Saturday, March 29, 2014

I Could've been Mina

In the movie "God's Not Dead" The character that I thought about the most was Mina.  We find out that she is a Christian in a relationship with a non Christian.  She is either living with him or spends a lot of time at his house.  At one point, she brings up their differences in worldviews causing an argument. This leads her to confide in a pastor. During the course of the conversation, Mina realizes she was using this relationship to fill a void in her life.

I was the same way. I could've gone after someone who I admired. If he was not already taken, I could've thought he would've met my needs even though we had differing worldviews.  Like Mina, I could have imagined dating a strong atheist even though I was Christian.

I coukd have run to this person instead of God, and like Mina,  I would have realized that this person couldn't truly understand me due to our differing worldviews. I was close to going down that same road before God showed me how he fill me.   Mina's story haunts me because it could have been my own.

Friday, March 28, 2014

God's Not Dead: My Review

I joined two friends of mine from Hope Crossing to see the movie "God's Not Dead" where a prelaw college freshman takes up his philosophy professor's challenge to prove God and disprove atheism. Another friend posted this link from Creation Ministries International which critiques the movie based on how well a literal interpretation of Genesis was utilized. Their review also evaluted how realistically other characters who represented different groups in the cultural debates are often portrayed. 

I agreed with the CMI article, and I am still glad I saw the movie. 

To set some background, I am Summitview trained in apologetics and in college, I learned various ways to logically explain my faith and common questions often presented to Christians from others of varying worldviews. Apologetics can be taught in an us versus them fashion, especially if the media and other facets of society tend to demean Christianity. I definitely felt that academia was not on the Christians' side, so I resonated with the kid going up against his professor. 

Also setting some background, I know what it was like to be a person seeking answers. Though I didn't take an anti-God stance, I was looking for someone to explain things like the problem of evil and assurance of salvation in a logical way. Before I became Christian, I had mocked Christians and I thought that praying for an illness to go away was foolish because we had medicine for that. In short, I have been on both sides. 

Now, to address CMI's arguments: 

1. Josh's arguments were insufficient to convince a critically thinking audience such as a true college professor and a philosophy class. He did not follow a literal interpretation of Genesis. Though he quoted much of the narrative, he allowed for evolution to be true. He also tied evil to free will rather than to sin. 

I agree with these criticisms. I think if he had to argue more than the basic first cause argument, the movie would've ended up being more of a giant lecture with plot thrown in. That would be fine for Bible nerds like my Summitview friends and myself (given the right mood), but maybe not for a broader audience. I also think this movie was meant to give Christians a starting point to begin arguing their faith and they would be free to do their research. However, again, if a Christian isn't in an apologetics heavy church like Summitview or a good church where scripture is examined deeply, than just using these arguments against a better trained debator would be quite a challenge. The article addresses this and emphasized that students who watch this shouldn't feel like they can rely soley on Josh's arguments against their own professors. For non-Christians, this movie can give them partial answers, but again, they would need to do more research. From my own experience, I often revisited the same questions as a seeker and needed to dig deeper. Luckily, I had Christian friends who understood my need for understand and explained things rather than friends who saw my questions as attacks on their faith. 

2. Other characters and even other Christians in the film were portrayed inaccurately and in a unhelpful stereotypical way. Amy, a journalist critical of Christians is hostile with her interviewing technique where most journalists would at least be civil when interviewing a subject. Journalists usually save their arguing and spats with fellow newsanchors on CNN or FOX. She only softens up when she is desperate for answers to her own life situation.

Ayisha is a Muslim student, but the directors did not get her traditional outfit right. They also portray her family in a way that would cause non-Muslims to be critical of that people group. CMI said that this would be detrimental for Christians reaching Muslims for the Gospel. I agree. Though they show how hard life can be for a Muslim individual who openly switches faiths, they neglected to stress that not everyone's situation is like hers. 

Professor Radisson is your hard-line atheist and his home is probably not typical of a Humanities / Liberal Arts professor's home. Those guys don't make that much. Anyway, he is almost too aggressive with Josh, and if he was at CSU, Josh could bring his behavior in and outside the classroom toward him to the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and the Office of Conflict and Dispute Resolution. 

Finally, on the non-Christians' side, an unnamed business man is the stereotypical profit-driven cold CEO. All the ladies in the movie theater want to kick him in the balls for the way he treats his girlfriend in her time of need, but again, one can make a stretch that a successful business professional will have a cold money-hungry attitude without Jesus. That is not true. There are many corporate officers who may not be believers, but are kind to their staff and use company funds to donate to charity etc. 

