God’s Not Dead


not deadI haven’t been impressed by a lot of Christian films.
Sometimes the theology within the story can be dodgy, as can the acting. However I recently enjoyed these three.

The first of the “trilogy” has Josh, a young student forced to defend his belief in God to his philosophy class, when he refuses to give in to the lecturer’s demand that they all sign a statement declaring that God is dead.

By doing so, the lecturer claims the class can leave aside vain discussion of religious thought and move straight on to the “valid” aspects of philosophical ideas.

Facing opposition from friends and family, Josh takes on the challenge despite the likelihood, no matter how strong a case he makes, that he will be failed for that course, undermining the desired direction of his education.

not dead 2The second film has a couple of overlapping characters from the first film giving a continuity between the two.

This time a high school teacher finds herself in court because she quoted Jesus when answering a student’s question in history class; despite the fact that the questioner brought up Jesus in a discussion of Ghandi and Martin Luther King.

For some reason the student’s parents see the court case as a means of advancing their daughter’s educational future, if only through the financial gain they hope to receive as compensation.

The student herself is appalled by her parent’s choice, but due to her age is prevented from having a say in the matter.

Within this film, several real life Christian experts are called upon to give evidence regarding the historical facts of Jesus’ existence, as well as the validity and reliability of the gospel accounts as reliable historical documents.

After watching this film, viewers need to wait until the end of the credits where a post-credit scene sets up the story of the third film.

not dead lightDuring the third installment of the series, on-going character Pastor Dave, finds himself at odds with the law when the ongoing survival of his church building is threatened.

The building is currently on part of a school campus, having in the past being associated with the school, originally built on church land, which was ultimately sold to the educational institution.

A tragic act of vandalism sets up circumstances to enable the school board of to demand the church be demolished so they can make use of the cleared land.

Pastor Dave has been a familiar character across this series of films, usually a minor role, in this one he takes prominence as his faith is challenged. He is faced with choices that will determine how his faith will be lived and demonstrated to those around him.

Each of the films has a different approach to a common theme: to what extent is Christian faith being opposed by an increasingly antagonistic secular culture.

While the films themselves are fictional representations, the situations portrayed are inspired by real life cases where Christians found themselves in courts having their right to believe and practice their faith opposed. In the credits of the first two films, lists of more than twenty (I lost count after that) actual cases are provided.

I had only one or two small quibbles with content of the films, but those minor objections probably reflect the reality of Christian expression (religious clichés, the constant citing of bible verses in everyday conversation), so those issues are more about the way Christians often speak or act than with the films themselves.

Across the films the Christian band The Newsboys make appearances of various lengths and importance. In the first one they have a more dominant role in the story, and of course, the film’s titles come from one of  their songs.

Overall the three films were entertaining, informative and challenging, and they have made me aware of some potentially interesting resources to follow up from some of the writers who played themselves within the films. So far I’ve tracked down two books I’m looking forward to reading in the next week or two.

mmmcold case

2 thoughts on “God’s Not Dead

  1. Great post.

    Can’t really say I enjoyed the God’s Not Dead movies, but I guess I was mildly entertained.

    I’ve read Cold Case Christianity. It’s a pretty good book. You won’t regret reading it. I don’t think the arguments in it are sound though.

    I haven’t read Man, Myth, Messiah. I might look for it.

  2. Maybe I’ll check out one or more of these stories/movies/books. What I am posting to say is America is a very litigious place, and almost anything can be taken to court. Conservatives, who are actively often against regulations or rules, frequently say lawsuits are the way to handle matters instead [while it is also signature talk from them that outcomes should be capped (which would be a rule or regulation, go figure, and of which at least one said proponent {who was in the running for nomination for presidential candidate in 2012} himself {Santorum} violated the spirit in his own life and to which he abandoned adherence in fact while continuing to spout simply the political words {perhaps he has stopped years later as a pundit})].

    We’ve recently learned that our current president paid someone (an IT hacker type) to manipulate (“rig”) a poll — on a television station that is mostly about stock/bonds/investment — to make him look like a successful businessman in a year prior to his campaign. When he nevertheless didn’t come in near the top, he threatened to sue the station that hosted the poll.

    https://www.rawstory.com/2019/01/michael-cohen-threatened-cnbc-failing-rig-poll-results-trumps-favor-report/

    …. Donald Trump, then just a real estate tycoon, would sue the financial news network after results of a poll in which Trump fared poorly were published…….

    I did some looking around to see who made the movies.
    (I for instance wondered if it was Liberty University.)
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pure_Flix

    I also found this (about the second movie):
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnson_Amendment

    Quoting:

    The Johnson Amendment is a provision in the U.S. tax code, since 1954, that prohibits all 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. Section 501(c)(3) organizations are the most common type of nonprofit organization in the United States, ranging from charitable foundations to universities and churches. The amendment is named for then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas, who introduced it in a preliminary draft of the law in July 1954.

    In the early 21st century, many politicians, including President Donald Trump, have sought to repeal the provision, arguing that it restricts the free speech rights of churches and other religious groups. These efforts have been criticized because churches have fewer reporting requirements than other non-profit organizations, and because it would effectively make political contributions tax-deductible.[1] On May 4, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order “to defend the freedom of religion and speech” …

    ……….

    References

    1 “Congress Wants to Let Churches Play Partisan Politics and Keep Tax Exempt Status”. …
    2 … “Trump signs order aimed at allowing churches to engage in more political activity”. …
    3 “President Donald J. Trump signs the Executive Order on Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty and participates in the National Day of Prayer event in the Rose Garden”. …The White House/Facebook. 43:29

    ……….

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