Hellbound: should we be worried?
Canadian film asks important questions about hell's status for Christians
By Aaron Epp | Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Abbotsford-based filmmaker Kevin Miller (right) talks with members of Westboro Baptist Church in his new documentary, Hellbound? Photo courtesy of Kevin Miller
ABBOTSFORD, BCFilmmaker Kevin Miller used to worry that his family was going to hell.
Miller became a Christian at Bible camp at the age of nine. He can't recall learning about hell at the camp, but he remembers worrying about it after camp ended.
"I remember very vividly that summer standing on the driveway of my farm outside of Foam Lake, Saskatchewan, and looking at my family working in the garden and realizing that if they didn't know what I knew, they were all going to go to hell," recalls the 41-year-old.
"That just put a sick feeling in my stomach that I never quite was able to resolve."
Miller, who lives in Abbotsford with his wife and four children, tackles the subject of hell in Hellbound?, a documentary that will be in theatres this fall. The 90-minute film asks the questions, "Does hell exist? If so, who ends up there, and why?"
He first had the idea for the film in 2006 and began working it in January 2011. Two months later, pastor and author Rob Bell released his book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. Suddenly, the discussion about hell was everywhere, including the cover of Time magazine.
It affirmed for Miller that there is a conversation about hell emerging in North America.
"There are some people who are trying to make [the conversation] happen, and there are others who are trying to shut it down," he says. "So what we really do in the film is bring both sides to the table to figure out why hell is such a contentious issue, and why it has percolated to the surface now as opposed to some other time."
Filmed over the course of five months last year, the film includes interviews with more than 25 people, including theologians, writers, heavy metal musicians, members of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church and popular pastors/authors Brian McLaren and Mark Driscoll.
The film will make its Canadian debut in Vancouver and Langley in October. Miller, who wrote and co-produced the film in addition to directing it, is currently working on plans to screen the film in other Canadian cities later in the fall.
Miller is excited to share Hellbound? with viewers. He hopes it will cause Christians to take a second look at what they believe, why they believe it and what effect those beliefs have on the world.
For non-Christian viewers, he hopes the documentary will cause them to take a second look at Christianity and what it has to offer the world.
Making the film has been transformative for Miller.
"As a Christian, going back to that nine-year-old kid standing on the driveway, worrying that his family is going to go to hell, I can say that those fears have been laid to rest and that I no longer really look at the world through that lens," Miller says. "I have such utter faith in the ultimate love and goodness of God, and I believe in that above all things."
Making the film has made him an evangelist in a way that he wasn't before, he adds.
"I feel like everywhere I go, I want to share with people the good news," Miller says. "And the good news is not, 'Hey, good news, you don't have to go to hell when you die.' The good news is that death is not the end. This death-driven, fear-driven culture that we find ourselves in isn't all that there is. There really is a way out of itthere really is a path toward freedom."