Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
The Layman Online > Media Reviews > Movie review: ‘God’s Not Dead’

Movie review: ‘God’s Not Dead’

gods not dead

Editor’s note: God’s Not Dead will be shown on over 600 screens nationally beginning on March 21. According to a press release, the movie hopes to weave “together multiple stories of faith, doubt and disbelief, culminating in a dramatic call to action. The film will educate, entertain and inspire moviegoers to explore what they really believe about God, igniting important conversations and life-changing decisions.

God’s Not Dead is the story of a Christian college freshman, Josh (Shane Harper), who takes an Introduction to Philosophy class from a notorious atheist professor, Dr. Radisson (Kevin Sorbo). The first day of class, the professor demands that the students write “God is Dead” on a piece of paper and sign it. Josh refuses so the professor offers him an alternative assignment – he gets 20 minutes at the end of each of the next three classes to prove to his fellow students that God is not dead.

The premise is familiar. We’ve seen it in a number of “forward this to everyone you know” emails – the Christian student takes on the evil atheist professor and wins. Though the plot setup was a bit contrived, I was really hoping for an interesting story that got to the heart of the very real struggle of many Christian college students whose faith is challenged in college. But unfortunately, God’s Not Dead completely missed the mark on reality. What could have been a thought-provoking film turned into a hokey, unrealistic story filled with flat, one-dimensional, stereotypical characters that at times even bordered on offensive. The whole story line felt contrived and unrealistic. The subplots and cameo appearances weren’t really connected to the main story line in any meaningful way. Most of the characters and their interactions with each other were just not believable.

I really wanted this movie to be a powerful story that I could share with high school and college aged Christian youth and even with atheist friends. Many Christian college students really are facing situations similar to Josh’s (though not as dramatic and in-your-face) and need encouragement to stand up for their faith in a meaningful way. For those Christian kids, I wouldn’t mind showing them this movie. Even though it’s cheesy, it might help give them the courage to speak the truth in love in their own situations. It could at least serve as a discussion starter about their own experiences with teachers and friends.

But what truly saddens me is that if I showed this to my atheist friends, I’m afraid it would only make them dislike Christians even more. I’m afraid that those who really need to hear the message that God is not dead would be so turned off by the story and characters of the movie that they would completely miss it.

 

Kathy Larson is the director of Christian Education and Creative Arts at Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, N.C. She attended a Feb. 4 screening of God’s Not Dead, held at AMC Concord Mills 24 in Concord Mills, N.C.

About the author: Kathy Larson

4 comments

  1. E B says:

    The movie has done it’s job… And God has accomplished what pleases HIM.
    No matter how you feel about it, good or bad. “It has everyone talking about GOD.”

    Hypocrites: if you are ashamed of the movie and/or afraid that Atheist will dislike Christians even more, it’s ok. Remember, GOD draws people to Himself; not you, nor a movie. If you are saved from you sins and walking in God’s light, you are blessed to be called by HIM. Those who don’t believe: whether this movie is good or not, will not be an excuse for them when Christ arrives. So, stop bickering among yourselves and slapping each other in the face, Christians. If a simple movie can divide us, we will never be able to win souls for HIM. GOD GIVES THE INCREASE!!!!! The better response would be that God will give the increase to any message that is given on this Earth!

  2. Claudia says:

    I think this movie is touching for either party (Christian and non-Christian), it’s finely acted, well argumented, compelling and above all, it goes Christian oriented… There’s one Little detail however.

    For some time now I’ve been researching much about the conspiracy theories in our days, and I’ve come to conclude one premise among many, and that is the fact that some elite groups control what comes out to the mainstream entertainment industry… So, I wondered, if these groups are anti-Christian oriented, why would they let people get a powerful Christian message world wide.

    As a psychologist, I’ve come to realize, the “catch” is in the headline of the entire concept “God’s not dead”. The phrase would seem legit as the message imply, however… The mind at the subconscious level does not register negative sentences as such. Allow me to illustrate this… If I’d tell you “The White cat is not dirty”, what would you picture first handed?… Correct, first, you imagine a dirty cat, then your rational mind recreates the entire frame as a white cat “not dirty”, but it is the first message what counts to the subconscious mind, a dirty cat… Try that with “God’s not dead”.

    Kind regards to everyone

    Claudia

  3. Reginald says:

    It seemed like a Hollywood A-movie and yet a Christian movie. Well-acted, produced and directed per normal Hollywood standards, I thought. Engaging from start to finish. I was not fidgety in my seat.

    The movie was not just the debate. There was drama. If you are a father or daughter, especially from an Asian culture, and even if you are of Western origin, there is a moment in the movie when you will be moved with a surge of simultaneous emotions (intense sadness, compassion, suspense, hope, etc.), so much so that there is lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as I write this. I can still see the torment on the father’s face (an actor whom I have never seen before) and the daughter’s anguish.

    I would see this movie again if only to see that part again.

    The debate is only about 20-25 percent of the movie. There is a bunch of other situations involving relationships, conflicts and life choices we all make, all smoothly and engagingly woven into the main storyline that moves at a very good pace.

    For Christians in the habit of watching faith programs, studying the Bible, reading faith books and regularly attending church and Sunday school there won’t be much new in the debate. Nominal Christians and non-Christians who are intellectually honest will find the debate interesting, enlightening, even persuasive, and a couple of unexpected twists in the story captivating.

    I had never heard a particular Steven Hawking assertion (not mentioning it here because I don’t want to spoil the movie for you) which the Christian student uses in the debate. There may be things like that many may not have read or heard before.

    What should have struck me long before the movie is how atheists and progressives tend to fast-talk their arguments (apparently to impress the common man with their intellectual superiority by attempting to prevent the man’s brain from catching up with what they are saying) while believers and conservatives tend to be slow and deliberative in what they say because they want people to truly understand what they are writing and saying.

    Reminds me of a math major roommate I had in the Army who sent a girl a letter with the stamp deliberately affixed to the envelope upside down. He explained to me that the upside down stamp usually is a coded or subconscious message that the sender has romantic interest in the receiver. When the girl took the bait he went through this [faulty] probability reasoning to impress her, “proving” that the stamp was upside down merely by dumb chance.

    I believe it will be well worth the time and money you spend on this movie. I hope you won’t miss it. If you are a Christian it will help you help others. If you are not a Christian I believe it will indeed entertain you at a minimum or change your life in a way you now think is impossible.

  4. Brian P. says:

    As a deconverted Christian, I’m saddened by this type of film. But I’m positive in that, at least for some of us, all we have to do is turn the other cheek. Mocking and shaming will not win in the end. Warmest regards.

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