God’s Not Dead – My Take

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Right off the bat, let me just say that this is one of the better “Christian” movies I’ve seen.  It had a great story line and had a clear message.  Unlike some other films in this genre it presented Christ and the Gospel clearly without sounding forced and preachy.

Let’s get a few things out of the way.

I’ve taken philosophy classes, read both atheistic and theistic philosophy but spend most of my time in the study of Theology.  Philosophy literally means: Philo (Love) sophy (wisdom). Theology means: Theos (God) logy (study of), “the study of God.”  I’m a Christian and I’m a Pastor, so I believe Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. (Proverbs 9:10 ESV).”  So for me Theology is the highest form of philosophy.  Now you know my bias.

Next I will concede that a college freshman would not be able to debate an experienced college professor.  The level of experience and knowledge on the subject just makes this impractical.  As a side note I enjoyed “debating” my philosophy professor in college, he also was my Theology professor.  Let’s just say he’d heard all of my brilliant arguments for years and knew how to put me in my place.

Also, while possible, I doubt that any College professor would coerce a student into signing a paper denying the existence of a God, or a “debate” being set up in this format.  Do some Atheistic philosophy professors attack Christianity and theism in the classroom?  Yes they do, some border on militant, some are militant against Christianity.  There are even documented cases of this hostility.  You can click here to view some legal cases involving religious liberty on college campuses.  The plot of this movie was chosen because it made a better, faster, and more exciting story.  All movies do this so get over it.  (Tom Bombidil anyone?!)

Let’s Get Down to Business

Believing in God doesn’t make you an idiotic redneck who is scared of learning anything.  Not believing in God doesn’t make you stupid either. Although, “the fool says in his heart, ‘there is no God'” – Psalm 14:1 (sorry, I couldn’t resist).  I’ve met very smart people with “alphabet soup” behind their names from prestigious universities, are tenured scientists, and devout Christians.  I’ve also met some fairly ignorant people who are also devout Christians.  And I can say the same for Atheists.  I think we’d get a lot further in our conversations if both theists and atheists would stop stereotyping each other as idiots.  Maybe this is just my bias, but it often feels theists are more often portrayed as the idiots and atheists are the “intellectuals.”

In the movie, Professor Radison says, “most of the most devoted atheists were once Christians.”  I wonder why?  Maybe it’s just that our culture has been primarily influenced by the Judeo-Christian worldview.  But I’ve never heard of a former Muslim who is a militant atheist, or a former Hindu who is a militant atheist.  That’s something to think about.  Radison then tells the student, Josh Weaton, about losing his mother to cancer when he was 12.

If you are an Atheist and are reading this, I would honestly like to know your story on how you became an Atheist.  Please share in the comments.

I’m a Christian, so obviously we disagree.  I ask for your story not to tear you down or have a debate that leads to name calling.  I’m curious.  From my bias and experience, most of the Atheists I’ve met became Atheists because of some trauma or tragedy.  That has little to do with “scientific proofs” and more to do with emotion than “facts.” What happened?  This movie paints a picture that Atheists, especially those who are “former Christians” are actually so angry at God, or hurt from some past trauma that they decide that God simply cannot exist.  I find that an interesting concept.  There seems to be a correlation, so is this true for you?

For the Christians, you can have all the clever arguments in the world for the existence of God and the truth of Christianity and still be a complete Jerk.

I enjoy the mental exercise of defending Christianity.  This is called Apologetics in the Christian world.  Apologetics is not apologizing for you beliefs, but goes to the Greek root which means “to give a defense.” I enjoy science, and like learning.  For me it’s very important to know not only what I believe, but why I believe it.  But as the Apostle Paul says “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-2 ESV).”  Christians should be defined by love.  I don’t believe that people are “won over” to Christianity by clever arguments for the existence of God, I think they are won over by love, compassion, and forgiveness.  The Holy Spirit brings about change and salvation in a person’s life, not you not me, we are just called to bear witness.

I think the study of Apologetics is more for believers than for non-believers.  Faith is a fickle thing, look at the life of Peter, he had enough faith in Jesus to walk on water with him, if only for a moment.  Then he denied even knowing Jesus, after all he had seen all Jesus’s miracles.  I’ve seen and experienced Jesus do powerful things, I’ve even devoted my life to teaching others about Jesus Christ, but there are times when my faith is weak.  Apologetics, studying all the evidence for God, and seeing his Majesty as Creator and King of this universe builds up my faith.

