Filmmakers Pull “God’s Not Dead 2” on First Day

SCOTTSDALE, AZ  (Associated Press)  In a move that has startled Hollywood veterans and disappointed hopeful fans from coast to coast, Pure Flix Productions has pulled the movie “God Isn’t Dead 2” from international wide release.

Pure Flix spokesperson Prudence Kandor addressed a hastily called news conference at the company’s headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona. She read from a prepared text the following announcement:

Pure Flix Productions has read early reviews of its movie, “God’s Not Dead 2” and has regretfully come to the conclusion that the critics are right. This film is truly terrible. We believe its production values are responsible enough, and we commend our actors for doing their professional best with the material they had. But having read criticism after criticism about the stereotypical characters, implausible legal situation, unfair depiction of anyone not clearly Christian, and dubious—indeed, sometimes simply irrelevant—arguments offered by the apologists in the film, Pure Flix has realized that this movie must not be shown. In these fractious times, when serious argument about serious issues is so rare, much less respectful depiction of those with whom one disagrees, Pure Flix does not want to pour gas on an already blazing fire. So the movie will not be shown any more and we will use the profits from our previous terrible film to reimburse all those injured and inconvenienced by this belated, but necessary, act of conscience.

Shortly after this announcement, Alex and Stephen Kendrick, producers of another line of popular Christian films, including “Fireproof” and “Courageous,” released the following statement:

We have been deeply convicted by the humility and integrity of our brothers and sisters at Pure Flix. We have come to recognize that Hollywood is full of talented and skilled actors, screenwriters, and other creative people who could make excellent films if only given the chance. Rather than continuing our practice, therefore, of using third-rate “stars” plus whoever in our church happens to want to act in a movie, thereby depriving capable professionals of a job and the film-going public of a proper movie experience, we pledge ourselves now to work only with the highest quality personnel available. We promise to do better. We must.

Canadian film critic Peter Chattaway’s devastating reviews of both “God’s Not Dead” movies on the Patheos website were cited specifically as contributing to Pure Flix’s decision. “He was just, well, you know, right about how crappy our movies are,” said director Harold Cronk. “I mean, I don’t normally read reviews. I much prefer to listen to adoring fans. Who wouldn’t? But my daughter told me I had to read what Chattaway wrote, and doggone it, the guy nailed us. I mean, the films really are pretty bad, and even though we could keep making piles of money on them, at some point one just has to have the common decency to use one’s talents for something other than pandering propaganda.”

The brave and expensive decision by Pure Flix seems to have set off something of a ripple effect among public figures identified with controversy over religion.

“I’m certainly going to be more careful with my arguments and more respectful of my interlocutors from now on,” said Richard Dawkins to the BBC from his home outside Oxford, England.

“No more caricaturing conservative Christians just because I’m no longer one myself,” said Toronto broadcaster Michael Coren to The National Post.

“I’m going to think hard and long before I ever open my mouth again about a controversial subject,” said Franklin Graham to an astounded reporter for the Charlotte Observer.

“I want now to retract pretty much everything I’ve ever written. I hope everyone, everywhere, who has ever had anything to do with evangelicalism will forgive me. I’ll turn over a new leaf this afternoon,” wrote Frank Schaeffer on his own Patheos weblog.

GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, however, could not be reached for comment.

20 Responses to “Filmmakers Pull “God’s Not Dead 2” on First Day”

  1. Keith Nisbet

    A Christian film should never be aimed at Christians. That’s like preaching to the converted. It’s a waste of time to simply retell a biblical story in a linear fashion. In this day and age any “Gospel” film should be aimed at the non-believer with a cogent intellectual argument powerful enough to draw them into a reasoned consideration of the Christian World View. Most religious films are unfortunately a linear regurgitation of the biblical narrative. Artistic integrity costs nothing, intelligent writing costs nothing. We must give all non-believers reason to believe that “God’s Not Dead” but has always been very much alive. Looking forward to future productions that I would not be embarrassed to take my non-believing friends.

    • Jason Greenlee

      The glaring problem is that there are no convincing, “cogent intelligent arguments,” that are “powerful” enough to convince a nonbeliever. The “Christian World View,” has no reason to consider. All anyone who does not believe in gods, or any other literary character, requires to believe is proof. Barring that, it’s all just opinion and personal interpretation of irrelevant ancient writings.

      • John

        If this is a serious objection, and not just Angry Atheist trolling, may I point you to some “cogent arguments.” I don’t judge them to be so powerful as to convince all comers. But few matters in the fields of metaphysics or ethics or aesthetics can be resolved that way…yet we don’t doubt that there are good reasons to be advanced for this or that option in those discussions: Alvin Plantinga, “Knowledge and Christian Belief”; C. Stephen Evans, “Why Christian Faith Still Makes Sense”; and William Lane Craig and Chad Meister, eds., “God Is Great, God Is Good: Why Believing in God Is Reasonable and Responsible.”

