Why “God’s Not Dead” is a Horrible Evangelism Tool

You’re a Christian. You’re at a movie theater. Your atheist friend has invited you to see a movie called “God Is Dead.” All your friends told you it was a horrible movie and you shouldn’t see it, but your friend who invited you seems nice, and she was persistent… so against your better judgment, you agree to go.God's_Not_Dead

It sounds ridiculous, but stay with me.

The movie starts with an atheist student going to a Christian college. He’s confronted by a Christian philosophy professor. The professor offers a list of brilliant people who were Christians, then insists that students must write “Jesus is alive” on a piece of paper. The student timidly raises his hand. “I can’t do that, sir,” he says. “I don’t believe that.”

Instead of making a reasoned and intelligent defense for the Christian faith, the professor treats the student like an idiot. The rest of the class nods in agreement. Then the professor offers the student one chance to get a passing grade: debate him about the existence of God. So far, so good, you think.

Our atheist student starts doing research. He reads books by Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins. His atheist girlfriend tells him he shouldn’t bother, but he’s committed. “This professor has to believe the truth,” he says. “I can’t just let him get away with his indoctrination!”

The debate is fierce. The professor is firm in his logic, but the student asks why he’s angry about the non-existence of God. The student puts forth arguments against the existence of God that the dumbest Christian you know could rebut in her sleep, and the supposedly brilliant Christian philosophy professor is stunned and stumped. The entire classroom gives up their Christian faith over those ridiculous arguments that you could destroy if the professor would just ask you.

Finally, the student and all his friends go to a rock concert celebrating the death of God. The professor finally realizes his error and runs to the concert, but is hit by a car. There in the street, he is met be evangelical atheists, and he renounces his faith in God at the last.

One of the atheists you respect least appears on stage at the rock concert and tells the concertgoers they should all text “God Is Dead” to all of their friends. Your atheist friend sitting next to you has her phone out. Your pocket vibrates. You have a text.

“God is dead.”

As you leave the theater, your friend is anxious to know how you liked the movie. You don’t want to offend her, but you almost threw up your popcorn ten times during the movie, and you were on the edge of your seat the whole time – not because it was interesting, but because you were on the verge of walking out and demanding a refund for this abomination of a movie.

Now you know how atheists felt when they watched God’s Not Dead. Atheists are as sure that God isn’t there as you are that God is there.

Would that movie make you think that atheists were smart, or incredibly stupid?

Would you think atheists had created a compelling argument, in movie form, for atheism?

Would you convert to atheism?

I didn’t think so. If I were a betting man, I’d bet you’d go out and tell your friends what a horrible ridiculous movie you’d just endured, and maybe find a way to mock it.

So why would Christians think, if the roles were reversed, atheists would give up deeply-held beliefs over text messages and a series of bad arguments?

“Because it’s true!”

True or not (though I do believe in God), God’s not dead is one of the worst arguments for God.

Come on, Christians. We can do better. We can show the beauty of Christianity instead of making bad arguments for its truth.

Also, that little fantasy circulating about the professor who says God doesn’t exist and is schooled by a freshman? It’s almost as bad, and for the same reasons. At least your atheist friends didn’t have to pay any money for it, and at least it wasn’t 2 hours long.


You’ve Been Watching Left Behind Wrong: Nicolae Carpathia is the Hero

LeftBehind_revised_domestic_72dpiHow would Left Behind look if the filmmakers treated it the same way as they had treated 2012, The Road, and Independence Day?

The new Left Behind stars Nicolas Cage and was directed by stunt coordinator and second unit director Vic Armstrong. I read an article a while ago that said Armstrong read the script and thought it was a neat idea, so I assumed he was going to take it seriously but didn’t actually believe in it. I decided it would be an excellent film and I had to see it.

