Psychology Magazine

So You’ve Seen “God’s Not Dead”…Now What?

By Agholdier @agholdier

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” (2 Cor. 10:4-5, ESV)

So, you’ve seen Josh Wheaton and Prof. Radisson go head to head. You’ve heard a few reasons why Christianity makes sense – perhaps ones that you’ve never before considered. It may be the first time in a while that you’ve walked away from a movie theater with both your head and heart satisfied…

…now what are you supposed to do?

This is not a review of God’s Not Dead - in fact, I haven’t yet had the chance to see it (it has not come to my local theater and I don’t actually expect it to do so). So, I don’t know the story, I can’t speak to the quality of the narrative or the production, and I have nothing to offer in the way of criticism – constructive or otherwise. All I know is what I see my friends saying online about it (which is rather positive, with a few understandable reservations).

What I do know is how you can dive ever deeper into the quickly-exploding world of Christian apologetics. The handful of arguments that Wheaton presents in brief over the course of the movie are but an appetizer to a very large – and ever-growing – banquet of intellectual material. But don’t let that word scare you: one need not spend years in study to prepare to give a reason for the hope that we carry (1 Pet. 3:15); there is a veritable smorgasbord of accessible apologetic content available today in a wide variety of forms. Recommendations for how you can learn more about theistic arguments (including, but certainly not limited to, the cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments presented in the film), the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection, the problem of evil, the intersection of science and faith, the role of the imagination in the life of the mind, and more can be found below.

Indeed, there are so very many reasons to be confident in the rationality of the Christian worldview. God is most certainly not dead: here are a few resources (intentionally limited to only a few examples in each category) to keep learning why:


1. John Lennox, 7 Days that Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science (2011), God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design Is It Anyway? (2011)

  • It makes sense that Josh Wheaton would cite Lennox in an apologetic debate – it’s hard not to! When you’ve earned three PhD’s and have spent decades writing and defending the healthy intersection between faith, science, and the Bible (as he does in both of these recent books), your name is bound to come up a lot.

2. William Lane Craig, On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision (2010), Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics (2008, ed. 3)

  • Another apologist with multiple doctorates to his name, Craig’s focus in philosophy has led him to develop several arguments for God’s existence (such as the very popular Kalam cosmological argument). Craig’s true passion is making this high-level material available to everyone; On Guard is an extremely accessible summary of many different areas of apologetics written for a lay person, while Reasonable Faith is the original, more complex and detailed version of the material.

3. C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, Miracles, The Abolition of Man (all available in The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics)

  • Many people are familiar with Lewis’ famous Chronicles of Narnia, but the Oxford don was also a prolific nonfiction writer who was very concerned with intellectually defending Christianity in a way that the common person could understand. Whether he was tackling naturalism (in Miracles), the problem of evil (The Problem of Pain) or relativism (The Abolition of Man), Lewis’ concerns were surprisingly prescient. Clever almost to a fault, you will walk away from each of these works impressed by both his eloquence and his argumentation.

4. J.P. Moreland, Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul (2012, ed. 2)

  • A wonderful primer on how philosophy and apologetics intersect, this book is an updated anniversary edition of Moreland’s classic consideration of intellectual pursuits as a spiritual discipline. Not only does it carry solid content from one of the U.S.A.’s leading Christian philosophers, but Moreland has provided appendices with recommended resources (books, websites, programs, and more) that are dozens and dozens of pages long.

5. Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (2011), In Defense of Natural Theology: A Post-Humean Assessment (2005)

  • If you are looking for just one book to detail as many arguments for the Christian worldview as possible, then this is the work for you. Groothuis spent more than eight years working on this 700+ page magnum opus which carries twenty-six chapters that dance from studies of truth to theistic arguments to biblical defenses to answering atheistic attacks. Not only that, but Groothuis’ writing style is fluid and sensible, no matter your reading ability. Moreover, Apologetics315 organized a read-along program to accompany the book with study guides and comments from Dr. Groothuis himself to pair with each chapter. The breadth of this work alone makes this the go-to resource for folks looking for just one book to read next.


1. John Lennox vs. Richard Dawkins/Christopher Hitchins

  • Not only does Lennox write, but (much like Josh Wheaton) he has debated many of the most famous New Atheists over the last several years. This first debate has Lennox going toe-to-toe with the infamous Richard Dawkins over the material in Dawkins’ famous book The God Delusion. Lennox makes several harsh criticisms that Dawkins mostly evades without answering. Secondly is a debate between Lennox and the late Christopher Hitchins, whose brilliant wordplay was always enjoyable to hear (even when it was wholly incorrect). Lennox does a wonderful job of tactfully countering the clever Hitch’s rhetoric with solid logic.

2. William Lane Craig vs. Sean Carroll / many, many more

  • Many know WLC for his frequent debates over the last twenty years (the second link there will take you to many of them). This one with Sean Carroll of the California Institute of Technology was Craig’s most recent (from just a few weeks ago) and focuses specifically on the cosmological and teleological arguments that Wheaton also played with in the film. Needless to say, this debate is far more intellectual than the movie, but should still prove to be enlightening to those looking to learn about how contemporary cosmology intersects with Christianity.

3. Frank Turek vs. David Silverman

  • “Which offers a better explanation for reality–Theism or Atheism?” Christian writer and speaker Turek debated this question with Silverman, the head of American Atheists. Not only did Turek give a strong presentation of the Christian worldview and how it works to make sense of the world in which we live, but he did a very nice job pointing out how Silverman failed to do anything except complain about bad things that religious people had done (he certainly did not make a good case for atheism’s explanatory power).

