In a culture suffused with films that are both morally bankrupt and nihilistic, one is hard-pressed to find a film that is both morally upright and focuses on something higher than humanity’s primal urges. I had the pleasure of seeing an advance screening of the new film God’s Not Dead, in which we have a chance to sit down with a film that deals with the existence of God, theodicy, and evangelization in the face of stiff opposition.
While the film can be somewhat melodramatic, it does viewers a good turn by providing them with an entertaining avenue to see intelligent debates about the existence of God (in response to popular atheistic views from people such as Richard Dawkins, Michael Foucault and Albert Camus) while providing a suitably engaging underdog vs. authority story. The film focuses on the efforts of one university professor, Dr. Radisson, to instill his atheism in his Intro Philosophy students, to the point where he makes them write “God is Dead” (famously penned by Nietzsche) on a piece of paper, sign it and hand it in on the first day of class. One student, a devoted Christian, is unwilling to take such a step, and refuses to comply. The professor then gives him an ultimatum: if he refuses to accept that God is dead, then he must argue the reverse (God is NOT dead) with him in front of the class, and must convince him of the opposite in order to remain in good academic standing.
What follows is a very engaging look at evangelization in an academic setting, in the face of highly intelligent opposition, and viewers might learn a thing or two about arguing the existence of God. While other viewers might know these arguments like the back of their hands, other moments in the film offer unexpected spiritual clarity, regarding the consequences of sin, the work of the devil in our lives through temptations and complacency, and especially the age-old question of why bad things happen to good people. The result is an often heart-wrenching redemptive story that does not necessarily culminate in answers, but asks the viewer to contemplate the events in the film and make their own conclusions. I encourage everyone to watch this film (it is family friendly, with parental supervision through a couple of jarring scenes) in order to get a better understanding of the current societal arguments against God, or in lieu of that, a deeper look at the ways in which God wants to reach our hearts through suffering and pain.
Pray without ceasing!
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