“Gods Not Dead” | Not a Christian Film
I don’t usually…
post or write on things that appear in our culture, or on things that I have issues with, unless its within the church and needs to be brought up. This is the exception, and with the third GND (Gods Not Dead) movie now in theaters I think it is time to talk about this.
I remember when the first GND came out, I was so excited to watch it, I pre ordered it and waited until midnight for it to release “On Demand” and I sat through the entire thing in awe. At the time I thought it was the best Christian film to ever be released. I was young, and I enjoyed watching a “Christian” crush a smarter and more qualified “atheist”. I watched it over and over , but as I matured a few things begun to stick out to me.
It Depicts the Atheist as the “Bad Guy”
There is not a single non-believer that is nice to Christians, not even one, every atheist “persecutes” the Christian, and that is not only unrealistic, but just plain wrong. Were the gentiles the “bad guys” to Jesus? Or did Jesus go out of His way to live among them, and love on them?
“God’s Not Dead” depicts Christians as a beleaguered, persecuted minority. Never mind that American Christians have done pretty well for themselves and hold a political and cultural sway that many other faiths covet. Never mind that many people feel intimidated by Christians and are nervous about having evangelicals impose their views on them
Professor Radisson isn’t just committed to having his students deny God; he chases Josh down and promises to fail him and derail his career. The atheist blogger brags about her “ambush interviews” with the “Duck Dynasty” cast. The Muslim father beats his daughter and kicks her out of his house when she converts to Christianity. A lawyer (Dean Cain) has no other reason for being in the movie than to dump his girlfriend when she informs him she has cancer.
And this is just pulling from the first movie, we haven’t even touched two or three, if Christians go around conceptualizing every atheist as their enemy then the gospel will come to a complete halt, and Christianity will look like the most, judgmental, and critical religion in America.
Gives unrealistic view of persecution on Christians
This kind of ties into what we just talked about, but lets just take a second and realize how unrealistic the first movie was. (And yes I know God can do anything and will work through anything, however encouraging people to do what is done in the movie is dangerously idolatrous.) First you would need a professor, who would fail you based off of your religious beliefs, now this is not completely crazy, as this has happened before, but it is not something that is common, you may get a professor who does not like you because of your religion but rarely would one fail you because of it.
It loses its own appeal to logic
I don’t have any problems with the content of Josh’s in-class defense of God. I believe faith can be defended using reason and rationality. I even respect that this film moves away from a young-Earth defense and mentions the Big Bang Theory and evolution in its defense. Whatever its flaws, its idea of a faith that can be defended through reason, science and philosophy is one I support.
Unfortunately, the film doesn’t buy it.
The film wants us to believe that Radisson’s intellectual objections won’t hold out and Josh will use reason to convince him of God’s existence. But then, it cheats. It reveals that Radisson’s hatred of God stems not from reason, but from a dead mother and unanswered prayers. It appeals to emotion, not rationality. Rather than involve us in a gripping debate where both sides make valid points, it abandons its theme in favor of tear-jerking moments and last-minute brushes with death.
There’s actually an anti-intellectual streak running throughout the movie. Professor Radisson has a live-in girlfriend who’s a Christian. And while they agree not to mention her faith, Radisson is frustrated because she’s no longer interested in good books or stimulating conversation. She’s mocked by the professor’s colleagues when she screws up the wine at a dinner party. The unspoken lesson is that good believers don’t waste time thinking, unless they’re thinking about defending the faith. Evil atheists spend their time talking, reading and pontificating, like the atheist blogger; Christians are folksy and charming, like Willie Robertson. This encourages the audience to abandon too much intellectual rigor and believe that everyone’s reasons for rejecting God stem from emotion, leaving them unprepared when rational and scientific objections to faith arise.
-Excerpt from Patheos.com
I don’t have to add anything to anything to this statement…
What does it look like from the outside?
An atheist would watch this movie and see a stereotypical depiction, of what a Christian is and what he stands for. All of the atheists in the movie, are “left-leaning” and vegan. This gives off the idea that people who are christians cannot identify with these things. Notice how they introduce the atheist blogger. We see her car festooned with bumper stickers (oh, irony) that let us know she’s vegan. Her blog is left-wing. She’s not a fan of the Newsboys. It might be a small point, but it comes across loudly: these things are shorthand for atheism. Non-Christians care more about animals than humans. They vote Democrat. They’re intellectual.
How did it prepare me for the real world?
GND attempts to prepare young people for the circumstances they will most likely never be found in, and neglects a lot of the real world issues that young people face today in life.
“God’s Not Dead” tells students that the threats to their faith will be external, and all they have to do is refuse to back down from their convictions. But what about when the threat is internal, and new thoughts and philosophies challenge what they believe? What about when they find their faith slipping? How can we encourage them not to run from doubt but enter into it, and learn that God meets and transforms us through that doubt and helps us make our faith our own? How do they deal with a world that is dangerous and dark after years of being in a warm Christian cocoon? How do they learn to befriend, live alongside and genuinely love people who don’t share their faith? These questions are all valid, inherently dramatic and worthy of tackling through cinema. Unfortunately, “God’s Not Dead” would rather traffic in fear and anger.
I want to emphasize that the point of GNM and BGN is to equip and inform Christians to better share the gospel in the world. I post this to bring to light the problems that American Christianity are creating in our culture. I appreciate the genuine effort from the evangelicals who put the GND series together, however I find that it has done more harm than good to Christians and Atheists in America.