BACK TO THE FUTURE Part III: Sanctification | FCC 93

Marty McFly’s journey in the BACK TO THE FUTURE trilogy is like a Christian’s journey in life: in the first film, he attains salvation and justification; in the second film, he is disciplined because of his pride; and in BACK TO THE FUTURE Part III, he goes through sanctification.

For your convenience you will find each podcast segment at the time referenced below:

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction
  • 00:03:27 – Movie Discussion
  • 00:14:46 – Christian Themes in BACK TO THE FUTURE Part III
  • 00:52:28 – Listener Challenge and Feedback
  • 01:04:54 – Reel News
  • 01:06:21 – Well-mannered Frivolity
  • 01:14:30 – Lightning Round 
  • 01:15:00 – Upcoming

The (process of) Sanctification of Marty McFly

It must be difficult to watch the Back to the Future trilogy and not be reminded of the Christian walk. In the first film, Marty McFly is saved by the lightning bolt that strikes the clock tower and supercharges the DeLorean’s flux capacitor when it could not otherwise be restored. In this second film, however, even though Marty is “saved,” he still has some kinks to work out – his pride, namely.

And in this third installment, we return to Marty still struggling with the same problem of pride. Even in the context of the Old West, Marty still bucks up whenever someone calls him “yella,” which is the 1885 equivalent of “chicken.” It’s this same pride that gets him fired in 2015 (in the second film), and it’s the same pride that got his frontiersman ancestor Martin stabbed in the stomach. It isn’t until Marty is told by his great-great-great grandfather Seamus and his wife Maggie to start thinking about the future that he starts to do so.

Doc Brown also encourages Marty to stop being so prideful because it is what gets him injured in his own present time (1985) when he decides to race Needles and then crashes into a Rolls Royce – an event that thankfully does not happen because Marty does finally heed his ancestors and Doc Brown’s warnings to stop being so irritable.

This image from BACK TO THE FUTURE Part III shows Marty McFly being shot in the gunfight with Buford Mad Dog Tannen.

The real magic happens, though, when Buford “Mad Dog” Tannen has Doc Brown at gunpoint and is threatening to shoot him if Marty doesn’t come out and face him. Much to everyone’s surprise, Marty does come out, but instead of drawing his gun, he removes it – belt and all – and tries to settle the matter with Buford “like men.” Buford will have none of it, so he shoots Marty in the chest, knocking him back a couple of feet. But as Buford approaches to ensure the kill, Marty comes to and disarms Tannen into a wheelbarrow full of…you guessed it…manure.

And because Marty didn’t act on his pride in that moment – he was, after all, a “crack shot” at the 7-11 game and could have very well killed Tannen – he was better able to deny that pride once again when back in the future. Needles challenges him to a race – a race that would have cost Marty his future life – but Marty refuses. He stops his pride from controlling him, just as he had been disciplined to do.

That is the Christian walk in a nutshell. First, we are saved from death by the power of God’s love. Then, after we’ve accepted that love, we subject ourselves to God’s divine discipline; after all, God disciplines those whom He loves, and He will craft them and mold them to bear His image to the world. Even after they’ve been “saved,” they’ve still got a long way to go. This journey, or process, is that of sanctification – being sanctified, set apart, holy – and it is what makes us Christians stick out in the world.


Finding Christ In Cinema is the show where we discover Christian themes in movies past and present. Join us and together we’ll dig deeper into the silver-screen classics of yesteryear as well as the box-office hits of today. Brought to you by the Great Commission Transmission Network. View the complete show notes, including links to articles discussed, by clicking here.

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About Brenden Taylor

Brenden is an educational assistant and tutor by day and a theatre practitioner by night. He has his M.A. in Theatre Arts and is always looking for a way to use good stories to soften people’s hearts.

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  • Philip Heard

    Hey guys, it was really cool how you used the entire trilogy to symbolize the process of a Christian journey.

    One thing that I get from Part 3 is a reminder of Proverbs 15:22(ESV) “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” Seamus and Maggie gave Marty some good advice, and had a wider view of his situation with Mad Dog Tannen. Marty could have saved himself some trouble had he recognized wise counselors and heeded their advice. There’s a lot of people in this world giving bad, ungodly advice. But when we encounter a wise person giving Biblical truth, we need to recognize that, listen, and put that truth into practice.

    Now Michael, about Johnny Depp. I have just the film to make you a fan of his, and it happens to be streaming on Netflix. 2004’s Finding Neverland is based on the true story of J.M. Barrie and how Peter Pan came to be. Depp gives my favorite performance of his, showing his more restrained side. You and Brenden both have an interest in theater, so that’s all the more reason to check it out. I’m not sure if it’s a good idea for The List, but it is a great film! http://nflx.it/21SFtfH

    Love the show guys, keep up the good work! #muhweeladgimli

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