Last night, I watched God’s Not Dead 2 for the first time. I really enjoyed it, and am now inspired to watch God’s Not Dead!
A teacher gets put on trial for referring to Jesus in answer to a student’s question in her 11th grade history class.
Standing firm for what you believe, the power of prayer, be-one-make-one discipleship
Matthew 5:11-12 “(11)Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.(12)Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
11th grade student Brooke Thawley (Hayley Orrantia) is going through a difficult time. Her brother has died in an accident, and she feels that her parents are moving on in their lives as if it never happened. Her history teacher, Miss Grace Wesley (Melissa Joan Hart), notices that she looks emotionally depleted and asks her if she is OK after class one day. Though Brooke replies negative, she later runs into her teacher at a coffee shop and admits that she is not doing well. She tells Grace about her troubles, and the conversation eventually leads to Brooke saying, “You never let anything get to you. How do you do that?”
Grace answers honestly, “Jesus.”
Brooke, who had previously been atheist, is later shown a Bible her late brother had owned when a charity organization is collecting her brother’s possessions. She reads it and takes an interest.
In class, Miss Wesley is teaching about the influences of Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr, as related to their promotion of nonviolence. Brooke asks if their teachings have any similarity to part of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount when he teaches about loving your enemy. After a bit of hesitation, knowing that her answer could bring up problems, Miss Wesley answers in the affirmative, quoting from Matthew 5, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Another student, unseen, sends out a text message evidently about the incident to an unknown recipient. However, the information eventually reaches the ears of Principal Kinney (Robin Givens), who confronts and reprimands Grace later. When Grace refuses to apologize for what she did or admit that it was wrong, the matter is brought before the school board. She is given a lawyer, Tom Endler (Jesse Metcalfe), who suggests that she do write an apology, otherwise she will most likely forfeit her job and credentials. But Grace stands with her faith and belief that she merely favorably compared another historical figure’s teaching with the subjects of her lesson’s in answer to a student’s question.
The school board decides to bring the matter to the court. Of those called for jury duty, one is a pastor named David Hill (David A.R White). Though at first Pastor Dave isn’t expecting or desiring to be chosen, he later finds himself as one of the juror members and decides that he was called to the position to influence the case for Christ.
Meanwhile, Brooke Thawley is horrified that her question caused Miss Wesley so much trouble. Though her parents, under the influence of prosecutor Peter Kane (Ray Wise), have forbid her from speaking as a witness, Brooke leads protests in favor of Miss Wesley along with some other students in the class. She also further explores Christianity and eventually commits her life to Christ.
Peter Kane says specifically to Tom Endler that he hates what people like Endler’s client stand for. Kane makes his opening statement to the jury that the faith is not on trial, only Miss Wesley. However, Endler brings up that faith most definitely is on trial, and that the US Constitution and Bill of Rights decree that Miss Wesley’s actions are legal. Kane brings in several witnesses, including Brooke’s parents and Principal Kinney, who bring evidence that Miss Wesley’s statements were offensive and faith based. However, the witnesses Endler brings in are historical experts who give the accounts that Jesus most certainly did exist, as several non-Christian historians refer to the events of his life as facts, and that Jesus’s resurrection didn’t have reason to be a conspiracy because of the vast number of people who suffered and died as a result of their proclamations. In doing this, they verify that Grace’s comments in class were indeed historically, not faith, based.
Pastor Dave suddenly gets a health issue in his appendix and must be pulled from the jury. Kane is pleased; his opponents have “lost the one juror they could count on.” Even more to his pleasure is that Brooke inappropriately enters the courtroom, is called in by Endler as a witness, and eventually admits to having had a conversation with Miss Wesley outside of school in which faith-related subjects were addressed. This previously unaddressed fact being pulled out, Grace’s chances at winning the case look slim.
However, the next session is a surprise to all: Tom Endler decides to attack his own client as a hostile witness and convince the judge (Ernie Hudson) to tell the jury not to let their personal biases interfere with their verdict. Grace wins the case, and the movie ends with the Christian band Newsboys performing their song “God’s Not Dead.”
My favorite part of the movie was seeing Brooke find hope by learning about Christianity after her brother died. It was awesome to see that Martin Yip (Paul Kwo), a character who began the movie asking a pastor several (147) questions about Christianity, answer Brooke’s questions. Disciples making disciples. I also liked seeing Newsboys. #Christianmusic
I enjoyed the music, like when the students sang “How Great Thou Art” and Newsboys’ song “Guilty.” Some of the soundtrack in different parts of the movie were a little too sentimental for me, but that’s okay.
The end part where the teacher Grace Wesley’s lawyer, Tom Endler, attacks her as a hostile witness was kind of obviously a tactic to get the jury on their side, so I felt nothing like, “Oh my, I feel so sorry for the poor woman! Her own lawyer is against her!”
Grace took a stand, and God revealed in the end that He had been in control all along–the pastor that Martin Yip had talked to, Dave Hill (David A.R. White), had been taken out of the jury because of a sudden health issue in his appendix. Grace’s prosecutor, Peter Kane, was pleased that she had lost “the one juror [she] could count on.” Pastor Dave had been replaced by a young woman with heavy makeup and street clothes. Oh, yeah. She also had a tattoo of the cross on the back of her neck.
My favorite line from the movie was from Grace’s “Gramps” (Pat Boone) when he said, “The Teacher is quiet during the test.” Totally God’s way. 🙂