Grace, Then Justice

I watched God’s Not Dead 3: A Light in the Darkness last night. Whereas the first two movies of the series had a cultural war, us vs. them, “boldly stand up for truth against its detractors” emphasis, the third movie had more of a “love your enemies,” “turn the other cheek,” forgiveness theme. The third movie also encouraged Christians to meet skeptics where they are in their doubts. That includes listening and offering authentic wisdom, but it may also include the sorts of apologetics highlighted in the first two movies.

There was one scene in the third movie that especially stood out to me. To set the stage for the scene, Pastor Dave is suing a public university because it is using eminent domain to remove his church from the school’s property. He enlists his estranged brother Pearce, a social justice attorney who is skeptical about religion. Pastor Dave and Pearce are talking with Josh Wheaton, the hero of the first movie who defended the existence of God before the atheist philosophy professor, Jeffrey Radisson. Since the first movie, Josh went to law school but left that to serve at Pastor Dave’s church.

Pearce is quizzing Josh about the type of law he had wanted to go into. Josh responded that, like Pearce, he wanted to go into social justice law. Pearce then says, “Really? You don’t strike me as a liberal.” Josh replies that Jesus was the ultimate social justice warrior, since Jesus championed the dignity of those who were un-valued in society.

Now for the part of the movie that stood out to me. Josh said that the order of priorities should be grace, then justice. Both are important, but what Josh is saying is that people should pursue justice with an attitude of grace. Otherwise, he said, all we have is people fighting with each other.

That is a transformative insight, for me.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.