God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness, rated PG
God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness, the latest film from Pure Flix (God’s Not Dead, The Case for Christ), and is the third film in the God’s Not Dead series. Despite an excellent performance from John Corbett, the film too often falls into clichés in the script, stereotypical characters and behaviors, and religious platitudes. The film is directed and written by Michael Mason.
The film picks back up where God’s Not Dead 2 left off. Reverend Pastor Dave Hill, played by David A.R. White (God’s Not Dead, God’s Not Dead 2), is the pastor of St. James, located on the campus of Hadleigh University in the town of Hope Springs. In a storyline that could be pulled from our current news, the courts had ordered that he turn over his sermon manuscripts, which he refused. This landed him in jail. We see him eventually being released, resulting in growing tension between the church and the college students and administration.
After Pastor Dave is released from jail he appoints his good friend Reverend Jude, played by Benjamin A. Onyango, as co-pastor of St. James. Then Adam played by Mike C. Manning (Youthful Daze), a student hostile to the faith, throws a brick through a church window. Reverend Jude goes into the church and is killed after a gas explosion and fire.
Dave is devastated and angry about Reverend Jude’s death. To make matters even worse, the university’s Board of Trustees, which includes Dave’s friend Thomas Ellsworth, played by Ted McGinley (Transformers: Robot in Disguise), refuse to rebuild the church, instead claiming the land the church is on under eminent domain laws. They want to buy the property and tear down the church and build a student union. Oscar winner Tatum O’Neal (Paper Moon) portrays Barbara Solomon, another member of the Board.
Dave fights for the church building, in desperation turning to his estranged brother Pearce, a lawyer played by two-time Golden Globe nominee John Corbett (Northern Exposure, Sex and the City), who was excellent in the 2017 film All Saints. Pearce specializes in social justice cases, but he has rejected Christianity. As the brothers work together to save the building that was their father’s church, we see the brothers deal with past hurts.
Dave finds encouragement from Meg Harvey, played by Jennifer Taylor (Two and a Half Men). Meg runs a local soup kitchen and makes no secret of the fact that she is attracted to Dave. (A bit of a ‘pushy broad’ in my wife’s opinion – always being the relationship initiator).
Keaton, played by Samantha Boscarino (Good Luck Charlie), is a young woman of faith who is struggling to hang on to it. Keaton’s boyfriend Adam, the one who threw the brick, is hostile to Keaton’s faith. Keaton is ministered to by campus group minister Josh Wheaton, played by Shane Harper (Good Luck Charlie).
Reverend Roland Dial, played by Gregory Alan Williams (Hidden Figures, Remember the Titans), tells Dave that the church cannot respond to hate with more hate. Instead it needs to be a light in the darkness. Reverend Dial seemed to be the only Christian in the film whose faith was not rocked by hard circumstances.
The film overuses television news clips, some featuring Judge Jeanine Pirro and also Dana Loesch, covering the controversy between the church and the university.
Cissy Houston and two members of the Newsboys make brief appearances in the film.
Themes in the film include justice, forgiveness, reconciliation, hate, unity, doubt and love.
John Corbett is excellent in the role of Pearce. David A.R. White, in the role of Pastor Dave, seems more concerned about a church building than he does with the people who worship there, and portrays a flawed character.
Unfortunately, God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness is pretty much standard fare for faith-based films.