I’m a big fan of the Christian movies Fireproof and War Room, so I was looking forward to Facing the Giants, which looked like basically the same thing, but with high school football.
The other two movies have actual struggles and hard change and some serious real world difficulties in them…but not Facing the Giants.
In the first act of this movie, we see all the things wrong in the life of a losing football coach at a private Christian school: a failing job, a broken down house and car, infertility. Then he decides to turn his life over to God more fully, and suddenly everything magically turns around. He gets a new car. His wife gets pregnant. His team wins the state championship.
No, I don’t have a problem with the concept of miracles, but I don’t like a story where it’s that easy, or that selfish.
This movie turns God into Santa Claus, just waiting for us to say the right words politely enough before showering us with all the toys we want.
The big change he makes as a coach is really just doing his job a little bit better than before. And merely for that, a player’s father buys him a new car. What a materialistic gospel this movie preaches! It’s the definition of cheap grace.
The movie pretends to have challenges in the coach’s way, but both of them get removed immediately. His wife appears to still be infertile, but she prays a “thy will be done” prayer, and instantly it turns out to have just been a paperwork mistake at the doctor’s office! Surprise, she really is pregnant! His football team loses a game, but they all agree to praise God no matter what, and then they find out the other team cheated and they get to go on to the playoffs! Ugh, what a cop out.
This movie is an insult to anyone who ever actually suffered and sacrificed for their faith. Or anyone who ever prayed and didn’t instantly get a new car.
It’s a harmless enough family movie, and I do like how much the coach is seen praying and studying the Bible (and I really do love this great scene), but there’s more to this movie’s easy victory march: after the coach embraces a life of discipleship, the boys on his team and a bunch of other kids at school have simultaneous conversion moments. This all seems to happen in a matter of days.
Again, it’s a victory with no real change, no real struggle. He says some magic words and fast forwards to an easy and worldly happily ever after.
In short, this movie’s view is exactly what’s wrong with Christianity in American today. It’s supposed to be a path to salvation from sin and death. It’s not a self-help guide for therapy and achievement.
Skip this one, but definitely check out Fireproof and War Room instead.