Hacksaw Ridge: Real Christian Faith Under Fire


I just saw a rough cut of Hacksaw Ridge, Mel Gibson’s new movie coming out in November.

It’s the true story of Desmond Doss, a Seventh Day Adventist Christian who joined the US military in WWII, but refused to carry a weapon and never fired a bullet. He became a medic who “saved lives instead of taking lives.” He suffered persecution within the system and from his fellow soldiers, but ended up saving 75 of his company’s men in the brutal bloodbath of Hacksaw Ridge on Okinawa.

I will blog more about it when the release comes, but suffice it to say this is the best war movie about Christianity in a time of war since To End All Wars (Go ahead, mock me, accuse me of self-promotion, but it’s true, regardless of who wrote it. And it was a true story too).

Mel Gibson’s Redemption

He’s done it again. Mel Gibson has crafted one of the most inspiring movies for this generation.

If you want to see Christianity respected in a movie, then you will definitely want to see Hacksaw Ridge.

If you want to see Christianity lived out in grace and sacrifice, then you will definitely want to see Hacksaw Ridge.

If you want to be inspired to be a better person, then you will definitely want to see Hacksaw Ridge.

And here is what is amazing… Gibson wants to do as much as he can to appeal to the Christian audience, without compromising his artistic vision. Something you didn’t see Aronofsky or Ridley Scott give a damn about. Gibson cut out all F-bombs and “taking of the Lord’s name in vain,” in response to Christian concerns. (Now, I happen to think that those demands by the Christian audience are actually unbiblical, — see here for Biblical proof — but they are nevertheless demands of the demographic, and Gibson respects his audience.).

Be aware though, this is about love and sacrifice in a world of great pain and suffering, so there is a lot of the violence, blood and gore of war to illustrate that redemptive power. Fortunately, Christian viewers are less consistent in their acceptance of movie violence, and don’t have as big a problem with it. 🙂

Moral Complexity

I am not a pacifist. In fact, I am convinced that Desmond’s pacifism is thoroughly and utterly unbiblical (I will address this in later posts). BUT his actions were thoroughly heroic and utterly Biblical. In that sense, Desmond wasn’t really a pure pacifist, because he supported and aided those who did kill others.

But his heroism was in sacrificing himself to rescue others, even after they had rejected him.

A heroism that is both inspiring and convicting. I still get chills just writing about it.

And that is what makes the story so fascinating. Gibson’s genius storytelling is his ability to wrestle with a morally complex issue and shake out existential truth from the real world clash of opposing ideas.

Because of its respect for both sides of opposing viewpoints, both veterans of war AND haters of war will love this movie. It will force both pacifists and just war advocates to re-evaluate their own beliefs, and hopefully inspire civil conversation (As Desmond would have wanted).

It does what good art should do, inspire more thought and conversation about transcendent truths like courage, sacrifice, standing up to evil, loving your neighbor, loving your enemy, and of course, the most important of all: loving God.


To End All Wars can be bought or rented from Amazon here.


18 comments on “Hacksaw Ridge: Real Christian Faith Under Fire

  • The Left will not love this movie. They already hate it because Gibson made it. He has been written off as a homophobic anti-Semitic crazy person. That is unfortunate, but how it will most likely play out.

    • Peter, You are right! I forgot. I was thinking in terms of ideas and forgot the vile hatred that permeates that world. I will make the change accordingly.

    • I disagree, Peter. Sure, there will be some of that, but if the movie makes money, all will be forgiven (at least until he trips up again, God forbid).

      Hollywood has a short memory and few principles in the face of success and profit.

      • Nate,
        I wish this was true, but The Passion of the Christ was made 12 years ago with claims of anti-Semitism. Then he had several angry outbursts over the years since. At the Golden Globes, just last year, the host Ricky Gervais continued to pick on him about these incidents (not laughing with him). The Hollywood Left is totally fine with his career being over. Now, the box office supporting movie goers may think differently, but this why he pretty much as to produce his own films.

  • I am excited about this movie. I practically grew up on Mel Gibson movies, and I have a lot of respect for the man. His films always have powerful themes of inspiration and the glory of honor. As a kid, those were great messages to grow up with.

  • Paul LaBrier says:

    You make assertion that “Christian” audiences assertion that foul language is bad is umbilical. Please expand on this as it a point of contention for my wife and I. I can tune foul language out but she can’t.

  • Michael Kevin McCleary says:

    The soldier’s faith isn’t actually “biblical” either . . . heck, his denomination didn’t even exist for 90% of Christian history.

  • Gibson is a gifted director. This looks like a perfect return to form. I’ve seen a number of articles/people from Hollywood saying it’s time to forgive Gibson. We all know others have fallen much further, and Gibson isn’t a quitter, that’s for sure.

  • Brian,

    I am a Christian but I believe you’re wrong to attribute malevolent motives to Darren Aronofsky; he’s not a Christian nor a believing Jew, and thus was not making ‘Noah’ specifically for that audience… was it a theologically problematic film, sure, but it wasn’t nor was it ever intended as a sermon, it was a work of art in the Jewish Midrashic tradition… nothing more, nothing less.

    With regards to ‘Hacksaw Ridge’, how do you know for sure that Gibson cut all F-bombs and ‘taking the Lord’s name in vain’ – itself a complete misunderstanding of that respective commandment; profanity is not what is being specifically forbidden – were you informed as such? I’d rather Gibson leave it as the final cut should be and not bow to demographic demands, but if it helps reach a wider audience, then so be it… but the violence in the film will likely earn it a restrictive rating, so what was the point in the first place?

    Still, it is nice to have Mel back behind the camera, his acting career may have fizzled, but he still has so, so much to offer as a director… his long-in-development Viking project for one.

    Best wishes and warmest regards.

    • Steven, Thanks for your comments. Aronofsky himself said that his intent was a “sermon” of environmentalism. He said so.
      on Hacksaw, the marketing team told us at the screening that Gibson took out the F-bombs, even though the actors said them. I agree with you on Taking the Lord’s name in vain. Didn’t I say that? Christians are wrong to say that saying “Jesus” or even “God” as an explicative is taking the Lords’ name in vain. That’s not what it is. I thought I indicated that. Anyway, also there is nothing wrong with adjusting your art to be more approachable for your audience demographic. You may not realize this, but it is done ON EVERY SINGLE MOVIE. I kid you not. Editing to meet the demands of a demographic is good common sense. You can do so without compromising your artistic or moral integrity. Of course, there are cases when it can go too far. But not in this case.

      • Thanks for the reply, Brian… and you’re right, you did indeed mention the ‘Lord’s name in vain’ argument, I missed the link, my apologies.

        Best wishes and warmest regards as always.

  • He is the only American soldier in WWII to fight on the front lines without a weapon. His choice of artillery was prayer and he used it often while single-handedly evacuating the wounded from behind enemy lines, under constant enemy bombardment. His outstanding bravery and determination resulted in Doss saving the lives of many and his name becoming a symbol throughout the h Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty. His courage and faith won the admiration of his commanders and fellow soldiers.

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