Over the years, I've browsed through several online lists of movies recommended for Christian teens. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them include films with decidedly anti-Christian content. Crosswalk.com's recent list of "10 Classic Movies Every Christian Teen Should Watch" provides a great example. Crosswalk has been promoting this list very heavily on facebook, but it includes films like Schindler's List with graphic and explicit nudity as well as Saving Private Ryan which is filled with R rated cursing.
Every time I read one of these lists, I end up complaining to my wife about how superficial mainline Christianity has become, and she, in turn, reminds me that I still haven't published my list of 100+ Clean Movies for Christian Families. Well, I'm still not quite ready to publish the full list of over 100 movies, but I think that I can match Crosswalk.com's list of 10 by providing my own list of 10 Christian Movies Every Godly Teen Should Watch.
1. The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (1958)
This film about the life of missionary Gladys Aylward is the quintessential Christian film. It follows the true life adventure of Gladys Aylward, a single missionary to China whose humility and sacrifice won the hearts of the Chinese villagers among whom she lived. Ingrid Bergman does a masterful job of portraying Aylward amidst both the toils and the triumphs of foreign missions.
2. The Hiding Place (1975)
Based on the book by the same title, The Hiding Place is a true story of tragedy and forgiveness. The events of the movie take place during the Holocaust in Germany where the Ten Boom family aided Jews in their flight out of the country. The Ten Booms were eventually found out and sent to concentration camps. The movie follows Corrie ten Boom who initially becomes angry and bitter over her situation, but eventually, she allows God to use the situation to teach her how to forgive.
3. The Ten Commandments (1956)
Starring Charlton Heston as Moses and Yul Brynner as Rameses, this classic recounting of the Exodus is still the best film adaptation of a biblical passage ever produced. The film generally stays faithful to the text of Scripture, and the dynamic between Heston and Brynner is so vibrant that viewers are left with the impression that they were watching actual footage of the conflict between Moses and Rameses.
4. Sergeant York (1941)
Sergeant Alvin C. York was a real Christian soldier in every sense of the term. This true to life account begins just before York's salvation and tells how his faith in Christ took him from being the town drunk to being one of the most decorated soldiers of World War I. The film is based on York's diary and was produced to help him raise funds for a Bible school.
5. Ben Hur (1959)
This classic screen adaptations of Lew Wallace's "Tale of the Christ" is another of Charlton Heston's most memorable performances. Heston plays Judah Ben Hur, a first century Jewish merchant whose life is plunged into a cycle of turmoil and empty triumphs until he meets Christ. The climax of the film is a deadly Roman chariot race which Heston filmed without a stunt double.
6. One Night with the King (2006)
This rendition of the Book of Esther is by far the most picturesque film in this list. It was filmed in India, and the combination of the region's natural beauty and architecture along with the film's incredible set designs really captures the majesty of ancient Persia. The title is very misleading as the film is primarily about the origin of the feast of Purim and Esther's willingness to risk her own life to save her people.
7. Split Infinity (1992)
Time travel is always an intriguing topic for movies, and this film from Feature Films for Families does an excellent job of portraying the complexities of time travel within a Christian worldview. AJ, the main character, is sent back in time to the Great Depression where she uses her knowledge of the future to save the family farm. In the process, she develops an appreciation for her Grandpa and other family members that was previously lacking.
8. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)
C. S. Lewis described the book by this title as an answer to the question "What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia, and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?" Narnia is a land of talking animals, and the Christ figure takes the form of Aslan a talking Lion. In the movie, as in the book, four human children are transported into Narnia where they meet Aslan and witness his sacrifice to provide salvation for that world.
9. October Baby (2011)
This is an amazingly inspiring film about abortion, adoption and forgiveness. The main character, Hannah, discovers that she is adopted and embarks on a quest to find her birth mother. In the process, she also finds out that her mother attempted to have an abortion before placing her for adoption. This news is devastating to Hannah, and her search becomes a spiritual journey as she seeks for the strength to forgive her birth mother.
10. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939)
While not an explicitly Christian movie, this classic Jimmy Stewart film is literally filled with biblical values and principles. Stewart's character, Jefferson Smith, is appointed to fill a vacant senate seat in hopes that his lack of political experience will make him easy to manipulate. Smith, however, turns out to be a man of strong Christian principles who refuses to back down from doing what he knows to be right. This is, without a doubt, the best film ever made about the American political system.
Are there other movies that you would recommend? Leave a comment or two and let us know about them.
Bill Fortenberry is a Christian philosopher and historian in Birmingham, AL. Bill's work has been cited in several legal journals, and he has appeared as a guest on shows including The Dr. Gina Show, The Michael Hart Show, and Real Science Radio.
Contact Us if you would like to schedule Bill to speak to your church, group, or club.
"Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning." (Proverbs 9:9)