God's Not Dead: A Light in the Darkness (AUS - PG / US - PG)

In A Word: Preachy

GND 3

 

"The films in the God’s Not Dead franchise have so far been wildly successful by unapologetically placing Christianity and Christians at the centre of a drama debating the validity of faith in this day and age. They all come with a fair share of melodrama and this third chapter takes it to new levels."

The third installment in the God’s Not Dead series continues to put the struggle of faith and belief up on the big screen.

This time, Rev Dave Hill (producer David AR White reprises this role for the third time) now takes the spotlight as the campus pastor spiraling down a path of conflict and revenge when his church is attacked. Meanwhile college student Keaton (Samantha Boscarino) has a journey of discovery with boyfriend Adam (Mike C Manning) to learn what redemption and forgiveness means. 

The films in the God’s Not Dead franchise have so far been wildly successful by unapologetically placing Christianity and Christians at the centre of a drama debating the validity of faith in this day and age. They all come with a fair share of melodrama and this third chapter takes it to new levels.

Set in a university campus, the historic St James Church led by Reverend Dave is at the centre of a public controversy and the student body is divided with protests both for and against the church. In this powder keg of emotion, jilted boyfriend Adam angrily throws a brick through the church window. This one action cascades into a devastating fire which kills the newly appointed assistant pastor Jude (Benjamin A Onyango) and effectively destroys the church.

But Rev Dave’s troubles are only just beginning - he now faces the school board that uses this incident as a reason to remove the church once and for all from the campus. Rev Dave has no option but to seek help from his estranged, sceptic brother Pearce (James Corbett), a plucky lawyer who fights together with his underdog brother keep the church alive. 

This mix of characters are clearly polarised into either believers or non-believers and the soap opera plot gives plenty of opportunities for both sides to espouse their argument. But the scenes with Rev Dave often feel like mini-sermons wrapped up in a convenient melodrama. It’s a pity that these conflicts end up making Dave so unlikeable and I spent much of the film being annoyed with the character. The subplot involving Keaton and Adam fairs better and there is the sense of a genuine struggle to believe in God hindered by the atmosphere of judgment that they have experienced in the modern church.

The film does raise a valid point as to whether the judgmental behavior of the church is actually hindering people coming to faith. Ultimately, there is a display of true forgiveness, humility and grace that drives home the moral of the tale - that a single act can spark a fire that will spread throughout our world. It is up to us whether that fire is fuelled by anger and pride or love and forgiveness.