I share this verse with my youth often: “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”(1 Peter 3:15 ESV).  There are three things that I like to point out in this verse.  The first is that Jesus is Lord.  Jesus is the ruler of our lives as his disciples and as Christians.  Second, we need to be prepared to share our faith and hope in Jesus.  This means knowing what we believe as Christians and why.  This involves sharing the Gospel, and the field of Apologetics.  The Greek root for apologetics is the word translated “to make a defense” in this verse. The third thing to notice, is the emphasis on both gentleness and respect.  If we’re not going to be respectful and loving to people we have no business calling ourselves Christians.  There is a big difference in speaking the truth of scripture and disagreeing with someone’s chosen beliefs and lifestyle, and being hateful, belittling, and unloving.

Jesus came to save you from your sin

To the Atheist reading this, to the agnostic, to the whatever you are.  I believe that there is a God that created this entire universe. I believe that He created mankind in his image and likeness.  I believe that God gave mankind freewill to obey him or disobey him, and that we chose disobedience (ie sin).  I believe that sin has broken this world, sin is the root cause for death and all the evils that are in this world.  I believe that God is just and will punish sin.  I believe that God is loving and merciful and offered up his only Son, Jesus Christ to die on a Cross in your place and my place to pay the price for our sin.  I believe that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and is alive and is ready and able to forgive our sin, and give us a new life if we ask him.  I believe that no matter how screwed up you think you are, the power of Jesus can save you, all you have to do is ask him.  This is what I believe

GOD’S NOT DEAD

[It’s 1:40am, I don’t feel like proof reading this, I’ll fix any typos tomorrow. Forgive me]

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Categories: Apologetics, Theology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

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14 thoughts on “God’s Not Dead – My Take

  1. good god post……………#wordpress!

  2. So there is a lot of content to mince down into a comment. This may not be short, but I am fascinated by your tone, your approach to this conversation, and your conviction.

    You showed me yours, so I will show you mine: I am an atheist. My blog says more about me than I possibly could here, but I have my reasons. My father was apparently ordained and his father was a small community preacher. My mom told me all of this prior to her passing, ’cause dad never brought it up. I would stay over at friend houses on Saturday and that was my impression of church then following morning. Fast forward, on my mother’s death bed, when I and my siblings accepted the inevitable and agreed to ‘her’ request, we asked that hospice be administered.

    Basically, hospice is end-of-life care. Dad, being of a former generation, knew hospice as suicide. My brother, sister and I spent weeks next to mom as she deteriorated and suffered. In those final days, she couldn’t speak. Objectively, she would have died in days from starvation, all we did by allowing or signing off on the ‘hospice’ was to let her go a day or two sooner.

    Dad never mentioned religion, apparently he had issues he wouldn’t share, but he wouldn’t be there with us when we agreed to force her death, rather than let a nature death take place.

    Dad rejected religion, but he never really was an atheist. I went home afterwards and he was sitting at the kitchen table. He was lost…30 years of dependence upon another person, a backstory that he wouldn’t tell his own sons, and the pain of the death of a loved one.

    I sat, didn’t speak for a while and finally he asked, what happened? I said, she was asleep and the monitors stopped. That was it. No fireworks, no parade. It is what it is.

    I asked why he couldn’t stay and be there too. With his face in his hands, a man I never saw cry, said it was suicide.

    If two more days of misery after a life a great consideration for other is what Jesus wants, then I am not your guy. My dad gave up the faith before he ever met me, but in the moment when religion is supposed to be helpful, if was hurtful.

    Faith would have left my mom to suffer a couple extra days, the choice of my siblings and I, which we thought the more humane for her not for us, caused my father additional pain.

    What is this faith you speak of that adds to the trials of our lives but offers nothing in return?

    I am a grad who majored in philosophy. I am an atheist. I think the most probable truth is that there is no god based on my experience and my appreciation for our collective understanding of the natural world.

    I was an atheist before my mom got sick. We talked and she was a good Jesus lover. She didn’t care. I think she loved me more than Jesus. Before she shut down, I prayed with her while I held her hand and told her that everything was going to be okay.

    I don’t mind religion for the good of an individual. What I mind is religion that promotes the hatred of others. Jesus is not shy in the New Testament about saying that he will slaughter me and people like me. Not because I am bad, but because I don’t believe. He is a jealous character, and that to me sounds more like a human author than a divine author.

    This is way to much to digest in a single story, but I know your intellectual methods for the promotion of Christianity, I am wondering how you defend the Bible specifically the New Testament where Jesus is not really the good guy that most mainstream Christians think he is said to be.

