Rev. Christopher Chandler
If you haven’t seen the movie God’s Not Dead, see it this week and take your friends and family. Stacy and our girls thoroughly enjoyed the film when they saw it last weekend. The movie is an accurate portrayal of the challenges our young people face today and will no doubt continue to face in the future. As such, it will inspire and invigorate teenagers and adults alike. As Peter said, “in your hearts revere Christ as Lord and always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” Or as was said by Jude, “Dear friends…I urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.”
Challenges to a college student’s faith
The movie’s plot follows Josh, a beginning college freshman, who is confronted with a hostile, atheist professor in a required entry level philosophy class. The professor declares that “God” was a useful fairy tale to explain plagues but science and reason have bypassed superstition. Therefore, one of the requirements of his course is that students sign a written statement that “God is dead.” Only when they have agreed that God is dead, will the professor proceed to discuss the thinking of the great philosophers, all of whom he announces were atheists.
Out of a class of about eighty students, only Josh refuses to sign the confession. He tells the professor that he is a Christian and does not believe that God is dead. The angry professor attempts to bully him into signing. When that approach fails, the professor throws down the gauntlet: he will give Josh twenty minute segments at the end of the next three classes to prove that God is not dead. If Josh fails, he will fail the course, since the defense of his position will constitute 30% of his grade.
The movie’s trailer lists numerous court cases that link the kind of challenge that Josh faces to specific on-going free speech challenges on college campuses across the country. (Sue Cyre Theology Matters)
The movie offers a great challenge for the 21st century church. How will we as leaders, as congregations, prepare and equip our young people to defend their faith when it is challenged by the culture? An effective response will require thoughtful, methodical, and intentional teaching around topics of which we are at times uncomfortable or insecure addressing. There are good resources to help families and churches open up to these challenging conversations. Here are a few:
The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism by Tim Keller
The Truth Project