4. Michael Licona vs. Richard Carrier

  • When it comes to contemporary defenders of Jesus’ historical resurrection, you need look no further than Michael Licona (in 2012 he published the definitive 700 page work on the matter). This was a very entertaining debate on this issue between Licona and the clever Richard Carrier, whose arguments against the possibility of Christ’s resurrection tended to stem more from his naturalistic presuppositions than anything else (as Licona quite clearly showed).

5. Daniel Wallace vs. Bart Ehrman

  • I struggled to decide which debate to put here for number five, for there are a good number of solid exchanges between Bart Ehrman and orthodox Christians on the matter of the reliability of the New Testament texts, but Daniel Wallace’s presentation does a good job of laying out the vast quantity of material that we possess today that gives us good grounds for believing confidently in the veracity of Scripture. Ehrman is a scrappy debater and personable speaker who has gone up against Wallace several times (as well as Craig Evans and, of course, WLC), but who tends to be lauded mainly by people who want him to be right and are willing to make a few logical leaps to help him reach his conclusions. This is but one of many helpful debates to learn more about why the Bible is both trustworthy and true.


1. The Radio Show

  • Coming out of southern California, this podcast follows a group of friends (many with advanced degrees in philosophy or theology) who trade spots every week to lead live discussions on a wide variety of topics (recent shows include everything from abortion to logical positivism to a review of Son of God). Not only is the group personable and friendly, but they interact frequently with callers and welcome friendly criticisms. Each 2-hour-long episode does an excellent job at pointing out how philosophy and apologetics interact and why the whole enterprise is relevant.

2. Unbelievable? with Justin Brierley

  • While Justin Brierley is the host of this wonderful podcast and radio show from across the pond, he is rarely the focus of the show. Each episode typically brings together a theist and an atheist (or, at the very least, two theists with contrasting viewpoints) and Brierley moderates what always turns out to be a polite and enlightening discussion. Episodes last for about an hour and twenty minutes (though much of the fifteen minutes is typically Brierley responding to listener comments on previous episodes).

3. The Reasonable Faith Podcast /The Defenders Class Podcast with Kevin Harris and William Lane Craig

  • Again, William Lane Craig’s shadow looms large, but for good reason; these podcasts began by walking through Craig’s most famous book, but quickly grew into something much larger. Now, the RF podcast tends to see Craig respond to questions that his website receives or to current events in the media (for everywhere from 10 to 30 minutes). The Defenders podcast is a recording of the Sunday School class that Craig teaches at his church in Georgia and has a more structured curriculum of theological and philosophical units – each episode lasts about 20 to 40 minutes.

4. Apologetics 315 Interviews with Brian Auten

  • If you’re looking for more names to know in the contemporary world of Christian apologetics, then this podcast hosted by Brian Auten (creator of Apologetics 315) is the one for you. Each episode finds Auten interviewing a different apologist for about 45 minutes to an hour about their work and background. It’s an excellent way to discover new areas to learn about and people to guide you.

5. Straight Talk with Kenneth Samples

  • I typically enjoy podcasts with more than one person speaking, but Reasons to Believe’s Ken Samples’ podcast is very nice exception to that rule. Episodes run from 40 to 50 minutes and typically lean towards the theological side of apologetics, with a special focus on spiritual growth. Samples is a solid thinker who is certainly worth paying attention to and this podcast is a great way to start.

Other (Contemporary) Names to Know

  1. 620054_Nietzsche--God-is-Dead
    Hugh Ross
  2. N.T. Wright
  3. J. Warner Wallace
  4. MaryJo Sharp
  5. Robin Collins
  6. Alvin Plantinga
  7. Paul Copan
  8. Greg Koukl
  9. Holly Ordway
  10. Craig Blomberg
  11. Tim and Lydia McGrew
  12. Gary Habermas
  13. Ravi Zacharias
  14. Peter Kreeft
  15. Richard Swinburne
  16. Craig Keener
  17. Richard Hess
  18. Louis Markos
  19. Francis Beckwith
  20. William Dembski

The above list is in no particular order and is far from exhaustive: here are many more.

Other (Classical) Names to Know

  1. Augustine of Hippo
  2. G.K. Chesterton
  3. Athanasius of Alexandria
  4. Thomas Aquinas
  5. Tertullian
  6. Blaise Pascal
  7. Justin Martyr
  8. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
  9. Anselm of Canterbury
  10. William Paley

And, last but not least, the illimitable Lee Strobel, whose Case For… series of books and documentaries has probably done more to popularize Christian apologetics in the last twenty years than almost any other single project. It was Strobel’s Case for Christ that first awoke me from my dogmatic Christian slumber when I was a senior in high school and provoked me throughout college, eventually leading me to study under Dr. Doug Groothuis and take an M.A. in the philosophy of religion from Denver Seminary. It is most certainly worth picking up (it’s quite likely the cheapest book I’ve mentioned here).

A warning, though: because competence leads to confidence, it is very easy for budding apologists to fall prey to the temptations of pride that come through this sort of study. Just because you have the right answer does not mean that you have the right way to present that answer. We must always be sensitive to ensure that we are “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) when we “contend for the faith delivered once for all the saints” (Jude 3).

The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects and vice-versa. No matter how correct he or she is, no one will listen to (what they perceive as) an arrogant jerk.

That being said, you now have an idea about where to go next. Josh Wheaton’s story certainly didn’t end when the credits started to roll and neither has yours – get to work!

Bonus: An excellent primer in basic rules of logic – something with which any Christian honestly expecting to defend his or her faith (or to seek the Logos of John 1) should be familiar.

Tags: Apologetics, Apologists, Christian Apologetics, Christianity, Debates, God's Not Dead, John Lennox, Philosophy, Podcasts, Recommendations

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