The following is an opinion post. That means it is my opinion. Meaning I am not claiming this as fact and that I accept if you disagree with me. This is my opinion on the wildly popular Christian-flick God’s Not Dead. The movie about a boy who takes on his atheist professor that makes his class all write “God is Dead” on a slip of paper and turn it in for their first philosophy assignment. This story is inspired by a crazy amount of actual cases. I will now review all 6 plots in the God’s Not Dead Movie individually. The movie currently holds a 16 out of 100 review by critics and has the lowest rating possible on Rotten Tomatoes. I want Jesus to be the primary voice in Hollywood but this proves that we are not doing it correctly. Only we want to watch our movies. Hopefully that is worth the cost.
1. Main Plot? Josh Wheaten vs. his Philosophy teacher.
This is the plot the movie was named after. It is about a boy with inspiring faith in a non-religious college setting. He admirably refuses to write that God is dead. That is because God is most surely alive! And the movie uses the plot well to hash out Matthew 10:33 “But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” Professor Raddison gives Josh a chance in class to logically prove that there is a creator. Which is an impossible task. As Josh points out, we can’t prove God exist. But we can’t prove he doesn’t either. In the first one he talks about creation. His girlfriend of six years (he’s a freshman so they have been together since 8th grade, surely she must be a winner) tells him not to and seems to be very controlling of his life. We are never given a real reason to care about her. The professor asks him a question after the first session about a self creating universe that makes him look stupid in front of his peers. His girlfriend (you know, controlling whats her name.) dumps him over it. Josh doesn’t seem to care so neither do we. Good riddance in fact! No room for girlfriends who say curse God and die in my propaganda. Nope, nope. Considering this movie is made for believers this isn’t really propaganda by my book. If it is propaganda it’s one I agree with. Jesus’ name ought to be screamed and sung of on every corner in this world by those who love him. If Jesus is who he says he is, then we ought to be making thousands of movies about it!!! Even if we may not be the best script writers.
In the second session Josh comes out on top using the professors assigned reading against him. His presentations are impressive considering his time available and his lack in experience on the topic but for a movie were acceptable. Raddison confronts him after the second presentation and threatens him. Atheist are the villains in these stories and he tries to make a good one with angry threats every now and then. All of the non Christians in the movie are flat characters who all hate God and people. When Raddison confronts Josh after the second session he quotes scripture and makes Josh realize that Raddison used to be a Christian. He finds out that
Raddison has a heart issue, not a head issue. The problem of pain is his problem. God didn’t save his mom when he was younger and he became a God hating atheist after that.
The third session is an outright debate between Josh and his professor and they both yell a lot. Essentially Josh gets Raddison to admit he hates God. And because you can’t hate someone who doesn’t exist all his classmates stand up and declare Josh the winner. Hazzah Jesus! Most importantly this gains Josh the friendship of a chinese kid in class. Martin is the face of the kids in the class he is fighting for. His father is still in the People’s Republic of China where Chritians suffer from persecution. But this is barely in the story and should have been cut. We only know he may have gotten his father arrested. There was no development. It was just squeezed in. Confusing our already distracted plot.
Lesson from Josh: Fight for the faith. It’s worth it.
2. Angry Reporter Lady
This character is introduced on her way to an interview with Duck Dynasty. I think her name is Amy. This poor girl could never exist in real life, or I hope not. She is the Christian picture of the far left. She is only portrayed as hating hunting, Christians, music and is not very good at interviews. She is not given a single likable trait… except cancer. That is harsh. And of course when she gets cancer her boyfriend dumps her. He is made to look even worse than her! He belongs in a cartoon on the Disney channel, not a movie that discusses real hard issues. Voldemort was more of a believable character than him. At least Voldemort had a background story. Amy’s story makes us feel sorry for her and reminds us that we are better of with having the hope of Christ. I think her story should also have been left out of this story because it was so poorly developed. It ends with her going after newsboys and confessing that she is dying them and all of them praying for her. I don’t doubt the witness of Newsboys but it was a wave of the wand ending for a woman who never even met the main character of the movie.
