God On Trial to Air on PBS
by Phil Boatwright

God On Trial first airs on PBS, November 9th at 9pm ET.

FILM SYNOPSIS: In this poignant drama, a group of prisoners at Auschwitz place God on trial for murder and collaboration.  Antony Sher (Primo), Rupert Graves (The Forsythe Saga), Dominic Cooper (The Duchess), and Stellan Skarsgard (Mama Mia!) head the cast in this harrowing courtroom drama set in a death camp, with religious and non-believing Jews coming to terms with a world drenched in evil and suffering.

Screenwriter Frank Cottrell Boyce has penned the often told, but unconfirmed, story of a group of Auschwitz detainees who form a makeshift rabbinical court.  Their faith tested to the breaking point, they weigh God’s participation in their plight and His seeming breaking of the covenant with Israel.

PREVIEW REVIEW:  Is it blasphemous to question God?  God says to Job, “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?” (Job 38:2).   on the other hand, a character in the film reasons with scripture, pointing out that Abraham haggled with God over Sodom, and that the very name Israel means “he that striveth with God.”  In either case, I never felt the film intended to blaspheme.  It does, however, reveal man’s frustration that his faith in God depends on just that, faith.

Though even the strongest Believer may question his beliefs at some time, there’s an assuredness at the center of his soul that Jesus is the Messiah. The Holy Spirit has placed this confidence deep within.  But no matter how many books document the personage of Jesus, or how many testimonies are heard purporting miracles done in His name, ultimately, there is the need for faith. This was by design. For the only way mankind can please God, the only gift it can offer Him, and the only way people can develop a spiritual character, is through faith. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV).

But it’s easy to hide behind those thoughts when not faced with terror and death.  Perhaps that is why it is essential for Christians and Jews to know the Word.  When you study the people in the Bible, it quickly becomes apparent that each and every one of them had their dark moments where they questioned, “God, where are you?”  In many of the Psalms, David questioned why God had turned His back on Him.  Yet, by the end of each of those poems, he found himself praising God.  Something deep inside must have assured him that God was near.  David’s faith lifted him up as he walked through the valley of the shadow.  Name me someone in the scriptures who didn’t go through those dark shadows.

Well paced, dynamically acted, but it addresses tough questions.  One should be solid in scripture before viewing this production.  While I spend time in Bible study every day, still I was unnerved by the questions.  At one point, I even asked myself, if God allows such awful things to befall mankind, how can I expect him to even provide for me?  Am I more special?  (Right away, I knew the answer to that one.)  Then I realized that even men bent on merely asking questions can be led by an agenda.  This year, there have been several films whose themes were determined to shake our faith.  And if you’ll recall, Bill Maher’s Religulous didn’t just want to declare that all faith is foolishness.  It went so far as to state, “Religion must die so mankind can live.” 

I become suspicious when a man desires to shake another’s faith.  He not only doesn’t want to believe in God, he doesn’t want others to, either.

I know I’m straying a bit from an actual critique.  But I’m praying my thoughts will be an uplift to you readers.  I’m sure you already know all this, but maybe reading it over will be helpful in some way.

First, non-believers believe we desire their to be a God and a Heaven out of fear or as a crutch.  Well, I’ve never feared death. I do fear dying, for it generally involves some amount of pain.  And each day, there seems to be a new and more horrific way to die.  I fear that.  But being dead doesn’t unnerve me. 

As for a crutch, meaning, something to fall back on because life isn’t going your way, well I suppose we all need that at times.  But the more we delve into the scriptures and the more the Holy Spirit reveals Himself, the need for an opiate diminishes.  Suddenly we feel fed by the truth.  And it sets us free.  Can’t answer for anyone else, but I believe in God because I believe.  Simple as that.  What’s more, I’m convinced in my soul that God granted me that belief.  I didn’t earn it.  And it hasn’t given me the wisdom of the ages.  It’s just there.  And it’s something I pray all of you have.

End of sermon.  Don’t do that very often.  Just felt that this year has been loaded with things anti-faith.  Don’t let them take your faith.

Though the Almighty is defended in God on Trial, eventually He is found guilty by man’s limited reasoning. 

Not rated:  It contains adult subject matter (very), not suitable for children.  Early on, one of the inmates angrily calls God a bastard.  He does this several times.  Brief backside nudity as the men are processed into the camp; their dignity is removed.  By film’s end, the prisoners are led off to be executed.  They are being gassed in the showers, they are seen praying despite the fact that they have declared God guilty.

DVD Alternative:  The Case For Faith.  Journalist and one-time atheist Lee Strobel investigates these two emotional objections to Christianity:  Why is Jesus the only way to God? And, how could a loving God exist if there is evil and suffering in the world?  He presents his case with the well-reasoned facts of a Perry Mason, but wisely includes the emotional testimonies of those who have undergone serious questioning of their relationship with Christ.