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Filtering by Tag: Faith

God's Not Dead

Bryan Bliss


The trailer for God’s Not Dead appeared on my Facebook timeline between a Buzzfeed quiz about Friday Night Lights and a Bruce Springsteen video. I took the quiz (I’m Landry Clarke, so you know) and listened to The Promised Land, trying to convince – or maybe distract – myself away from this movie. Even before I saw the trailer, I could make a guess at the plot.

Instead of asking a person to explore the mystery of faith, films like God’s Not Dead lay a straight and flawless road, painted over with harsh blacks and impossible whites – colors designed to make us comfortable. More importantly, they encourage Christians to ignore the twisting and turning deer trails that sprout off this main road. Trails that lead one through the mud, the murk. Places to get lost.

Could anyone argue that Flannery O’Connor’s classic short story A Good Man is Hard to Find might better end with the Misfit accepting Christ? To have him wave the family off, a pleasant sunset falling behind him? For some, yes. But for those concerned with producing art and living a faith with integrity – that actually represents our place in a sometimes savage, sometimes beautiful world – these knotted paths are the birthplace of transformation. They don’t avoid risk. They force it upon you. It is that tension, that real moment of grace and redemption, which Christian art hopes to harness.

A writing mentor once told me the worst thing a story can be is about something. I would add that, even when we know the ending, a story should also hide the turns. God’s Not Dead, like so much of Christian art, chooses to do neither. It plays to its audience, giving another boost to the myth of the embattled Christian while reassuring them that everything is okay. Cathartic as that might be, it isn’t true. And if Christian art doesn’t have truth – if it becomes yet another escapist trope – then what’s the point?

You Lost Me - Millenials and the Church

Brad Fruhauff

Here is an interesting review of David Kinnaman's You Lost Me, featured in The Englewood Review of Books and written by Josh Wallace (a personal friend) about the reasons American youths are leaving the church in their 20s. Of particular interest to us at Relief, I think, are the categories of the Nomad and Exile - people, in the former case, who wander away from Christianity without really abandoning spirituality, or, in the latter, who do not feel at home within the church. I would like to think that Relief appeals to these folks as a place where faith is still vital to real-life experience.

The Faith of Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Usually I write to encourage people to give to Relief but today I would like to pay tribute to a great person who fought for Truth. I came across this blog by Eric Metaxas and I wanted to share an excerpt from it. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a brilliant young pastor and a theologian, whose deep faith in God led him to get involved in the plot to kill Hitler. When Hitler learned of Bonhoeffer's involvement he flew into a typically violent rage. As one of his final acts of revenge -- just three weeks before he committed suicide -- Hitler condemned the young pastor to death. Bonhoeffer was hanged on April 9, 1945 at Flossenburg Concentration camp.  But by all accounts, Bonhoeffer went to his death with the peace of God, with no regrets. How can that be? He was 39 years old, widely reckoned a theological genius. He had already written two of the classic books of the 20th century, "The Cost of Discipleship" and "Life Together." He was engaged to be married to a wonderful young woman. He had such a terrifically bright future! Bonhoeffer even had an opportunity to escape his fate. In my book I tell the story of how he had fled to America, but then decided to return to Germany, to face the horrors that lay ahead with his people. Why did he return when he didn't have to? And why didn't he have any regrets for doing so, even after he knew he would pay the ultimate price? Just before he died, Bonhoeffer told a fellow prisoner, "This is the end. But for me, the beginning of life." But on that day -- April 20, 1945 (Hitlar’s last birthday mentioned earlier in the original post)-- who was happy and who was at peace, Hitler or Bonhoeffer? For that matter, which of them is happy and at peace today? It's something chilling to think about, the contrast between these two Germans, between these two lives and these two deaths. But at this time of year especially, it's appropriate that perhaps we do think about it. But at this time of year, when Passover and Easter are being celebrated it's especially appropriate that we do think about it. Do those of us who say we believe in God really believe it? Because if we do, it will affect how we behave today, this week, this month... If we believe in the word of God, as Bonhoeffer did, it will give us the courage do the right thing wherever we are. Like Bonhoeffer, we will do the right thing and trust God with the consequences. Faith and courage go together. Bonhoeffer's faith gave him the courage to stand against the greatest evil of the 20th century. And today we celebrate him and revile the inhuman tyrant he stood against. So this Easter season, dare to think about what you really believe. What you believe about your faith will affect how you behave today and how people regard you years from today. That's a fact. Let the life of Bonhoeffer, lived in faith and without fear, be a source of encouragement to you, so that your life in turn may be a source of encouragement to others in years to come.

I agree with Metaxas call to think about what you believe.  Do you really believe in the truth and power of scripture? What would your life look like if you did? What do your actions show that you believe in – yourself or the Truth of God? I think that Easter is a time that we should reflect on our faith since it is the time when the curtain separating the Holy of Holies was torn in two giving us the opportunity to approach the throne of God with confidence and covered by his grace.

Bonnie Ponce is the Director of Support Raising for Relief and lives in Huntsville, Texas with her husband and betta fish. She has a BA in English from Sam Houston State University. After work she enjoys relaxing with a good book or working on her novel.