REVIEW: Newest ‘God's Not Dead’ is different from its predecessors – and that’s good

March 30th, 2018 / By: Michael Foust / comments

REVIEW: Newest ‘God's Not Dead’ is different from its predecessors – and that’s good

Dave Hill is co-pastor of a thriving, historical church that’s a lot like any other congregation today. It stands firm on God’s Word. It reaches out to the downtrodden. It provides hope for a lost world.

Sunday after Sunday, Hill tells his members that “God is good, all the time,” but lately, he’s struggled with his faith.

Those doubts began creeping in when his co-pastor and good friend was killed in an accident. Then, the church building caught fire and was condemned. Soon thereafter, the university where the church resides decided to boot the congregation from campus, all in the name of eminent domain. 

Pastor Dave wants to fight the college in court – with the help of his atheist attorney brother – but that only adds to his stress when divided residents start picketing the church.     

“I think it’s time for Christians to stand up for themselves,” he says.

The growing controversy has made him famous and placed him on the talk-show circuit, but he has begun wondering: Is the legal battle helping or hurting the cause of Christ?

Pure Flix’s God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness (PG) opens in the theaters this weekend, picking up where God’s Not Dead 2 left us: with Pastor Dave (David A.R. White) being held in contempt of court for not handing over his sermon transcripts to the government in a separate legal battle. 

But even though A Light in Darkness is the third movie in the God’s Not Dead series, it has a different feel and message. It is more evenhanded in its portrayal of atheists, thanks to the back-and-forth between Pastor Dave and his brother, Pearce (played admirably by John Corbett – My Big Fat Greek Wedding). The movie also has an ending that likely can be embraced by both sides – something that could not be said of the first two films.

In addition to White and Corbett, it stars Ted McGinley (Do You Believe?) and Oscar winner Tatum O'Neal (The Runaways) as university officials, and Jennifer Taylor (Two and a Half Men) as Pastor’s Dave’s romantic interest. 

I didn’t care for the first God’s Not Dead film but enjoyed God’s Not Dead 2. I liked the latest one even more. It’s the best God’s Not Dead movie yet. 

Warning: minor/moderate spoilers!

Violence/Disturbing

Minimal. One character punches another one in the face. They roll to the ground before the fight ends. A brick is tossed into a house. Later, we see another character punch someone in the face. We see a character arrested and in jail.  

Sexuality/Sensuality/Nudity

None. The movie follows a pair of romances. A college student kisses another student on the cheek. They eventually break up. We see a college girl swim in an indoor pool in a one-piece swimsuit.  

Coarse Language

None

Other Positive Elements

See Worldview, below. 

Other Stuff You Might Want To Know

If you bring children, then be prepared to discuss atheism and church dropouts. Some of the college students describe how they stopped going to church after leaving home. Others openly question the existence of God. We see a college party with some students drinking.

The movie’s plot is also worth mentioning. Perhaps you’ve wondered: Why is a church located on university property in the first place? Answer: Its location preceded the university’s founding. They had co-existed harmoniously until now. 

Life Lessons

A Light in Darkness gives us solid lessons on humility, forgiveness, civility, hope, healing and unity. 

Worldview

Our culture thrives off divisiveness. Television’s top-rated talk shows are the ones where one side blasts the other side. It’s the same on radio, too. It seems everywhere we turn – from our email inbox to our Facebook timeline – people are trying to drive “clicks” by angering and dividing us.  

Are humility and unity a thing of the past? God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness tells us they’re not. That’s good news, because Scripture commands Christians to “count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3) and the church to have “unity of mind” (1 Peter 3:8) with “no divisions” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

Of course, we also are to “stand firm in the Lord” (Philippians 4:1) with courage and strength (1 Corinthians 16:13). We’re not to compromise God’s Word. 

How, then, do you find the balance? Perhaps this popular-but-anonymous quote sums it up best: "in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity." In the newest God’s Not Dead, we see that on display.

What I Liked

The interaction between the two brothers. It’s entertaining. Corbett is impressive. The legal drama is engrossing, too. 

Most simulated TV broadcasts in movies look fake. In this film, they look quite believable.

I liked the ending, too.  

What I Didn’t Like

One of the movie’s fights seemed odd and out of place. I wrote in my notes: “That fight was dumb.”  

Discussion Questions

  1. Should Pastor Dave have continued his legal battle?
  2. List five issues in which Christians should never back down. List five issues in which there is room for disagreement.
  3. Have you ever doubted God?
  4. Is our culture too divided? What’s the cure?    

Entertainment rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 4.5 out of 5. 

Rated PG for thematic elements including some violence and suggestive material.