Throughout this piece, I have argued that the film-theology dialogue needs to mature to become truly an exchange of ideas between film and theology, rather than simply an exchange of ideas about film within theology. I wish to reinforce this with a bolder assertion: if the discussion remains predominantly within its theology-heavy bubble it will lose momentum and stagnate. Providentially, the post-secular potential of mainstream academia (including film studies) is being met with a more progressive theology to engage with in Emergence Christianity, creating a fertile environment in which this discussion can establish itself and explore new terrain. One obvious upshot of this enquiry is that film critics and film studies scholars will be challenged to better inform themselves of the nuances of religion and theology:
…if [the dynamics of film] do not require religious or theological interpretation, they do more than merely permit such interpretation. The de facto function of film in contemporary Western culture at least suggests to interpreters operating within a cultural studies perspective that religion should not be overlooked when the reception of films is studied.
Not only could the emergent ethos positively impact the type of theology that film studies is met with, it also has potential to impact the way in which films are engaged with theologically – to help us more fully comprehend the subtleties of the dialogue, rather than relying on superficial interpretations. It is my contention that newly rediscovered theological paradigms such as parable and icon will prove much more profitable to the exchange of ideas than simply illustration, as these paradigms refer to theology in practice rather than in theory.
Given that many commentators are pointing to religion as a budding focus of academic attention in the near future, the potential of theology as an emerging focus within film theory means the film-theology dialogue could be of great interest to anyone interested in future developments within film theory. Whatever direction the discourse takes, cinema can provoke exploration, inspire prayer and meditation, jolt the soul, trigger personal transformation and invite us into different ways of being. An exploration of film’s theological dimension has copious potential to lead to a fuller understanding of cinema’s riches.
Marsh (2004: 143)