Personal Observations On the Movie God’s Not Dead — Post by Michael J. Findley


J.J. Abrams and Harrison Ford should watch God’s Not Dead because it a technical masterpiece, like Regarding Henry. It is a masterpiece in simplicity. It follows the basics: the rule of thirds; three-point lighting; proper composition; well-designed pacing;  fx that contribute to the plot and move the story along (the automobile accident in the rain). That is unlike most Hollywood movies like Battleship where the fx interrupt and distract. This could lead the way back to movies that both make sense and are fun to watch. Like, for instance, the simplicity of the original Star Wars.

If you are interested in an actual review, my wife wrote a good one. It is the blog just before this one. Just scroll back one blog.

Though not perfect, God’s Not Dead has the best pacing that I have seen since the Lord of the Rings. And I personally believe the pacing in God’s Not Dead makes it easier to follow than Lord of the Rings.

As a first-semester freshman standing in front of class, Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper) shows incredible poise, presence, and knowledge. Some people have complained that the part of the professor is flat. It is a movie with three or four major subplots, so no one character is very well-rounded. Josh has very little time, just like real life, so he must focus on the one or two points he can get across in each of the twenty-minute segments he is allotted. He has a total of three segments. Understand that this is no in-depth analysis. Like a real university setting, these are “think on your feet” questions and answers to the unexpected.

The subplot of Professor Radisson’s (Kevin Sorbo) problems at home and his girlfriend eventually leaving him provide an excellent explanation of why he was not as effective as usual in the later debate.

Professional critics do not like this film because it is predictable and not “original”. Unpredictable and original films are also awful and unwatchable. As Solomon said, “there is nothing new under the sun.” A man came out of a different movie at the same time we did. He was shaking his head. He told the friends he was with, “I have no idea what was going on in that flick.” That is not the case with God’s Not Dead.

Probably the most common complaint secularists have leveled against this movie is that it is unrealistic. These critics are either dishonest or live in a cave. This movie lists about 40 court cases against real-life professors. This is the most real-life movie I have watched. Except for requiring students to sign a “God  Is Dead” statement, I have had every one of the other arguments thrown at me personally in an academic setting, though seldom in a class where I was being graded. The forty cases put on screen are only the major cases where a court decision was rendered. If every case that was never finalized with a court verdict was included, the number of cases would be in the thousands.

A review by Ryan Wesley Smith gives a typical Christian response. “I’ll be honest; I cannot really think of anything bad in this film.”

I disagree. This movie hit many home runs. But it had two very serious strikeouts. One was like striking out in the bottom of the ninth, one run down with the bases loaded and two out before coming to the plate. For those who prefer football analogies, it was a last second interception run back for a touchdown to lose the game.

God has given to the human race divine institutions to lead us to Himself. The thief on the cross is the usual example of someone who is obviously with Christ in Paradise without either institution. But this movie, meant to glorify Christ, was about people as they lived everyday lives for Christ.

The first recorded human speech was the institution of marriage. “This is bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh. This one will be called ‘Woman,’ because she was taken from Man.” (Therefore a man will leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife, and they will become one flesh.) Genesis 2:23, 24 ISV
There is not a single example of an intact family (husband, wife, children) in the entire movie. That is not because there are not enough characters. The closest is Willie and Korie Robertson doing a very brief cameo, but without children. Reverend Dave or Reverend Jude might be married, but their wives are never shown or mentioned. Certainly their possible children are never mentioned. Marriage in never held up as an ideal, though fornication and adultery are indirectly condemned. This is important because boyfriend/girlfriend and father/daughter relationships are the core of the subplots.

Though the lack of marriage is troubling, the Church is the institution Christ left on earth. God uses his Holy Spirit through the Church. In this movie, a concert replaces the Church. I am not certain of the intent of the producer/director because I cannot find anything which explains that position. However, some of the attempts of others to defend this use of a concert are actually blasphemous. Since this is such a serious issue, we need to examine it in detail and not let ourselves be persuaded by our emotions.

1) The standard God gave to us. Therefore, as you go, disciple people in all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. And remember, I am with you each and every day until the end of the age. Matthew 28:19,20 ISV
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8 ISV
Proclaim the message. Be ready to do this whether or not the time is convenient. Refute, warn, and encourage with the utmost patience when you teach. I Timothy 4:2 ISV
And let us continue to consider how to motivate one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another even more as you see the day of the Lord coming nearer. Hebrews 10:24,25 ISV

2) Every Church is based on families. There are ministries which do not include everyone, such as summer camp, nursery, Christian Schools, nursing home services, and even concerts.

3) The core of the Church is education (teaching, witnessing and meeting together as a Church body, a local assembly).

4) Reverend Dave and Reverend Jude witnessed and counseled, but they never had a service. No assembly of believers was ever shown, mentioned, or even recommended except the concert. For the purpose of the movie, the Church building was empty, unused, and powerless. The power was in a concert. The only teaching was Reverend Dave giving Josh a few verses and leaving him on his own to do the research. While that might be the best course of action for Josh, that was the only opportunity given for Reverend Dave to do any teaching.

Younger people today are claiming to be saved but refuse to be put under a pastor and listen to preaching. They have what the KJV calls itching ears. They refuse to listen to anything from the Word of God that might possibly offend them. They have made their own wants and desires their idols. They are no different in walk and attitude from the atheist except they have added just enough of Jesus for fire insurance. Or so they think.

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.


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