Call me old school, but I’ll always be a Peter Furler as front man Newsboys fan. “Shine” and “Breakfast” rank as a couple of my favorite songs of all time. That said, the Michael Tait led Newsboys are pretty great too. Per usual, the title is only a hint at my post’s content. This time it’s a review of the movie God Is Not Dead.
This movie appealed to me. I like going to see movies that are faith-based. I love seeing God glorified as the source of power and strength for the characters. That said, I like salt (preferably jalapeno-flavored) and butter on my popcorn but too much, and it’s inedible. That goes for movies too. I paid money to see a movie not a sermon. I get those free on Sundays and save up money for retreats.
How did God Is Not Dead measure up? I give it four stars and one Gouda wheel on the cheese factor. The acting was good. The characters believable and multi-dimensional. The best part of the movie is how the main character defended his faith. He went outside of “The Bible says” argument. Instead, he jumped off with the assumption that the Big Bang Theory is correct, quoted Darwin and Steven Hawking as well as other leading secular scientists, and ended with something the atheist viewpoint of the professor didn’t offer. My husband and I really liked this. We’re engineers so the scientific arguments had to hold weight. I lean toward the “old earth” (millions or billions of years) theory rather than the “young earth” (6000 years based on the Genesis timeline) theory. My argument is that the Bible is a history book. It’s meant to tell a story not explain science. I also say that if I found out the earth really is 6,000 years old, it wouldn’t shake my faith.
The other part I liked was the character Mina. She is arguably the most central person, a complex character, and a believer who’s shown purchasing a bottle of wine in her first scene. Without saying much more, this gives you an idea that Christian movies are daring to widen the concept of what a Christian looks like. Not to mention there are characters of various cultures, faiths, and ethnicities, which made the story deeper, richer, and more real.
What I didn’t like. There were a couple of places where the dialogue was a bit stilted and a little preachy. That said, these are a few minutes out of two hours. Most of the movie wasn’t like that. My biggest complaint is that one of the main character’s story went a step too far. If his story had been wrapped up with him pulling out a letter and looking at the newspaper, the audience would have come to the right conclusion. However, there was a “but wait there’s more”, just-in-case-you-didn’t-get-it scene. That’s where the Gouda wheel makes its appearance.
I understand wanting to share the gospel but to me faith-based books and movies should serve one primary purpose – to entertain. If the audience member is a believer, then they don’t need the message. If the audience member isn’t they’ll either be offended, enjoy it but be unaffected, or ask questions. That’s where we as the Christian friend who recommended the movie comes in. We ask our friend how they liked it. What they thought about such and such scene, character, theme. I repeat, you don’t pay money to listen to a sermon.
Now on to another related topic. This year there have been a lot of Christian, inspirational, and Bible story-inspired movies. Son of God, Noah, God Is Not Dead, Moms Night Out, and Heaven Is for Real come to mind. Some of these movies have generated a good deal of controversy. I’m not going to weigh in on that beyond these words from the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians. “Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” (Philippians 1:15-18, ESV).
That passage is wedged between the oft-quoted verses about thanking God for our fellow believers and that we can do all things through Christ. It might not be as popular, but it’s no less scriptural. Whether or not you choose to see any, all, or none of these films is a personal decision that I hope you make with an open mind and prayerful heart. Remember the saying “the book is better than the movie”. So such-and-such flick might have taken liberties with God’s word, but if it encourages people to read the Bible, then maybe it’s worth it. Not to mention movies are made to make money. This means if we as Christians support faith-based movies, more will be made.
Which of these films have you seen? Which ones do you want to see? Are there any you won’t watch?