Richard T. Jones, Caleb T. Thomas, Jaci Velasquez, Karen Valero, C. Thomas Howell, Amber Thompson
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Most Pure Flix productions—the flagship God’s Not Dead films, The Case For Christ, I’m Not Ashamed—stick to a fundamentalist emphasis on the importance of testifying to faith in every possible arena, with a healthy dose of persecution paranoia for garnish. The comparatively innocuous A Question Of Faith is a surprisingly unrelenting lecture on the dangers of texting while driving (a phrase said way more times than the name of Jesus), with a secondary emphasis on why it’s good to be an organ donor. Perhaps this unexpected tack is due to the fact that Question isn’t an in-house production, but one Pure Flix acquired from Silver Lining Entertainment, whose (until now secular) slate focuses on black audiences. Pure Flix’s slate has been lily-white to date, but the enormous success of War Room has demonstrated the importance of demographic diversification—T.C. Stallings, late of that film, is on hand here.
Via an interminable number of drone shots, A Question Of Faith ties together three families. David Newman (Richard T. Jones) is preparing to take over his father’s role as senior pastor at an Atlanta church, which is preparing a major expansion. In a very familiar family film trope, that means he repeatedly makes promises to younger son Eric (Caleb T. Thomas) about attending basketball games he often misses. Across town, Mexican restaurant proprietress Kate Hernandez (Jaci Velasquez) watches disapprovingly as delivery driver/daughter Maria (Karen Valero) pulls into the parking lot while texting. When David is once again negligent in picking up Eric, the kid starts walking while the film repeatedly cross-cuts to Maria once again texting and driving. Guess what happens next?
The resulting events connect the plot to a third family: deeply in debt building contractor John Danielson (C. Thomas Howell, looking genuinely peeved throughout), whose daughter Michelle (Amber Thompson) has a heart defect. Meanwhile, Eric’s mom spreads the message at school gatherings that texting and driving is bad, thereby saving thousands of lives. All three families have their crises of faith, but the message is clear: God lets everything happen for a reason.
A Question Of Faith also has some weird notes around the edges. It’s vaguely implied that John is racist: He’s called in to do the church expansion and says the church is nicer than he expected for this “part of town,” and at the end he thanks God for releasing him from the “prison of color,” but the film shies away from diving in further. Instead the plot returns over and over to texting and driving and the importance of taking a pledge against it (“You can challenge your friends on social media to take the pledge”). The plot’s mechanics in tying the families together are often clumsy and contorted, in ways that are strange without being particularly interesting, though the opening lyrics of the closing song do momentarily startle: “Tragedies are commonplace / All kinds of diseases / People are slipping away / The economy’s down / People can’t get enough pay.” But don’t worry: God’s got this.