This Friday sees the wide release of God’s Not Dead 2, the hotly anticipated sequel to the unlikely $63 million smash God’s Not Dead. That film and its princely box-office returns singlehandedly spawned a cottage industry of similar movies espousing Christian dogma and reaping the profits that come with faithful attendance by God-fearing audiences. Unfortunately, this Biblical new wave of films have more than an abiding devotion to the Lord in common; the religious piety often arrives courtesy of thinly sketched mouthpieces in place of characters, weighted down by leaden dialogue, and that’s nothing compared to the harebrained plotlines common in these pictures.
Regardless of where you stand on the Scripture, hackneyed storytelling is still a mortal sin, and God’s Not Dead and its disciples have been marked for damnation. These newer Christian films often lean hard on convenient coincidence or other contrivances of plot to send the intended messages, allowing basic functionality as a work of entertainment to take a back seat to hollow proselytizing. Below, consider the 10 most implausible narrative twists of the biblical new wave and reflect on how sometimes, God works in ways that are less “mysterious” and more “absurdly unlikely.”
(Naturally, plot spoilers lay ahead. Just to warn you now: God is, indeed, not dead.)
10. Heaven Is for Real: Miracle pregnancy
The setup: Apple-cheeked tot Colton “Brumbpo Tungus” Burpo undergoes emergency surgery at age 3, and awakens from his post-op stupor with a fantabulous account of his visit to heaven. His father Todd, who wrote the book outlining the experience and made millions in the process, was convinced that the boy wasn’t telling tall tales when young Colton claimed to have met his miscarried sister and long-deceased grandfather, neither of which anyone had told him about. Colton’s other claims include having met Jesus Christ atop a horse all colors of the rainbow, and getting serenaded by a choir of angels.
The twist: That a 3-year-old child would emerge from a brief coma prepared to precisely recount his visions (and, apparently, with a full understanding of death and mortality) is one thing, but a game viewer tries to accept the basic premise and move forward from there. The rotten cherry on top of the sundae, however, comes almost incidentally in the final act. Mama Burpo’s womb had been deemed inhospitable by medical professionals following the miscarriage of the fetus preceding Colton, rendering him something of a miracle baby — a rare phenomenon, but certainly not unheard of. As everything prepares to end happily ever after, Colton’s mother appears with even more great news. She’s had a second conception, and though it wasn’t exactly immaculate, it sure was against all odds! This takes the 10th-place spot because while the twist itself might not be too hard to accept, its placement in the movie is simply too clean.