This new release from Pure Flix, directed by Harold Cronk, is a very watchable courtroom drama, with high production values and excellent acting. With great skill, a number of themes have been woven together, in order to provide what is both an enjoyable movie and a thought-provoking piece of Christian apologetics.
Reflecting on more than 20 cases against Christians that have gone through the American court system in recent years, it presents us with the fictional case of a state school teacher (Melissa Joan Hart) who runs into trouble when she talks about Jesus in the classroom.
The courtroom provides the opportunity to have the apologists Lee Strobel and former homicide detective J. Warner Wallace take the stand as expert witnesses. We also have brief cameos from Gary Habermas and Rice Brooks on a show with Senator Mike Huckabee.
On the matter of cameos and similar elements, older viewers will no doubt appreciate the role played by Pat Boone, now 82 years old. And maybe younger viewers will appreciate the presence of rock band Newsboys, who perform the song My God’s not dead.
It is a product of the Arminian, decisionistic-tending side of evangelicalism and thoroughly committed to evidentialist apologetics. The film makes as strong a case for Christ as one can imagine.
As for it making a dent in the world it is aimed at, Rotten tomatoes described it (not entirely unfairly) as ‘every bit the proselytising lecture promised by its title. God’s Not Dead 2 preaches ham-fistedly to its paranoid, conservative choir’; while Bill Zwecker of the Chicago Sun-Times felt that, while the underlying issues presented in the film are relevant in today’s world, it lacks subtlety and ‘comes off as a two-hour, jazzed-up movie version of a sermon’.
As for the idea that Christians are not really under pressure in the public square, that is certainly not the case. It may be that this film will do most good in raising awareness of this fact.