Paul Asher is a talented reporter who is having a crisis of faith. He once believed in God, but a visit to war-torn Afghanistan changed all that. He now questions everything he was taught about religion.
He also has a crumbling marriage. And he's battling emotions and thoughts from seeing soldiers die.
What will it take to rescue him? Perhaps an interview with the Almighty would help.
That's exactly what Paul gets: three sit-down interviews with God, 30 minutes apiece. Will it help?
An Interview With God (unrated) debuts in theaters for three nights only: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday August 20-22 (click for tickets and showtimes in your area).
Here's my movie review and what you need to know:
1. It's very well done.
That’s not surprising, considering it features two top actors: Academy Award nominee David Strathairn (Darkest Hour, Good Night and Good Luck) as God/the Man and Brenton Thwaites (Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) as Paul. Their back-and-forth discussion – fascinating and entertaining -- takes up more than half the film. The rest of the movie involves Paul talking to his wife, his newspaper boss, and a mistress. Perry Lang, who has more than 48 mainstream titles to his credit, directed it.
2. The movie was made by Giving Films.
That's the same company that was behind 90 Minutes In Heaven and Paul, Apostle of Christ. The company donates all proceeds to charities and will focus on foster care for An Interview With God. The company's mission is to fund films that will "entertain and spark conversations around life, faith and relationships," according to a press release.
3. It gets a lot of the theology correct...
We learn God always has existed. His word is the Bible. He expects us to obey His commandments. There's nothing we can do to escape His love. He takes salvation very seriously. From a Christian perspective, it succeeds in some areas where The Shack movie failed. Paul tells God: "Jesus was super clear in John 14:6: 'I am the way, no one comes to the Father but through me.'" God responds: "Seems very clear to me." Later, God adds, "Everyone has their own journey but there is only one path."
4. ...but it has a few head-scratchers, too.
Paul asks God, "If we're saved through faith and faith alone, why would anyone follow all the other rules?" God responds: "But is faith all it takes? …I think you have a misunderstanding about the nature of faith." Is this a reference to faith without works being dead (James 2:20)? Perhaps. Asked if the Torah and the New Testament are the Word of God, God says, "Of course. But as understood by man and as translated by man." Many Christians will be troubled by God referencing the times of Noah and saying, "Was I too vengeful back then? Maybe." (When quoting God, it’s best to stick to the Bible.) Hell is never discussed – Paul doesn't ask about it – although God does say that Satan is "real" but "overrated." Satan, we're told, only has the power that is given to him.
5. It tackles the free will debate.
Is there free will? "Of course," we're told. But God also is sovereign. "You have to understand that my will and human free will are not contradictory because they are not two versions of the same thing, but they do fit perfectly together. I designed it that way," God says.
6. An Interview With God is convicting.
Paul wants to talk to God, but only on his own terms. He doesn't want to discuss his crumbling marriage. Finally, God forces the issue. "You have no secrets from me," God says, to which Paul retorts, "Yeah, I do! …My personal life is off-limits." God then tells Paul, "I would like to help you if you would let me." How many times throughout the week are we like Paul?
7. It may not be for small kids.
There's only a couple of "craps" and a misuse of "God," but the film also contains discussion of an affair by Paul's wife. Paul himself also has a romantic interest (sex is never mentioned).
Entertainment rating: 4 out of 5 stars. Family-friendly rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
An Interview With God is unrated. Visit AnInterviewWithGod.com
Photo courtesy: Giving Films
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.