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Movie review: An interview with God

Movie review: An interview with God

Movie review: An interview with God

8 November 2018

Brenton Thwaites as Paul Asher, a rising journalist who accepts an offer of an interview with a man who claims to be God (played by David Strathairn).

By Mark Hadley

An Interview with God stars Brenton Thwaites as Paul Asher, a rising journalist who has just returned from a stint covering the war in Afghanistan.

He has carved a niche for himself at a New York newspaper writing about spiritual issues, and his last piece – “Christians In Combat” – has gained him high praise, as well as a personal crisis. Paul’s marriage is stumbling, and his faith is faltering. Into this context, he accepts an offer of an interview with a man who claims to be God.

“God” is expertly played by David Strathairn, presenting us with a creator who is both sympathetic and unapologetic about what he is prepared to put humanity through.

Paul soon realises he is dealing with a character who defies easy dismissal or explanation, and the longer the interviews go on, the more the journalist realises he is the subject, and not the mild-mannered man before him.

An Interview With God is probably one of the best collections of apologetic answers to ever make it to the big screen.

Paul and his mystery man cover a wide range of significant questions from the expected, “How do you get to Heaven?” to the esoteric, “Can an atheist be a moral person?”

In each case the Bible forms the basis of the answers given. Scholars beware, there are quite a few theological hairs to split, but given the limitations of the medium, the responses are surprisingly robust.

More importantly, Strathairn presents us with a God who is neither embarrassed by his answers nor unsympathetic to our struggles with them.

He is the Lord Almighty, but he is also our Heavenly Father.

For the war-torn journalist, though, the biggest questions centre unsurprisingly on suffering. “Why don’t you help us?” he demands. “Just do something!”

And here, the God of the universe turns the demand back on his interviewer: “Yes, do something. You have more power than you know, Paul. Food can be grown. Diseases can be cured. Wars ended. A troubled veteran can be helped and a marriage saved. So, when you ask me why all this is happening, start by looking to each other. And that’s where I’ll be.”

But An Interview With God doesn’t follow the fault line of the “God in all of us” like Conversations With God, or settle for a creator wringing her hands on the edge of creation like The Shack.

Instead, the conversation integrates our responsibility to each other, with our responsibility to God.

At this point it becomes very clear that An Interview With God has believers, not seekers in its sights. Paul struggles with why his lifelong “faith” has not prevented him from coming to his current crisis.

God tells Paul that his faith has to be more than intellectual assent. It must work its way out into his life.

The church-going “faith” that inspires self-confidence and divine criticism, does not inspire An Interview With God. Real faith trusts God to be God.

It is a process that daily dedicates itself to depending on him – then moves outward to demonstrating his character to the world.

You might think An Interview With God is meant for an unbelieving world, but I believe it has more to say to uninspired Christians, because it ultimately offers the same observation the Apostle James does: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26) NKJV. 

 

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