Okay, so I saw this movie was out and I said to myself “Oh, that’s cool, I hope it’s a good movie” and moved on. I never really got excited about seeing it or even intended to go see it. Thursday night as I was headed up to my room, a friend passed me and invited me to go with her and some friends to go see a movie. I hesitated but when she said they were seeing God’s Not Dead I decided to go.
Now I went with 5 girls who live in a kind of prosperity gospel environment, one where sin isn’t a big deal it’s all about feelings. This and their actions have caused me to wonder about their salvation status. As we drove to the theater, I prayed that this movie would open a door that would allow me to share the true Gospel of Christ with them.
On a side note, I heard an interesting conversation between two of the girls and an atheist student in the dorm lobby. They invited him to join us and he gave his reasons for not going, namely it was a cheesy movie that ended with a stupid Christian rock concert. I was watching for our ride to pull up and didn’t join the conversation but noted how weakly the girls defended their reasons for going. They tried to win him over on feelings, which of course didn’t work. Once they got in the van they started talking about how they couldn’t believe he wouldn’t go with us. I gave my opinion, which involved several verses (John 14:16; 1 Corinthians 1:18; 2:14 are some), which I hope God can use in some way in their lives. Anyways, back to my review of the movie.
The movie started off okay. Being a Christian movie, there was of course no sex or cussing, which may have contributed to it’s cheesiness. That probably sounds really shallow, but in my experience, atheists and other unbelievers usually don’t argue with Christians or even converse normally without some colorful language in between. This is not to say I didn’t appreciate that it was a clean movie, in fact, that’s one of the highlights.
Okay, now obviously there were some Christians, and some non-Christians in this movie. Basically all the Christians were great people (except the girlfriend, but I’ll get back to her later) and all the non-Christians were very not nice people! This is my first issue with it, though I’m not sure that there was really a way to fix it. The fact is, there are a lot of nice people who are on their way to hell, not all of them are hateful, violent people like we so often think them to be. Plugged In Movie Reviews put it this way: “Pretty much everyone who’s not a Christian in this story is villainized for being mean, abusive, grouchy or narrow-minded. Several such sinners are condemned to either death or terminal illness, as if they’re being punished for their attitudes.” If life were this way, it would make things a whole lot easier when it comes to evangelism. Unfortunately, it’s not and personally I think it’s one of the challenges the devil throws at believers.
I also thought the movie was a little doctrinely unsound. People who are not saved are coming to see this movie because the title is interesting to them. You’d think the producers would have this in mind and have a stronger Gospel message or plan of salvation. There are two individuals who (I assume) become saved during the course of this movie. One is literally on the brink of death and the other has received word that she has cancer, been dumped by her boyfriend, and, not surprisingly, an emotional train wreck. Now admittedly, my memory isn’t the best, but I didn’t really remember hearing anything about acknowledgement or repentance of sins or that Christ and Christ alone could bring forgiveness of those sins and salvation. I can’t help but wonder if I, a Christian very familiar with the topic of salvation, can’t remember hearing that, how many unbelievers will? Salvation is not “fire insurance” against hell either! It is coming to the realization that you are a sinner, deserving only of death. The only way out is through Christ Jesus, who took on the consequence of sin by dying on the cross and obtaining for us life everlasting with God. This didn’t really seem to be addressed in the movie. Instead, the arguments for salvation was that it makes live better and that if you are unsaved you need to be saved (okay yes, that is technically a reason, but really?). Overall I was really uncomfortable with how much the feel-good and prosperity gospel tone seemed to be present throughout the movie.
Two more short deals and then I’m done, promise 🙂 . The main character, Josh has been dating his girlfriend for 6 years (meaning they started when they were 12?!). She gave up going to a better school to be with him. They are a little too touchy for my taste, but I don’t think they’ve done anything. As soon as he decides to go up against his philosophy teacher and prove God exists, she tells him not too and basically threatens him with ending their relationship. Uhm, she’s supposedly a Christian, yet she doesn’t want him defending God? and she’s willing to sacrifice a better education but not her boyfriend debating God in a classroom? Not the best picture of a Godly young woman, that’s for sure, though I can understand the need to present some adversity for him.
The finale to the entire movie is this giant rock concert by the Newsboys which nearly all the characters attend. Now, I don’t want to make a blanket statement here, but a lot of Christian rock music has very little doctrine in it (not all, mind you, just most). I do on occasion listen to this music, but only as entertainment, not as a main part of my worship. A comment is made about this concert where people “are worshiping the Lord”. I’m not entirely sure that’s what was going on there, but the movements of the audience members and the lead singer were very similar to the movements of secular rock music, which are very often full of vulgarity and anti-God sentiments. At a glance, which do you think an unbeliever would assume the concert to be? (Romans 12:2)
Lots more I could say, but won’t since I guarantee I’ve definitely stirred up the pot already here. Final thought is what was the whole purpose of the movie? Consider this passage of Scripture:
1 Corinthians 2
English Standard Version
Proclaiming Christ Crucified
1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Wisdom from the Spirit
6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit,interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.