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‘God’s Not Dead’ film highlights importance of strong faith, power of gospelcomment (0)

March 27, 2014

By Leann Callaway

‘God’s Not Dead’ film highlights importance of strong faith, power of gospel

While presenting a compelling storyline with great conviction, the movie “God’s Not Dead” displays the power of the gospel by emphasizing the importance of standing up for Christ.

Produced by Pure Flix Entertainment, a Christian film company based in Scottsdale, Ariz., this movie opened nationwide March 21 and features a star-studded cast including Kevin Sorbo (“Hercules,” “Soul Surfer”), Shane Harper (“Good Luck Charlie,” “High School Musical 2”), Dean Cain (“Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman”) and David A.R. White (“Evening Shade”).

Reality stars Willie and Korie Robertson of the hit TV series “Duck Dynasty,” along with the award-winning Christian rock band The Newsboys, make special appearances in the film.

The plot focuses on Harper’s character, a college freshman named Josh Wheaton who is taking a philosophy course taught by Sorbo’s character, Professor Radisson.

On the first day of class, the young college student finds himself at a crossroads after being required to sign a paper stating that “God is dead” to receive a passing grade. Refusing to sign the declaration, Wheaton is forced to confront another challenge in order to remain in the class and defend the existence of God in a series of debates with Radisson.

“My character, Josh, really goes through a journey where his faith, courage and reliance on God are tested,” Harper explained. “At first, he thinks he might not deal with it and kind of turns away from it. As he is feeling convicted, he starts talking with different people who encourage him to stand up for what he believes to be true in the context of this classroom and in his life because God is very real to him.”

As the research for this controversial presentation intensifies and spreads across the campus, a journey of spiritual awakening and soul-searching is revealed among several characters in surprising ways.

Unlike the characters they play in the film, Sorbo and Harper both grew up attending church regularly with their family and committed their lives to Christ at an early age.

Sorbo still remembers the night he surrendered his life to the Lord while attending a Billy Graham Crusade in St. Paul, Minn. “My faith has always been part of my life, and I grew up going to a Lutheran church with my family,” Sorbo said. “As I started entering my teenage years, I began to question things I was being taught but I was never a nonbeliever or questioning the existence of God.

“When I was in the seventh grade, I went to a Billy Graham event and I was really quite mesmerized by what he had to say,” he said. “I went up afterward to meet with one of the counselors, then we talked and prayed.”

On screen and off, Harper and Sorbo are reminded of the missions field that is before them daily and desire to use their platform for a greater purpose.

“My faith gives purpose for everything I do,” Harper said. “Obviously you want to be successful to be able to make a living and do what you love, but it goes beyond that. I’m in the entertainment industry because I feel like it’s what I’m called to do. There’s a reason behind it and a bigger purpose than just to make money or feel content. My work community and the city that I’m in, these are the people that I love and value. This is my culture and my community.

“It’s not just a set and my co-workers for the day, these are people that God has allowed in my path — to share His love with, to serve and be a blessing to,” he said. “My desire is to live for someone greater than myself and my faith in Christ alone brings value to everything in my life and is what defines me. That’s a great inspiration to me and is invaluable to me.”

Sorbo agreed, adding: “I’m happy to talk about my faith with anyone when I’m on a set. As I told some of my atheist friends before, ‘If I’m wrong, I’ve lost nothing but if I’m right, then I’ve gained everything.’

“I’ve been doing a lot of faith-based and family-friendly movies lately, such as ‘What if ... ’ and ‘Christmas Angel.’ The purpose of being involved in these projects is to influence people who do not have a relationship with Christ, although they keep searching for something more to complete their life. I want them to second-guess what they are looking at and thinking.”

Both actors gained unique perspectives from their respective roles, which they hope encourage Christians to stand up for their beliefs.

“When I first received the script, I couldn’t put it down,” Sorbo said. “Because I’m a Christian and got to play an atheist, I drew from the experiences and conversations that I’ve had with atheist friends of mine who I’ve had wonderful debates with through the years. I’ve also met a college professor or two in my life who had similar points of view and was very adamant about what his mindset was. I’ve heard stories from other people of all ages who have [run] into similar situations in college. This is not some fictional story going on here, but it’s happening all around us so it’s time to speak up and make people aware.”

In addition to his acting roles, Harper also is an accomplished singer/songwriter and his song “Hold You Up” is featured in the film.

“I think that God led me to write this song specifically for the film, and the lyrics ended up having a huge impact on me and in the movie,” he said. 

Much like the character he plays in the film, Harper spends a great deal of time researching apologetic topics to further his discipleship. He approached the role as an opportunity to apply his personal studies in front of his peers.

“I’m a huge fan of people like C.S. Lewis and John Lennox,” he noted. “If you’re just informed and not loving, trying to beat people over the head with information, it won’t get you very far. But if you are informed and you show Christ-centered love for others, then it can really spur on conversations to be more effective and provide opportunities for people to be more responsive. 

“It all boils down to the Great Commandment: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And to love your neighbor as yourself,’” Harper said. 

“I hope the film serves as an inspiration for believers to stand up for their faith, because the ones who are lost and searching for truth will always be worth the time, energy and resources to invest in and to focus our conversations on what will help them discover the assurance that is offered through salvation because of the promises proclaimed in God’s Word.”

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