The following is my reflection on The Church: The Pillar and Ground of the Truth by Media Gratiae. This isn’t a review, I am biased. Jeff Johnson, the author and host, is the preaching pastor of Grace Bible Church, President of the seminary and a friend. I should also add that I am comically included in the credits as “Assistant to the Director.” Therefore I can not offer a proper review but what I hope to give here are my honest reflections.
The documentary is what we have come to expect from Media Gratiae and Stephen McCaskell. They follow their previous work with another beautiful and edifying film. I’ve been able to view a progression from the first rough cut to the finished product. I’ve learned that a lot of tedious work goes into a project like this and it takes a lot of little things to get it right. It is simply top notch creatively and theologically.
In my opinion, what makes or breaks a documentary is the narrative. The Church project clearly traces the doctrine of the church throughout church history. How did our doctrine of the church develop from the first century to the 21st century? Crucial questions have arisen in controversies throughout church history that have helped us to better understand what the church is and what it should be doing.
The principle line or thesis comes at the very beginning of the film where Jeff Johnson says “understanding the church is important because the church is where people find salvation.” The documentary serves to unpack that phrase from the very beginning. What does it mean that salvation is found within the church? The understanding of the church is uncovered as that statement is explained.
Beginning with the New Testament the understanding of the church is traced through the Early church, Reformation, Puritans, and the 19th century. The final twenty minuets are my favorite because they hit home with crucial questions and application for our churches today.
I pray the Lord sends this project far and wide. I think he has providentially made this documentary release at a time where there is an immense amount of confusion regarding the church. The circumstances of COVID-19 has exposed much ecclesiological confusion. This Bible study drops biblical clarity into the middle of a time where churches are wrestling with questions about the nature and function of the Church. The doc seeks to provide clarity on what the church is and isn’t.
This is a providential project that I think will be received in two ways. The first is that it will be profitable for instruction. Media Gratiae has a broad audience who has been given a biblical view of God through their Behold Your God Study Series. The Church documentary gives their audience the next step in communicating a biblical vision of the Church. It is like a seminary class given in a captivating medium. The general church will be driven to a depth in their understanding of themselves through rich content that will be new teaching for many who watch the film.
The second way I see it being used is for encouragement. I get excited after watching it and I hope others do as well. Those that may already have a healthy view of the church should be encouraged by being reminded that the Church’s one foundation is, indeed, Jesus Christ our Lord.
For these reasons I pray the Lord sends this project far and wide. That it would bear fruit in the hearts of those who watch the film and partake in the study. I pray that the Lord would establish the work of the hands that produced it and that He would be glorified in the church.
The Church: Pillar and Ground of the Truth will be available later this month at mediagratiae.com.
Grace and Peace,