us, it’s fulfilling and infuses hope in our lives. I believe that some of us assume that anyone who isn’t a Christian has a miserable, depressing life with no positive aspects to go around. At the end of the day, God changes their minds, not us. God leads people to Him. We’re the ones who plant the seeds, and then we’re supposed to step back and allow God to work within the lives of those we’ve affected. We can’t force our doctrine down other people’s throats just like others shouldn’t force their doctrine down our throats. How is that treating each other with love and respect? We’re supposed to show love to them, not ridicule them for what they believe.
That all being said, this film was in no way perfect. The music for the first twenty minutes seemed to be the same fifteen-second track on a loop, and some of the dialogue wasn’t very well written. When Professor Portland does his speech near the end of the film, I felt like I was watching a video sermon instead of an actual movie. Thankfully, the speech was very well written and was one of the key components for the way I felt about this film, so I’m not really going to bash it. I recommend this film for both Christians and non-Christians because it contains a message that I think both sides desperately need to hear. It puts a lot of those Evolution/Creation debates to shame, and teaches us something valuable. Believing in God isn’t a matter of fact, it’s a matter of faith.