I Can Only Imagine (movie): Review

I encourage you to go see it for the following reasons, followed by a word of caution:

Unlike some Christian-themed films, this one is in no way manipulative, coercive or sensationalized.

Not once will you feel “preached to.”

The director has done a masterful job of making this a film simply about the story of one boy’s painful childhood – and how God can use the pain and dysfunction in our lives on this messed up planet to create something extraordinary and, dare I say – joyful.

It’s not mentioned in the movie, but several times I reflected upon Joseph’s words to his brothers, “What you intended for evil against me, God intended for good.” (God transformed Joseph’s crippling pain into purpose and joy.)

In my opinion, Christianity wasn’t even the primary theme of the movie. Again, the director did a superb job of telling a story, allowing the audience to absorb the story at their own pace, and then, only if they want to, consider the spiritual implications.

What was the primary theme of the movie?

Forgiveness.

Bart Millard suffered deeply at the hands of his dad while growing up. When Bart was grown, his soul beaten and bruised, he had a choice to make – (1) live the rest of his life out suffering psychological bondage, driven by his hate for his dad, or (2) forgive his dad, regardless of how much pain he had endured.

And the director never once portrays forgiveness as easy. It’s a war in your mind and soul. The director gives complete respect to this truth.

All of that said, i offer this one caution:

If, like me, you suffered years of abuse as a child at the hands of a physically violent and verbally abusive father, the movie will most certainly be triggering. You will find yourself, like I did, weeping, gripping your chest and, at times, experiencing very real and traumatic flashbacks. You will want to have someone you love – and who loves you deeply (scars and all) – next to you.  My wife, Michelle, held my arm the entire movie.

As I left the theater (emotionally exhausted), I told Michelle, “I’m so glad I forgave my dad.”  (Read me story here.)

I can only imagine what my dad is doing now in heaven. Free from addiction. Free from anger. Free from his own pain.

And, because I’ve forgiven him, I’m free too.

“What (the stuff of life) intended for evil against me, God intended for good.” Christ wins.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick

The Discipleship of the Mind

Theology

When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment he purposefully made it clear that God was to be loved with the mind as well as the rest of our human faculties. (cf. Matthew 22:37)

In his book, “The Passionate Intellect,” former atheist, Alister McGrath (Oxford; Ph.D., Molecular Biophysics), calls the intellectual pursuit of God “the discipleship of the mind.” To anyone who would dismiss theological study as boring, uninteresting and dry, he offers the following:

“Christian theology is one of the most intellectually stimulating and exciting subjects to study, rich in resources for our lives.”

He continues,

“It has the capacity to excite, inspire and illuminate the human intellect , giving it a new passion and focus.”

I couldn’t agree more.

But, modern day believers (not all, but the vast majority) are, biblically illiterate and intellectually lazy, allowing their minds to be slowly consumed by mind-numbing social media.

C.S. Lewis, former atheist and one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century, said,

“God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than of any other slackers. If you are thinking of being a Christian, I warn you: you are embarking on something that is going to take the whole of you, brains and all.”

Writing a blog he titles, “How the Church’s Anti-Intellectualism Will Be Her Jailor,” Michael Sherrard agrees:

[The intellectual laziness that characterizes much of North American Christianity] “has caused a slumber – a slumber in the proverbial classroom, and the church is now awakening to an exam for which it is not prepared… Now many believers are ill equipped to speak about anything that does not have a mascot. And in that regard, society should place us at the kids table.”

Ouch.

Love the Lord you God with all your…mind,

Nick