'God's Not Dead': The Only Christian Film In Theaters Worth Seeing


There are a barrage of "Christian" films that are currently in theaters and some soon to be released. The peculiar thing about all these movies are that none of them...until now, have been written or produced by actual Christians. One movie was written and produced by New Agers, another by an atheist and then this one: "God's Not Dead" produced by Pure Flix Entertainment in association with Check the Gate Productions.

Though "God's Not Dead" opened in a mere 780 theaters, it earned $9.2 million and ranked number four its first weekend. Other movies in the top five opened in nearly 4,000 theaters and took a 20 to 50 percent revenue dive in their second week. But the revenue for "God's Not Dead" only went down by 4.5 percent, remained in the top five (taking the fifth position), added 398 more theaters and earned $8.8 million its second weekend with a total gross of $21.8 million thus far.

After having the joy of watching this film, the first thing I thought was, "Finally! A good Christian movie that was actually produced by Christians; therefore it didn't blaspheme God, His character, or His Word."

"God's Not Dead" was well written, well acted and was true to the joys and hardships Christians who stand up for their faith endure from both unbelievers and sadly, even believers. Were there moments of cheesiness, yes, but honestly, I think many movies have that...not just "Christian" movies. No actor or script is perfect and not every line comes off as best as it could. Overall, I thought the acting and writing was spot on to real persecutions and pressures Christians endure...me included.

"Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory of God rests upon you.

"Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good."
~1 Peter 4:12-14, 19 (ESV)
The story for the movie was inspired by 43 court cases that were filed from 1995 to present. In all cases, both Christians students and staff members were discriminated against by their universities for being faithful to Christ and God's holy precepts for their lives. There were students that were expelled and threatened to have their academic careers ruined. And some students even had teachers refuse to grade their work because: they stood for the biblical definition of marriage (between one man and one woman, Genesis 2:23-25), they advocated pro-life (Prov 31:8-9), refused to counsel gay couples (Is 5:20; Rom 1:18, 24-27), required members of Christian campus organizations to live by biblical standards (1 Cor 5:11-12, 1 Pet 1:14-16), etc.

“We developed the script then commissioned a book by the same title with the arguments presented in the movie to debut a year ahead of the film. We felt the Newsboys’ popular song ‘God’s Not Dead’ was the perfect title and incorporated them as well as Willie and Korie Robertson of Duck Commander and fan favorite Kevin Sorbo (HERCULES, SOUL SURFER) into the script,” said Russell Wolfe, Managing Partner of Pure Flix.

Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper)
A college freshman, and a biblical Christian young man who's not a push over for his unsubmissive, self-centered and unsupportive, Christian girlfriend. When Josh enters his philosophy class he's publicly challenged and ridiculed by his professor for believing that God exists. No one except Pastor Dave (David A.R. White) encourages Josh to remain obedient to God, reminding him that he may be "the best exposure to Christ" anyone in that class has ever had. And Pastor Dave was right.

I thought the writers did a fabulous job of depicting what a true college freshman could do with only three class lectures to defend his view of the existence of God. Josh didn't come off as a studied theologian or a learned scientist. Rather, Josh provided evidence and presented ideas and arguments that someone his age, with limited time, and in his circumstance, might have access to. It would've been completely unrealistic to have a college freshman present evidence of God's existence like well-studied and well-degreed men and women of theology or science.

It's likely I'm not as smart as many, therefore I learned a lot from this movie and thought the arguments were good and spot on. I'm actually going to use what I've learned from the movie to share with others should I ever be in the same position as Josh.

Ayisha (Hadeel Sittu)
Works in the university cafeteria as well as attends school there. She lives with her Muslim family and wears a hijab ( Muslim head covering) to honor her father, but has secretly been a Christian for about a year. Her faith in Christ is violently tested. This particular story resonated with me the most, as it brought back personal memories of similar events and persecutions in my life.

Martin (Paul Kwo)
Is a Chinese citizen, studying in the United States. China is an atheistic country and talk of any religion is generally forbidden, so when Martin has phone conversations with his father about what's happening in his philosophy class, he encounters unexpected opposition and disinterest. Martin is very curious as to why Josh would put himself in a humiliating and seemingly futile predicament of proving an invisible God exists.

Pastor Dave (David A.R. White)
An associate pastor of a local church who privately feels he's not doing as much for Christ as he should in his comfy suburban, American town. He envies his visiting missionary friend, Reverend Jude (Benjamin Onyango) because he gets to work in the trenches without the same worldly comforts Dave has. Pastor Dave is a sincere and loving person who is genuinely concerned for the eternal welfare of all those around him and doesn't realize the comfort, encouragement and support the Lord provides others through him.

