What if Jesus never existed? How much do Christians know about the origins of their faith? And are we willing to talk about it? These are some of the questions explored in The God Who Wasn't There, an irreverent Michael Moore-like documentary that premiered in Los Angeles last week and will tour the country at screenings sponsored by humanist groups. (It's also available on DVD here.)
Director Brian Flemming, 38, attended two Christian schools and says he committed his life to Christ several times before he eventually became a self-described "atheist Christian." His works include the controversial stage play Bat Boy: The Musical and Nothing So Strange, a mockumentary about conspiracy theories and the assassination of Bill Gates.
In the next few months, Flemming will shoot The Beast, a feature film about a Christian high school student whose archaeologist father gives her evidence that proves Jesus never existed. Flemming, who plans to release the film on June 6 of next year—that's 6/6/06—produced the documentary The God Who Wasn't There to explain the basis for this belief, and along the way he outlines the reasons for his own loss of faith as well.
Flemming spoke to Christianity Today Movies about the film from his office in L.A.
You refer to yourself as an "atheist Christian." What do you mean by that?
Brian Flemming: Once you're a Christian, I don't think you ever shake being a Christian, and personally I don't want to. When I realized that the first-century science that Christianity proclaims is basically completely wrong, that didn't mean Jesus was evil. It didn't mean Jesus was bad. Jesus is in many ways still a great character. As you see in the movie, when he calls for everybody who doesn't want him to reign ...1