MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
Photo By Pure Flix Entertainment
Starring Kevin Sorbo, Shane Harper. Directed by Harold Cronk.
We are now living in a post-Christian, post-modern age. The fastest growing demographic in religion, according to recent census findings, is “none”. Many Christians are living out their faith apart from the organized church, and more persons worship regularly without joining a congregation. Youth sports leagues are keeping many of our church families out of the pews on Sunday mornings.
Nevertheless, I have never felt ostracized or persecuted for being a Christian. Democracy still gives all faith communities (Christian, Islam, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, etc.) a wide berth in which to grow and thrive. Freedom of religion is alive and well. Interfaith dialogue actually encourages thoughtful reflection about why Jesus Christ matters to the Christian. The school choirs in my town still sing religious songs in Christmas concerts without causing a stir, and I have more respect in my community as a pastor than I probably deserve. God is good. All the time.
God’s Not Dead is a film that sees a different kind of world in which the Christian faith is denigrated, attacked, and the cause of division. It presents many interrelated stories in which relationships are severed because of theological differences. A Muslim daughter is rejected by her father because of her interest in Christianity. A Chinese student upsets his father because he finds Jesus Christ more appealing than atheism. Liberal journalists can’t seem to make room for persons of faith and even try to ambush those nice Duck Dynasty people on their way into worship.
Things are even rougher for freshman Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper) who walks into Professor Radisson’s (Keith Sorbo) Introduction to Philosophy class to discover that he has entered the lion’s den. The professor begins his opening lecture by extolling the wisdom of atheism and demanding that every student sign a sheet in which they declare “God Is Dead”. Josh is a believer and he can’t follow through. He challenges his teacher and soon they set up a series of debates; if Josh cannot persuade the class that God exists, he will fail the course.
This debate is the stuff of Internet stories, but it is not reality. I would argue that the professor’s contempt for God and his willingness to allow a personal battle with a student to take precedence over the syllabus renders his course a worthless class.
God’s Not Dead is entertaining and thought-provoking in spite of its narrative flaws. The acting is above average for a Christian film and there is much food for thought. Any movie that intentionally opens up conversations about faith is worth seeing with a group, as long as you find time for discussion afterwards. The film stumbles the most in its final act, with two major missteps that work too hard to wrap things up in an irrefutable way. I don’t think that this movie settles the debate about God, and I’m glad that it doesn’t. For “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Thanks be to a God who is more than our minds can fathom, and a Savior whose forgiving love will always be more than anyone can explain.
Three halos: Even though this apologetic for God is simplistic and unrealistic, there is still much food for thought.
One pitchfork: For atheism; persons who see the devil behind all of this can give it a solid five forks.
Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
COMMENTS! Do you have comments about this movie or movie review?
E-mail comments. (Comments will be posted to our web site.)
The East Ohio Conference Office:
located in North Canton, OH.
near the Akron-Canton airport.
8800 Cleveland Ave. NW ·
North Canton, OH 44720
Toll Free: 800-831-3972
Office Hours: Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
©2016 EAST OHIO CONFERENCE. All Rights Reserved.