Thursday, May 1, 2014

God’s Not Dead

The Courage to Defend Your Faith
By Jan McClure

Movie Review of
God’s Not Dead

Director: Harold Cronk
Cast: Kevin Sorbo, Shane Harper, David A.R. White, Dena Cain, Willie Robertson

I found this movie very comforting.  I was in a place where I was at peace.  The producers of God's Not Dead were sharing their love for the faith.  I was watching my brothers and sisters in Christ struggle with being a Christian in our secular world.  They talked about issues from a Christian standpoint. Usually in a movie, I feel I am “pushing away” the things of the world, but in this movie there were people I could identify with; it just felt safe.

During the film, however, I realized that anyone watching it who is not Christian would be “pushing away” all this talk about Jesus.  Unless someone is really searching for the Lord and is open, this film might not reach the hardhearted. But with God nothing is impossible. 

Josh Wheaten (played by Shane Harper) is a college freshman and has a strong Christian faith.  His philosophy professor, Professor Radisson (played by Kevin Sorbo), is an atheist.  Radisson asks all students to sign their name on a paper stating that God is Dead.  The professor wants to get this “philosophical” topic over and done with, and with no discussion.  Josh won’t sign it and challenges the professor.  The professor makes a deal with him:  he will give Josh the opportunity at the end of each class to convince his fellow students and the professor that God is not dead.

The rest of the movie deals with his journey to accomplish this, showing how the Holy Spirit weaves an amazing tapestry in so many of each of the characters lives. 
Editor's Note: If you have ever felt inadequate in defending your faith to doubters and unbelievers, this is a good movie to watch in order to gain ideas on how to do it and to build your courage.
The credits mention that this film was inspired by a true story and listed numerous cases where college students have been in legal disputes regarding their religious freedom. 

During my college years, I had similar professors who wanted to convince the students that there was no God.  One professor said, "All of you who think there is a God, there isn’t, and I am here to inform you that this is all there is.  There is no heaven or hell; this life here is it."  I remember just blowing off his ideas, but I did pause for a few moments and think about that. 

In my Junior year, I had another professor who was formerly a priest.  He tried to teach us how wrong the Catholic Church was because of how they treated women, and that the Bible was also wrong, because there were many more books of the Bible that had been left out.  At that time in my life, I was a Protestant and didn’t know much about the history of the Catholic faith.  It wasn’t until I was much older that I began studying it and finally learned what non-canonical books he had referred to.  However, he had put doubts into my head.  Those questions stayed in the back of my mind for a long time, because I did agree with him that women weren’t treated properly.  I was a strong feminist back in those days and believed that women should be able to do everything that a man could do.  Consequently, for years I failed to recognize the value I have as a woman in God’s eyes or the Church's teachings. I failed to realize that equality between men and women does not mean having identical roles.

College is a time for young people to discern what they truly believe in.  Away from parental influence and introduced to new ideas, it can be a turning point either towards Christ or away from him.  This movie shows how one such young man chose to stay on the right path and how others faced their beliefs and their choices, both good and bad. 

The end of the movie shows a concert of the Newsboys (a Christian rock band), and they ask the audience to text "God’s not Dead."  I received one such text a few days ago and knew that someone had seen the film!

Even though the film’s framework is Protestant, it focuses on the One who is our link to each other: Jesus. The words they spoke and the love they feel for our Lord is the same as our Catholic spirit.  Three of the fruits of the Holy Spirit are love, peace and joy (see Gal 5:22), and I certainly felt that during this film.

Questions for youth groups, families, and other small group discussions (and we hope you will post a comment below!):
  1. If you found yourself in the same position as Josh, would you stand up for your faith or would you not want to rock the boat? Why?
  2. Have you had any experiences in your education where a teacher or professor tried to influence your faith away from Christ?  If so, what were your reactions?
  3. In your own life, how does the Holy Spirit work to help you in ways that are best for your soul?

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