The Newsboys, and featured actors of the film God’s Not Dead, would say that God is “surely alive, He’s living on the inside roaring like a lion!” While their acting in this movie leaves a bit to be desired, their message is spot on.
In this Christian Drama, we follow Josh Wheaton, played by Shane Harper, an innocent freshman thrown into the lion’s den as he begins classes at the university, and quickly uncovers the true reason God sent him.
Professor Radisson, a devout atheist and educated scholar, has a strong reputation for intimidating Christian students into denying God for a passing grade. Warned that Professor Radisson would love to watch him be devoured, similar to the activies that occurred within the Roman Colosseum, Josh quickly learned what this meant. His first assignment: deny his Creator. Professor Radisson’s assignment for Josh, being that he could not claim that God is dead, would be to defend the antithesis.
Faced with such spiritual dilemma, Josh accepted the challenge, and knowing full well that he was not capable of performing such an assignment with the knowledge he had, went straight to the expert, God. He began studying and forming arguments to refute well known and respected atheistic apologists.
But defending God didn’t come without consequences. With no support from his family, and a long term girlfriend who could not understand his need and calling to defend God so vehemently, the assignment truly challenged his faith. He lost his girlfriend and could lose the opportunity to go to law school, but he persevered and hung onto the words of Willie Robertson, of Duck Dynasty, as he quotes from Matthew 10:33, “But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” Josh wasn’t just completing an assignment from his teacher, he was completing one from God.
Of course, defending God didn’t come without rewards. The heat was turned up as the real reason Professor Radisson hated God was revealed- he watched his mother, a devout Christian, die a slow painful death while he was just a young child. Upon completion of his assignment, Josh’s classmates got to decide. Is God Dead? Despite their first day’s assignment, to scribble the words “God is Dead” on their paper and hand it in, with an overwhelming majority, the whole class stood in agreement with the words “God’s Not Dead.” God was with Josh throughout the whole assignment; guiding him and putting the people in his life that he needed to reach others. This assignment wasn’t about a grade, it was about God.
Secondary plots in this movie include an interwebbing relationship of actors and the transformation of once God-denying individuals, including Professor Radisson, and the strengthening of faith in other individuals including Professor Radisson’s girlfriend and a young Islamic-raised woman.
I must say that personally it was difficult to watch Mark, played by Dean Cain, treat others with such arrogance, but I am quickly reminded that it’s just a movie, and he will always be Clark Kent, Superman to me. The irony is that it’s likely Superman doesn’t believe that even he needs God.
The arguments in this movie were very well laid out, and Shane Harper did an excellent job playing Josh. I believe we’ll be seeing him in more movies to come. Personally, I believe Christian dramas are still somewhat lacking in their plot and acting, but they keep getting better. This was a perfect example of that.
This movie was loosely based on a true story about a college student embroiled in a campus battle after defending her faith. The Alliance Defending Freedom has taken up numerous cases in which religious freedom was encroached on within universities across the country. For more information on these cases, check out: http://www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org/home/detail/8843
Movie review by Lauren Wilson