    Sure, he healed a couple people, but he promised more slaughter, and more death upon anyone, no matter their morality, just for not taking that book serious.

    If I ever met a god, or Jesus specifically, I would be a Christian immediately. I am not fixed in my atheism. That said, no evidence, I am reading ancient man’s ideas and metaphysics that really just seem silly.

    Even if I wanted to join a church, I would be a wolf in sheep’s clothing because I could never take that text seriously. I need more evidence.

    • Wow. Thank you for sharing and your honesty. There’s so much to look at in your post, and so many different things to talk about.

      Feeling that Hospice is suicide, is something that I’ve never heard of, but I can see how that generation would say that. My grandfather and I were very close, he died from Alzheimer’s a few years Ok. Watching him suffer for years as his body and mind broke down, and watching my grandmother(is wife of over 55 years) struggle to take care of him, was heartbreaking. Hospice was eventually called and he died, we chose as a family to forego any medical treatment at the end, other than pain medicine. When he died I was relieved, I told my family when I spoke at his funeral that I was glad his suffering was over.

      My wife and I have talked and neither one of us wants to be on life support. And recently one of our Deacons at church had his kidneys shut down. Due to his age and other health problems he wasn’t a candidate for a transplant. He chose not to do dialysis, and died a few days later. I’d hardly call that suicide.

      For me the hope that I have in Christ, allows me to let go of this life. Why fight so hard to put off an inevitable death, If we have the hope of the resurrection and a new life eternal without all the suffering of this world? For what it is worth I’m sorry for your loss.

      As you know, there are many different Christian Denominations. (Basically different flavors of Christianity). We have different interpretations on different things. It sounds like you come from more of the extreme fundamentalist flavor. Sometimes people add things to the Bible that aren’t there, Sometimes people take things away, and sometimes people make Christianity more about rules (don’t drink, don’t smoke, etc), than about Jesus.

      To go further, not every Christian is at the same level of knowledge in their faith. In my Theology classes we talked about “Folk Theology” – basically untrained in theology, but have their own ideas based on superstition and culture. This is where most of the “Christian” thoughts on suicide come from, not the Bible. Then you have “Laity Theology” – ie, people who attend church, and Sunday School, “Ministerial Theology” – those formally trained in Theology for the purposes of leading a church, and “Academic Theology” – your college and seminary professors. The idea is that “everyone is a Theologian” in one form or another, for example your stance as an Atheist is a Theological position more so than a philosophical one. Your father, sadly seemed to be using “folk theology” based more in Mid-evil Roman Catholic teaching, than what the Bible actually teaches.

      I wouldn’t base my belief, or unbelief in Christ on an incomplete or simplistic understanding of Christianity.

      As for the second part of your comment. THANK YOU. I get so tired of Atheists, Non-Christians, Budhists, and their dogs (ok, cats, everyone knows dogs are Christians), going on and on with the “Jesus was a good moral teacher” line. You are right, Jesus said a lot about judgement and hell, for those who reject him.

      What’s my response? There’s so much for a comment box. I’d like to point you in the direction of a man named Ravi Zacharias (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ravi_Zacharias), he is a Christian Theologian/Philosophy/Apologist. He travels the world defending Christianity against legitimate questions such as yours.

      Why would a loving God send Good people to Hell? This boils down to, “Who gets to decide what “good” is?” People like Stalin, Mao, and Fred Phelps probably thought they were “moral/good” people. Americans view George Washington as a hero, the British view him as a traitor. In my mind morality is completely relative unless you have a “Moral Law Giver.”

      My belief as a Christian is that mankind broke God’s moral law. Since mankind was the ruler of this world, and the idea of “corporate responsibility” This breaking of God’s law lead to sin, death, and fundamentally broke this world. God being just, and allowing us freewill left us to our self-imposed fate. Much like someone who commits a crime is judged and convicted and sent to prison. The point is that a just God must punish sin, just as a good judge much punish criminals. In Christianity, the Love of God won out so he sent his Son, Jesus to die on a cross to take our punishment upon himself. God gives us the freewill to either accept Jesus’s sacrifice on our behalf and receive a pardon for our sin, or reject it and receive our just punishment. As Neo says, “This issue is choice.”

      You can see the statements of Jesus as offense, or accept them. The issue comes down to, not so much do we interpret this is kind or unkind, but rather is it true? If it’s true then it’s everything, if it’s false them I’m wasting my life.

      This comment is getting much to long. I tried to be brief, but briefness can come across as rudeness, I have no intention of coming across as rude or insensitive.

