God's Not Dead
By S. Michael Houdmann, Got Questions Ministries
**WARNING: SPOILERS THROUGHOUT**
Considering God's Not Dead — GodsNotDeadtheMovie.com— was released in March of 2014, this review is a little belated. I wanted to see it in the theatres, but just didn't have the time. So, finally, last night, my wife and I watched it on Blu-Ray.
Christian movies seem to be hit or miss, especially in regards to the quality of the acting. I was, overall, pleasantly surprised with the actors and actresses in God's Not Dead. There were only a few instances of, "Wow, that was corny." The plot was excellent, with no glaring holes or flaws.
The essential synopsis: College student Josh Wheaton is faced with having to either write "God is dead" on a piece of paper in his philosophy class or debate the militant atheist Professor Radisson. Josh chooses the latter, at the possible cost of his grade in the class, and should he fail the class, the possible cost of his ability to get into law school. Josh does an excellent job presenting arguments to the class for the existence of God, reveals that Professor Radisson is actually an anti-theist and God-hater (due to his mother having died when he was 12, despite his prayers). Eventually, almost the entire class agrees with Josh that God is not dead.
Beyond this core storyline, there are several other subplots:
A college girl from a Muslim family, Ayisha, secretly converts to Christianity, but when this is discovered, she is slapped and then thrown out by her Muslim father.
Josh's girlfriend, Kara, breaks up with him when he refuses to back down from the debate. Kara is a control freak who apparently can't risk Josh not becoming a rich and successful lawyer.
Professor Radisson and his Christian girlfriend, Mina, have significant relationship issues due to their differences of belief and Radisson's condescending attitude towards Mina.
A young and politically liberal ambush reporter, Amy, tries to trap Willie and Korie Robertson (of Duck Dynasty fame) to say something she can trash them on, is later diagnosed with terminal cancer, and then is seemingly led to faith in Christ by the Newsboys after she attempts to ambush them.
A local reverend, Dave, and his missionary friend, Jude, keep having car problems that delay a trip, but give them opportunities to minister to people, including Josh, Ayisha, Mina, and at the end, Professor Radisson.
Mina and her brother, Marc, who happens to be Amy's boyfriend, have a mother who suffers with dementia. Marc, who is a selfish and egotistical lawyer, breaks up with Amy when he learns that she has cancer, and is later rebuked by his mother in a miraculous moment of lucidity.
On his way to apparently restore his relationship with Mina, Professor Radisson is struck by a car, and then in his dying moments led to faith in Christ by Reverend Dave, who just happened to be stuck in traffic.
My one complaint about the movie is the multiple sub-plots. Especially at the beginning of the movie, the subplots seem so unrelated that they only cause confusion. Then, when everything is shown to be interconnected, it seems forced. While each subplot has its own important spiritual message, it seems that the main plot of Josh versus Professor Radisson could have been developed even further if a subplot or two was removed.
The best part of the movie was the debate between Josh and Professor Radisson. Josh does an outstanding job of presenting arguments for the existence of God and refuting the snide comments that come from Professor Radisson. Probably my favorite moment in the movie was when Professor Radisson asked Josh how he, a college freshman, could disagree with Stephen Hawking, the brilliant theoretical physicist (and atheist). Josh's response was perfect — he was simply agreeing with the brilliant mathematician who disagreed with Hawking.
So, in conclusion, I think God's Not Dead is a very good movie, and is definitely worth seeing. It portrays a situation that is becoming increasingly common on university campuses. While a few changes could have made the movie even better, and would have resulted in the main point of the movie being expressed more clearly, it still contains a message that Christians, seekers, skeptics, and atheists alike need to hear.
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