God’s Not Dead (But After This Movie, He Might Just Well Be)
Granted, Christians don’t have a great record when it comes to movie-making, but we sure shot ourselves in the foot with this one.
ALERT: Spoilers ahead. If you are planning to see the movie, don’t read on. Wait a minute, on second thought, please read on. I hope to change your mind.
Where do I begin? The movie basically vilified everyone who was an unbeliever or a wanna-be believer.
- The main character’s girlfriend unbelievably disowns her boyfriend when he chooses to stand up for God.
- An atheist professor is portrayed as an overly-angry, dismissive person who requires all his students to write “God is dead” or else. Yes, I know all the universities out there are godless bastions of intellectual tom-foolery, but come on, really? Not only that, but he is completely demeaning to his girlfriend, chauvinistic, and evilly utters personal threats against the main character (a Christian).
- An atheist businessman shows absolutely no compassion for his elderly mother dying of dementia and refuses to visit her, and when his girlfriend confides to him on their date that she just learned she has terminal cancer, he coldly tells her their relationship is immediately off, because there’s nothing left in the relationship for him anymore. Really? Has anyone in the history of humankind ever done that?
- When a Muslim father discovers his college daughter is listening to Christian teaching and has begun to believe in Jesus, he immediately starts slapping her repeatedly in the face, picks her up, drags her out of the house, never to allow her back in the family again. Yes, I know Muslims can disown family members for converting to Christianity, but the scene did not seem believable how it played out.
I could go on. Of course, all the true Christians in the movie were beyond reproach and always had the right answers to dumbfound those who didn’t believe.
And then there are the arguments that this Christian college student makes to refute atheistic philosophy. And the way he had the last word with the professor and caused his teacher to be embarrassed in front of the whole class. Booyah! Everyone in the class becomes a believer too! His debate arguments may seem compelling to Bible-believing Christians who have a lay understanding of science and understand little about where atheists are coming from, but no one else who sees the movie will be persuaded.
That is, unless they are fans of Willie Robertson or the Newsboys.
Of course, in the end, atheists, agnostics, Muslims all “get saved” in the movie (or die). There’s even an unrealistic, surreal, death-bed conversion for that terribly angry college prof. That’s the Christian version of “guy saves the day and gets girl, and they kiss and live happily ever after.”
Where, in the movie, are the typical atheists? The ones that are compassionate, reason-thinking, decent human beings? Why do we have to caricaturize them? This either proves that Christians aren’t developing friendships with atheists to get to know them, or they just don’t care that they aren’t faithfully representing your average unbeliever. How would Christians feel if an atheistic movie was released, in which Christians were portrayed as people who refuse to send their kids to the doctor when they are deathly sick when there is a simple cure, instead believing God to miraculously heal them, only to watch their children die? Does that represent your average Christian?
This movie came across to me as Christians trying to retaliate against those they feel have sucker-punched them. “We showed them!” That’s what I fear the average lay Christian may think after watching the movie (and audience reviews on rottentomatoes.com confirm this). Except we haven’t shown anyone anything, other than:
- we are as ignorant as non-believers think we are
- we can’t turn the other cheek, but feel the need to strike back
- going over-the-top just makes our position sink lower
I have to admit, my review is probably an over-the-top reaction, so I’m being a little hypocritical here. There are a couple of redeeming qualities to this recent movie-going experience. First, the acting and camera work were better than the sub-par experience you would typically expect from a Christian movie. However, I would prefer B-level acting with a compelling Christian story over what this movie brings. Second, we saw the movie with great friends and had a great time hanging out together beforehand and afterwards, in spite of all the cringing I did while sitting in the theater.
I truly hope that unbelievers with a brain don’t see this movie. It will only reinforce their opinion that Christianity is worthy of being dismissed. After I watched the movie, part of me wanted to renounce my faith. Thankfully, God’s not dead, as much as this movie may have tried to kill Him.