By Debbie Holloway, Assistant Director - Crosswalk.com
Crosswalk.com editor Debbie Holloway: We are so excited to talk to you about Unstoppable. Why don’t you start off by telling us the basic premise of the movie? Is it a film? Is it a documentary?
Kirk Cameron: Unstoppable: it’s a little difficult to really drop into a category of documentary or movie. It’s a film that plays more like a visual diary or journal. Ultimately, I’m trying to tackle a question that wrecks people’s faith, and is probably one of the top five questions in the world: Where is God in the midst of tragedy and suffering?
And this film really attempts to take you up to Heaven’s balcony and give you a perspective from the Garden of Eden, through to the formation of Israel, through the Crucifixion, and ultimately the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in AD 70. To give you a picture of the whole story from Heaven’s perspective and hope that we can gain some context for pain and suffering that helps it make sense in our narrow view that we live in right now.
You mention our ‘narrow view.’ When I watched the trailer for the movie, I got to thinking about the Bible, and how the Bible deals with pain and suffering. By the time we get to the New Testament, we find a ‘warfare worldview,’ where people recognize that God battles Satan, and there is Good vs. Evil. In the New Testament, there isn’t as much a question of “Where is God?” Or “Why does evil exist?” It’s more like, “Well, evil exists and God battles evil.” Why do you think our culture has grown to a place where we wrestle with that so much, even though in the Bible we see that there is a war between Good vs. Evil in the world? I’d like to hear your opinion on that.
KC: That’s a really good question. You know, many people who read the New Testament have this view of the Old Testament that somehow because certain ancient Jewish customs no longer apply (i.e. we’re no longer in an era where we are forbidden to eat shrimp, or plant two kinds of seeds in the same garden, or mix two different types of fabric) that the Old Testament is somehow irrelevant.
A real study of the Old Testament is what gives you context for what we read in the New Testament. Jesus is called the Last Adam, which is an obvious reference to the first Adam - and that’s Adam in the Garden where you find the serpent, the ‘serpent of old’ spoken about in Revelation. And so, understanding both Testaments together as one book that God wrote begins to fill in the story of Good and Evil, and where pain and tragedy fit into God’s plan for restoring his world.
Without getting into too theologically deep waters, I guess the simple answer for why people struggle with evil is because evil is painful. Evil is difficult. And not just evil people, but also what some people call ‘natural evil,’ like tornadoes and hurricanes, or things like cancer. Things that seem to be outside people’s control and only under the control of God. Then of course that begs the question… is God in control of those things? And if he is, why doesn’t he stop them if he could? And this is the big question.
But I think you’re right, if we truly understand the story God’s been writing from the very beginning, as my friend Joni Eareckson Tada has often said: “Sometimes God chooses to use the things that he hates in order to accomplish the things that he loves.” He is not endorsing the thing that he hates, but when he gives people the ability to choose evil things, hurtful things, harmful things, God doesn’t stop us from making those choices. He gives us the freedom to act out the desires of our heart, and then chooses to steer those things, and their consequences, for the ultimate good of those who love him. And that’s one of the amazing, brilliant mysteries about God. And if we get that perspective, then we can understand that God’s not the author of evil, but he is the one who can redeem and restore in the midst of evil.
Was there a specific life event which spurred you to make this movie, or was it a general question you’ve wondered about for a while?
KC: This film Unstoppable is definitely the most personal project I’ve ever made, and the most transparent regarding my faith. My wife and I have been volunteering at a camp we started about 23 years ago called Camp Firefly. This is a camp for terminally and seriously ill children and their families. And we’ve met hundreds of families and brought them to camp and gotten to know them, and many of them have passed away. Though we praise God in the midst of this, it really kicked off my desire to find a better answer to this age old question. Why does God let bad things happen to good people? Because it’s something that I’ve wrestled with, and I’ve exposed some of my doubts, and fears, and questions about my own faith. Because I think a lot of people can resonate with those things.
I came out the other end with something that should have destroyed my faith making my faith stronger. And I’m hoping that Christians and people of faith all over the world, including atheists and agnostics, who deny the existence of God or pretend that there is no God, will see the light maybe differently through this film Unstoppable.
To read the rest of the interview, click here.