I was asked this past month if I had any recommendations of free online films that might be good material for a study group. Well, there are certainly some great ones to choose from! What follows are a number of films that will give viewers plenty to discuss. With two exceptions they are all an hour or shorter, leaving plenty of time for discussion. And perhaps the shortest ones could be paired together to foster two smaller, but related, discussions.
Click on the titles below to reach the films, as well as longer reviews, some of which also include discussion questions.
I survived “I Kissed Dating Goodbye”
78 min. / 2018
Josh Harris has been in the news lately for publicly turning his back on God. But before he kissed his wife, and his God goodbye, he was best known for his book I Kissed Dating Goodbye. This documentary, made last year (shortly before Harris’ apostasy) takes a look at the impact of his book, the purity culture it was a part of it, and the question of what it looks like to date like a Christian.
60 min. / 2016
The mild-mannered Michael Behe doesn’t seem like a “revolutionary.” But his idea of “irreducible complexity” – that there are some cellular machines that could not come about by the step-by-step process that evolution assumes – has driven evolutionists batty. And in telling his story, this documentary tells us the history of the Intelligent Design (ID) movement he helped start.
Now, the ID movement isn’t specifically Christian. They are focused on making the case for an Intelligent Designer and don’t get into who that Designer is, which means they never give God the credit He is due. But they have done some good work poking holes in evolutionary theory. So if you want to learn more about ID, there is no better, and no more succinct introduction than this one.
But as well done as this is, I will add it needs the listening audience to already be interested in the topic of evolution vs. creation. If they are not, then Revolutionary‘s talking heads – as brilliant and engaging as they are – probably won’t be enough to grab their attention.
15 min. / 2016
This is an important film, showing how euthanasia has been executed in Belgium, where it has been legal since 2002. But the documentary is fundamentally flawed in that it is an entirely secular presentation. What that means is that, as good as it is at pointing out problems, it can’t ever get at the root cause. And that root cause? Once a culture denies that our lives our not our own, but God’s, then life is going to be devalued. If we are not made in the very Image of God, then why is every human being’s life precious? The world doesn’t have an answer to that question. And because they have no answer, any safeguards they erect have no real foundation – they aren’t dug into solid rock. Thus they won’t be able to hold us back from sliding ever further down the slippery slope.
So this could make great discussion fodder for how avoiding mention of God is not simply cowardly, but ineffective.
15 min. / 2014
This is an incredibly well-done pro-life drama that makes the point that Beethoven’s mother had every earthly reason to abort him. And then it asks us to imagine what the world would have lost if she had. But, like the film above, there is a fundamental flaw in this argument worth understanding. Our worth does not come from our potential. What if Beethoven had been disabled, and could never have made any of his music? Is the film saying that they aborting him would have been okay?
This is another example of what happens when we try to ground our arguments on anything other than God’s Truth. We end up saying things that just aren’t true. Better to stand on the Bible, because regardless of whether we win or lose in the short term, we know we are standing on Truth.
The Fool – The true “Banana Man” story
60 min. / 2019
This is the true story of evangelist Ray Comfort and how he was mocked by atheists the world over for a silly joke he made that fell flat. But even as Ray was brought low, God was using Ray’s humiliation for His own purposes: these same atheists started inviting Ray onto their shows, podcasts, and stages and they let him say anything he wanted. It’s a sometimes funny, always intriguing story about how God can use even fools like us.
Audacity: Love can’t stay silent
50 min. / 2015
This is a Christian drama about homosexuality that has decent but admittedly not great acting. But the message it preaches is one we have to wrestle with: what does it mean to love our homosexual neighbor? That God clearly condemns homosexuality has got to be one of the hottest of hot-button topics today, so how can a Christian, on the one hand, be winsome, and on the other, speak God’s truth on this topic too.
And this question can be extended quite naturally to, what does it mean to love my non-Christian neighbor?
Babies are murdered here
54 min. / 2014
This must-see is first and foremost an encouragement for anyone sitting on the sidelines to get active and start saving the unborn. Where the film gets controversial is in the producers’ argument that we must name the sin that is going on behind clinic doors. They want Christians to start using stark, clear terms, like “murder” and “murderer” to clearly and accurately identify these shameful deeds. This should get some discussion going!
There is also a fantastic, though longer, sequel: Babies are still murdered here.
27 min. / 2009
This is a dystopian film set in 2081 when everyone is now, finally, equal thanks to the work of the Handicapper General. She, along with her agents, ensure that strong folks are burdened with weights, smart people are burdened with headphones that repeatedly blast sounds to disrupt their thinking, and beautiful people are forced to wear ugly masks. And thus, now, everyone is on the same level as all others.
This would be a great one to watch and consider questions about the problem of poverty as opposed to the problem of income inequality, what it means to be covetous, what sort of equality the world is after, and what sort of equality God requires.
8 min. / 2013
An atheistic philosophy professor is kidnapped by a psychopath who is going to kill him unless the professor can explain, using only his own atheistic thinking, why it would be wrong to do so. While nothing gory is shown – the film ends before anything happens – the premise will be too shocking for some audiences.
The Gospel Blimp
38 min. / 1967
Church group tries to think of some way to evangelize the next-door neighbor and hit on the idea of buying a blimp to sail over his house and rain down gospel tracts. This is a satirical take on how Christians so often make evangelism harder than it really is.
A few other possibilities didn’t make the list because there were either on the long side or were a lecture rather than a film. But if you are looking for more great material worth wrestling with and discussing, you’ll want to consider “Tactics in defending your faith,” “How to answer a fool,” “Science uprising,” “Secrets of the cell,” and “Fearfully and wonderfully made.”