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God's Not Dead: The Movie - A Review
I had seen the reviews, watched the trailer and had actually done some research into the movie "God's Not Dead." I believed that it was a movie that I needed to see and so this past Friday night, along with some friends from church, we went. If you are not familiar with the movie, it is the story of a college freshman, Josh Wheaton, who finds himself himself face to face with an atheistic professor in this Introduction to Philosophy class. On the first day of class, the professor asks for each person in the class to sign a statement that "God Is Dead" so that they can dispense with that dry and unnecessary discussion and get on to more interesting discussions. Josh, a professed Christian, cannot do as the professor asks. His alternative - drop the class or debate the professor.
Without giving away the plot, let me say that what ensues is encouraging and uplifting. Going in, we knew that there would be some things with which we would disagree - after all, the movie was produced by a denominational group. But with that in mind, let me suggest some positives that I took away from this movie.
The theater was full. In fact we had trouble finding four seats together and ended up sitting in the second row - at this point, I cannot remember why the front row of the theater was so appealing when I was young! To see that many people at a movie with the express purpose of defending God's existence is an encouraging thing. While I am sure that I would disagree with many who were there about some doctrinal points, at the same time, I am encouraged to see so many who share a belief in the existence of the God of the Bible. It provides a foundation to build upon and an open door for dialogue and discussion.
Christianity was portrayed in a positive light. While so many in the entertainment industry disparage and ridicule the Christian faith, this movie portrayed Christianity as a life worth living. Again, the slant was denominational, but at its core, this was an effort to portray God, the Bible and the Christian walk in a favorable light. In a day and time where evil is called good and good is called evil (Isaiah 5:20), it was a refreshing thing to see.
The Bible was given a place of prominence. On numerous occasions, Bible verses were cited or quoted. As Josh is making the decision whether to debate the professor, he reads his Bible and contemplates how it applies to his situation. As must be the case for those who profess the doctrine of faith only and the use of the "Sinner's pray," biblical support was missing when the topic of salvation was discussed, but we expected that to be the case. Then again, in a society where so many deny the inspiration and relevance of the Bible, it was refreshing to see it treated in a respectful way.
The "problem of evil" was addressed. This is perhaps the most encouraging thing that I took from the movie. Though young Josh was at a decided disadvantage going up against an experienced PhD. on his own turf, he successfully took on this challenge to God's existence. In one of his lectures before the class, Josh acknowledged (and rightly so) that the problem of evil is the atheist's strongest argument. But he also demonstrated that the problem of evil can be answered. God has given man free will - the freedom to choose to lovingly obey Him or to reject his will. This freedom also brings the possibility of evil, suffering and pain.
The word of God is powerful. In addition to the struggle between Josh and the professor, a number of subplots run throughout the movie. In each of these storylines, it is evident that the word of God has the power to bring about change for good when it is heeded. Let us never underestimate the power of God’s word — truly it is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18).
Certainly, we are not dependent upon a movie such as this one to know that “God’s Not Dead,” but it is encouraging to know that others share that faith. Let us pray that we have opportunities to share the fullness of his will with those who also believe in him. And in our daily lives, let us live according to the realization that he lives and do all that we can to honor, obey and “serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).