Film Review By Chet Tan, Library Volunteer
“A Matter of Faith” centers around the Whittakers, a Christian family whose daughter Rachel (Jordan Trovillon) is going off to college. However, Rachel gets the shock of her life when she realizes that her renowned biology instructor, Professor Kaman (Harry Anderson), teaches the theory of evolution. This leaves Rachel so shaken that she tells her father Stephen (Jay Pickett) about it, prompting him to confront Professor Kaman about the “lies” he is teaching his students. In response, Professor Kaman invites Stephen to a public debate on the subject, which Stephen accepts. And so begins the crusade of the Whittaker family to share the truth of the creation story, which builds up to the climactic night of the public debate at the university that doesn’t go down as expected.
Admittedly, this is a difficult film to watch. The protagonists are supposed to be Christians, and yet it is not easy to sympathize with them when their determination to stand by their convictions borders on intolerance. Stephen’s demands of what is presumably a secular university seem to fly in the face of academic freedom. There is a scene where Evan (Chandler Macocha), a fellow Christian student who befriends Rachel, walks up to another student he doesn’t even know and then proceeds to publicly dress him down for having different beliefs. These onscreen actions can lead one to ask: is this how uncompromising a Christian should be?
Thus, the film’s resolution, which puts forth the proposition that both sides of the story should be presented so that everyone can decide for themselves what the truth is, comes as a welcome surprise. This is a message that all Christians need to hear, as we, in our zeal, may sometimes substitute Christ’s humility with self-righteousness, forgetting that our words must “…always be full of grace, seasoned with salt….” (Colossians 4:6 NIV) It’s just that this film takes a rather haphazard path to get to this message.
There is also a plot thread involving Rachel and another student, but I had to re-watch their scenes to make sure I understood what was going on. Without giving too much away, it can only be assumed that, in an effort to make the film more family-friendly, some of the dialogue ended up being vague and may need to be sensitively explained to younger viewers.
Watching “A Matter of Faith” was challenging at times, just as its characters had to go through challenges for their faith. The film certainly takes a roundabout way of getting its message across, but the payoff is worth it.
Director: Rich Christiano
Distributor: Five & Two Pictures (2014)