Amy (Trisha LaFache)
A young, vivacious journalist thinks she's going to conquer the world and assumes she's too important for the world to spin on without her. But in just one day, her narcissism is shattered by sobering, life-changing news. As happens with many (including me), it takes news like this to snap us out of the little fantasy worlds we make for ourselves where we're our own gods and we think we alone determine our destiny.

Mark (Dean Caine)
A very successful, megalomaniacal businessman who always considers "what's in it for me" before he makes or keeps a deal. Mark is dating Amy because they have the same life aspirations and being beautiful, she also makes for a very nice ornament to tote around town; satisfying his callous and overweening ego. When Amy shares her news with Mark, the only thought that crosses his mind is how inconvenient her news is to his life.

Professor Jeffrey Radisson (Kevin Sorbo)
Was raised by a Christian mother, who lost her battle with cancer when he was only 12 years old. Because Jeffrey himself had never repented and trusted in Jesus, rather than pray for his mother in accordance with God's will, he does what we're commanded by God never to do―test Him (Matt 4:5-7, 1 Cor 10:9-12). After trying to make an unsuccessful "deal" with God, Jeffrey feels slighted by the Almighty and decides He must not exist since He didn't see things the way Jeffrey did and didn't give him what he wanted (Job 41:11).

Mina (Cory Oliver)
A former student and now girlfriend of Professor Radisson. She's not very strong in her faith...yet, and like many women, looks for her value and identity from a man rather than the Son of Man, Jesus Christ the Lord. Due to this, she falls into the painful and deceptive world of missionary dating, that is, knowingly dating an unbeliever hoping to convert him (2 Cor 6:14-15). Thankfully, because she's truly saved, this relationship begins to gnaw at her and she seeks wise counsel.

Response to Naysayers
I must say that I've been very surprised and perturbed by illegitimate and contradictory complaints about "God's Not Dead". Some reviewers have said that this film puts "God on trial" and we're commanded not to test God. I agree we're not, and this movie doesn't do that. The term is used only to set up the dynamics of the debate between Josh and Professor Radisson much like Christ Himself spoke in farming terms to farmers, shepherding terms to shepherds, etc. in order to help the hearers understand the things of God by comparing them to the things people of this world understood...things of this world.

There are other reviewers who complain Josh didn't present a good enough argument because he forgot to mention many scientific facts about creation. While at the same time, saying it was unreasonable that a college freshman could ever win an argument with a near genius college professor.

The last two complaints I'll address are the ones that have purported that Josh supported the Big Bang Theory; he did not. The second complaint was that the script for the characters and situations they were involved in were unrealistic and stereotyped. Case in point, one reviewer said the atheist character Amy and business tycoon Mark were over-exaggerated because atheist aren't that mean or callous. I agree that not all atheist are, but some are...and honestly, so are many professing Christians.

I knew a Christian gal many years ago who was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her professing Christian husband of 20 years left her and their three children and moved into a hotel or apartment saying, "I'm sorry this is happening to you. This doesn't fit into my life, so why don't you call your girlfriends from church and ask them to help you. Then call me when you're done with all this cancer stuff and I'll come back so we can resume life as usual." Her husband, like Mark was also a very successful business man and just felt this "cancer business" didn't fit into his business and life aspirations.

None of these stories were unrealistic, they were just some of the worst case scenarios Christians (though there are far worse) might face in order to encourage them to press on...no matter the cost. After all, why waste time on telling Christians how to handle situations where everyone likes you? We already know how to handle that.

What happened to all the characters in the movie have either happened to me personally, or others I know; all here in America. That's not hype or stereotype, it's real life.

Conclusion
This is by far the best Christian film I've seen in a while and I highly recommend everyone to support it by going to see it and sharing the message of hope found only in Christ that this movie accurately and realistically portrays.

The only thing I disagree with in this movie was their definition of why evil is in this world...freewill. As one who adheres to Reformed Theology, I don't believe God grants any human being freewill until after conversion rather than before (Rom 9:16). We don't choose God, He chooses us (Jn 6:37, 44; Rom 9:11, 19-24). I believe what is written in Scripture, that we are all inherently sinful (Ps 51:5, Rom 5:12, Eph 2:3) and destined for Hell (Rom 6:23); therefore slaves to our sin nature (Jn 8:34, Rom 6:16) until we repent and trust Jesus, who alone has the power to free us from the penalty and bondage of our sins―making us new creations (Rom 6:17, 2 Cor 5:17).

Be sure to visit the "God's Not Dead" blog page where they provide interesting resources to help you prove to others that God's not dead and neither is anyone who has left this world and is now Home with Christ (1 Thess 4:13-14).

They are surely more alive now than you or I.
'God's Not Dead': The Only Christian Film In Theaters Worth Seeing