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Beware of the great “God’s Not Dead” movie debate

Movie Poster ©Pure Flix Entertainment
Movie Poster ©Pure Flix Entertainment

Last week this writer went to see the movie “God’s Not Dead,” at Cobb’s Theater in Merritt Island, Fla. They left the theater feeling good about it. Then they went online and read what others thought. The comments were overwhelmingly negative. In trying to reconcile this seeming disconnect between their reaction and that of others, some patterns emerged which we will attempt to address.

Most of the negative comments stemmed from a central premise – that the various scenarios depicted in the movie were making general statements. Whether it was religious intolerance, non-believers actions, or the behavior of college philosophy professors, those who hated “God’s Not Dead” appeared to assume that the movie was making a sweeping statement about everyone who fit in those categories. We beg to differ.

One negative comment centered on the assumption in the movie that something bad had to happen in their lives to turn former believers away from God. Again, it may be the case for some, but not all.

Making assumptions in general is in itself dangerous. If one can take a step back from these generalities, and focus specifically on the characters in the movie, then the story telling is an accurate depiction of what can happen when one takes a stand for Jesus. It is a portrayal of how some, not all, people have historically responded to a believer being vocal about their faith.

Other comments centered on how the movie offends non-believers. Rather than drawing them to faith, it pushes them away with the above mentioned negative depictions and it’s so-called lack of choice about whether one should believe God’s alive or not. This writer’s first reaction was that one should not invite non-believers to see “God’s Not Dead” for that very reason. The movie isn’t about evangelism, but about standing up for what you believe in the face of overwhelming opposition. A choice all believers must make at some point in their lives. And the main character did state that God allows each person to choose for themselves whether to believe He’s alive or not.

Finally, and this is a spoiler alert, critics of “God’s Not Dead” didn’t like the “acceptance of Jesus conversions” experienced by those who suddenly came face-to-face with their own death. But doesn’t that portray God’s mercy when He extends another chance to choose to those who once opposed Him?

What this writer came away with about “God’s Not Dead” is that it is a movie of hope. Someone even asked a non-believing character, “What are you hoping for?” Also, it is a movie filled with subtle truth. If you go see the movie, watch and listen for it whispering out from the actors portrayals of those who already know that God’s not dead.

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