Personal Comments on God’s Not Dead
By Dr. Hugh Ross
A movie by Christians and for Christians, God’s Not Dead has done remarkably well at the box office. Kathy and I saw the film Friday evening, April 4, in a nearly full theater. No great detective skills were needed to discern that our fellow viewers were mostly, if not exclusively, fellow Christians. The chorus of cheers and moans and even some “amens” at appropriate moments seemed a pretty clear giveaway.
The plot hinges on the response of a Christian freshman student, Josh, to the sneering challenge of his atheist philosophy professor, Dr. Radisson. On a positive note, I was pleased to see that Josh begins his presentation with evidences from the origin of the universe, specifically from big bang cosmology. The depiction of Radisson’s response, a carefully chosen quotation from Stephen Hawking, fits the reality I have sometimes experienced. Josh’s reply is exactly as I had hoped, not an emotional or argumentative comeback but rather a tacit acknowledgement of the need for more study.
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His return to the podium with a counter quotation form Oxford professor John Lennox captures his class’s attention and sets the stage for his next point, the question of life’s origin of life and the plausibility of naturalism. These categories of evidence can be and often are effective in opening dialogue with adults who have had little exposure to the Bible or Christianity. So I’m glad they became part of the script.
While a number of Christian reviewers have complained that the apologetics content in the movie is weak or superficial my reaction is more forgiving. A movie is entertainment, not a lecture. I felt satisfied that the movie raised some of the most important apologetics topics. In-depth equipping and evangelistic content may be found in abundance elsewhere.
As for the character portrayals in the movie, most were extreme, unrealistic, and certainly not believable. Although the movie listed over a dozen court cases, some resolved and others still pending, arising from incidents on university campuses where Christian students and faculty were treated unjustly, only a couple I know about personally come close to the outrageous circumstance depicted, and they are cases in which faculty, not students, were treated badly. The portrayal of the pastor also disturbed me. He seemed ambivalent and aloof. However, I did see a few emotionally authentic and impactful scenes…