Directed by Harold Cronk

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“Only a real risk can test the reality of a belief.”

Josh (quoting C.S. Lewis)

God’s Not Dead is a 2014 film about a freshman in college, Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), who enrolls in a philosophy course where the atheist Professor Radisson (Kevin Sorbo) gives the class a choice: sign a piece of paper that says “God is dead” or risk failing the entire semester.

Josh is filled with trepidation as he faces a crossroad: drop the class, sign the paper and deny his faith, or prove the existence of God. This is the greatest challenge to his faith Josh that has ever faced and he’s not sure if he’s up to the challenge. When he seeks guidance from a local pastor, Reverend Dave (David A.R. White) points out, “Your acceptance of this challenge, if you decide to accept it, may be the only meaningful exposure to God and Jesus they’ll ever have,” referring to Josh’s classmates. Josh reaches the only decision his conscience will allow and sets out to prove that God’s not dead, with his professor as debate opponent and all of his classmates as jury.

Several of the minor characters parallel Josh’s struggle, with each at different points in their journey of faith (or doubt) and the film explores themes of struggle, confidence, strength and evangelism. God’s Not Dead has a very clear message of faith triumphing over doubt and cynicism, and as the main character Josh wrestles with the core aspects of his belief system, a common theme emerges of standing up for your values and not ‘selling out’. While the story telling could be a little more nuanced and the film’s debate a bit more well-rounded, this film will captivate and challenge young people at Catholic and Christian schools and is sure to spark robust discussion about living as a person of faith in a secular world.

God’s Not Dead is a great film for a high school class to study and discuss, either in English from a narrative perspective, or in faith studies, from an apologetics point of view. Watch the movie with your class and then facilitate an open discussion to see what emerges as the film’s main message, and whether students agree or disagree with the premise and outcomes.

Studying this film can also be a good opportunity to talk to students and youth groups about their confidence in sharing their faith, defending their beliefs, and going against the crowd when it comes to behaviour, speech and worldviews.

With guest appearances from Christian band Newsboys, as well as Willie and Korie Robertson, God’s Not Dead is a spirited film that will challenge you, inspire you and take you on a journey to reassess and reaffirm your faith and Christian witness to the world around you.

Reviewed by: Lil van Wyngaard – Veritatis Publishing

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