Adam Blosser is the pastor of Drakes Branch Baptist Church, in Drakes Branch, VA. He is trying to clean up the mess Dave Miller left when he pastored that church from 1987 to 1991. Adam blogs at ONE True Joy.
Yesterday I went to see the movie God’s Not Dead. I took the youth group from my church because many of them had heard about the movie and wanted to see it. Afterward, we went out for ice cream and had a discussion about the contents of the movie.
I read a review of the movie before going to see it and was made aware of some potential problems in the movie. I am writing now to address some of the positive and negative things that I noticed while watching. I will discuss the positive in this post. The negative will come in another post.
1. The concept of the movie is helpful.
I took my students to see the movie because they will soon be faced with significant challenges to their faith, if they have not already been faced with such challenges. I found the movie to be helpful in starting a discussion about why we believe the things that we believe. I saw the movie as an opportunity to challenge these students to solidify their faith in preparation for such challenges. The Apostle Peter exhorts us to be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks us about the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15).
2. The main character, Josh, stands up for his faith.
The main storyline of the movie is that college freshman, Josh, takes a philosophy class with an atheist professor who instructs all of the students to write “God is dead” on a sheet of paper with their signatures at the bottom. This will allow them to skip the portion of the class in which students typically do their worst. Josh is a Christian. He is shown struggling with the decision of whether or not to do what Professor Radisson is asking of him. He finally stands up to the teacher saying that he cannot do it. As a result, Professor Radisson gives him the assignment of making his case for the existence of God before the whole class.
Josh is faced with pressure throughout the movie from the professor, his girlfriend, parents, and others to cave to the professor’s demands. Josh refuses. He shows himself willing to risk alienation, lost friendships, and other consequences for his stand.
We could used the movie as a platform to talk about the importance of defending your faith even if Josh had failed. Instead, in this sense, Josh is an example to anyone faced with such a choice.
3. Josh acknowledges that the existence of God cannot be proven.
Christians theologians and philosophers have developed some very good arguments for the existence of God. However, none of these arguments are conclusive. None of them will convince the most hardened atheist. Josh acknowledges this fact at the very beginning of his presentation. I think that is helpful. He also demonstrates that it also cannot be proven that God does not exist. While this cannot be the end of the conversation (and it is not in the movie), it is a helpful beginning.
4. Josh’s stand for his faith influences others.
We also see near the end of the movie that all of the students in the class are convinced by Josh’s presentation. They each stand, recanting their previous statement that “God is dead” by stating, “God is not dead.” After class, Josh has a conversation with another student who tells Josh that he is now a Christian. He is now a follower of Jesus. While Josh did not himself share the gospel with this student, it was Josh’s stand for His faith that encouraged this student to investigate the claims of Christianity.
There are probably other positives that I have not mentioned here. Unfortunately, I also had some concerns about the movie. I will express those in my next post. The concerns are not enough for me to say that you shouldn’t see the movie.
I would encourage you to watch it with your kids and teenagers. Watch with a critical eye and have a discussion after the movie about the positive and negative elements that you notice. I knew that several teenagers in my church were going to see the movie anyway, regardless of whether or not I took them. I decided to use it as an opportunity to challenge their thinking. I recommend a similar approach.