Lesson learned from this plot: Jesus gives us hope in the darkest times and loves us no matter what.
3. Professor and Girlfriend
Raddison apparently starting dating one of his brilliant students in his class. She is a christian and he spends all of his screen time with her mocking her. This is why we don’t date atheist ladies. She dumps him and that is really the end of her story. Because dating for conversion is bad! No wonder this went bad, a kind-hearted pretty christian and an old nasty atheist would never work. Duh! Not without a 3rd dimension for either of them. I am upset we were bothering with her instead of learning about how our main character became a christian or how he is coping with being dumped. Maybe a few scenes of him studying and falling asleep in other classes, maybe a couple of peers whispering about him in the cafeteria. Not being invited to study groups, his parents making a plea with the professor about his for their foolish son. I would rather have had them develop him and his endeavor. She dumps him and he dies in a crash. The end.
Lesson: Don’t date to convert.
4. The Muslim-girl gone christian.
We meet her looking at Josh and controlling whats her face. She overhears them and it was apparently very impacted by it. She had apparently somehow accepted Christ as her savior. Who knows why or how. All we know is that she was thrown out off her home for being a Christian. We never find out what happens to her after that. We see the pithy preacher give her some encouragement and a verse and she got a reassuring pat on the leg. I assume they did more than that but it isn’t said. I had no reason to assume it. But we should assume the best of them so I will say that the pastor probably also addressed her homeless situation. I think maybe also she ends up as Josh’s girlfriend? This was a separate movie idea. They should make her her own movie. Why was her father so devout? How did 1 Corinthians get on her ipod? Why did her brother go in her room? Why didn’t her screen time out? Was her dad trying to strangle her at the end or being remorseful? This story was never finished. It was barely started. However it’s lesson went along best with the main plot.
Lesson: Do not be afraid to stand in faith, even if you stand alone.
5. Old woman and children.
This old woman with dementia was the best actor and had the best lines. She also connected the professors girlfriend and reporter lady’s evil boyfriend into the plot because they were her children. She again was unneeded and had nothing to do with the main plot but I like her and she is a good character. Even if her son is an underdeveloped mini-Satan.
Lesson: Living a life of faith is worth it. No matter where you end up.
6. The pithy pastor.
A lot of these people have the same pastor. He is first met meeting a missionary that has ‘really’ been in the trenches.. They want a rental car to go ride roller coasters… I guess. It’s said once. But their car breaks and won’t start and neither will the two rental cars they are given by a dealer who would rather be an actor, and with cars like his, maybe he should be. Because of this they are at a scene that was sudden and dark. The professor (mostly from plot one) reads a letter from his mother and runs to the newsboys concert. He is hit by a driver and the missionary declares he has moments to live. He accepts Jesus through the pithy pastor and all it well. I think this would have been more powerful in message if he had just died. Life is like that and we should not look to our deathbeds as the time to accept Christ. In the end nothing that Josh said mattered. The fear of death and his mother’s letter changed his heart. Which thinking about it, is correct. Only God can change any heart to Him. Thank goodness it is up to him.
Lesson: What you are doing where you are matters.
In the end God’s Not Dead was more of a theme than a story. But, it was probably someone’s best attempt at glorifying God and is a step towards the Christian culture being in the forefront of thematic story telling in the United States. We will learn to fix mistakes and we will grow. Practice usually improves us. Also the Word of God never returns void and the movie touched on many real issues faith sometimes requires of us. It holds many valuable lessons and even if I don’t like how many stories they crammed into two hours, I liked all the lessons. So watch it, look at what you can learn from it. Agree or disagree with me. I don’t really care. I just hope that in spite of underdeveloped characters and incomplete plots we can focus on what is good in the movie and encourage Christians to keep going and to keep making films. We are likely doing more good than bad.