There’s an old joke in Christian circles that goes like this: Someone had written in graffiti the famous quote from the 19th century atheist philosopher: “God is dead. Signed, Nietzsche.” Underneath it, someone else wrote: “Nietzsche is dead. Signed, God.”
There’s a new movie out called, “God’s Not Dead.” I hadn’t heard about it, except for a word of praise from Ted Baehr, publisher of Movieguide, who provides a biblical critique of films.
My wife and I enjoyed the movie very much. What I found fascinating was the spontaneous applause from the audience. It was unusual. This wasn’t in the Bible belt. It was in cosmopolitan Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
The movie stars Kevin Sorbo, who played Hercules on TV. He plays the antagonist as an atheist college professor who teaches philosophy. He has his 80 students write “God is dead” on a piece of paper which they are to sign and pass in. But one Christian student can’t do this.
So the professor decides to force the student to present his case for God convincingly before him and the class in later presentations or suffer a bad grade.
The protagonist is a student named “Josh Wheaton.” I couldn’t help but feel that the name was a cross between Josh McDowell, a Christian apologist who’s worked in campus ministry for years, and Wheaton College (my alma mater, for grad school).
The plot may sound far-fetched. But not far from where I write this, about a year ago, a professor told his students to write the name Jesus on a sheet of paper; then to stand up, put the paper on the ground, and stomp on it. One brave student refused to do it and was threatened with a bad grade. Thankfully, as word got out, the university apologized for the whole assignment.
At the end of “God’s Not Dead,” during the credits, there is a scroll with brief names of legal case after case, where Christian students stood up to the prevailing indoctrination toward atheism or toward a politically correct view on traditional morality and fought back.
The legal group representing these courageous students was the ADF, the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Phoenix-based group that was founded in the early 1990s by a handful of Christian leaders, including the late D. James Kennedy, my long-time pastor.
It’s not foreordained that the university has to belittle faith. After all, it was Christianity that gave birth to the phenomenon of the university in the first place. And virtually all the great universities were founded by Christians for Christian purposes. Just ask Rev. John Harvard.