This review was written by Jonathan Griffiths and last updated on April 7, 2014
Who it's for
junior high and up, youth groups, families with teens
- Price: $0
- Studio: Pure Flix Entertainment
- In Theaters Nationwide: March 21, 2014
- Rating: PG
- Length: 113 minutes
- Starring: Kevin Sorbo, Shane Harper
How to get it
Before I moved to the U.S., I studied theology at a major academic university in England. When I signed up for the course, I was naive enough to believe I was entering into three years of in-depth study of the Bible, doctrines of the faith, ideas about the church and interactions with other major faiths. Very quickly, I found my fledgling faith in Jesus being challenged by highly intelligent, well-studied and determined faculty and students.
Fast-forward a decade, and I’m sitting in a movie theater in Nampa, Idaho, with members of our youth group. The Lord used my time under fire at the university to strengthen and test my belief, and here I am watching a movie with a premise that finds a young college freshman pitted against a militant anti-theist professor in his philosophy class.
Needless to say, I empathized with the lead character, Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), and saw echoes of my time at the university in Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo).
God’s Not Dead, released in theaters across the U.S. on March 21, is a fictional story about a young man defending his faith in a hostile environment. Various sub-narratives weave throughout the film, giving some extra breadth to the story and showing the interconnectedness of life as overseen by God.
The movie was birthed from Rice Broocks’ apologetics book of the same name, and in reaction to seeing many cases of Christians coming into extreme opposition, and even oppression, within major academic institutes in this nation.
So often, Christianity is presented in the media as anti-rational, and a religion for weaklings and fools. This movie does a great job of addressing this false notion by showing that the faith we hold (belief in unseen things) is rational in light of evidence in the world, and that we do not need to check our brains at the door. We’re not saved by our intellect, but neither are we asked to believe in something that is anti-intellectual.
The movie is a great opportunity to hold conversations with students about belief in God, the Scriptures and the person of Jesus Christ. Sometimes doubts sit silently under the surface, but faith can be strengthened when these doubts are addressed in clear, rational and faithful ways.
The narratives also deal with relationships that are strained due to differing beliefs or priorities, the persecution some suffer for following Jesus, the work of pastoral ministries, fear of death and trauma caused by suffering. There really is a lot of content here, and some of it will go over the heads of younger viewers, but overall this is a great and timely film that will serve youth groups, young adults ministries and families with teens very well. The inclusion of pop culture personalities (Newsboys, Duck Dynasty) will also add to the draw for some viewers.
A great option for group leaders would be to use some of the resources found at Rice Broocks’ website after a viewing of the movie together. Parents should note that the film is rated PG for brief domestic violence and one accident scene.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Griffiths, lead pastor of Cornerstone Worship Center (Nampa Foursquare Church) in Nampa, Idaho