From Hercules (Kevin Sorbo) to Superman (Dean Cain) and Willie Robertson to Newsboys, Pure Flix Entertainment’s release of God’s Not Dead seems to have it all. Based on a plethora of litigation, the storyline involves college student Josh Wheaton whose faith is challenged by his philosophy professor, who believes God does not exist. Throughout the movie several of the basic apologetic questions are raised and summarily defended. Such questions are:
- Is God real?
- Can the Bible be trusted?
- Can faith, science and reason survive in the same playground?
- How can God allow evil?
- How did the universe originate?
- How does evolution fit in to Christian belief?
First Things First
I purposely did not read any reviews of this movie prior to the viewing. I wanted to see it with as few distractions as possible. I knew the basic synopsis, which sounded a lot like a sermon illustration that floated around a few years back. I went in a bit skeptical having watched several other Pure Flix productions and being underwhelmed by the quality of production value. With tickets and Diet Coke in hand I entered the theater.
Q & A
Apologetics is a branch of Christian theology concerned with proving the truths of Christianity. The word “apologetics” derives from the Greek word apologia, which was originally used of a speech of defense or an answer given in reply. In ancient Athens it referred to a defense made in the courtroom as part of the normal judicial procedure. After the accusation, the defendant was allowed to refute the charges with a defense or reply (apologia). The accused would attempt to “speak away” (apo—away, logia—speech) the accusation.
Josh (Shane Harper) refuses to sign a declaration that “God is dead.” In so doing he raises the ire of the professor who then makes a deal with him. He can either sign the paper or give 3 partial lectures to prove the existence of God. After mulling it over for a night, he remembers a quote from C.S. Lewis that “Only real risk reveals the quality of one’s belief” and chooses to defend his faith in the existence of God. Josh addresses the issues surrounding Big Bang Theory (not the TV show), Theory of Evolution, and Existence of Evil. In each, positions are presented and simple conclusions are drawn.
The intertwining of characters and their stories was well crafted. The strength to stand for one’s belief is found in Ayisha (Hadeel Sittu) as she stands up to her non-believing father. The existence of God and His working in us is found in the comic relief of the ministers (David A. R White and Benjamin Ochieng). The existence of pain, suffering, and evil are expanded through Mina (Cory Oliver) as she deals with her mother’s dementia and Amy (Trisha LaFache) as she faces death by cancer as a young women recently dumped by her boyfriend (Dean Cain) who is Mina’s brother. The fleshing out of the simple answers provided by the student I found to be refreshing and well-done.
I do, however, believe that a college freshman would not be as well-spoken, savvy, and quick-witted as our lead character. While I completely understand that the Holy Spirit can fill a man’s mouth and guide his tongue to speak eloquently, it just seems a little over-the-top. With that said, it makes for great drama and entertainment. Outside of this, the character development was on point and the quality of cast and script made for a believable presentation.
The end of the movie wrapped up quickly but poignantly. One finds faith after a car accident. One finds faith in the midst of cancer, while others continue a life of rejection and rebellion. Because there were some who still refuse faith, this film was kept honest and real.
In a world of skepticism coupled with a deep desire to find meaning in life, this movie honestly addresses real questions of millions. “God’s Not Dead” provides the framework for deeper and far-reaching discussions around water-coolers, in coffee shops and dorm rooms across America. The world of apologetics is far richer than presented but is on sound footing here. While some apologists might argue that the answers were not presented strong enough, let us remember a word from one of the final scenes that “It simply comes down to a choice. You either believe or don’t.”
I believe this movie is worth the price of admission.
I believe that God and Science can play together.
I believe that the presence of evil is a result of our own freedom to choose.
I believe God’s Not Dead!