The Reality of Spiritual War
In my case, there was a bit of a personal connection. I kept thinking that one of the lead characters, Tony Jordan, looked awfully familiar. Sticking around for the ending credits, I saw that he was played by T.C. Stallings—the same Tony Stallings I interviewed in person about 15 years earlier.
We were living then in Louisville, where Stallings was a top running back for the University of Louisville. The interview was one of the last I did for Sharing the Victory, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes’ magazine, before winding down my work for athletics-oriented publications.
To say I was impressed with Stallings’ performance would be an understatement. The young man I had interviewed prior to his senior year of college had grown into a man who projected an awesome screen presence.
He played his role to perfection. Starting out as a hard-bitten, thoroughly-despicable cheater (business-wise and at home), Tony winds up a caring, honest father and husband.
I can see the portrayals of both him and leading woman Priscilla Shirer (a top female Bible teacher) opening doors to other roles in the future.
Some would say, “Preposterous,” since one’s point of view about matters of faith will also shape one’s outlook on this movie. But, considering that War Room ranked #2 in the nation for ticket sales its opening weekend and hung in at #3 the following weekend, a lot of moviegoers obviously share my opinion.
Poking around online for reactions to War Room, I came across this negative comment: “The movie equivalent of repeatedly being punched by a Bible, War Room is so brazen with its Evangelical agenda and curbed by its lackluster cinematic approach that nonbelievers will find it laughable.”
Variety reviewer Joe Leyden was a bit more charitable in his assessment: “The emphatic proselytizing doubtless will resound with ticket buyers who feel a drama focused on the possibility of spiritual salvation can be every bit as compelling as a spectacle that pivots on the question of whether Loki can pull one over on the Avengers.”
Truer words were never spoken—in both cases. People who find the idea of prayer ridiculous and will be offended by its overt biblical theme likely won’t buy a ticket. But this “proselytizing” is one reason millions have gone to see it.
There’s more to its appeal, though. It’s a reason that of the five films the Kendricks have made, each one has been progressively more popular with movie audiences.
For years, churchgoers have watched Hollywood and media elites sneer at their faith and treat it as some kind of Neanderthal prudery that appeals to the weak-minded and non-scientific.
Those of us who know otherwise, and who have experienced God’s grace in our lives, resist such characterizations. It’s not only a characteristically-inaccurate stereotype, when we see someone demonstrating the reality of faith, its practical impact, and respect for our beliefs, it’s no wonder that it becomes a box office hit.
I recently edited a book for French doctor who chronicles a litany of peer-reviewed, scientific psychological and other studies—by academics, not Christians—showing the positive impact faith makes on people’s lives.
So, no matter how many critics insist otherwise, War Room is a dramatic interpretation of reality.