Sunday, May 17, 2015

God’s Not Dead

Yesterday I watched the movie “God’s Not Dead”. It was a fun movie and one that I would recommend to everyone. It is about a college philosophy professor that starts his class asking the students to write God Is Dead on a piece of paper and sign it. If they will all do that then he tells them that he will not waist the classes time explaining why God is a myth and never has been real. One student, Josh Wheaton, refuses to do it and the professor says that if he won’t sign the paper or quit the class, then he must prove that there is a God to the class during the next three class periods. Josh feels that God want someone to defend him and believes C.S. Lewis’s statement “only a real risk tests the reality of a belief”. Josh goes to his minister about his situation and the minister has him look up two scriptures.

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.

But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33)

For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more. (Luke 12:48)

When Josh asks the minister why he feels the need to do this, the minister says: “that it is the still small voice in you. That is the way the Holy Ghost communicates to us. All you have to do is decide if you will listen. It’s not easy, but it is simple”. Josh accepts the challenge even though it is against his girlfriend and parent’s wishes and the prospect of losing his opportunity for law school. At one point Josh asks the professor “What happened to you? Why do you hate God?” Continuing to press the professor reveals that when he was twelve years old his mother died even though he prayed to have God save her life. The professor says: “All I have is hate for God” to which Josh replies: “How can you hate someone that does not exist?”

The movie includes the stories of others that are struggling with their own questions of faith in God and trials with cancer and relationships. There is even a cameo from Willie Robertson from Duck Dynasty when a reporter asks a question about his faith he responds:

“All this stuff we have, fame, money, even this life is temporary. Jesus is eternal. Jesus said: “whoever will acknowledge me before men, I will acknowledge before the Father in Heaven and whoever will deny my before men, I will deny before the Father.”

Throughout the movie there are two basic themes that the atheist professor pushes: 1) The Big Bang Theory that the universe created itself and 2) if God did exist, why does he allow evil? In the end Josh wins over the class and the professor is silenced.

Can anyone prove that God does or does not exist? The answer to that question is no, you cannot prove absolutely either way. If someone could prove that God does exist, then faith would be dead. There would be no need for faith, we would all know it. What about all the witnesses in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon that said they saw Jesus Chris? I believe that they are telling the truth, but there is no one that was there that is alive today (except the Apostle John and the Three Nephites, but until they appear in public they don’t count). What about Joseph Smith’s first vision? I believe he also is telling the truth, but no one else was there. We have to take his word and those in the scriptures to the Lord to gain our own testimony and when we do, all we can do it testify of what we know, others will still have to have faith in our word and then  get their own testimonies.

Our Heavenly Father has given all his children agency and that includes the ability to believe in God or not. He will never force anyone to believe. But the promise is there that if we will ask with sincere faith, he will answer us (James 1:5-6). Once we have gained our own witness that God is real our faith is replaced by knowledge; however, even when we testify of what we know others still need to have faith and try it for themselves.

There is an account in the Book of Mormon of Korihor, an Anti Christ, that was preaching that there was no God and Christ would not come. Alma, the head of the church, questioned Korihor:

And now what evidence have ye that there is no God, or that Christ cometh not? I say unto you that ye have none, save it be your word only.

But, behold, I have all things as a testimony that these things are true; and ye also have all things as a testimony unto you that they are true; and will ye deny them? Believest thou that these things are true? (Alma 30:40-41)

At one point in the movie, Josh says to the professor: “It is not enough that you don’t believe, you want everyone here to not believe as well”. This is the problem with most atheists, they are not satisfied until they destroy everyone’s faith and our ability to worship God openly and freely. One of the problems I occasionally deal with as a bishop of a student ward is a member that is questioning their faith because one of their professors, like the atheist professor in the movie, has challenged their belief in God. There are a few professors that feel the need to question a student’s faith, their belief in traditional marriage, and moral standards. Fortunately, these professors are a minority and there are many who are strong individuals of faith that help build their students, not tear them down. One of the reasons we have student wards and stakes is to help strengthen our member’s faith and combat the philosophies of men that are taught as truth on our campuses.

I did disagree with one principle in the movie and that was that an expression of belief in Jesus Christ can save us from a life time of sin and wickedness. Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, all mankind will be resurrected. The Apostle Paul taught: "for as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:22). Though the resurrection is a free gift to all, what glory we are resurrected to is dependent on the gift of the grace of Jesus Christ and how we live our lives. The Book of Mormon teaches that we are saved by "grace, after all we can do" (2 Nephi 2:23). There is too much to discuss this week what this means, so this will be my topic next week.

At the end of the movie the lead singer of the Christian rock band, The Newsboys, challenged the 10,000 people at their concert to text everyone of their contacts with the message: “God’s Not Dead”. He said if everyone had at least 100 contacts, that would be 1,000,000 testimonies that God is not dead.

I want you to know that I have gone to the Lord in prayer many times to know if God is real and if Jesus Christ died and was resurrected as the scriptures say and I have my own witness that God does live, Jesus is the Christ, we have living prophets on the earth today (Thomas S. Monson), the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, was translated by the prophet Joseph Smith, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the restored Church of Jesus Christ. One day Jesus Christ will return to the earth and at that day all shall see him and every knee shall bow and everyone will confess that he is Jesus Christ. Until that day comes everyone will have to have faith and gain their own witness.

Spread the word – God’s Not Dead. I welcome your comments and questions. 

1 comment:

All comments will be reviewed prior to them being posted. I invite questions and comments, but will not post offensive or argumentative comments. Comments that are appropriate will be posted as soon as possible.