For decades, the world of documentaries has been dominated by secular giants such as National Geographic and the BBC. Gone are the days when the BBC gave Christian apologists such as Malcolm Muggeridge a free hand to create films such as A Third Testament or Something Beautiful for God; now, the beautiful nature documentaries of Sir David Attenborough take the secular assumptions of our age for granted. Bible documentaries are, almost exclusively, dedicated to debunking the historical narrative of Scripture and detailing why the events once accepted as universal fact simply didn’t occur.
Still, there are a few truly excellent Christian documentaries that have been released in recent years–a trend I hope will continue. Here are just a few that are very worth your time.
The Riot and the Dance Series
The Riot and the Dance series—the first two feature-length installments are Earth and Water—are nature documentaries that approach BBC-level quality but linger not on the Darwinian nightmare but on the artistic intent of the Creator. Hosted by Dr. Gordon Wilson (who lacks David Attenborough’s magnificent accent but more than makes up for it with his Christian perspective), the films examine God’s world through a Christian lens from the jungles of Sri Lanka to the ocean floor. There are plans to expand Riot and the Dance into a TV-style series.
The trailer for Earth:
The trailer for Water:
Patterns of Evidence Series
Patterns of Evidence is a documentary series by filmmaker Tim Mahoney—there are currently six documentaries in the set, with more to come. The first, my favorite, is called Exodus, and examines evidence for the Israelite journey out of Egypt with some truly stunning finds recorded. The second, The Moses Controversy, examines the authorship of the first five books of the Bible; The Red Sea Miracle I and II examine possible locations for the crossing of the Red Sea; and Journey to Sinai I and II, which examines possible locations for the original Mt. Sinai. These films are of incredible quality and bring biblical history to life with on-location searches and fascinating interviews with archaeologists and other experts.
I wish more documentaries like these existed—most documentaries that deal with biblical themes come from a secular approach, assuming, for example, that naturalistic explanations must be found for miracles and that the Bible is merely a human book. Mahoney is doing something special here, and I look forward to his next investigations. (For anyone interested, I did a podcast interview with Mahoney on his work that you can listen to here.) Here’s the trailer for Exodus:
This is a bit of an older documentary, from the heyday of the New Atheist movement. Douglas Wilson, a pastor from Moscow, Idaho, went on the road with Christopher Hitchens to debate the existence of God in the wake of Hitchens publishing God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Some of the soundtrack choices are a bit bewildering, but I found the film fascinating. Someone posted it to YouTube, so you can watch the whole thing here:
Free Burma Rangers
How do I describe this documentary? Here’s how they do: “The true story of a remarkable family compelled by Christ to bring love into war. This epic documentary chronicles the 20-year journey of the Free Burma Rangers, an unconventional humanitarian organization, as they venture through jungles, firefights, heroic rescues, and find hope in seemingly impossible situations. It’s a real life action-adventure film unlike any you’ve seen before.” Honestly, the story has to be seen to be believed–a family, with three children, seeking to do mission work in conflict zones. The trailer: