Director Harold Cronk’s film is a good family Christian movie with a powerful message for all Christians: stand up for your faith and make your actions reflect your words and beliefs.
“God’s Not Dead” is the story of a college freshman named Josh Wheaton who is forced to make the decision of whether or not to defend his faith in God when his Philosophy teacher professor, Raddison (Kevin Sorbo), wants the class to dismiss the idea of a God and embrace the idea that there is no God by simply writing down “God is dead” and sign it for a grade.
Wheaton refuses because he is a Christian and will not deny God’s existence so he is forced to prepare a series of presentations in which he defends the existence of God and faces the possibility of failing the class if he is not able to prove that there is a God.
Wheaton is pressured by his parents and his girlfriend, who also claim to be Christian, to simply deny God or drop the class, but Wheaton feels a responsibility to stand up for God and may be the only voice defending the gospel that his classmates may ever hear.
He has his doubts until preacher Dave gives him two scriptures to look up, which happens to be a theme of the movie. Matthew 10:32-33 “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.”
Also Luke 12:48 which says “…When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” After reading these verses Wheaton is convicted to do all he can to stand before his class and acknowledge God.
Wheaton puts God on trial with himself as the defense, the professor as the prosecutor, and the classroom as the jury.
“God’s Not Dead” is a surprising movie. It is surprising not only that it was number five nationally during its first weekend at the box office, but also surprising because it seems to break the molds of most Christian movies that are produced.
The pattern in many Christian movies is this: a.) main character is going through a difficulty, b.) main character finds Christ and becomes a Christian, and then c.) the main character is healed or problems disappear because he is a Christian and everyone lives happily ever after.
In “God’s Not Dead” we see a more realistic view that even though a person is a Christian, life is still hard. Some of the characters in the movie are Christians already and they have to choose whether to keep following God through trials or to take the easy way out and to do what everyone else wants them to do.
There is a good core message yet there is still plenty wrong with the movie. Too many generalizations and clichés abound throughout the film. Almost every character in the film that is not shown as a Christian is portrayed as corrupt, apathetic, or a villain of some kind. Whereas in real life there are moral atheists.
One of the biggest differences between Christians and atheists is the comfort we have during trials and the film touches on this but it could have done so without making non-Christians seem so horrible.
Also, there are too many characters and sub plots in the movie. We find out how connected all of the characters are in the end but it would have been much better to focus on one story with fewer characters involved.
With these characters there is too much focus on their broken relationships, drama, and struggles and this takes away from the main story and the few scenes where Wheaton actually defends God and presents scientific proof pointing to intelligent design and a creator. This information is important and helps show non-Christians that science is more and more pointing to the existence of a designer and creator.
As an Mississippi College student and someone who lives in the Bible Belt I thought “This would never happen right?” But to me, one of the most powerful parts of the movie is at the credits when you see that the movie is dedicated to Christian students who have been persecuted for their faith here in America and there is a long list of court cases. No matter where we are we have to stand up for our faith.
Overall it is a good movie with an important core message. It could have been better with character focus, story flow, and more intelligent aspects of the story but it is a lot better than what we have seen from Christian movies in the past and hopefully a sign for even better Christian entertainment to come. God’s not dead in our lives and apparently He is not dead in Hollywood either.
– James Osborne, Contributing Writer