Friday, April 15, 2016

Movie Review: God's Not Dead 2

Our 8th grade class had the opportunity to view the movie God's Not Dead 2 today. It is a courtroom drama about a teacher defending her response to a student's question comparing Jesus and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Since I had not seen the first movie, I looked up a couple reviews beforehand.

Common Sense Media gave an accurate review of the movie synopsis and content. The Common Sense age rating of 10+ may be a bit generous. I would suggest that children have a good understanding of the legal system and be able to process arguments beyond emotional reaction.

I also read an entertaining review by Mennoknight that does a good job of sighting some of the movie's theological shortcomings. Of course the movie is not intended to be a sermon or replace studying the historical or biblical teachings of Jesus.

The movie is an artistic presentation of cultural Christianity and its tensions with our postmodern American ideals, despite a few Christian tropes. Overall, I found the movie to be an enjoyable, heartwarming story that would sit comfortably on the shelf in any Christian bookstore. The legal arguments were not above our 8th graders (how many middle school students cheer when Lee Strobel appears on screen?), but they have also been well taught about government and US history.

Personally I would have preferred that the gospel include references to sin and the substitutionary death of Jesus. But the movie stays true to the current evangelical missional mindset that modern man would be convinced of the truth if they could only hear all the facts. Several subplots remained unexplored, such as the freedom of speech exercised by the blogger lady and the roles of teachers in our society.

Overall I would recommend this movie to my Christian friends, but do not take nonbeliever friends in the hope of changing their opinions on Christ. Families should definitely engage their older children in discussion on the topics. While the concert scene is an emotionally exciting finish to the movie, for those who would stand firm in their faith, there are still difficult realities to be faced everyday. Sadly, life is a lot messier than any two hour movie would lead us to believe.