He has described himself as a “rationalist” and a “skeptic” when it comes to faith, but there’s no doubt Welsh actor John Rhys-Davies hold Christianity in high esteem for its many contributions to civilized society.
Rhys-Davies, known for his roles in the “Indiana Jones” films and the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, plays the elder St. Patrick of Ireland in the forthcoming docudrama “I Am Patrick,” a production from CBN Films.
The 75-year-old actor spoke recently with podcast host Lucas Miles about the film and his own journey with faith, at one point commending those who hold to religious convictions because he has seen how such beliefs have helped them to navigate life with greater certainty.
Miles recalled a comment Rhys-Davies made last month to The Christian Post, which was, “We owe Christianity the greatest debt of thanks that a generation could ever have.” He then asked the actor why he feels that way.
“Everything that we value — everything that I valued when I was a student 50, 60 years ago, which I cannot any longer count on an audience accepting — really comes from Christianity,” Rhys-Davies told Miles. “The idea of the right of free speech, the idea of the right to hold your own opinion really derives from the second century A.D., when Roman Christians were told they must practice the emperor’s religion and faith, and that quiet voice in them said, ‘No, actually, I serve a different God. And I have a divine right to do so.’”
“And from that,” he continued, “has come our own great sense of free speech. Even things like the Bill of Rights and habeas corpus that are the founding marks of [the U.S.] Constitution, which derive in English law, which derive from the testimony of Christians operating on that early principle.”
The “great glory” of the Christian faith, though, Rhys-Davies said, was the ultimate abolition of slavery. In an age of relativism, the famed actor encouraged Christians, “Do not ever underestimate the importance of that.”
“It is a glory of mankind,” he added, “and it comes from Christianity.”
The film, a two-day Fathom event on March 17 and 18, tells the story of the man who would eventually become St. Patrick. At just 16 years old, he was kidnapped by pirates and made to work as a slave in 5th century Ireland. He was imprisoned and tortured for his Christian faith, though he ultimately escaped captivity and fled to his family, likely in what is now known as Wales.
Patrick later returned to Ireland as a missionary bishop, sharing the Gospel throughout the country.
Speaking to CBN earlier this month, Jarrod Anderson, director of “I Am Patrick,” said Rhys-Davies’ role in the movie was somewhat of a surprise.
“He wasn’t supposed to be in the film,” Anderson explained. “I actually asked him once I did the voiceover record. He’s got to play the part and I had the chance to ask him. And I said, ‘I know that it would be way beneath you, but would you consider actually playing the part?’ And he said, ‘It would not be beneath me at all.’”