The recent motion picture God’s Not Dead by PureFlix has received national attention for its surprising popularity, especially among the religious. One of the reasons the film appeals to so many people is due to its lack of political correctness. The film has an unapologetic faith-based message— showing why it is rational to believe in the existence of God. PureFlix has been in business for many years now and up until now most of its films have been rather low budget and B-Rated. God’s Not Dead is by far their best film to date.
It was refreshing to see a Christian film with good acting, at times even great acting.
Now to the good, the bad and the ugly. I found the film to be good on many levels. Beyond the quality of the production, I found the film to have some real bright spots. The film accurately describes the anti-theist bias of secular schools today. The film also seems to accurately show that secular schools are particularly bias against the Biblical worldview. This was a good point because it stressed the nature of worldviews, namely that they are exclusive in nature and that there is a real conflict of worldviews going on everywhere today. The film also stressed the necessity of salvation, the need to be saved, the cost of discipleship and even the reality of persecution for identifying with Jesus Christ. On the latter point, the producers captured a situation that is happening all across America with regard to Islam. Muslim youths are often disowned, beaten and even murdered (honor killings) for leaving Islam for any reason- religious or not. This is something few are willing to tackle for fear of the backlash; for that the film should be commended. The film therefore did a good job of showing the reality of division caused by Christ within family, marriage, relationships and culture. By showing the need for a Muslim girl to convert of Christianity it underscored the exclusivity of Christ. The film also did a good job of showing the reality of suffering and the brevity of life. However, the movie made some very bad decisions for a Christian film. The movie was ultimately communicating a type of Christianity that was anthropocentric or man-centered. By stressing decisionism, it made salvation a matter of personal choice based on information and reason rather than divine intervention and sovereignty. The sovereignty of God was sometimes evoked but ultimately trumped by human autonomy, human reason, and will power. Things go from bad to ugly with the film’s choice of evidential apologetics, even citing Lee Strobel’s classical proofs for the existence of God, which always assume the fallacy of neutrality. In typical humanistic fashion the film puts God in the dock and the audience on the bench. The film was emphatic on this point. Indeed the climax of the film is based on the student’s verdict whether or not God is dead. Scripture teaches the complete opposite of course, God is in heaven and does whatever He pleases (Ps. 115.3). Had the film reflected true Biblical apologetics it would have never assumed that non-believers and believers reason alike and that the verdict for God’s existence is up to man to decide.
Finally, from a Reformed perspective, I could never endorse the worldview of God’s Not Dead because it does not sufficiently teach that man is dead i.e. in trespasses in sins. Instead of man being fallen and depraved incapable of doing what is pleasing to God, freewill becomes the most important point of the film and almost the most important doctrine in the Bible; though not in the Bible at all! Indeed, the film makes it clear that without freewill, Christianity and life would not make any sense. Ironically, Arminians have no problem talking about God ordaining the undisturbed freewill of man but they cannot conceive of God ordaining anything else certainly not the predestination and election of His people in Christ (Eph. 1.3-4). The decisionism of the film eliminates the need for repentance, and thus it is never mentioned in the film. Instead, man by his reason and courage “accepts Jesus” who has been waiting for them to use their freewill and allow Him to forgive them. For this reason God’s Not Dead is a man-centered film about the potential, power and profundity of the human will and not the beauty of God’s sovereign grace to save guilty and hopeless sinners. So although the film was well done as far as cinematography is concerned, theologically I found the film wanting.
Emilio Ramos is the preaching pastor of Heritage Grace Community Church. Pastor Emilio is committed to the expository and exegetical teaching of the Word of God. Emilio is also the author of Convert, From Adam to Christ and the founder of redgracemedia.com- a media ministry devoted to the glory of God’s redemptive grace through Jesus Christ. He and his wife Trisha live in Dallas, TX.