        • Jason Greenlee

          Like I said, proof. Nothing less will do.

          • John

            And like I said, the manner of argument has to be congruent with the field being discussed. “Proof” is available in the strict sense only in mathematics. The natural sciences, being empirical, rely on “preponderance of evidence for a particular hypothesis” with the understanding that we might have to change our minds this afternoon in the light of new evidence or better reasoning. And so on. Once, therefore, you have specified what you mean by “proof” and that that demand is pertinent to the discussion you’re having, then you’ll find these books helpful, I expect.

            • Jason Greenlee

              ANY proof, ANY evidence not simply found in ancient writings that gods, or ANYTHING “supernatural,” actually exist. I too adjust my opinions and conclusions if new facts, evidence and provable conclusions emerge, as do all rational, reasonable, critical minded thinkers.

  2. Keith Nisbet

    BTW. if this an April Fool’s Day hoax…all the better. My prior comments remain with the added comment that if we can produce media that shows Christians have not left their intellect and intelligence behind then we will accomplish God’s work more effectively in these difficult times.

  3. Brent Hudson

    This is the best April Fool’s piece I have read in a long, long time. Excellent!

  4. Lorne

    Brilliant John! I only wish I had written this.

  5. Matthew Young

    Love it. As usual, sir, you help keep me sane. My dear congregants loved that first from. I frankly… didn’t. (!) I found both the artistry and argument truly hideous. I tried to level some gentle critiques without alienating those who loved it. Thanks for your work, here. Helps this pastor deal.

    • Matthew Young

      meant in that second line, “loved that first FILM.”

    • Steve Wilkinson

      I haven’t seen either, but I might have to now. (I suppose I should, to be up on what’s popular.)

      I know a couple of the people in the movie… and their work is solid as far as I’ve seen (Habermas, Wallace), but who knows what the editors did with it and it certainly sounds like the plot is overblown (though, these days, not all that out of the range of possibility, unfortunately).

      (Spoiler alert: Apparently, an attorney in closing arguments says something like, ‘In the name of tolerance and diversity, stomp her out!’ Boy, is THAT an accurate reflection of our current culture, whether a real attorney would ever say something like that our not!)

      Also, my understanding is that this isn’t meant to be an apologetic work aimed at atheists, but more a portrayal (even if exaggerated) of what’s going on in culture to make a point, and to introduce church-goers – who probably have no exposure to apologetics – that there are answers to Zeitgeist, the typical Easter media articles, and the very loud Internet atheists they’ll likely encounter long before they run into the more balanced atheists nuanced arguments.

      Yes, that’s no excuse for being sloppy, and over-simplification or exaggeration has implications, but there’s only so much one can pull off in a movie format, I imagine. But, I’m no movie director.

      For example, in the review John linked to, the author makes a big deal of Strobel’s use of the calendar as evidence of Jesus’ existence. On the surface, yes, that seems silly. I don’t know many apologists using that argument… just do a Google search. Yet, in an overly simplistic way, it’s not all that crazy, as you have to start explaining why there was an empire and church powerful enough in the first place to create a calendar on the thought date of the life of a supposedly mythical person. It doesn’t prove Jesus is God, but it’s another bit of circumstantial evidence (taken in the right context) pointing towards something on which it’s based.

      (I also have enough experience with traditional labour unions to know that while they’ll totally go to bat for one of their constituents, even in the face of wrong-doing or illegal actions… if there were bigger image concerns for the organization, they’d screw one of their member in a heart-beat.) Apparently Chattaway is also prone to problems of stereotypes and oversimplification!

      Yet, I totally get the concern. Feeding something like that to the average church-goer is dangerous, in that it would be quickly attacked, without that person having enough knowledge to counter. But, that’s the flaw in any kind of such attempt to popularize a deep subject. Unless there is further training for those people in the pews, I doubt it will matter that much if they saw God’s Note Dead or attended a basic (hour or two) apologetics lecture in a seminary (even though I’d prefer the latter!). Either is going to be too surface if they get pushed beyond the basics by someone informed on the other position. Hopefully either would spark a deeper investigation (and I think that’s the point of the movie… hopefully they’ll look up Habermas and Wallace, in addition to Strobel!).

      Also, it’s important to understand the context of the culture who will probably go see this movie. We’re talking about a lot of people who are culturally Christian, and have been, unfortunately, feed a lot of Christian fluff… so they have zero basis for their faith. So, in that way, I guess this is introducing them to the concept that faith can have a basis, in an entertaining way.

      That said, I’ll have to see it to really know if it’s as bad as it’s being portrayed by some of the reviews. I’m writing this in light of hearing both bad and raving reviews.

  6. Mike in Pennsylvania

    Awesome. I was wondering what Swift-like essay I’d get to read this year. Thanks! Most of the (white Evangelical) teenagers that I teach are embarrassed by these films. Perhaps there’s hope for the next generation. Also, I’d recommend Jason (above) read “Humble Apologetics” as a great place to start.

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