The interesting plot of God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness (2018) has Pastor Dave (David A.R. White) harriedly fighting an eminent domain plan pursued by fictitious Hadleigh University against Dave’s long-standing church. The church is located on the university’s campus, but owns the land it was built on. Wanting the land for itself, Hadleigh, a state institution, considers the church a bad P.R. entity for several reasons. One is that Pastor Dave just got out of jail for properly refusing to have his sermons evaluated by the local government. Another is that an act of vandalism against the church has led to the accidental death of a newly hired co-pastor.
The vandal is an ordinary young man and lost soul (Mike C. Manning) who is frustrated by his doubting Christian girlfriend’s resistance to unreligious living. The film tells us that in New Century America any kind of assault on Christian people is possible, perhaps inevitable. But America is complex, so we are also told that sometimes a move against a church is merely practical, not persecutory; as witness what the university does.
I have never seen a faith-based, Evangelical movie depict as much human anguish as A Light in Darkness does. Not only do many things take their toll on Pastor Dave, but Keaton (Samantha Boscarino), the vandal’s girlfriend, and the boyfriend himself go through arrant hardship. It isn’t quite clear, however, what the Faith situation for Keaton is.
If this is a flaw, it isn’t much of one compared with the sentimental unlikelihood with which the film concludes. It is a message of anti-polarization in society. Good luck with that.
Another observation: White and John Corbett (as Dave’s lawyer brother) deepen the film and are never false.
It was directed and co-written by Michael Mason.