Students will have the opportunity to attend a pre-release screening of the disputed film Hell and Mr. Fudge during Summit.
The movie follows the true story of Edward Fudge, a young preacher paid to dedicate a year of his life to a biblical and historical investigation of hell. Hell and Mr. Fudge stems from the real-life events of Edward Fudge and his book, The Fire That Consumes.
When published, hell theology was a subject rarely researched, a tricky topic seldom touched by traditional Christians. The book examines the misconceptions that have snuck into Christian thinking in dealing with hell theology. The Fire That Consumes was met with waves of division, sparking scholarly debate.
For those reasons, it might come as a surprise to see this controversial catalyst making its mark on the Summit calendar.
“Each year we love to have an interesting movie or documentary with contemporary relevance.Â The opportunity to show an unreleased theatrical movie about an ACU alum seemed like a winner,” said director of ministry events and assistant professor of ministry in the Graduate School of Theology, Dr. Brady Bryce, “Edward is a thoughtful, kind and gentle Christian who is willing to take his faith in God so seriously and so biblically that he is willing to change.”
Controversial. A term ACU Alumnus and author, Edward Fudge, fully embraces.
“Look closely and you’ll see that ‘controversial’ sells books. It also makes people think – which is a necessary element of growth,” Fudge said. “And if we have been mistaken about something as important as God’s very character, as demonstrated in his final punishment of unrepentant rebels, don’t you think we need to get straight on that in our minds and in our message to others as quickly as we possibly can?”
Fudge’s movie will show his own change in understanding hell based on scriptural scrutiny.
“This is less a story about hell or doctrine and more a story of what happens when Christians refuse to ask questions and seek answers to those questions,” Bryce said.
For students, Hell and Mr. Fudge provides a chance to assess their own views on the subject.
“I think that, regardless of whether you agree with Fudge’s view of hell, the important lesson is that simply questioning long held beliefs is not inherently wrong,” said Ryan Self with ACU Press. “It is important to question things, and to research for yourself why it is you believe the things you do. The searching period is where your beliefs can be made stronger. If a belief is that important, it should be able to withstand scrutiny.”
The movie carries a message that Fudge believes is pertinent to ACU’s aim.
“Borrowing words from the ACU mission Statement, I say that this teaching of hell can and should be transmitted through exemplary teaching by Christian scholars,” Fudge said.Â “It is based on significant research and is grounded in study. It results in meaningful service to society, the academic disciplines, the university and the church.”
According to a press release, the film is currently being screened at select theaters throughout the country and will be released later this year.
“I expect movie viewers to react the same way they do to any beautiful, thoughtful movie that includes danger, romance and struggle between good and evil. I really think that by its nature, the book was more controversial,” Fudge said.
Hell and Mr. Fudge will show in Cullen Auditorium at 4 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 17. Fudge will continue discussion of the book and movie later that evening at 8:30 p.m. in room 117 of the Onstead-Packer building.
Fudge hopes the movie encourages student curiosity and self-questioning of beliefs perhaps never challenged.
“Is it really possible to be too curious about any Bible subject?” Fudge said.Â “Whether curiosity finally is good or bad is determined by the action it motivates. If curiosity about hell moves folks in any generation to commit themselves to serious Bible study, I think that has to be a good thing.”