The tag line for the latest Captain America film is “In heroes we trust.” That supposedly clever play on the national motto, “In God we trust,” is pathetic. Heroes – both real and of the comic book variety – are of great cultural value. Real heroes are role models and God-sends for each of us. Yet gods they are not, and messiahs they are not. Heroes are rare and wonderful, but there is one Messiah.
Even so, God the Son is always looking for heroes who will acknowledge Him before men so He can acknowledge them before the Father. He inspired a great model of what He seeks in last summer’s film, God’s Not Dead.
The plot line focuses on a university course in Philosophy. The professor begins the first day of class with an arrogant declaration that there is no God, and that only a fool would think otherwise. He passes out a sheet of paper to every student and demands that they write “God is dead” and sign their names – in order to save the time they might debate the question with. One student says he cannot sign it; he believes Jesus is His Lord, and he will not dishonor Him. The professor challenges the student to defend God’s existence in three twenty-minute segments over the next couple of weeks and tells him he will flunk the class if he fails. The student – reluctantly – accepts the challenge. When the professor later confronts the student privately, he admits that he hates the God who did not heal his mother of cancer and promises to destroy the student’s career in retaliation for daring to take on the professor.
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There have been many complaints about this film and its alleged lack of realism from many secular quarters. They are straw men and should be dismantled one at a time – hopefully without spoiling the surprises in the film for those who have not yet seen it.
Atheists say that real atheists do not deny God’s existence because they hate Him; they simply do not believe He exists. While I don’t presume to speak for all who deny God, I know too many atheists just like the professor to accept this as anything but self-justification.
Amateur psychiatrists ridiculing the dementia patient who gains her faculties just long enough to speak eloquently to her wayward son about God’s love don’t know many dementia patients; such things do happen, and I have seen them. Conservatives who think business tyros are not that crass are obviously unfamiliar with the muck at the top of many pyramids. Progressives who claim that students have a right to free speech on campus, and that professors would not hold students hostage to pet issues, should review the dozens of cases cited at the end of the film – these are just pending cases of the Alliance Defending Freedom, one of many non-profit legal foundations that defend the First Amendment as their principal activity – or they could check in with me. I experienced this kind of discrimination – bullying – at San Diego State University more than forty years ago, and it is much more prevalent today.
Anyone who finds the moment-of-death conversion to faith in one of the atheist characters non-credible should talk with me – or any Bible believer who has tended many people at this moment. And some of the pious among us should get comfy with the reality that these people really do go to heaven – whatever they have done on this planet.
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Only one aspect of the film struck me as unrealistic. When the student puts his proof to the test of democracy – per agreement with the prof – every student in class stands to affirm their conviction despite the possible repercussions to their class grade. The truth is that most American Christians lack the courage to make such a gesture, and there are real consequences for cowardice. Jesus says He will acknowledge before His Father those who acknowledge Him before men; those who deny Him will be likewise denied per Matthew 10:32-3. But the consequence of courage is joy and peace in this life–and an incomparable retirement plan.
God already sent the only Messiah we need. But He is looking for heroes, and our culture needs the kind depicted in God’s Not Dead.
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