The new documentary Beware of Christians is being marketed as a major revelation but plays as old hat.
It follows four young men across 10 European cities as they explore how the Jesus they were brought up to believe is different from the one depicted in the Bible. Every 10 minutes of film time is spent in a different city (London, Paris, Rome, etc.) while pondering a different topic that college students wrestle with (premarital sex, alcohol, pop culture idolatry, etc.). The guys ask some questions among the (English-speaking) locals while posing some (semi-thoughtful) questions in a roundtable discussion and turning to some Bible passages.
The points made are good, but all too familiar. Christians fail to live out all of God's Word on a daily basis? No way! Christians need to emphasize relationship over religion? Do tell! Most young adults plugged into Christian culture already know this stuff.
The movie fails to draw any new conclusions, though it comes close to a key point: The guys note how many non-Christians view Christians as hypocritical, yet how can believers live the Christian life publicly without coming across as pious or sheltered? If only the movie followed this thinking through to its logical conclusion: the need for Christians to walk the fine line of being holy and being cool—"in the world, not of it."
There's nothing special about their hipster style of filmmaking with out-of-focus shots, quick intercuts, etc.—think The Real World gone Christian. Nor is this a clever movie, or particularly funny, though not from want of trying. I felt like I was on a trip with four slightly irritating Christian frat boys. They share the usual anecdotes of losing their wallet and passport or getting lost in Switzerland on the way to Italy.
Two of the guys "help" their lovelorn friend by intercepting all his postcards to his girlfriend—which of course only makes him mad and doesn't seem particularly Christ-like. For that matter, watching two of the guys smacking each other's bare backs as some sort of fraternal prank is like watching an episode of Jackass. Or how about when two of them dress up like gladiators in Rome with cheap gift shop toys and proceed to smack each other in public like little boys? Way to represent America, guys.
Still, by the time the movie was over, it occurred to me that I had maybe fifteen years of spiritual maturity on these four. These "old" conclusions they draw might have been new to me when I was their age. As much as I want Beware of Christians to be an insightful and informative documentary for all ages, it may still be a worthwhile film for teens and young adults. Especially those who need to see a film that ultimately concludes that 1) Christians don't have it all worked out, and 2) God loves us anyway.
The DVD is available for purchase here. See the trailer below: