You Don’t Have To Be An Atheist To Dislike God’s Not Dead

It’s okay if you don’t like a Christian movie.

Regardless of how Christian media companies are pushing the films that have been coming out recently in an attempt to “send a message to Hollywood”, if you think a Christian movie is a bad movie, then it doesn’t mean you are a bad Christian. In fact, having such feelings might just mean that you are experiencing some detachment from American Cultural Christianity.

And that’s not a bad thing.

godsnotdead2For example, this weekend, God’s Not Dead 2 was released, and my Twitter page was filled with people Tweeting: “I would rather stand with God and be judged by the world, than stand with the world and be judged by God” – Grace Wesley   . I found myself wondering why people were so excited by this movie, when (in my opinion) the first movie was such a poor example of a movie.

Hey, Christian, if you also feel that way, then it’s okay. It doesn’t mean that you are any less devoted to Jesus because you don’t like a movie that the Christian media industry is insisting that you like. Jesus based salvation on grace and his finished work on the cross, not how many faith-based movies we see.

Maybe your church purchased the God’s Not Dead 2 Church Kit ($59.95 at the God’s Not Dead 2 website), and your pastor used the provided sermon outlines to preach about the movie for a month of Sundays. And you couldn’t help but wonder: What the heck is my pastor doing preaching sermons provided by a movie company?

This should make you uncomfortable. In fact, you should probably schedule a meeting with your pastor to discuss his choices for Sunday morning messages.

But it doesn’t mean your own salvation is at risk. It might just mean that you are experiencing discernment. And that’s a good thing.

Did your cousin buy multiple copies of Rice Brooks’ Man, Myth, Messiah which was so subtly promoted in God’s Not Dead 2, and has she been giving them out to friends and family, hoping that the apologetics presented will convince someone to come to faith in Jesus?

While your cousin might have her heart in the right place, maybe you find yourself questioning this action as well. After all, you see big faults in the film that featured the book, such as the false persecution narrative that might just end up being a self-fulfilling prophecy…

…and well, you’re just fine thinking that. It doesn’t mean that you are somehow less mature as a believer.

You are likely still a faithful Christian.

Back to your cousin: certainly you can appreciate your cousin’s motivation, and there are probably lots of good things to be learned from the book. But maybe you could take the time to explain to her how these God’s Not Dead movies affect many atheists. Maybe you could discuss that many atheists watch them and are deeply offended by the way the films turn them into moustache twirling cartoons, demonized and villianized, and that the very audience that the movie purports to be trying to reach are likely to become closed to the message because of the way they are portrayed.

And then maybe you could recommend a different resource for your cousin to use to reach people: your cousin’s own life.

Maybe your well-intentioned cousin could simply live out her testimony, loving her neighbors, and demonstrating how Jesus has impacted her, changed her, and made her a new creation.

Perhaps you could explain to your cousin that she doesn’t need a movie or a high-priced movie resource to do this. Encourage her that a personal testimony is free, and much more effective than than a movie or a book.

At the end of the day, Christian movies are just movies, and you, as a Christian, are not beholden to them. They are a business like any other business, and they were made by people just like you and me, people with a myriad of motives and hopes.

But if you aren’t inspired or encouraged by a movie, faith-based or not, then it’s fine, because regardless of the importance that many Christian media companies place on the new Christian film movement, at the end of the day, they aren’t Scripture.

They aren’t reality.

They are just movies.

And if you don’t like a Christian film, then it’s perfectly alright. You are not any less of a Christian for not liking it.

And don’t let anyone make you think otherwise.

 

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5 thoughts on “You Don’t Have To Be An Atheist To Dislike God’s Not Dead

  1. Thanks so much for giving us permission to dislike a Christian film and assuring us that we can all still be Christians if we don’t like the film. We are all such idiots that we evidently need you and your sterling intellect to free us from our misconceptions. Let me fill you in on the Christian mind-set regarding Christian film. WE DON”T CARE how poorly the films are made. We understand that Christian film cannot compete with the resources of Hollywood, and therefore will not be as artistically endowed as mainstream film. WE CARE that we Christians have something — anything in terms of film that represents our beliefs and shows God in a favorable light. WE CARE that there is something available to us besides super heroes, zombies, sex, violence and LGBT. WE CARE that the gospel is being spread via film. And that “subtle” promotion of Man, Myth, Messiah? Maybe you haven’t noticed the appalling ignorance of Jesus, Christianity, and God out there in the world, but we have. That’s the problem when people get their information about Christians, God, and Jesus from The History Channel or sitcoms. And that exaggerated hostility toward Christianity you seem to be referring to? Do you live under a rock? Hostility toward Christianity in the US is growing exponentially. And thanks so much for telling us all how to witness. What would we do without you?

    • Much like an atheist accidentally walking into a screening of God’s Not Dead 2, you apparently accidentally walked into a blog post that was not written with you as the intended audience. You obviously liked the movie, and that’s fine, but I wrote this for people who feel differently. But still, glad to have your point of view, even with that healthy dose of sarcasm that you included. “Sterling intellect”? Ouch!

      Specifically, I wrote this to those people who, like me, are feeling overwhelmed by the carte blanche support Christian films get from Christian ministries, regardless of the quality of the movies. Lots of Christians don’t like movies made in our name (like GND2) for a number of worthwhile reasons, but the films are still being pushed HARD by the Christian media industry, who are apparently just happy to see God spoken of in an American conservative Christian “theologically correct” way on the big screen. Well, that’s not enough for me. I also want to see God honored through a well-made, well-crafted, well-told story, and you don’t need a Hollywood budget to do that. You just need to have the permission of the audience to do it. Well, I give them permission. Do you?

      Really, the more I think about it, the more I realize that I was actually writing to myself. I was giving myself permission to be a committed Christian, but not be on board the faith-based movie train until they’ve earned the right to have me on board. So far, they’ve not done that.

      And by the way, I don’t live under a rock, but I do live in China. So, if you want to talk about people not having an easy time living their faith, I’ll be glad to discuss it.

    • “We understand that Christian film cannot compete …”

      GND2 had a budget of $5M. While much smaller than many productions, it is huge compared to many others — films that are created for 1/10 that amount (or even less). Perhaps those smaller films don’t open on as 2400+ screens or make $60M gross (like GND1 did), but if those are the goals, well ….

    • I grow tired of people citing a film’s low budget when defending it. Budgeting can play a role when we’re dealing with low production values. The issues with most Christian movies start with the screenplay. They are structural issues, dialogue issues, character issues, etc.
      And the fact is that a good screenplay doesn’t cost any more to write than a bad screenplay. If the writers of the film took a bit more time to iron out the deep flaws with their script, the film could have been much better, and for no extra cost!

  2. Preach it! I wholeheartedly agree with you. I do think that it is fine for Christians to experiment with films and try to create something but I also believe that we need to use our heads before using a film to “preach” the gospel to someone. It is far better to share Christ in the context of a conversation with someone than to share the gospel in the context of Christian entertainment.

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