For Christians seeking family friendly faith based movies either as entertainment or as ministry, the Kendrick Brothers movies from Sherwood Pictures have been the go-to series for many. Originally from Athens GA, the Kendrick Brothers are Shannon, Alex and Stephen. Alex and Stephen have been making full-length Christian movies since 2003, initially at Sherwood Baptist and now from their newly formed production company. Their first film was the independent release of Flywheel in 2003. After that came Facing The Giants (2006), Fireproof, (2008), and Courageous, (2011). Movie #5, War Room, came out Aug. 28, 2015. The opening weekend Box Office stunned Hollywood. It brought in 11 million dollars.
The films seem almost universally and uncritically adored, from patrons of them who flock to the screens to church pastors and leaders who show them in their sanctuaries. The films’ showings are often accompanied with attendant paraphernalia such as curricula, studies, sermon outlines, resolutions, books, journals, devotionals and other merchandising. As a side note, translate the fervency and diligence some pastors promote and urge attendance at these movies to their fervency for preaching the Word expositionally and urging worship in their church. I wish.
Whenever anything, and I mean anything, that is promoted from the pulpit it is wise to delve into whether the thing being promoted is consistent with the bible and thus edifying for the sheep. It is also wise to research the people behind writing these movies, books, devotionals, and study guides.
In Part 1, I mentioned that I do not like the movies the Kendrick Brothers have produced so far. I have seen three of them (not Courageous, and not War Room). The films do present a good storyline, engagingly developed. The films are based on biblical themes such as prayer, submission, fatherhood, etc. The films are written by pastors and are prayed over diligently, we hear. They’re emotional and watchable. So what’s not to like?
Discernment is not just looking at the surface. Discernment is not just accepting that a Christian thing is “close enough.” Jesus did not come ‘close enough’ to sinlessness for the Father to accept His sacrifice. The Apostles and Martyrs didn’t preach and die a ‘close enough’ faith. We must be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Jesus said,
Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16, commentary on what this means here)
In Part 1 I’d said I’d look more at the Kendrick Brothers’ choice of casting. They had said in this Youtube interview from several months ago that for the movie War Room —
We pray over every single role. We want Christians playing Christians in these movies, we want to know they believe what they are speaking in these roles. We want no hypocrisy, [we hire Christians who show that] we believe what this movie is about then live it out, outside the credits.
So, since they announced the basis for their casting decisions, let’s look at them and compare to scripture to see if they hold up.
Priscilla Shirer dominates the movie, being its main cast member (TC Stallings plays her husband). Since the Kendricks deliberately choose Christians who live what they believe, then what does Shirer believe?
Unfortunately, Shirer is a proponent of hearing directly from God. Here in an interview in Charisma Magazine, Shirer explains her basis for launching her “Going Beyond” ministries. Charisma Magazine has the tale (and even being quoted in Charisma is another discernment red flag). In the article it states,
In her case, God was speaking to her about going to “the place of abundant living—an experiential relationship with God.” “He said: ‘Priscilla, you’ve been at this mountain long enough. There is a new place that I want to take you to,’” Shirer says. In light of God’s challenge, Shirer naturally desired to “go beyond” personally.
So God personally speaks to Shirer clearly enough that she can put His words in quotes? This is a problem. When one tells the world that God speaks personally to her (and this isn’t the only instance of her recounting extra-biblical revelation from God) then she denies the sufficiency of the Bible.
Secondly, look at the phrase “she naturally wanted to go beyond…” Go beyond what, exactly? The bible tells us not to go beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6) something Shirer has already done in speaking of direct revelation from God. (Revelation 22:18). Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others, as we’re told in 2 Corinthians 10:15. In Galatians 5:12 Paul cursed the Judaizers, wishing they would “go beyond” their circumcision and excise the entire appendage lol. But Shirer’s basis for a ministry of ‘going beyond’ is really a basis to go beyond what is written and venture into the experiential, something she says all the time should be normal for Christians. For example she said, “A lot of the demonstrative gifts of the Spirit aren’t used all the time in my church—almost never—so I could easily box God in and say because that is not my experience, God must not operate in that way. We need to accept that the body of Christ is full of other believers who have experienced God in equally relevant, equally reliable ways.”
What Shirer is saying here is that if another person who calls themselves a Christian is experiencing the sign gifts, we must accept their experience as valid, or we will be putting God in a box. Notice she didn’t have a biblical stance for her reasoning why she believes the sign gifts continue. Only that if the experience is happening it must be valid.
She says this not because she has come to a concerted biblical conclusion, but because of “other believers who have experienced God in equally relevant, equally reliable ways.” Again, she has come to this belief – and teaches it- because people EXPERIENCE the gifts, not because she has exegeted the text to prove it so.
