Fish and Cherries Productions

Creative content from a mad mind.


Reel Snippet – God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness

Don’t you mean, “A Light in THE Darkness?”

Summary: After refusing to turn over his sermons to the city, Reverend Dave (David A.R. White) spends some time in jail before coming back into the world. But his troubles are far from over as a brick hurled through the window of his church causes a gas explosion that kills his friend Reverend Jude (Benjamin Onganyo). This causes the higher ups at the college where the church is located to argue for the church’s demolition because it has become a beacon of controversy and violence in their eyes. In an effort to fight back, Dave calls on his estranged brother Pierce (John Corbett), who is a big shot attorney in Chicago. While the legal battle rages on, the moral battle inside Adam Ritcherson (Mike Manning), the student who threw the brick in the first place, rages just as hard. Tensions in the town and school are high, friendships are strained and thrown into question, and the whole affair is steamrolling towards a battle, and a crisis, of faith.

Review: God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness carries on the tradition of these movies as glimpses into Christian persecution complexes. Several times throughout the film, we’re told that freedom of religion is being quashed, particularly Christians… and it’s such crap. In fact, most of this movie’s logic is pure nonsense! The college’s claim to evict the church from their campus sites eminent domain… which to my knowledge is about local or state government seizing land, not public institutions like colleges. And here’s the thing: even if it is right, knowing where this movie’s viewpoints come from make it seem less credible.

Also returning is the problem of having too much going on, losing the streamlined nature of God’s Not Dead 2: He’s Just Hiding. Reverend Dave not only has to fight the school, but also reconcile with Pierce and deal with his own grief over losing Reverend Jude (who was my favorite character in the series, you wankers). At the same time, Adam has to deal with his own internal guilt and conflicts while being comforted by his girlfriend (Samantha Boscarino), who is going through her own crisis of faith. Josh Wheaton (Shane Harper), the protagonist of the first film, has a large role here, but I couldn’t tell you what he added to the plot. I know the Lord is supposed to move in mysterious ways, but that’s not supposed to be the case for the script.

There’s actually another problem with this film: everything is incredibly vague. About halfway through the movie, I realized that I didn’t know what the main goal was or how close any of the characters were to it. There were even some key details that were unclear for a long time. Until a few scenes after his introduction, I had no idea that Dave and Pierce were brothers and it took until the end credits before I realized that Adam’s girlfriend was named Keaton. It’s like there was so much going on that things just fell through the cracks and ultimately, it hurts the film.

You know, I’ve just noticed a worrying trend in these films about how they view educational institutions. In the first movie, Professor Raddison was this raging atheist that bullied and assaulted his students. The second movie had the school board practically throw Grace under the bus for answering a simple question. Here, the board of this college want to demolish a church for being attacked, which is the ultimate form of victim blaming if you ask me. It’s not surprising — academics get a lot of flack from the Religious Right because they cause people to question some of the more hateful rhetoric. But as educators are one of the most undervalued and underpaid members of our society (one which I was a part of), it’s hard not to be offended by the implications.

But much like the first movie, I’ve got to spoil the ending to talk about something truly jaw-dropping. Dare I say, it’s even mind-blowing.


At the end, there’s a big protest at the church with both Christians and Atheists (or at least people not totally of faith). Reverend Dave gets up in front of both crowds and announces that, after much reflection and prayer, that he will withdraw his claim and allow the church to be torn down for a student center to be built (the school board’s plan), asking only for a space for a healing group from the church to meet there. He then says that he plans to build a new church off campus grounds and will open the doors to everyone before passing out candles to both sides and asks to light them as a sign of healing. And they do. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. After three movies, the Christians in the God’s Not Dead series… were actually acting like Christians!

No one was converted. No faithless villain was destroyed and humiliated. Both sides came together in compromise and peace for an acceptable solution. In fact, there were numerous times in the movie that portrayed issues as more complex than previous movies, like Christians acting out in violence, the unfaithful showing support for Reverend Dave or showing some of the problems with the Church in the modern era and giving them some weight. It’s a level of self-awareness I haven’t seen in this series before and it was uplifting, so much so that when the characters dropped the series’ catch phrase at the end — “God is good all the time and all the time, God is good” — by Jove, I believed it! Granted, it still feels like it comes from a place of martyrdom, but I’ll take the victories where I can get them.


I found myself not getting as mad or offended at this movie as I did with the others and while I could chalk it up to the newly-found self-awareness or some improvement in filmmaking, there’s a more cynical possibility. We live in an age where anti-intellectualism and persecution complexes that disguise bigotry run rampant and in this climate, the God’s Not Dead series isn’t really special anymore. This definitely isn’t a good movie and even the points that amazed me can’t raise it from perdition, but it definitely wasn’t as bad as other films I saw this year. Faint praise? Perhaps, but I thought that churches were kept afloat by donations and charity.

Fun Tidbit: The license plate an ambulance driving away from the church reads “001 W4Y,” as in One Way, particularly the way of Jesus and all that. Let’s face it, these movies have never been subtle.

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