God’s Not Dead 2 will not be nominated at the Academy Awards or win best picture in 2016…but honestly that doesn’t matter. Millions will see it anyway. The PG film directed by Harold Cronk and starring Jesse Metcalfe, Robin Givens, and Sadie Robertson (among others) asks the right questions.
Those who are already committed secularists will find much to dislike about the movie and Christians will find much to cheer. But the most important contribution of this film is that it brings significant and timely questions front and center for this generation to discuss. I hope everyone is paying attention.
Is Religious Liberty Really On Trial in America? Yes…
We live at an interesting time in American history where religious liberty is under attack in the name of tolerance and diversity (Georgia Governor Nathan Deal just vetoed a bill that would have protected the religious liberty of churches, pastors, and non-profits). And Christians are often dismissed as fundamentalists and radicals who are ignorant “faith heads” (we will talk about this misinformed meme below).
To the first question some may think this is the stuff of movies and it allows them to make a point about Christianity. But this is not fiction, it’s reality. Religious liberty is under attack today and people (especially Christians) need to be courageous and stand up for this right for everyone and all faiths. The city of Houston really did ask for pastor’s sermons. Regardless of your faith we need to have the ability to practice it outside of our homes and beyond just our places of worship. It is OK to live it out in the public square. As a country we need to get better at talking to each other about really important questions without relativizing truth on the one hand or demonizing people with whom we disagree on the other. In short, we need to learn the forgotten art of true tolerance and civility.
Was Jesus a Real Historical Person? Yes…
This was the fascinating part of the movie for me to watch unfold in the trial. As an AP history teacher Grace responds to a student’s question about Jesus in relation to Martin Luther King Jr.’s passivism by quoting some of the words of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels. Another student texts what happened in class that day, word gets out, and then the ACLU shows up. Lawsuit.
But Christians don’t believe Jesus existed because the Bible tells us so by blind faith. Christians believe it because it is a well-established fact of history confirmed by early eyewitness testimony (as was well documented in the film by my friend J. Warner Wallace author of Cold Case Christianity when he was being put on the witness stand in the trial).
Also making an appearance is the well-respected scholar and pioneer of the minimal facts approach for the historical Jesus, Gary Habermas. Journalist Lee Strobel (author of the Case for Christ) and pastor Rice Brooks also made an appearance. Unfortunately, most people—including many Christians—are simply unaware of the powerful evidence for Christianity.
As a side note. This is why we teach worldview and apologetics to our students at Impact 360 Institute. For example at our 2 week summer worldview and apologetics experience for High School students called Immersion, I spend several sessions teaching on the powerful historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. Confidence comes from knowing why you believe what you believe.
A quick word to parents. You will find this PG film kid friendly especially when compared to much of what passes for PG these days (no profanity or sensuality). It will encourage your faith and give you an opportunity to talk about important questions as a family. For that reason alone, it is worth going to see.
Is this a perfect move from an artistic standpoint? No. Are there some caricatures of both atheists and Christians? Yes. But these are minor quibbles far outshined by the importance of framing significant questions for this generation.
Peter reminds us to always be ready to give an answer for the hope within us and do so with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). My hope is that Christians are encouraged by God’s Not Dead 2 to be joyfully courageous and not angry and defensive. We need to represent Jesus to our world with compassion, clarity, and confidence. Why? Because Christianity is actually true!
- Learn how to respond to the 4 toughest objections to the resurrection
- How to have a conversation about the resurrection evidence with friends, family and skeptics
- Discover the powerful historical evidence for the resurrection for yourself
- Help students build a confident faith based on the resurrection