I’ve heard about the movie God’s Not Dead before it hit theaters, and I refused to see it…mostly because when it was in the theater I was yellow and wondering if I was going into liver failure.
Now that it’s on DVD, I’ve seen it and have written an Amazon review (feel free to go here and give me positive votes).
Seeing that I’m doing next to no blogging these days, I’m basically double-dipping into other things I write and will toss a few things up here from time to time. My main efforts these days are book editing and learning how to publish an e-book (and there’s a lot to do and learn).
Still, here’s my review for those that are interested:
God’s Not Dead is a “Christian” fantasy film for youth group kids…
…but that’s mostly because the Christianity in this movie is the “Cultural Christianity” of youth groups and Christian rock bands.
In other words, not really the Christianity as revealed by God in the Christian scriptures.
So, the basic story is that a Christian freshman takes an intro philosophy course at university and has a professor who is a raging atheist.
No news there; been there and done that (as have thousands of other Christians who’ve attended university). The professor agrees to allow the Christian to defend the existence of God, gives him 3 classes to present his case (for around 20 minutes a class) and then allows all the students to decide the victor. The student gives arguments that weren’t great, and if you know anything about apologetics (or especially presuppositional apologetics), you’ll find this part to be quite unconvincing…though it’s not surprising that a freshman university student basically quotes popular apologists like Lennox and Strobel (as if any atheist gives them credibility at all), goes off about free will and how God’s over-riding moral quality is that he loves you like a teenage girl…
His professor eventually cannot overcome the student’s unassailable arguments which leads to a break down where he screams and reveals his angry heart to the student. I guess that’s the way many high school students think these debates actually turn out if you just skillfully apply some bumper-sticker truths, but North America is full of “ex-Christians” who bear testimony to how well bumper-sticker theology stands up to rational scrutiny.
Sadly, most atheists with terminal degrees are in a completely different category than Sorbo’s character…and not all of them believe in free will (which basically de-fangs 95% of popular-level Christian apologetics). Still, it’s a movie and serious atheist arguments make for boring cinema, so I guess that’s understood.
You’ll get all warm and fuzzy when the atheist professor is hit by a car on the way to a Newsboys concert at the end and makes a “deathbed conversion”, just so everything is nicely wrapped up (which always happens, right?).
Going to a Newsboys concert?
Well, that’s apparently what a PhD philosophy professor does when they’re ready to “get back to God”.
No prayer or repentance.
No convictions from the scripture.
Just get your coat and run to a Christian rock concert.
Again, this movie is clearly aimed at ill-informed youth group kids who wouldn’t know any better.
The REALLY horrible part was that the atheist professor is dating a “Christian” girl who’s one of his ex-students, and her pastor knows about it but apparently doesn’t care that they’re likely shacked-up (which the movie doesn’t explicitly show even though the girl herself comments on how she feels guilty that they’re “unequally yoked” and they’re unbelievers in the 21st century). The pastor is confused about the gospel, doesn’t care about his congregants living in blatant sin, and is alarmingly shallow (i.e. he laments that, unlike a missionary, he’s not doing “real” ministry…).
Again, I’ll chalk this up to the fact that this is aimed at youth group kids, and we don’t expect much from youth group kids, right?
There’s a third and fourth story line; a Muslim girl is a secret Christian who gets discovered and is kicked out of her house but somehow recovers alarmingly quickly; enough to get to a Newsboys concert as well (I sense a theme here…). There’s also an aggressive atheist blogger who mocks a guy from Duck Dynasty, gets cancer (and dumped by her “rich and greasy” boyfriend), and then gets “led to the Lord” (which means “vague theism”) by Newsboys with a gospel that I don’t recognize at all and can’t seem to find in the scriptures. Apparently, Christianity basically revolves around the Christian rock concerts and knowing that God loves you super much because you’re super awesome.
This whole movie is clearly aimed at ill-informed youth group kids: it’s kitschy, shallow and doesn’t dive into any of the serious questions with any sort of serious approach…which makes sense given the target audience. But the theology is horrible, the pastor is incompetent, and the whole “Christianity” is nothing short of the “cultural Christianity” that is a theological plague in the evangelical world.
Movies like this make Christianity look actually irrational and do more damage than the atheists whom these movies are supposed to combat. It may encourage ill-informed teenage believers who are scared of going to university, but it does so by giving them false and shallow hope, based on frightfully unbiblical and shallow theology, to prepare for the onslaught that most secular universities have in store.
This movie also doesn’t prove that God’s not dead.
It just proves that cultural Christianity sells to people who’ve already drank the Kool-Aid.
Until Next Time,
Lyndon “Kool-Aid has no place in church” Unger