I recently had the opportunity to view the recently released documentary, Against the Tide narrated by Kevin Sorbo from the first God’s Not Dead film and featuring Dr. John Lennox of Oxford. I say documentary but I’m not sure what exactly to call it. It was equal parts hagiography of Lennox, and documentary of how atheism’s arguments against God can be answered. However the answers were poor, because Lennox was the one giving them.
Before I get too critical of the film, I want to emphasize, it was well done. It was shot on location in Oxford and Israel and the scenery and graphics work is incredible. Sorbo is a good narrator, but some of the narration felt forced. It was almost like they were trying to be too conversational. A couple times it felt like words were added at the end of sentences that did not need to be there simply to make it feel more like we were in Sorbo’s head. Otherwise though, the film was well done. If you like contemporary style Christian music (I don’t), the sound track was written by Keith and Kristen Getty (likely because one of them is related to Lennox).
The showing of the film I went to started poorly because the theater managed to lose sound for the first oh three minutes or so of the film. However, based on the subtitles, I believe the film opens with quotes from leading atheists on how God is not necessary. If you’ve followed Dawkins, Harris, or Dennett, you know the spirit at least of what was said. The clips were excerpted from various live talks and debates that Lennox had done with these men over the years. The film was loaded with these clips rather than Lennox actually answering the questions to Sorbo in the present. I suspect this may be because Lennox is not in the best of health. There were several times throughout the film where Lennox looked tired, or unwell. This is no reflection on Lennox. He is seventy-seven and his mind is still clear, that much is obvious from the film. It just may explain the film’s creative decision to use old clips, rather than having Lennox answer all the questions himself.
When Lennox did answer questions, some of the answers were absolutely dreadful. His answer to the problem of evil, particularly stood out to me. Essentially his claim was “Well God understand pain because He, as Christ on the cross, experienced it.” That statement is true as far as it goes, but it does not explain where evil and pain and suffering come from, why God does not prevent them, or how they will be destroyed. But Lennox cannot answer those questions because he rejects the Biblical account of creation. This becomes very evident early in the film. The very first argument appealed to is the necessity of a beginning for the Big Bang. Yet the Bible knows nothing of the Big Bang or the billions of years it needs. It simply says God spoke the world into existence. No naturalistic explanation needed.
Of course, Lennox is very unclear when it comes to his opinion on evolution as well. The film seemed to imply that naturalistic evolution was a possible explanation but carefully avoided giving a yes or no answer. All that was said was that evolution is no threat to the fine-tuning argument that Lennox loves so dearly. To quote Sorbo’s character from God’s Not Dead “This is the height of hubris!” If evolution is true, there is no God, everything happened naturalistically, and therefore fine-tuning is irrelevant. Perhaps because Lennox is an evidentialist, the film skews very much towards building a cumulative case for God from the bottom up, rather than accepting that the Bible says there is a God and the top down.
The last hour of the film focuses mainly on the evidences for a historical Jesus and His resurrection. This section of the film is much better than the first hour, but even here the hagiography of Lennox gets in the way. Lennox repeatedly points out that scholars agree that Jesus was real, the tomb was empty and so on. Yet no sourcing is provided for this claim. The audience is expected to take Lennox’s word for it. Documentation to back up Lennox’s claim flashing up on screen while he was talking of quotes and sources supporting his argument would have been very helpful and allowed him to make a stronger case. As it is, the case depends on whether you believe Lennox or not.
Overall, Against the Tide starts with a faulty premise. It claims that Lennox is against the tide of atheism. While that is true, just being anti-atheism is not enough. Being Biblically faithful is the requirement. Lennox fails on this point by rejecting Genesis as foundational to the Gospel. Regretabbly, this shortcoming destroys Against the Tide‘s usefulness as a resource. This would not make a good Christmas gift. Spend your money on things that are Biblically faithful, like material from Answers in Genesis, Creation Ministries International or the Institute for Creation Research.
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