I hadn’t seen The Apostle in years, but it is one of the great movies of my lifetime. We can balk at self-anointed prophets, an unconfessed crime, and shoddy theology, but this film does some things better than I have ever seen in a movie: it presents a real, complex character; it shows Christians as messy but serious people in the process of sanctification; it presents the church as a place of fellowship, love, and even a vehicle for salvation. It is tremendously moving.
Sonny is a deeply flawed man, but he’s no phony. Most people aren’t wanted by the law, but can any of us not relate to conflicting desires and be uplifted by Sonny’s love for the lost, his understanding of the eternal stakes, his willingness to throw a punch for his people, his ceasless motion, and his unbounded desire to proclaim the truth?
Hollywood’s movies once showed Christians as nearly perfected saints (see Crosby, Bing). Idealistic, but at least it was respectful. Now they show Christians as either pious frauds or, even worse, universalists whose Christ-less faith is really just a phony humanistic counterfeit. A man without the cross may be a Unitarian, a humanitarian, a liberal, or a conservative. But he’s not a Christian.
The Apostle is a film that stays with you. The music was great, too. There were a lot of unprofessional actors in the film, which made it more authentic. Why doesn’t Hollywood do that more often?