We’ve come to expect great faith-based films from Pure Flix and “God’s Not Dead 3: A Light in the Darkness” is no exception. As with the previous God’s Not Dead series, the Christian faith is under attack. What is interesting with each of these films is the attention they bring to the current cultural climate. Providing scenarios and solutions for situations we may encounter ourselves in the real world, it is on-screen Christian apologetics (giving a defense for the Christian faith). So what can we glean from God’s Not Dead 3?
Perhaps this line from the film says it best: “Sometimes fighting doesn’t require defeating those we disagree with but rather finding a way to heal and to rebuild.”
A church under fire
When the St. James Church is damaged by a fatal fire, Pastor Dave fights to save the church’s presence on campus from the heads of the now secular Hadleigh University. Controversy and conflict arise, causing students to protest and pushing Pastor Dave to seek legal counsel from his atheist brother Pierce.
This reunion with his brother brings contention of its own. In dredging up Pierce’s painful departure from the family and faith, we see how each brother was affected by this decision. Dave, feeling abandoned by his brother, was left caring for the parents. Pierce, feeling dejected for having questions about his faith, left without answers or love.
A generation under fire
This questioning of faith is prevalent in the movie, especially among the college students. One leaves his faith because of painful childhood experiences with a failing church. Another tightropes her faith over the gravitational pull of social acceptance and the decadence of college life. Others, wanting to believe in something, find it more palatable to entertain conspiracy theories than to follow a religion that they find unloving. As one of the characters relates, “My generation knows what the church is against, but we don’t know what the church is for.” When Pastor Dave responds to a student’s fear of questioning her faith, he assures her that even John the Baptist wrestled with doubt and that “uncertainty led to truth.” Having an open dialogue for those with questions about the Christian faith becomes more pertinent on a college campus than a building called the church.
What’s the real fight?
I loved how the filmmakers explore Pastor Dave’s frailties. Feeling attacked and in despair, he sometimes reacts out of human passion rather than a WWJD (what would Jesus do) way. In his heart he knows, “God is good all the time,” but he struggles when he seems to be losing ground. Compound that with coming face-to-face with the person responsible for the death of his friend and forgiveness is a forgotten word.
With the nation watching to see how the Christian world responds, Pastor Dave seeks counsel from a pastor friend. He is reminded what the fight is really for: is it for justice or for peace? And is he fighting to win or lighting to win?
Called to be lights
Of course the main sentiment of the movie is not just fighting for the church, the right for religious freedom on campus, or for open doors of communication, but it is one of love. All these actions mean nothing if there is no love. The message wraps up when opposing sides come together as one in unity and peace — all while shining a light in the darkness.
Rated PG, Starring David A.R. White, John Corbett, Shane Harper, Ted McGinley, Samantha Boscarino, Mike C. Manning, Jennifer Taylor, and Tatum O’Neal.
*Opening weekend: March 30th Pre-release opportunities for groups 250 or more can be reserved at GodsNotDeadMovieEvents.com.
*”Be The Light-Share The Light” discussion guide and video series featuring author Dr. Rice Broocks for small groups can be found through GodsNotDead.PureFlix.com/resources .
Chris Alexander is a freelance writer and an aspiring humble servant of our Lord Jesus Christ. Contact her at Christine@MusicArtLove.com.