Subsequent interviews have given me reason to fear Armstrong, and almost as bad, possibly Cage, actually believes that rubbish N.T. Wright calls “pseudotheological fiction.” One of the two screenwriters, Paul LaLonde, helped found Cloud 10 Pictures. The other, John Patus, helped with both sequels to the original Left Behind movie. Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame has an Executive Producer credit. My hope that LB14 might be fun faded.

But really, how would a secular filmmaker make Left Behind fun and, more importantly, not have characters screaming “WHY DIDN’T WE ACCEPT JESUS? WHY???” all throughout? I spent way too much time thinking about it, and I have a few ideas.

In Left Behind, people vanish with no explanation, causing car accidents and plane crashes. Obviously, this must be the work of some dark, malevolent force – one that takes people from their loved ones instantly and with violent and harmful consequences to the world.

Even if the people who were taken were immediately placed somewhere warm and wonderful – heaven, even – there would be no way for those Left Behind to know this. Of course, some pastors who once found the theory ridiculous, or who knew it but didn’t believe it and treated it as a completely ridiculous and possibly backwards notion, might begin to give it credibility.

So we have an external force – a primeval-seeming deity – who takes those who believe in him and leaves behind those who don’t to get in car and plane accidents. According to the plot of the books and movies, this is just the beginning of what happens to those who don’t believe over the next seven years (which is just a teaser trailer for what will happen to them after those seven years!).

How can those who don’t believe escape this wrathful deity? It’s easyish: believe and knuckle under. The choice is simple: meet the super-powerful force’s demands, or suffer the consequences.

This is starting to sound like an alien invasion flick. But we’re Americans. We don’t like movies where the good guys knuckle under. Continue reading “You’ve Been Watching Left Behind Wrong: Nicolae Carpathia is the Hero”

Noah : A Movie Review

I finally got around to seeing Noah last weekend. I liked it, and it gave a lot to talk about. Also, there are spoilers.

The Vibe

I’ve seen Christian movies about the Bible, and I’ve seen Hollywood’s offerings, like Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments. Noah felt more like a Biblical Epic of the Hollywood variety than of the Christian variety. I liked that.

Artistic License

My first reaction was to grab one of my Bibles and re-read the story of Noah. Noah director Darren Aronofsky took some major artistic license.

I recently called out Mark Driscoll for claiming Noah wasn’t righteous, just forgiven in the post “Sorry Mark Driscoll, Noah was Righteous.” The Bible says the exact opposite. Darren Aronofsky opted to change that part and make Noah a normal man just like the rest of us, maybe more so. Noah points out how he and his family are all sinful as his explanation for why humanity doesn’t deserve to live.

The Bible says Noah’s three sons and their wives went into the ark. In the movie, only one wife goes in. She’s pregnant with the other sons’ wives, so technically you could say that they did in the movie, but it’s a stretch. There’s a good reason for this: it sets the story up for Noah getting to decide whether humanity deserves to live or die by whether he will obey God as he understands God or not. (It’s not what you expect).

The part where Noah gets drunk happens out-of-order for the rainbow in the movie. In the Bible, the rainbow comes before the alcoholic bout; in the movie, the rainbow comes after. I understand Aronofsky’s motives for that: the rainbow makes a nice closing motif. And for the first time in my life, I felt like I understood why he got stone drunk: he’d just watched the rest of the world drown. I think I might find myself reaching for the bottle, too.

The Bible says Lamech to have lived for 599 years after Noah was born, so it’s a fair guess that Noah wasn’t a little kid when his dad died like in the movie. But it made the part with Hermione Ila make a lot more sense and have that certain emotion to it. It framed the whole movie nicely. I didn’t mind it.

How Did They All Fit?

One of the coolest things about this movie was that when I watched it, I wasn’t thinking, “Wow, that’s ridiculous. How could they get every kind of animal onto the ark?” I’ve seen so many Creation / Evolution arguments about this. The evolutionist argument is that there’s no way we would have this much variety only 4,400 years later. The creationist says not only is it possible, it happened. They’re both wrong. Continue reading “Noah : A Movie Review”