David Newman is a middle-age associate pastor of a booming megachurch who lives with one motto: Trust God in all circumstances. And thus far, it seems God has blessed him for his faith. Newman has a beautiful family. He has a nice home. He even is set to take over for his father as senior pastor.
Then, tragedy strikes. His 12-year-old son, Eric, is injured badly after being hit by a teen driver who was texting. Newman blames himself – that’s because he was late in picking Eric up from school – but he also blames God. Why didn’t God protect his son? After all, hadn’t Newman lived a faithful, Christ-centered life worthy of God’s protection?
It’s all part of A Question of Faith (PG), which opens in about 660 theaters this weekend and follows the stories of three families whose lives intersect when all of them are faced with trials. It is being released by the Christian film company Pureflix and features a multicultural cast with several mainstream actors and actresses, including Richard T. Jones (Godzilla, Judging Amy) as Newman; Kim Fields (The Facts of Life) as Newman’s wife, Theresa; and C. Thomas Howell (The Amazing Spiderman, E.T.) as John Danielson, the head of a construction company. Actor T.C. Stallings of War Room and Courageous, and Christian recording artist Jaci Velasquez also have roles.
A Question of Faith is a good-but-not-great faith movie that delivers several significant themes and lessons rarely seen on the big screen. The only problem: It’s impossible to discuss them without spoiling the plot.
So if you want to watch this one and be surprised, stop reading now!
Warning: Major spoilers
Minimal. The screen cuts away before Eric is hit by the car, although it is obvious what happens. We then see him in the hospital hooked up to tubes. We also see the teen driver – crying and scared – in jail. Eric eventually dies, and we experience his funeral and his family grieving.
Other Positive Elements
A Question of Faith gives us several examples of devoted parents, including Newman, his wife, and Velasquez’s character (the mom of the teen driver). Early in the film when Newman is trying to get out of a meeting to pick up his son he says, “I know to most people a kids’ basketball game is not as important as a huge construction project, but to a father, it should be.”
Newman is an African-American pastor of a predominantly black church, and the spirit-filled music provides one of the film’s highlights (more on that below).
Additionally, the filmmakers should be applauded for weaving together a story that includes a black family, a Latino family and a white family – the three main families in the story.
Other Negative Elements
A Question of Faith gives us three major themes/lessons: texting while driving, organ donation, and dealing with the loss of a child.
No doubt, some critics will laugh off a faith-based “anti-texting film,” but it’s tough to do so when looking at the on-screen consequences: a dead child and a grief-stricken family. And it’s not just in the movies. I did a quick Google search and found multiple examples of deaths by drivers who were texting. It made me never want to text and drive.
Other lessons involve prayer, regret, forgiveness, compassion and racism.
Trusting God is easy when life is great — when you’re on the mountaintop. But when you’re facing tragedy, especially following the surprising death of a loved one, it can be a lot tougher. That’s what Newman discovers.
“This can’t be God’s plan. He’s only 12,” he says.
He is angry at God and wants specific answers, but they never come. As the father of four young children, I cried while watching him grieve.
Thankfully, though, those around him don’t give up on him. His wife counsels him, and his parents do, too. He does learn to trust God again, even if it is tough. And they do discover purpose in Eric’s death.
A Question of Faith is family-friendly, although little ones may be troubled by the death of a child and the father’s doubting of his faith.
What I Liked
Actor Richard T. Jones is solid as Newman, and actress Kim Fields turns in a nice performance, too. Stallings also does a fine job. This doesn’t mean that all the acting is great (it’s not), but for most of the lead roles, it’s pretty good.
I also enjoyed the solos and the church choirs. Music plays a prominent role. The church services seem real, not fake.
What I Didn’t Like
A Question of Faith tries to make too many points and touch on too many issues. Simpler would have been better. There also are a few awkward moments, including the movie’s final scene, which was either powerful, or odd, or both. I’m still not sure.
Thumbs Up … Or Down?
It’s not a great film, but it’s not a bad one, either. Thumbs up.
- What is the “recipe” for peace in the midst of grief? How do we achieve it?
- Do you ever text and drive? Do you think it’s dangerous? Did the movie change your opinion of texting while driving?
- What is your view of organ donation?
- Would you have forgiven the driver, as Newman did?
- Are businesses always blessed if they put God at the center?
Entertainment rating: 3 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.
A Question of Faith is rated PG for thematic elements.