Dave Hill is co-pastor of a thriving, historical church that’s a lot like any other congregation today. It stands firm on God’s Word. It reaches out to the downtrodden. It provides hope for a lost world.
Sunday after Sunday, Hill tells his members that “God is good, all the time,” but lately, he’s struggled with his faith.
Those doubts began creeping in when his co-pastor and good friend was killed in an accident. Then, the church building caught fire and was condemned. Soon thereafter, the university where the church resides decided to boot the congregation from campus, all in the name of eminent domain.
Pastor Dave wants to fight the college in court – with the help of his atheist attorney brother – but that only adds to his stress when divided residents start picketing the church.
“I think it’s time for Christians to stand up for themselves,” he says.
The growing controversy has made him famous and placed him on the talk-show circuit, but he has begun wondering: Is the legal battle helping or hurting the cause of Christ?
Pure Flix’s God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness (PG) opens in the theaters this weekend, picking up where God’s Not Dead 2 left us: with Pastor Dave (David A.R. White) being held in contempt of court for not handing over his sermon transcripts to the government in a separate legal battle.
Here are five things parents should know:
1. It’s different from its predecessors. Even though A Light in Darkness is the third movie in the God’s Not Dead series, it has a different feel and message. It is more evenhanded in its portrayal of atheists, thanks to the back-and-forth between Pastor Dave and his brother, Pearce (played admirably by John Corbett – My Big Fat Greek Wedding). The movie also has an ending that likely can be embraced by both sides – something that could not be said of the first two films.
2. It’s the best God’s Not Dead yet. I didn’t care for the first God’s Not Dead film but enjoyed God’s Not Dead 2. I liked the latest one even more. The interaction between the two brothers is entertaining. The legal drama is engrossing, too.
3. It’s family-friendly. It contains no language and minimal violence. One character punches another one in the face. They roll to the ground before the fight ends. A brick is tossed into a house. Later, we see another character punch someone in the face. We see a character arrested and in jail. The film contains no sexuality but does follow a pair of romances. A college student kisses another student on the cheek. They eventually break up. We see a college girl swim in an indoor pool in a one-piece swimsuit.
4. The acting is impressive. Corbett is stellar. White does a nice job, too. Ted McGinley (Do You Believe?) and Oscar winner Tatum O’Neal (The Runaways) also turn in solid performances in their roles as university officials
5. It delivers a much-needed message. Our culture thrives off divisiveness. Television’s top-rated talk shows are the ones where one side blasts the other side. It’s the same on radio, too. It seems everywhere we turn – from our email inbox to our Facebook timeline – people are trying to drive “clicks” by angering and dividing us.
Are humility and unity a thing of the past? God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness tells us they’re not. That’s good news, because Scripture commands Christians to “count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3) and the church to have “unity of mind” (1 Peter 3:8) with “no divisions” (1 Corinthians 1:10).
Of course, we also are to “stand firm in the Lord” (Philippians 4:1) with courage and strength (1 Corinthians 16:13). We’re not to compromise God’s Word.
How, then, do you find the balance? Perhaps this popular-but-anonymous quote sums it up best: “in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” In the newest God’s Not Dead, we see that on display.
Entertainment rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 4.5 out of 5.
Rated PG for thematic elements including some violence and suggestive material.