God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness makes a great point: God is Still Not Dead!

Written by Edwin L. Carpenter on . Posted in Local

Capture11This third film in the God's Not Dead series takes a different approach this time around. The first two in the series focused on fighting for one's religious beliefs and freedoms. This one is more about forgiveness and loving people, even when they don't agree with your view of God. God's Not Dead: A Light in Darkness deals with a story about the struggles between today's liberal society and the church. Pastor David Hill (David A.R. White) has been at St. James church since he was a kid and his dad pastored the church. Now, he is the pastor. He is challenged by Hadleigh University and his friend, Thomas Ellsworth (Ted McGinley), who represents the college. Ellsworth and the college want to enforce an eminent domain policy and seize the land the church is built on in order to add on to their college buildings. Pastor Dave isn't ready to leave, and he refuses to back down—at first. Normally a mild mannered man, Pastor Dave winds up in jail.

Pastor Dave calls on his attorney, his brother Pearce (John Corbett), to fight the college. One problem though-- Pearce has strayed from his early Christian faith and wonders if the college shouldn't be built in place of the church. But he stands alongside his brother and brings a lawsuit against the college. Ironically, the students of the college want the church removed and see Pastor Dave, the man that is willing to minister to them, as the enemy. "We don't want you here!" they tell him. Pastor Dave remembers that the church was once open 24 hours around the clock for those with spiritual needs. "Now," he says sadly, "we have armed security guards to protect us from the people we're supposed to be ministering to."

A tragedy occurs when a young man who had a bad experience with a church when his mother went through a divorce throws a brick through the church window at night. The brick strikes a gas knob, a gas leak ensues and the result is the death of the church's co-pastor, Jude (Benjamin A. Onyango), after he turns on an electric light which ignites an explosion. Pastor David is crushed by the loss of his co-pastor and friend.

The film concentrates on several challenges the characters face, including—and most importantly—the inward struggles. The young man who threw the brick through the window, Adam (Mike C. Manning), can't rid himself of the guilt of the death of Pastor Jude, an innocent man. Adam's Christian girlfriend, Keaton (Samantha Boscarino), had broken off the relationship with him before the deed now, after he confesses his crime to her, attempts to help him. He struggles with whether or not to turn himself in. Pastor Dave struggles with anger issues, toward his friend, Thomas, for standing against him and the church. And he has anger issues with Adam over the death of Pastor Jude. In fact, he even attacks Adam at one point and soon after regrets it. The point is well made—even pastors are human.

Two powerful themes are potently portrayed in the picture: forgiveness, and the thought that "God is good—all the time, and all the time—God is good," even when we don't understand the struggles of life and things don't make sense. In addition, a spiritual point is made: we need to give God time to work his plan. This is the third in a series of films with the theme that God is not dead. The movie provokes strong thinking on timely issues—do we fight for our Christian faith? Should we forgive those who have wronged us, even challenging our faith? Is there an alternative plan we can choose when we are backed into a corner? Do we need the help of others? It would seem that in order to navigate the stormy seas of our lives—we need other people. And what do we do when God seems to be on vacation? Is God good, even when things are bad? This movie takes a serious look at these questions and is to be commended for it. Watch for the new name Pastor David's church is given at the conclusion. It is very appropriate. God is still with us when things go bad. As the movie vividly portrays—God is still not dead! If you haven't seen it yet, I recommend you do.
Author Information
Edwin L. Carpenter
Edwin L. Carpenter is a pastor and long-time film reviewer for Dove.org He has a bachelors degree in Writing from Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Mich. He was raised in Brighton, Mich., by Christian grandparents and has a twin brother, Bill, who is also an ordained minister. Ed and his wife Jackie have one child, Daniel, who is newly married to Kristen and loves sports.

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