Will Bakke, director and executive producer of Beware of Christians, recognizes the provocative title of his new documentary will raise some eyebrows. He hopes it also will raise consciousness about what radical commitment to Christ really means.
"The idea is to beware of Christians like us who never really have known what it means to follow Christ," said Bakke, a senior film major at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
Beware of Christians marks Bakke's second major documentary. The first, One Nation Under God, chronicled his five-week journey through the United States with three friends, asking people they encountered questions like, "Who do you think Jesus Christ is?" and, "What do you think happens when you die?"
The new production follows a similar format, with Bakke and three friends making a journey of discovery, this time through Europe. It includes plenty of humor geared toward a student audience -- fighting with toy swords and plastic armor outside the Colosseum in Rome; gawking at a futuristic car in Paris; trying not to gawk at a nude beach; and experiencing frustration when the young men met a troupe of beautiful ballerinas who invited them to dinner, only to have to decline their offer because the young men had committed to 24 hours of fasting and serving the homeless.
But in Beware of Christians, the story centers primarily on self-discovery -- the story of four college guys who grew up in Texas seeking answers to their own questions about what being a Christian means.
In the process, the four students -- one from Baylor, two from Texas A&M University and one from Georgetown University in Washington -- candidly explore how a commitment to Christ affects attitudes about matters such as sex, alcohol, materialism and media.
To "get beyond churchy answers" and deal with those issues honestly, Bakke believed he and his friends needed a temporary escape from the comfortable cultural Christianity of Bible Belt America.
"I'm so tired of feeling like a hypocrite," he said. Bakke and his friends wanted to deal forthrightly with the costs of discipleship in an atmosphere where cultural assumptions about Christianity would be challenged.
Bakke grew up in the affluent Highland Park area of Dallas, attending a large Presbyterian church as a child with his family and eventually becoming involved with the youth group at Park Cities Baptist Church. As a college student, he began attending Columbus Avenue Baptist Church in Waco, where he teaches a Bible study for high-school students.
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SOURCE: Associated Baptist Press
Ken Camp is managing editor of the Texas Baptist Standard.