Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Movie Review: Jesus Camp

Jesus Camp, (Oscar-nominated for best documentary) follows three young children, Levi, Tory, and Rachael to Devil’s Lake North Dakota as they attend “Kids on Fire,” an evangelical, Pentecostal summer camp designed to mobilize Christian youth to “take back America.” I was riveted and terrified all at once. I’d like to force every Christian in America to watch this film and then form a discussion group—there is a lot to learn from this film. I’d also like to prevent every non-Christian from watching it, but as Richard Dawkins’ (a leader of the modern atheist movement) website shows, this isn’t happening.

Some questions the film raises:
  • “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it,” (Proverbs 22: 6). At what point does this become brainwashing?
  • Should we teach children/people to run from sin or run towards God’s love? How does one without the other impact faith?
  • Jesus mentions how children have a unique openness to the Kingdom of God a couple of times in his ministry (Matthew 18:4; Mark 10: 13-16). Given this, how can we tell when kids are mimicking those around them (parents, church leaders and elders, other children, etc.) or genuinely acting in accord with the Holy Spirit?
  • Are situations where people feel compelled to perform spiritually and emotionally healthy? Godly?
  • Is there any biblical precedent for intermingling politics and the Church? Does Jesus have anything to say about this? What would Jesus say about bringing a cardboard cutout of George W. Bush to “Kids on Fire?”
  • Are science and religion mutually exclusive? Can orthodox Christianity and modern science be reconciled?
  • Is this film representative of all evangelicals?
Interestingly enough, for those who think this film is a smear job against evangelicals, the filmmakers flatly deny it. In fact everyone in the film endorsed it, except for Ted Haggard, who has since lost his job as head of the National Association of Evangelicals for “sexually immoral conduct.”

Jesus Camp filmmakers respond to Ted Haggard’s criticism.

Christianity Today interviews the filmmakers.


T said...

Yes, yes, yes. It's true, this film is disturbing

But, if Jesus ever has a camp, sign me up. It would be the best camp ever!

patrick said...

i appreciate that the makers of Jesus Camp let the interviewees do all the talking, but they were obviously selective about what they let into the final movie release; over all, there is some useful truth in this flick... as long as it's taken with a grain (or maybe a bucket) of salt