COLUMN: Strengthening conviction that God is not dead

At the heart of the story is a college student who has to defend his faith...

By John Thoutenhoofd

God’s Not Dead. It’s a recent movie release. It’s about a number of individuals who move from disbelief in God to faith in a God who is alive.  At the heart of the story is a college student who has to defend his faith in an anti-Christian philosophy class. Although I would say that there were too many plot lines for the time allotted, I found it intriguing.

The college student used reason to defend his view of God.  He addressed issues like the origin of the universe, the improbability of the mechanism of evolution, and the existential meaninglessness of philosophy. On the topic of the universe he concluded that both the atheist and the theist would find themselves asking the question, “so who created the universe”, or “why am I here?”

An atheist would say I don’t know and would put his faith in the pursuit of more knowledge as if more knowledge would eventually reveal a purpose and meaning to life. A Christian theist would default to his Bible and use it to reveal that God is the answer to both questions. Evolution would fall short as a mechanism for the existence of life simply because it fails to explain the complexity of all created things. His concluding thought is a challenge against the moral relativity of the atheist leaving atheism in a wandering search for meaning and purpose beyond the grave.

The movie included a number of people dealing with life issues which eventually lead them to faith or to deliberately reject the aliveness of God. They included a confident journalist who discovered that she had cancer. There was the Christian woman who had put God on hold because she was looking for acceptance in the wrong place. There was the classmate who was introduced to faith in Jesus because of the college presentation. Finally there was the “deathbed” conversion of the die-hard atheist. It might sound like a bit too much to pack into one short movie, and maybe that was so.  However, I’ve encountered each of these stories in my faith journey and they have been genuine discoveries from a God-less lifestyle to a God-filled reality.

I found the movie encouraging. However, there needs to be more.  The student comes across a quote from C.S. Lewis which he quotes, “Only a real risk can test the reality of belief.”  His risk was to take on the class presentation defending that God isn’t dead. The reality of his belief was tested. I am convinced that God puts us in risky situations regularly. Maybe to speak the truth. Maybe to pray with someone. Maybe to serve without being asked. Maybe to choose rightly. Or maybe to make an adventuresome life choice. Every time we respond to one of those risk-oriented challenges it affirms our faith and strengthens our conviction that God is not dead.