Breakthrough Breaks through Christian Movie Stereotypes

Christ and Pop Culture | 4/5/2019 | Seana Scott
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Breakthrough might challenge some of our stereotypes of Christian films. DeVon Franklin, an award-winning film and TV producer and preacher, worked with 20th Century Fox to tell a miracle story that is markedly Christian, but crafted for all audiences. Talent like Chrissy Metz (This Is Us), Josh Lucas (Sweet Home Alabama), and Topher Grace (That ’70s Show), offer believable acting that helps viewers wrestle with faith and doubts along with the on-screen characters. But what does this film teach us about God, both generally and through his work in the local church?

John Smith and his two basketball buddies do what young men naturally do—egg each other on to take boyish risks. They play on a frozen lake, and the ice suddenly breaks open. All three kids fall in, and John disappears under the ice.

Time - Paramedics - John - Limp - Emergency

By the time paramedics pull John out, he is cold, limp, and unresponsive. Emergency response teams offer CPR, medication, and electric shock for more than twenty minutes to jolt his heart to start beating, but no pulse is found. The doctor, considering him dead, invites his mom in to say goodbye. She weeps and prays, “Holy Spirit, please breathe life into my son.” John’s pulse returned to his body.

The rest of the plot of Breakthrough (based on Joyce Smith’s book of her experience) depicts a struggle to believe God, to hope, to hold on, to fight. Doctors struggle to look beyond statistics. John’s father emotionally hides. The man who found John in the depths of black, freezing water wonders if God even exists. And John Smith’s mom, Joyce, struggles to let go of her perceived control over John’s fate and surrender to God.

Doctor - Report - Boy - Mom - Boy

The doctor’s report reads, “Boy died. Mom prayed. Boy came back to life.” Does God still bring dead people back to life the way the...
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