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.
What kind of people did you talk to and meet with when you were filming this journey? Did you have any specific theologians that you spoke to or read?
KC: Well, there’s no end to ancients and sages and people who can wax eloquent on these kinds of subjects. But I figured that, while there are so many different opinions in the world about an enormous question like the problem of evil, I figured that the one I really wanted to hear from, was - I wanted to hear the voice of God. God himself. And God wrote a book called the Bible. And so, that was my source for answering the questions on the character and nature of God. Surely if I’m going to find the answer, if there is one that exists, I’ll find it in this book.
And one of the things that I’ve learned from friends of mine and through the last film process that I went through on Monumental, is that, if you don’t have an understanding of history, and all you do is see your life for the 80 years that you’re living it, you don’t understand the context of the world that you live in. You don’t understand what happened in the story before you showed up. You don’t really understand why you’re here or where you’re going, and you don’t understand what’s going to happen after you’re gone. And so, having a broad historical perspective on the question of tragedy and suffering really, really helps me to be able to offer something helpful to other people.
Tell us who should watch this movie, and what you want them to take away from it.
KC: if you’re ever asked the questions: Where is this God of love and power? Where is the God that I need most when I’m in the middle of my tragedy and my pain? How do I make sense of what’s happening in my life? This is not what I planned. If I were God, this isn’t the way I would have things roll out... If you’ve ever said things like that, come see Unstoppable.
Because I’ve asked those same questions. And I believe that some things will always remain a mystery, but that it’s not wrong to ask the question why? In fact, the whole book of Habakkuk begins that way. Why God? Why do the heathen rage? Why does it seem like the wicked ones prosper, and the good ones perish? When we ask that question it sends us on a treasure hunt. And I believe that I’ve got ahold of this treasure – the answer to the question. And I want to hold it up in broad daylight for you to see it and show you that all things do work together for those who love God, and are called according to his purpose.
What’s happening in your life is not random. God doesn’t do random. He’s a God of purpose, and his purposes are unstoppable.
How can people watch this movie?
KC: You can watch the movie one night only. It’s a live satellite broadcast event into 700 theatres across the country. So you need to go to unstoppablethemovie.com and you can watch the trailer there and find your ticket. You simply push in your area code, and it’ll show you all the theaters that are playing the film around you. September 24th is the only night you can see it in the theatres, so get your tickets quick!
UPDATE: Due to overwhelming demand, a pre-recorded encore presentation of UNSTOPPABLE: A LIVE EVENT WITH KIRK CAMERON will broadcast to select movie theaters on Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 7:00pm local times.
Visit unstoppablethemovie.com for more info!
Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor for Crosswalk.com
Publication date: August 20, 2013