On the Christians' side, Pastor Dave and his missionary friend interact with nearly everyone in the movie. Pastor Dave appears to be a young pastor who is burnt out and wishes he could be "in the trenches" like his missionary friend who works in a foreign country. The missionary encourages Pastor Dave in his faith and is constantly amazed at the conveinences in America. The CMI article criticizes their portrayal as Christians who have shallow faith. Again, I agree with this, and yet I see how they serve to bring the story together rather than detract from the central plotline of Josh's debate with his professor. 

What I would say to other Christians who want to see the movie: 

This is a movie to inspire you to share your faith and to make you remember that even people we would label as 'enemies of our faith' because they outwardly are hostile to Christians may also have very real struggles. If you want to begin defending your faith like Josh, read your Bible, read good apologetics books, and always have faith that God will supply you the answers and remind your heart to have compassion for those asking you these questions. 

What I would say to non-Christians who want to see the movie:

No, not every Christian sees you as a 'Professor Raddison', especially if you are in academia. People such as C.S. Lewis and Lee Strobel have written books about Christianity that present you questions in a very logical format. Many scientists and professors are Christian, though they may not be outspoken due to the climate in academia. You can have your faith and your intellect. Use this movie as a starting point to find answers. 

No movie will be a perfect witness because each Christian is not a perfect witness. We are imperfect. We sin. We backslide. Sometimes quite badly. But Jesus is the perfect example of God coming to earth to redeem mankind. Jesus conquered sin, death, and hell. In Christ and in all that He is, He is the perfect answer.  I believe the producers' hearts were to point people to Christ. After seeing this movie, I will pray for everyone who sees it that they find Christ alive and our Redeemer.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

God's Three-Pronged Closing Argument

I "randomly" flipped to Job 40 for my quiet time. God answers Job after Job has questioned Him as well as sought advice from others regarding his suffering. God lays it down with 3 arguments.

1. He Is. He is the only God. "I Am." He has brought down kings and He alone can save. He is the ultimate law-giver and determines justice. He is worshiped in Heaven.

He could've just said, "I'm God. You're not. The end." However, he uses examples of various creatures that Job had either heard about or seen in the wild whose attributes point back to him. Romans 1:20 states that God's attributes can be see in His creation, He was using additional pieces of evidence to make a solid case even more watertight.

2.  He is strong. The behemoth is apparently the most powerful animal on the planet. Its tail is the size of a tree trunk and has enormous legs and a skeleton stronger than the strongest metals at the time. Yet God is stronger than this creature.

3. He is untamable.  God uses the example of the Leviathan which was a water dwelling creature that would be impossible to catch due to its ability to fight with a fishing crew. It would be like the guys on "The Deadliest Catch" trying to catch a shark in the middle of a feeding frenzy. God emphasizes His strength again by mentioning the Leviathan's strong outer coat of hard plates.

Job obviously repents.

Of course, I had to ask myself, so what to make of this exchange? The plaintiff has lodged his complaint against the defendant who responded with a watertight argument in His favor. Is God just up there saying, "I'm powerful, you're not, and I do what I want, and poor humans mwahahahaaa!" No. Because within the argument of "I am," He implies that Job's right hand cannot save him, but God's right hand can save Job. Taking the 'case' as a whole, we see that God and the devil are in a spat and the devil raises an argument: Job only worships You because You give him good things.  God allows Satan to pull away everything Job has dear: his children, his wealth, and his health. Satan was watching as all this was going on. He would be the jury that decides the facts while God affirmed His law.

Job worshipped God ultimately because He is, He is powerful, He is untamable, and He is good. The verdict Satan had to concede was this: God Is. He is real and that is why He is worshiped.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Five Minute Blog Post

I'm on my lunch break now and decided to post something.

After six months at my law firm, I have yet to complain about my job. Sure some parts can be challenging and I just remembered a billing issue I should work on upon my return. 

However , I always enjoy coming to work. I enjoy the tasks, my co-workers are great, and the pay is nice :) The deeper reason behind my lack of major complaints is a mix of contentment and finding my niche. Knowing this is where God has placed me allows me to approach each day with a smile. Knowing I am working in my strengths helps me feel confident in my work even if an issue comes up. I am grateful for my job because I know what it's like to work in a place that's hard or in an area where I struggle. I am grateful for my job because I remember the toil of the job search process. I am grateful because all this comes from God.