Third, in addition to receiving and promoting as normal the extra-biblical revelation from God, experiential approaches to teaching and believing God’s word, Shirer also teaches and promotes Contemplative Prayer. (Also known as Centering Prayer) This is a Catholic/Occult/Mystical practice which is not based on the bible but on inner knowings and experiences that supposedly occur after emptying the mind and experiencing the presence of God. “We are to meditate actively, using our minds, based upon Scripture, not empty nothingness and waiting” as the writer at CARM explains.
When the Kendricks say they pray over each role and take time selecting Christians who are sound and non-hypocritical, this is the level of their discernment? Putting front and center a charismatic mystic who promotes extra-biblical revelation and the experiential method as the benchmark of affirming truth? It seems to me the discernment level of those making the decisions at Kendrick Brothers Productions is not what it should be.
In addition, their casting of Beth Moore leaves much to be desired, since Moore engages in occult channeling, receives visions and extra-biblical personal revelation, puts herself out as a prophetess, promotes pop-psychology, mysticism, contemplative prayer, and legalism, poor exegesis, teaches men, lives like a feminist, and much more.
Speaking of associations, the Kendrick Brothers’ discernment on this front also leaves much to be desired. They associate with TD Jakes, an unsaved pastor who denies the Trinity. Back in March of this year, Alex Kendrick was a featured speaker at the “Missions and Marketplace Conference” in Chicago. Also speaking at that conference was Jakes. The #WarRoomMovie twitter stream recently published a thank you to Jakes for his support of the movie. Remember, Jakes produced the film version of the heaven tourism book Heaven is for Real.
|HT Twitter, Sunny Shell,@Sunny_Shell|
So back to the Kendrick Brothers’ discernment. It seems that each of their movies have promoted some aspects of Christian life that are not biblical. It seems that each movie has gotten a bit more blatant and forward in the departure from biblical discernment and practices. It seems that it got worse after they left the oversight of Sherwood Baptist and began partnering with heretics and hiring false teachers for their movies.
And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. (2 Peter 2:3 KJV)
Make room, Ephesian silversmiths and idol makers. (Acts 19:19-20). A new merchant is in town. Here are some examples:
Kerusso, the leader in Christian apparel and gifts, has announced a new partnership with the Kendrick Brothers who recently produced their fifth film titled WAR ROOM releasing August 28, 2015 from Sony Pictures Entertainment’s TriStar Pictures, distributor of Soul Surfer, Courageous and last summer’s faith-based sensation Heaven is For Real. The partnership grants Kerusso rights to produce officially licensed merchandise and apparel for the upcoming film.
Coming along with it is a line of books, including a novelization of the film, officials from the publishing companies say.
For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:17).
Don’t forget your Battle Plan Prayer Cards! Buy now!
When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. (Luke 19:45)
This promotion-poster misuses the verse. I find the use of merchandising along with the word of God crass in the extreme.
|This photo uses the Psalm verse out of context and incorrectly,
Note the ‘Battle Plan you can BUY, combined with the verse. Gross.
Should I buy the “Battle Plan for Prayer”? If I do, I’ll have to move the Love Dare aside to make room on the shelf…And where will I put my Courageous Resolution?
He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” (Matthew 21:13)
Most of the Kendrick Brothers movies blame the man. Here is one meme that pokes at this fact.
Let’s all remodel our closets!
This woman remodeled already ! Because it’s the room that does it!
Awww, so sad this lady didn’t have a closet to donate to the cause. She made a nook. Her prayers will be nook sized instead of #powerful.
Spot the missing resource!!
In conclusion…yes I have a heated righteous indignation at the lack of discernment evidenced here. I have a heated anger regarding churches that relentlessly promote these films yet when it comes to sharing the Gospel or even personally shepherding the flock they have they tolerate sin and compromise. I am very upset at all the merchandising. I really am.
I do understand the power of prayer and the wonder of prayers being answered. I am for prayer. I am against Hollywood films showing a pale and shallow Western Christianity where prayer gets you things. Where a remodeled closet is the answer and not the God who sees and hears. Where the woman leads (subtly, because satan is crafty). Where prayers are to satan and not to Jesus. Where, despite all the Kendrick Brothers statements about prayerfully considering each person for each role, in another interview they decided that casting Black actors would be “more heart grabbing.” And here I thought that there was no Greek or Jew, no slave or free, no male or female. (Galatians 3:28). But apparently using Black people in your movie brings the bucks.
CBN News asked the Kendrick brothers about their decision to cast mostly blacks in the film. “When it came to ‘War Room’ there was a passionate flavor we wanted to present that really would have been different any other way,” director Alex Kendrick said. “I felt like the Lord was saying it needs to be told through the African American perspective and the female perspective,” he added. [emphasis mine]
How did we get to this low point, of an undiscerning people buying merchandise at the temple and miss God, His Son and His Spirit so badly? It is all foretold, the time of apostasy, tickled ears, and lack of discernment is upon us. And yet there is a remnant strong and true, praying in whatever room they are, to a strong and mighty God.
Thank you everyone for your comments. I am closing comments at this time.