“I’d rather stand with God and be judged by the world, than stand with the world and be judged by God” – Grace Wesley
God’s Not Dead 2 introduces us to Grace Wesley, (played by Melissa Joan Hart), a high school teacher, who refuses to apologize for her faith, even when the school board takes her to court after what they consider to be be proselytizing.
The incident that started it all was her response to a question from a student, Brooke Thawley, (played by Hayley Orrantia), in regards to how Martin Luther King and Gandhi’s non-violent approach to peace can compare to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Much like God’s Not Dead, (which I reviewed here), this sequel revolves around the theme of standing strong for one’s faith and convictions. This time, instead of the teacher as the antagonist, the teacher is the persecuted. Instead of the class as jury, there is a real jury.
As we hear the arguments from both the plaintiff’s attorney (played by Ray Wise), and Grace’s attorney (Jesse Metcalfe), we are asked to consider one question: Is it faith at trial, or is our heroine?
Takeaways from the movie:
I think it is a timely movie with a timely message. Religious civil rights and freedoms are a big battleground right now. As such, God’s Not Dead 2 has been criticized as catering to a “persecution complex”, and in all honesty, I can see why people would say that. It is true that we as believers in the U.S. suffer very little for our faith compared to those in the Middle East. And yet, I believe that any awareness of the growing intolerance (as evidenced by 50 real life court cases at the end of the movie), is not crying wolf, but simply acknowledging written prophecy. (Matthew 10:22). It’s not as much about any present level of persecution, it’s about the gradual trend that society is taking, and recognizing it from the frame of reference of a Christ follower. Pastor Dave (played by David A.R. White) refers to this awareness when he said “If we sit by and do nothing, the pressure that we’re feeling today will mean persecution tomorrow”.
- I found the real-life witnesses used for the defense to be quite compelling, especially that of J. Warner Wallace, (Adjunct Professor of Apologetics at Biola University) who wrote “Cold Case Christianity”. In this work, he provides readers with ten principles of cold case investigations and utilizes these principles to examine the reliability of the gospel accounts. The approach of the defense was to prove the historic Jesus, logically and factually. Much was left with to audience to ponder, at least for this viewer.
- I could relate to the underlying theme of doubting one’s faith. Trisha LaFache is back to play the role of Amy Ryan, a reporter diagnosed with cancer. She is in remission now, but begins to wonder if her faith came about only because she was in crisis. There are two other characters in this film (played by Martin Yip and the aforementioned Hayley Orrantia) who are full of questions about faith. In light of the overriding courtroom drama, a parallel is drawn: Christ once asked the question, “who do you say that I am?”, and we must all answer it, both individually and as a society.
- I found the classroom conversation that brought the matter under question in the first place to be a bit far-fetched. A teacher gave a factual, historical answer to a student’s honest question. Even the scriptures quoted were done in context of a historical speech, and none of it even remotely sounded like proselytizing. It would have been more interesting to create a circumstance with more gray area, but I think we just need to take this movie as a caricature that was written to make a point; a simple sketch of real-life situations.
- At times, there were story lines that were incohesive and could have been developed more, or otherwise seemed to drop off for no reason. In one scene, Pastor David is threatened for not turning in his sermon transcript to city authorities. We never see what happens with that. God’s Not Dead 3 perhaps?
- While I don’t want to give away any spoilers, I will say that I found the closing argument to be confusing, in light of the no-nonsense approach of the previous arguments of the defense. It didn’t seem to fit into their decided strategy, and in my opinion unnecessary and probably not likely to be successfully had this been a real courtroom.
Have you ever been put in a position to defend your faith, even at the cost of your job, friends, or family?
Is it possible that the molecules of our brains somehow mix at just the right proportion to create emotion?
Do you ever ask yourself: If there is nothing more within the capsule we call our bodies, are we no more than puppets of flesh that shouldn’t even have a name? If our mind was just an evolution of the physical being of our brains, without an intelligent Creator, how can we trust our thoughts?
If we somehow evolved out of chaos, each molecule arranged to form our being, how is there the moral capacity to know right from wrong?
Do we just react to the elements that have randomly crossed the span of time we are on this Earth? If we are, how is it that we have free will?
If we are a mass of inhabitants on Earth that have multiplied by the millions, while we forever spin on a planet that came together by the forces of the universe to somehow sustain life
Why would it matter what we did with our lives?
If we have intelligence to design and build buildings, where and when was the existence of original intelligence?
If we can save lives with a scalpel, where and when was the existence of original skill?
If we can cultivate the earth for food, who made the seed? If you say the fruit, who made the fruit?
When and how was the first masterpiece of art or music ever crafted?
What or Who created creativity?
How do we know good and evil?
If there is no God, then what or who has brought on the origin of good? In the expanse of space and nothingness, where did kindness begin? How was benevolence conceived?
Where is the hope beyond destruction and heartache? Is there vindication of evil to satisfy our deep-seated need for justice and an end of the pain of this life?
If good and evil had an absolute beginning, won’t there be an absolute victory of one or the other? Can you or I utterly end this struggle? Won’t whatever or whoever orchestrated the beginning also have the capacity to bring about the end?
How is it that we can contemplate eternity?
In regards to all of the above, can an undefined “life-force” of energy possess good to instill compassion within man? Can it distribute intelligence? Can it bear emotion to be able to pass on a capacity to love and grieve, to be glad or to anger?
He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end.” Eccles. 3:11
I first read this a few months ago and knew I had to re-post it here. It’s a conversation between two babies in their mother’s womb. One thinks there is no life after delivery, the other believes there is a brand new, greater world to come.
It’s an analogy that draws a brilliant parallel to the conversations we have heard between atheists and believers for years.
It seems incomprehensible that a baby doesn’t even realize the existence of its own mother or the evidences of the next life. You want to yell back, “Why can’t you see it?!”, and yet I wonder if that is how mankind seems to heaven when we don’t believe.
I searched to find the author’s name but couldn’t find one. If you know who it is, please share it, I’ll add the credit.
In a mother’s womb were two babies.
One asked the other: “Do you believe in life after delivery?”
The other replies, “why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later….
“Nonsense,” says the other. “There is no life after delivery. What would that life be?”
“I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths.”
The other says “This is absurd! Walking is impossible. And eat with our mouths? Ridiculous. The umbilical cord supplies nutrition. Life after delivery is to be excluded. The umbilical cord is too short.”
“I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here.” the other replies, “No one has ever come back from there. Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery it is nothing but darkness and anxiety and it takes us nowhere.”
“Well, I don’t know,” says the other, “but certainly we will see mother and she will take care of us.”
“Mother??” You believe in mother? Where is she now?
“She is all around us. It is in her that we live. Without her there would not be this world.”
“I don’t see her, so it’s only logical that she doesn’t exist.”
To which the other replied, “sometimes when you’re in silence you can hear her, you can perceive her.” I believe there is a reality after delivery and we are here to prepare ourselves for that reality.
As a Christian, there is one element missing in this story. No, no one has physically come back from death to tell about it. No one, that is, except Jesus Christ…and what He did paved the way for anyone who trusts in Him to have eternal (spiritual) life.
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)