“God is good, all the time.”
“And all the time, God is good.”
The same dialogue echoes though the God’s Not Dead trilogy as Christians are tried in new ways. In the first movie, it is a student against a professor, in which a freshman student is made to prove the existence of God in front of his collages. Then the second movie involves a public school teacher against the state, where for the first time a teacher is taken to the supreme court to be made an example for speaking the name of Jesus in her classroom. Now in the next film, it’s the pastor himself that faces the ultimate test of faith.
Produced and starring David A. R. White, God’s Not Dead: A Light In Darkness, shows that even a pastor is human as Reverend Dave faces the ultimate backlash after being arrested at the end of the second film. Now, his church is burnt down. To throw more heat onto the scene, the university which has offered sanctuary to the church now wants the church gone, as they seek to lay blame for the disrupt in campus life and hate crimes. As far as acting goes, White exceptionally portrayed a pastor which we have watched in all three movies as he himself is now feeling the persecution that the student and teacher equally endured. White’s facial expression when he has his breakdown in the church as well as the encounter with the student responsible for the fire ultimately shows the humanistic characteristics that undoubtably all people of faith go through when all seems lost. It shows that even pastors aren’t exempt.
Likewise, the film conveys the same subtle message, that of whether or not to believe in God or not, allowing the audience to make their own decision in the end. This film, though, is slightly more Bible-based then the previous two, which one could deem is because of the attack on the pastor and the church. The setting and lighting are perfect in using colors to depict just how low humanity can get, but the multiple images of fire serve as both as destroyers as well as symbols of hope similar to a scene out of the second with the students showing their support for their teacher at her house. This very same scene repeats itself with the university students showing support of Rev. Dave.
The return of Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper) is also a nice touch as those loyal followers of the God’s Not Dead franchise, might have wondered what happened to the outspoken freshman who stood up to the overpowering agnostic professor. Harper’s addition as a student minister, showed the affect of the church on the campus as a new student, Meg (Jennifer Taylor) is introduced as an underlying story supplementing that of the church vs. state. We see a further development in Harper especially from the first film to this one where he has know transitioned from the freshman trying to prove God’s existence to a actual pastor figure who wants to reach others, which I can totally see. Harper’s performance in this one is just as strong and motivating as the student becomes the teacher. This essence is also reflected with Rev. Dave when he seems to question himself, as well as the new young girl who is in the same boat.
The God’s Not Dead franchise is based in large part by the Christian Musicians Newsboys, whose song, ‘God’s Not Dead,’ was performed in both the first two movies and one might expect another reprise, which didn’t happen. I found myself slightly disappointed by not hearing and seeing the band, but the music was prevalent in the background as the story continued.
Another difference between this one and the first two was the call that was made. Instead of showing the message “God’s Not Dead,” via text, there was a live communication at the end from Michael Tait, of The Newsboys as he closed out with a public message: that people ought to be the light. He also promoted an app which was created for the movie. I liked the notion, but showing the message after the credits, make it difficult to reach, especially since most people don’t stay til the end. While the message was powerful, they might have been better to still have the text at the end for those that didn’t wait all the way through.
Verdict: 5 out 5
God’s Not Dead: A Light In Darkness is a fitting close to a powerful franchise. It upheld the same standards as the first two, with more emphasis on a pastor’s point of view and of course the call to “be the light” was still there. The religious sequel came out in theaters March 30th and is currently playing in a theater near you.