Thanks to my Amazon Prime membership, I did finally get around to seeing “God’s Not Dead” this weekend. It was free, so I figured I would see what it’s all about. It is, of course, Christian propaganda at its finest. I expected that. What I didn’t expect is how much I was rooting for it to be something better. Maybe it’s my Christian background, but I really saw a missed opportunity to make this more than another method of preaching to the choir.
Aren’t there better ways for Christians to spend their money? I mean, if you are going to put money into making a movie like this, shouldn’t it at least have a chance of furthering the message of Christ? This movie is so far removed from reality that it can only be used to turn people against each other. Why waste money feeding the poor when you can spread hate and fear?
First we are asked to believe that a professor (played by Kevin Sorbo) would actually force his students to sign a piece of paper that says “God is dead” on the first day of class. Refusal to do so would lead to a poor grade- something he states clearly to the class. And he’s not kidding. This man is full of anger against God and any student with the courage to believe. And yet….he has a Christian girlfriend. That makes sense.
Because our protagonist refuses to sign the paper, the professor says the student must make his case for God before the class, setting the stage for an ultimate Christian/atheist showdown. All the while the professor is a complete arrogant dick. He threatens the student, says that he can’t wait to fail him- and every time the student makes a good point, he gets pissed off. Eventually the student manages to get his professor to admit that he hates God because he is angry with God for taking his mother away as a child.
How can you hate something that doesn’t exist? Checkmate, professor.
In the end all the students believe in God. Of course. Everyone ends up at a Newsboys concert and…. the professor gets hit by a car. In perhaps the most nauseating scene of all, a local pastor helps him come to Jesus right there on the street as he dies, pointing out how lucky he was to not be killed instantly so he still had these moments to convert!
At the Newsboys’ request, all the concert attendees text “God’s not dead” to everyone they know. The pastor and his sidekick see this text come through on the dead professor’s phone and are so happy because heaven is rejoicing.
I know. I am asking too much of this movie. And I haven’t even mentioned the multiple unbelievable side stories. But I wanted to like the professor. He was willing to let this kid make his case; why couldn’t he have been a more realistic character? Sure he might be an atheist, but maybe he liked the debate. What if the writers had made that first day “God is dead” thing not serious, but rather an icebreaker to get the class thinking?
Maybe he would be impressed with the kid’s arguments and encourage him. Maybe he would also encourage the class to think for themselves, because that sounds like something an atheist professor might do. I kept expecting it, but it never happened. He didn’t need to be angry or have a dead mother back story. Maybe in the end everyone could have survived and the two main characters would have had a new respect for each other.
I would like to see a movie where some of the Christians are assholes and some of the atheists are kind. Let’s mix it up a bit. Like in real life. You want a realistic pro-Christian movie? Don’t make the professor find Jesus. After all of this debate plays out- maybe not everyone becomes a Christian. How about just one? Maybe that could be a side story. Maybe another Christian is having doubts but ends up more sure of God. Another side story. But don’t go crazy. Why not show that most minds weren’t changed, but it was worth the one or two that did? And look how civil everyone was! Maybe unbelievers aren’t the enemy after all. That’s the movie Christians should make.
But it wouldn’t have been as funny. And as an atheist, I rather enjoy this movie just the way it is. Christians don’t listen to my advice anymore anyway. I can’t wait for “God’s Not Dead 2” which is coming out next Easter. It stars Melissa Joan Hart as a teacher who goes on trial after reciting a bible verse in class. I am sure it will be an accurate portrayal about how these things unfold. Mark your calendars! But in the meantime, go check out the first movie if you haven’t had the pleasure. I have left out tons of stuff we should discuss. After that, check out anything starring Kirk Cameron. And let me know your thoughts!