      Thank you for sharing your pain, and thank you for your honesty.
      Robert

  3. If you’re looking for deconversion stories, they’re easy to come by. One of the best I’ve seen is here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLA0C3C1D163BE880A. I touch on my own story in some of my writing, but I was not traumatized, only a bit confused like most high schoolers. Long story short, I wanted to better understand my role as a Christian, I set out to read the entire Bible, and when I finished I was no longer a believer. Just that simple. The “angry at God” and is a bit of a stereotype. There might be some cases where it is true, but more often it’s his followers we have a problem with, for some of the same reasons you cite.

    Militant ex-Muslims do exist. It’s just that the Muslim population in the US is so small by comparison so you see fewer of them. And those that deconvert in other countries run the risk of being killed for it, so they are often less vocal.

    I’d been curious about the movie you mention, not because I have any desire to see it, but because I wondered if it was anything more than feel-good propaganda for Christians. At least in the preview the non-believers are rather one-dimensional and universally rude, so the setup seems to be the brave Christian standing up for himself when everyone else is against him. If you put yourself in the position of a non-Christian, how would you have found the movie?

    • “If I put myself in the position of a Non-Christian what would I have thought about the Movie?” I don’t really know. Like I said in my post, I watch this movie and wrote this post with a clear Christian Bias.

      I probably wouldn’t have liked it. The movie portrayed the antagonist as someone so angry at God that he sought to destroy the faith of others. You could almost say that it’s like a kid pretending that someone they’re mad at doesn’t exist (Like when Howard is pretending Lenard is “dead to me” on TBBT). You’re right it’s a stereotype, but most stereotypes are for a reason. I don’t think it was a movie just to be a “Feel Good Christian Movie.” Those make me want to bang my head against a wall.

      The story overall seemed believable enough, I don’t think an Atheist will watch the movie and become a Christian before leaving the theater, It might give you a few things to think about though. These movies are more to build up a Christians faith than to convince non-christians.

      I’d love for you to watch it and give your opinion on it.

      • I’ll probably watch it when it hits DVD. The “angry at God” trope is one that I encounter so often from Christians that I have no desire to spend $10 to inflict it on myself. It certainly does little to engender thoughtful conversation.

  4. The “God gave freewill” argument only works with people who are talking about suffering made from cruelty.I ‘d be interested to hear how your apologetics deals with all those killed bereaved and injured by earthquake volcano, tsunami, hurricane and the like. How can a loving God allow this to happen?

    PS, I’m a Christian too, I might blog my response sometime.

  5. Ignostic Atheist

    My story is quite unimpressive. I grew up in church and was always the smart one, able to recite biblical information at a moments notice, but I couldn’t find an emotional handhold. I’ve never had a religious experience, none of that “love crashing down” or “limitless awe” business. Over time, I went from being wholly believing as a child, to skeptical of certain nasty and undesirable aspects of the mythology, to believing in a deistic form of a god, to the conclusion that there isn’t any god at all. I searched for a reason to believe for years, inching ever closer to the edge, but I never did find it. During this time I was unexposed to the prominent atheist thinkers we all know and love. I did not seek them out until I actually considered myself to be one. In retrospect, doing so would have certainly ushered my conversion along, but it does add a little twist to the otherwise unimpressive story: I became atheist without any outside motivation to do so, while seeking out evidence for the existence of a god, specifically the one I grew up with and that the rest of my family understood to be true.

    But he never showed up. Eventually, the silence of a deity in my life, coupled with an ever stronger grasp of science, allowed me to understand the deterministic nature of reality, which was the final leg holding me up in what small sliver of belief remained. There is no reason to think that we aren’t simply conscious passengers through life, doing as physics will dictate. It doesn’t bother me that to most people, this conception is extraordinarily unintuitive. It took a lot of thought to understand it myself. But, know this: the conception of a loving god that would punish me for all eternity for using my reason to come to the conclusion that he doesn’t exist strikes me as just as unintuitive.

    If there is a god, then I am the way he made me.

  6. We are going to see it today 🙂

  7. Reblogged this on Robert Dailey and commented:

    I’m a Youth Minister and this links back to my blog that deals primarily with Christianity, and Church Ministry. GOD’S NOT DEAD – the Movie came out yesterday and I took some of our youth to see it. This is my review. It’s a good movie and you should go see it.

  8. Just came back from the movie, pulled a few heart strings for sure. At this point I believe the title of my message tomorrow is going to be “God’s Not Dead”.

    Very well put together I thought.

  9. Pingback: Where is God? | Small Town Youth Minister

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