This week, moviegoers get a chance to watch another movie that tells the fictional story of a man who talks to God. But does the dialogue square with Scripture?
Movies that depict God appearing in bodily form and talking to modern man – such as Bruce Almighty or The Shack – can be fraught with theological problems.
First, the filmmaker faces the temptation of placing ideas in the movie that might fit his or her worldview but aren’t found in Scripture. Then, the filmmaker must choose which actor (or actress) will play the role – all of whom will bring their own flaws to the film. Finally, there’s the not-so-small problem of placing imagined dialogue in the mouth of God. For some Christians, that’s a non-starter.
This week, moviegoers get a chance to watch another movie that tells the fictional story of a man who talks to God. Called An Interview With God (unrated), it shows in theaters for three nights only (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday) and depicts a dejected newspaper journalist named Paul Asher who is granted three separate interviews with God, spanning 30 minutes apiece.
Brenton Thwaites (Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) plays Asher, a man who once had a strong faith but began having doubts about God following a trip to cover the war in Afghanistan. He’s also fighting to save his crumbling marriage. Academy Award nominee David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck) plays God. The movie was made in part by Giving Films, which also was involved in 90 Minutes in Heaven and Paul, Apostle of Christ.
Artistically, An Interview With God is gripping and entertaining. The back-and-forth dialogue between Asher and God dominates the film, as we hang on every single word and wonder, “What will Asher ask next? What will God say? What would we ask?” Thwaites and Strathairn are stellar. The film score is a perfect fit, too.
But these types of films – at least among evangelicals – are always judged theologically. Thankfully, there is some good news: An Interview With God succeeds in areas where The Shack failed, such as in affirming the exclusivity of Christ.
“Jesus was super clear in John 14:6: ‘I am the way, no one comes to the Father but through me,’” Asher says.
“Seem very clear to me,” God responds. Later, God adds, “Everyone has their own journey but there is only one path.”
Asher defines salvation as “returning to a state of perfection with the Almighty and absolution from sin forever” – a definition that God labels “excellent.”
God also tells Asher that he always has existed and that he exists outside of time.
“After all, I created time,” he says.
God’s love is affirmed again and again in the movie – as is his omniscience.
“You have no secrets from me,” God says.
“Yeah, I do.”
“No, you don’t,” God responds.
“Yeah, I do!” Asher says, angrily. “… My personal life is off-limits.”
God, referencing Asher’s marriage, says, “I would like to help you if you would let me.”
The movie, though, doesn’t get everything right. Asked if the Torah and the New Testament are the Word of God, God says, “Of course. But as understood by man and as translated by man.” Asher responds that the definition leaves wiggle room. And during one moment in the film, God mentions the days of Noah and says, “Was I too vengeful back then? Maybe.”
Overall, though, the film gives us a picture of God that is closer to Scripture than seen in most movies like these – and one that can be used as a discussion-starter with unbelievers. That’s progress.
An Interview With God contains no violence or sexuality, although an affair is discussed. The movie contains no coarse language.
Entertainment rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
For a list of theaters, visit AnInterviewWithGod