I recently watched "God's Not Dead" while were were still in the US. I had to see what all the talk was about. I have Christian friends who aren't even willing to watch it, and other Christian friends who absolutely loved it. I have to say that it pleasantly surprised me, but I have some serious criticisms as well. I think if you have been against watching it, you should watch it, so you can see how far Christian movies have come.
The theme of religious intolerance on campuses is surely a huge thing right now, and this movie was timely in that sense. Free speech and belief is under attack. I'm glad that Christians, like those who made this movie, are coming together to address this important issue. However, the setup of the movie seemed unrealistic, that a teacher would make students write down "God is dead" on paper. This seems like an unfair caricature. It would have been better to use a real life example (as far as I've been able to research, I can't find that this actually happened anywhere).
Christian movies have come a long way. I thought both the filming and the acting were great. Some scenes were very moving.
I appreciated that it was not as simplistic as I predicted it would be. I didn't expect this mainstream Christian movie to be talking about Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, and John Lennox for example. I appreciated that they were willing to draw on Christian scholars outside of mainstream evangelicalism and even outside of the US. And while it's unlikely a freshman college student would beat a philosophy professor in such a debate in real life, it was nice to see that they had him studying constantly. The student wasn't taking this task simply. He was studying and reading so many books that he was in danger of failing his other courses.
I also appreciated that the American pastor was learning good things from a visiting pastor from overseas. We need to do more of that!
But the biggest criticism I have of the movie is that the non-Christians are portrayed unrealistically negatively. This is upsetting and makes me not want to support movies like this. We can get across the beauty of conversion to Christ without making non-Christians all look like they are abusive, uncaring, and arrogant. The non-Christians in my life generally don't act like this. I couldn't relate to it, and I was offended by it. It's basically a straw-man. Of course we'd all want to be Christians if Christians are loving and everyone else is an egotistical jerk. But that's not the reality. The reality is that people will want to accept Christ because he is real, he is Lord, and for the forgiveness of sins. Of course, a part of our witness is our character, our love, and being a light to the world. But the non-Christians' flaws were over the top.
I also didn't appreciate the gimmick of evangelism it was promoting. Evangelism involves more than texting people that "God's not dead." Our job is to personally share the good news, not spam out text messages.
But all in all, I can see both why people appreciate it and why some people don't. Because I was able to see both sides perspectives' I found it interesting to watch. I think that God has used this movie to do a lot of good in people's lives. Watching it can give people courage to share their faith, give people willingness to suffer in our walk with Christ, and willingness to deeply study theology, philosophy, and science.