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the historical facts of Jesus’ existence, as well as the validity and reliability of the gospel accounts as reliable historical documents.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

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Dawkins’ Delusion

Here Richard Dawkins, the great God-denying champion and promoter of atheism, admits to the possibility of Intelligent Design behind the creation of life on earth.

Just don’t call that creative intelligence “God” – and don’t suggest that the creative intelligence might take an interest in, or expect the creation to be accountable to the one who created it.

Dawkins also shows that he can’t progress beyond the kindergartenesque question, “If God created the universe, then who created God?” Stuck in this kind of thought bubble, he insists that IF there is some kind of intelligence responsible for life on earth, that intelligence itself must be the product of a long process of evolution.

But why? Isn’t it reasonable to expect Dawkins to justify such a categorical assumption with some kind of evidence? *

The silliness behind the question “who created God” can be seen when we recognise that science now agrees with what scripture has said for thousands of years, that the universe had a beginning.

But the same scriptures that revealed a beginning to the universe also tell us that God had no beginning, He is eternal, everlasting, therefore with no need to be “created”.

God is :

“the eternal God” (Gen 21, Deut 33, Rom 10)

“from everlasting to everlasting” (1 Chr 16, 1 Chr 29, Neh 9, Ps 41, Ps 90, Ps 103)

“the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King” (Jer 10)

“everflasting Father” (Is 9)

“from everlasting” (Hab 1)

“the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God” (1 Tim 1)

The question about “who created God, is therefore based on a false premise – that a creator God also needed to be created.

Towards the end of this video segment, Dawkins is asked what he would say, should he die and find himself face to face with God. Dawkins refers to a quote from Bertrand Russell who when posed a similar question stated he would ask God “Sir, why did you take such pains to hide yourself?”

My response to both Dawkins and Russell would be to ask – has God been hiding? Or have they (and countless others) been refusing to see what God has made obvious?

 

“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, , so that people are without excuse.” (Rom 1)

 

“Professing to be wise, they became fools” (also Rom 1)

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* My friend Chris says he has read two of Dawkins’ books and tells me that he considers Dawkins’ best quote to be: “We must stop asking the question WHY?”.

 

 

Naïve Relativism

Here is a question I saw in the comments of another blog.

I don’t consider your belief in God to be wrong … for you. So why do you consider my lack of belief in God to be wrong for me?

Just consider the kind of mindset behind that question.

Basically the question is saying that objective reality means nothing.

Look at the question in a slightly different way. What if “belief in God” is exchanged for some other idea?

How about belief in the ability to fly? Or the ability to breathe under water? Or belief in being bullet proof?

Should someone’s belief that they can safely launch themselves from a cliff top be considered as wrong for them?

Or a belief they can remain submerged for hours without scuba gear or that they can face gunfire without suffering personal harm?

Whether someone believes in God or not makes no difference at all to the objective facts related to God’s existence.

If God exists then His creation, including mankind, is ultimately accountable to Him, regardless of whether His reality and our accountability to Him is recognised by you, me or any other individual. Therefore, if God exists, lack of belief in Him is wrong for everyone no matter what their personal preference may be.

The Danger of Insularity (addendum)

A follow up to the earlier re-blogged article about insularity.

Onesimus Files

My previous post about “insularity” didn’t really head in the direction I’d intended. While it touched partly on the issue I wanted to address, I probably didn’t make my intended points clear.

I mentioned how limited my own understanding had been regarding doctrinal diversity within “the church”. I had a lot of (wrong) assumptions about the general conformity of Christian beliefs.
To a degree that created a “trust shortcut”, giving the illusion that something could be accepted on trust if it had a Christian label.

Those assumptions were changed through interacting with others outside of my familiar theological world. Realisation of significant doctrinal differences across the Christian community made me aware of the need to reassess all of my beliefs: all of those things I’d taken for granted.

One of the points I intended to make in the previous post was the way we can misinterpret the world outside of…

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