Last week I went to see the film 'God's Not Dead'. Christian Today has already featured articles about it - see here for more - so I won't go into the details too much. Suffice to say it is a film that doesn't shy away from speaking out many truths about our faith.
Based around a debate in which a college student is challenged to prove the existence of God by his philosophy professor (an atheist), there are also other stories interweaved that show some of the ways in which Christians have to speak out about their faith.
As I sat there I wasn't sure how to respond. I've seen quite a few Christian films recently, and I have to say that, overall, I find them fairly cheesy. So, for me, this one was less so. However, although the acting was well done I felt many of the characters were underdeveloped and I squirmed at the clichés. Nevertheless, as I sat there, wondering what those I had gone with were thinking, I was struck by something...
If the truths being spoken on screen were said in church we would all shout 'Amen!' and if we heard about a friend speaking up for their faith – and even someone coming to faith – we would be ecstatic. So how come hearing and seeing those same things on screen made some of us cringe?
Perhaps it was weird watching someone being led to faith on screen, because it was acting rather than a real-life situation so felt a little false.
Everyone I went with agreed that the character we liked the most was Rev. Dave, the local pastor. He seemed more 'real' because he shared his struggles as well as stepping out boldly at times.
I wonder whether some of our reaction was due to a difference of culture between US and UK audiences – here in the UK we tend to be more reserved, more cynical and slightly more embarrassed by open declarations of faith that are done in a way that we feel may put others off of Christianity rather than draw them to it. But is that not our loss?
A couple of times during the film showing I looked around me, totally bowled over by the fact that our faith was being portrayed so openly, in such an 'in-your-face' manner in a UK cinema. And then I was saddened by the fact I had felt like that. We live in a culture in which it is really difficult to openly talk about issues of faith.
In our local church we've found that the Christians from other countries that have recently joined us have much more success going up and talking about their faith to people. It seems people view them differently as they aren't British, and are therefore more tolerant of listening – often staying to hear things they would probably never hear from a British person.
I was also struck by some of the more profound lines in the film – many of which could lead to further discussion and thought. So I wrote down those I could remember, and scoured the internet for the others. Rather than writing a critique of the film itself, I thought I'd leave you with these quotes to ponder...
Dean Cain's selfish businessman character: 'Love is what we say when we want something.'
The Rev. on the Christian faith: 'It's not easy. But it's simple.'
Rev. Dave on defending our faith: 'Don't be clever. Be content to tell the truth.'
A visiting pastor, encouraging the Rev. to persevere in his calling, 'Some of the most important work we do seems meaningless.'
John Lennox , quoted by the student in his defense of Christianity, 'Nonsense is nonsense even when talked by world-famous scientists.'
The Rev. to the professor's girlfriend, who was realising she was not being treated as she should be, 'Using romance to uphold one's self-image is bad planning.'
He went on to say, 'To the wrong person you will never have any worth. To the right person you will mean everything.'
Dean Cain's on screen mum, responding to his question about why she was suffering despite 'being good', while he had a 'great life' even though he was the most mean person he knew: 'Sometimes the devil allows people to live free of trouble, cause he doesn't want them turning to God.'