Hidden Secrets, and John Schneider’s Testimony

I watched a Christian movie today, which (like most Christian movies) was cheesy, but I actually enjoyed it.  It was Hidden Secrets, which was released in 2006.  It’s about a group of people who gather at the funeral of a Christian friend.  I don’t want to get bogged down in the details of the plot, so you can read a good summary here.  Rather, I’ll be talking about the actors I like in the movies, as well as my favorite scenes.  Then, I’ll talk some about John Schneider’s testimony, which is in an article about this movie.

There were familiar faces in the movie.  There was Reginald Vel Johnson, who played Carl Winslow on Family Matters.  There was Staci Keanan, whom I know from My Two Dads and Step by Step.  (Yes, my family watched the entire TGIF line-up on ABC in the 80’s and 90’s!)  There was also Corin Nemec, whom I know as Harold Lauder on The Stand miniseries, but I also learned today that he received an Emmy for portraying 14-year old Steven Stayner in I Know My First Name Is Steven.  And there was John Schneider, whom I love as Jonathan Kent in Smallville, and he also played an all-right Michael Landon in Michael Landon: The Father I Knew.

A significant part of the movie was a love-triangle, and I won’t be getting into that.  The three characters who stood out to me were Rhonda Mirfin, a judgmental conservative Christian who gets into people’s faces; John Schneider’s character, Gary Zimmerman, who is a skeptic and challenges Christians with his village atheist points and questions; and Corin Nemec’s character, Michael Stover, a likeable and humble Christian who is struggling with his homosexual past (and homosexual attraction that he still has).

In my opinion, the most entertaining parts of the movie were Gary’s one-liners, especially the ones that irritated Rhonda.  “Christians…where are the lions when you need them?”, Gary asked after Rhonda had berated him for being involved in embryonic stem-cell research.  And, when Rhonda prepared a little witnessing script to convince Gary (who was half-Jewish) that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies, Gary had some zingers and surprises up his sleeve.  Rhonda asked Gary if he was familiar with the Old Testament, and Gary responds that, to his people, it’s the only Testament.  Rhonda then asked Gary if he knew about Isaiah 53, and Gary proceeded to recite much of the chapter to her.  Surprised, she inquired what that meant to him, and if he believed it was about Jesus.  Gary replied, “The way I see prophecy is like this: I could predict that there will be two baseball teams, and one will win, and the other will lose.”  The others then reply, “Yeah, that could happen.”  Gary’s point was probably that it doesn’t take divine inspiration to guess at what will happen in the future.  I’m usually interested in how movies address Isaiah 53, because that clues me in to how much their writers know about the debate concerning the chapter: whether it’s about Israel, the Messiah, a king, etc.  I was a little disappointed that this movie did not get into that, but I thought that Gary’s point was valid: So Isaiah 53 talks about a person who will suffer and die.  Many people suffer and die, so what does this prediction (if it even is that) prove?

Gary brings up good points, such as the way that even the Christians around him disagreed on what God’s will was.  (They were debating over whether or not to go dancing.)  And, sometimes, Gary lost the debate.  When Gary tells Rhonda that he believes in what is life-affirming, Rhonda glibly responds, “So you’re pro-life now”, prompting even someone who didn’t care for Rhonda to say, “You walked into that one, Gary!”  At the end of the movie, the characters make up, and Gary actually becomes open to faith.  It’s not because of any argument that he heard, but rather it was on account of how the Christians he was around kept their faith through all of the chaos that they were experiencing.  He admired that.

That brings me to John Schneider’s own testimony about how he became a Christian, which you can read in the article here.  Essentially, John became a Christian because of his Grandma’s belief that she would be with God after she died, and also on account of something that he saw at church when he was 29.  The article states:

“He saw a little old man being helped off the floor after prayer by a huge young black man with braids and gold around his neck, and there was a hug of appreciation between the two. Somehow in that little moment John saw Christ. He saw acceptance; He saw appreciation; He saw selflessness. From that moment on, he understood. It was a tiny little thing that probably took all of four seconds, much like it took four seconds for his grandmother to say that she’d be with God. But he saw something there that made him want to know more about what that was. That was the moment when the first little piece of green sprouted up from the bulb John’s grandmother had planted all those years before. After he accepted Christ, he started reading the Bible and looking at things from a different perspective. It was no longer a question of what could he get out of this day. It was, If God is always up to something, what is He up to today and what is my part in it?”

There’s something wholesome about that—being drawn to Christ by seeing one man helping another man, and both appreciating each other.  Even someone who isn’t convinced by apologetics (like me) can admire that.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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