God’s Not Dead. I absolutely hate that phrase. So many people misunderstand it and misuse it. This Nietzschean phrase has somehow woven its way into the verbal lexicon of modern Christianity. Now the phrase is being used as a catalyst for a Christian drama film. I love Christian films, at least when they are done well. I think we need more Christian films that are well written, and contain good performances. But, I don’t find God’s Not Dead to be successful on any of these fronts.
The main action of the film focuses on a Christian student who stands up to his professor, his atheist professor, about God’s existence. I wouldn’t be able to write that God is dead either. I commend anyone who takes an appropriate, respectful stand about their faith. However, I wonder how effective it is an as witnessing tool to always show non-believers as raving, vindictive lunatics. How can we hope to reach those who have wounded hearts, just as many characters in this piece prove to have, if Christians portray them so disrespectfully in movies? A film could be a powerful witnessing tool; movies can connect with people’s hearts. However, poorly conceived trite stories with ugly cartoonish characterizations of the non-believers in our world are not going to show people that we love and have the love of God.
“… By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
That should be our focus. Showing love, not making people look angry and foolish.
The acting in this movie is terrible. Kevin Sorbo raves and intimidates to the point of questioning the character’s mental stability. Dean Cain’s role as another, surprise, bitter ‘wicked” man is that of a cardboard cutout villain.
God’s Not Dead is not well filmed and it has a very low budget film feel.
Perhaps the most annoying part of the film was the call to storm social media with the phrase #GodsNotDead. I am a Christian but it nearly drove me crazy how many people clogged up my social media feeds for days with this trite observation. No, he’s not dead, not in any sense. But, if you believe that do you really think a hashtag is going to change someone’s mind? Shouldn’t we be focused on reaching those who don’t have a relationship with Jesus instead of jamming twitter feeds?
This poorly done film reeked of too many subplots and too much clichéd Christianity. Come on, Hollywood. You have to be able to make a better Christian movie than this!
Kari Liked: Nothing. I guess I can pray that this film will touch someone and have a positive impact on their relationship with Christ. But, there’s nothing I like about it.
Kari Didn’t Like: Conversely, I didn’t like everything about the movie. The acting, the film’s execution, the story and the use of that annoying phrase were not spiritually helpful or interesting at all.
Friedrich Nietzsche famously said that God is dead. What he was really saying was the idea of the monotheistic, Abrahamic God is a construct created by man that we no longer need since our societies have advanced so far. As near as I can tell, modern Atheists steer away from this verbiage and instead focus on that he never existed. God’s Not Dead attempts a counterpoint to this no longer relevant statement, and help Christians in their struggle against various enemies to salvation. Except for one problem. There’s only one enemy to God’s kingdom, Satan.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12
All Atheists, and Muslims, and even Jews (even though they’re left out of this movie as villains), are being manipulated by that enemy, they aren’t the enemy themselves. This is a very important point, and one that’s lost entirely in this movie.
God’s Not Dead has several different stories going on that intertwine in different ways. It’s just too much. Several of the stories are not well developed, and serve only to distract from the main story or draw attention to another “enemy” in a heavy handed fashion. The pastor who doesn’t feel like he’s making a difference, the Chinese exchange student who is curious about God, the Muslim girl who is secretly a Christian and afraid to tell her dad: they are all props. The condescending philosophy professor who demands his students sign a statement that God is dead or that he will fail them, is a little too convenient, and wouldn’t stand up to today’s modern media world.
In the end, God’s Not Dead is pure fan service to a Christian culture, even featuring a cameo from Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty, and fails as an outreach tool. You don’t win any followers by pointing out to them how villainous you think they are, and to that end this movie is a horrible evangelical tool. The idea of texting everyone you know the statement “God’s Not Dead” to everyone you know, is not only annoying, but counterproductive, as it allows people to feel like they’re doing something for Jesus, without actually accomplishing any outreach at all.
RJ Liked: Nothing
RJ Didn’t Like: The portrayal of non-Christians as so very evil
(We were given a complimentary online screening of this movie for this review. However all opinions are our own.)