Tuesday, April 5, 2016

GOD'S NOT DEAD 2 - A REVIEW FROM A MOVIEGOER

GOD'S NOT DEAD 3 STORY SET?
"...atheists can't take away the pain, but they sure take away the Hope"...thus says the character Walter Wesley, played by well-known Christian actor and singer Pat Boone to his daughter - Grace Wesley (expertly and powerfully portrayed by well-known TV actress Melissa Joan Hart). What followed is one of the most critical movies for the Body of Christ in 2016 America, if our fellow citizens are really paying attention.
God's Not Dead 2 (GND2) is a compilation of several actual court cases where the religious freedom of students (high school and college) and teachers were denied by an increasingly hostile anti-Christian God mindset. This mindset was coming for decades, from the days of Supreme Court Hugo Black, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, who was part of the Warren Court in the 1960's which removed the Bible and Prayer from American schools. Black reintroduced the long dormant "separation of church and state" concept and set the stage for the eventual spiritual decline of the United States. Some of the actual cases listed in the movie credits were the backdrop for this warm yet deadly cold reality. The reality is the fine line which some Christians have to walk daily in a country that was founded on Religious Liberty for the Christian.

Now what is apparently coming in God's Not Dead 3 is just the natural progression of such extra-constitutional activism. It is recommended to movie-goers to sit through the entire roll of credits at the end of God's Not Dead 2 to see what is coming next. A minor subplot during GND2 involves the popular late US Senator/Actor Fred Dalton Thompson where a group of pastors are ordered by local government authorities to hand over all their sermons for the centralized authority to vet. This is a storyline based on what actually occurred in 2014 when the Mayor of Houston threatened Houston preachers to hand over their sermons or else….an action which resulted in a massive national outcry and backlash.  For those who are interested in a growing Christian movie culture fueled by current events, this is something to look forward to.

God's Not Dead 2 revolves around the story of an Arkansas high school teacher - Grace Wesley - who answers a seemingly innocuous question in her AP History Class about the heroes of non-violence (Gandhi and King) and the greatest non-violent hero in history - Jesus. Another student in the class immediately texted his atheist parents during the class that his history teacher was basically turning the class into "Sunday School". Grace Wesley, an immediately likeable single teacher, wonderfully portrayed by Melissa Joan Hart, a popular mainstream television actress (and Christian), is soon brought up before the school board. They demand an apology and more from her, which basically amounted to a tacit denial of her testimony of faith in Christ. Grace Wesley declines and decides to take her chances in court, with an apparent green public defender whose youth and penchant for not losing a case overrides his lack of Faith in Jesus Christ.

At stake in this case is Ms. Wesley's job and all that she has. This includes the small idyllic home where she cares for her aging father (Pat Boone). She stands to lose not just her job, teaching license and home, but the plaintiff's attorneys courtroom skills initially make mincemeat of Grace Wesley's young, under-dressed defender for most of the trial. This all changes at the end when Grace's attorney (Jesse Metcalfe of "Desperate Housewives") finally calls his client up to the witness stand as a hostile witness and ends up winning the case. He does so in some of the finest courtroom writing and hijinks written in any type of drama - Christian or secular! 


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Two great real-life authors gave outstanding testimonies on the "witness stand". The great Lee Strobel, the former atheist legal reporter for the Chicago Tribune who set out to prove the bible wrong and ended up a Christian gave a sterling apologetic for the Faith...making, as it were, the "Case for Christ". Equally as impressive was the testimony of real life L.A. Detective & Christian apologetics author J. Warner Wallace whose book Cold Case Christianity (2013) is a cold hard look from another former atheist (Wallace) at the Gospels to see if the facts of Jesus' life and death hold up to scrutiny. What Wallace found led him not just to Faith in Christ, just like Strobel, but into active ministry for the Lord in missions and outreach.

In the final analysis, this Pure Flix masterpiece by David A.R. White and his team marks a significant direction for this long time Christian movie making company. The advance questionable reviews of the secular press attest to the success of the entire storyline, the screenplay, content and especially the inclusion and testimonies of the two former Atheists- Authors Strobel and Wallace. The mainstream secular velvet broadside, across the board, is proof that God's Not Dead 2 not only bowls a strike, but will also influence a lot of doubters who were formerly convinced that God did not exist. 
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