College philosophy professor Mr. Radisson's curriculum is challenged by his new student, Josh, who believes God exists.College philosophy professor Mr. Radisson's curriculum is challenged by his new student, Josh, who believes God exists.College philosophy professor Mr. Radisson's curriculum is challenged by his new student, Josh, who believes God exists.
Could that have been even stronger? Yes. Could it have been a bit more balanced? Yes. But I applaud the makers of God's Not Dead for exploring real human complexities, and that's a river most evangelical Protestants are reluctant if not downright unwilling to swim. In God's Not Dead, for example, we see a university coed raised Muslim converting to Christianity, and, while her father is violent in his reaction to learning of his daughter's conversion, both before that scene and at the end of that scene, we see a human dad sincerely striving to raise his children as best he can and his genuine disappointment over his daughter's loss of the faith of her upbringing. What Christian cannot have empathy with this father, despite a difference in beliefs? Another example is the sudden disappearance from the movie of a female character that played an important supporting role in the first half of the film. The reason for the disappearance demonstrates that while immersing teens in church youth group activities can be very beneficial in faith development, genuine and abiding faith is shaped through real-time life experiences. In other words, for this female character, her Christianity was as external as her overly thick makeup.
And many of the other characters were not left at the superficial level, we actually found out what made them tick, what drove them to be the way they are.
The classroom discussions over the existence of God can spur viewers, no matter their beliefs, to investigate for themselves and perhaps be less afraid of opposing viewpoints.
All that said, the movie's makers couldn't help themselves in forcing piecing of the puzzle by going to the evangelical Protestant "Come to Jesus" solution in unrealistic settings that stretch the imagination. That they left a few developed characters "unsaved" contributes to a more -- notice I said more -- realistic feel about this flick than about many others in this genre.
For the genuine effort made in developing characters and presenting a more realistic setting for people wrestling with the God question in their lives, I give God's Not Dead a passing grade of 7 and urge people to attend this movie.
- Mar 25, 2014