(Photos and videos courtesy of 2018 Pure Flix Entertainment LLC)
Being And Sharing the Light
An Interview with ‘God’s Not Dead’ Cast Mates Shane Harper and David A.R. White
By Sarah Komisky
The key to any great film saga is great drama. If the audience is engaged, they will keep coming back for more. When you think about great trilogies like Star Wars, Spider Man, or even Toy Story, there is always at the heart a good story that leaves a movie-goer in anticipation for what’s next. Pure Flix’s God’s Not Dead films are no exception. With relevant plots, beloved characters, and engaging drama, these films always keep it real and spark dialogue that is spot on for the times we live in. With the first two films focused on issues of Christian liberty and standing up for your faith, the 3rd installment, God’s Not Dead: A Light in the Darkness, takes a different turn. This March, the wait will be over for fans! To help kick things off, we at Marked Ministry sat down with two of our favorite returnees, Shane Harper and David A.R. White (AKA Josh Wheaton and Reverend Dave). We hope this dialogue will get you excited for the new release and spark your own dialogue with those around you of different faiths. Enjoy!
Sarah: This is the 3rd installment of this popular series. What made you want to come back?
Shane: I just think it was all about the timing of it. I also felt the vision that our director and producers had was something very special and extremely relevant. I couldn’t say no.
David: I think we always knew after the first one, to make three, and given the impact of the first two, it just re enforced the importance of continuing on with the Franchise.
Sarah: One of the things I think this film did a great job of was showcasing the idea of fostering relationships with others that might not be of the same faith and being open to having healthy dialogue. In your opinion, why do you believe that is important?
Shane: We have to have an open and respectful dialogue with people that don’t share the same beliefs or opinions. We can’t miss the heart of God in our discourse. There aren’t enough examples of healthy and respectful dialogue among people of different faiths/backgrounds in our culture today, so hopefully this film helps bring that to light a bit more.
Sarah: To tag on to the prior question, what has the experience been like for you as a Christian in the mainstream industry and how have you been able to stay grounded in your faith?
Shane: As Christians our mission is to love God and love our neighbor. I think it’s easy to over-spiritualize and overcomplicate what it means to live and work in “mainstream” culture. Many practical things keep me grounded such as my family, my friends, prayer, daily Bible reading, etc. But it doesn’t matter if you’re a dentist, a banker, or a Hollywood actor. Being a Christian is the same everywhere I believe. Serve instead of being served. Put others above yourself. It’s the upside down kingdom.
Sarah: Currently, the world is pretty broken. Pretty divided. Why is the message of A Light in the Darkness so crucial for our world right now and why do you believe it’s relevant?
Shane: This movie is about unity. It’s about making the gap smaller instead of widening it. A lot of people are privatizing the faith and confining it to certain social and political groups. We’re losing what makes the Gospel so powerful and life changing, especially in American evangelical culture. This film doesn’t ignore the problems at hand, certainly. But it definitely takes the road less traveled. It takes a Gospel centered approach to conflict and I believe that can change lives.
Sarah: There are so many issues that are on the rise right now as Christian’s rights are really being quieted and essentially being stripped. Yet, the characters in this film really fight the opposition concerning their faith with love. That can be viewed as an oxymoron. Share your thoughts on why you think this truth of Jesus is so powerful to bring change in the world and with each other?
David: I think at the core of this film, the theme is about what our last decade has been about a dark social political divisiveness that has permeated our culture. As believers we are called to be lights in the world, to live Christ’s example even when it’s not fair or earned, because if we don’t do this, then who will?
Sarah: In the film, one line that was really key was when Keaton (Samantha Boscarino) confronts Pastor Dave regarding this generation falling away from Christianity and essentially saying that the church should act like the church in showing God’s love. What is your hope for believers who see this film in carrying on this message?
David: That certainly was a question we wanted to answer in this film; Is the church relevant in today’s society, does it still have it’s purpose, and I think this film talks openly about that. It was important for us to not just be one sided, but to show all sides, and why people have these opinions.
Sarah: I think there is something to be said about these characters being very relatable because they are so real. What did you appreciate most about your character and why?
Shane: Absolutely. The characters in this movie are far from one dimensional. I like Josh’s progress a lot. He’s definitely lived some life since the first movie. There’s a calmness and a quietness to his advice and exhortation. He’s always ready to give an answer or try to find one if he is unsure. But I really appreciate the way he goes about doing so. I tried to make sure he doesn’t come across “preachy.”
Sarah: David, for you, your character as a pastor really showed his imperfections. Why do you think it was critical to show the cracks in his character, struggles with his faith and the process of forgiveness he faced?
David: In the first two films, the catch phrase was, “God is Good ALL the time, and ALL time God is good,” but the bigger question that we wanted to address in this film was, “Is God Really Good,” when so many things come against us even when they are unjust.
Sarah: Shane, I know fans were really happy to see Josh Wheaton return in this film. This time around, you had to make some transitions as your character has matured and your role has changed taking on a more supporting role. How did it feel taking on those transitions and being molded into a character that really represents justice in many ways?
Shane: Josh has really come to realize that without social justice your faith has no real outworking. His approach and understanding comes from a genuine place I think. He’s lived a bit of life and been through some humbling moments. The only way to get to a compassionate place is through failure. You can see that especially when he’s giving advice to Keaton as she struggles to find her faith amid the trails she faces.
Sarah: Since we are interviewing both of you, what would you say is one thing you appreciate about each other as cast mates?
Shane: David is great. What can I say about David? What a journey it’s been since the first movie. His performance in the film is awesome. There’s a different side to his character we get to see. We see his flaws. We see his humanity. I think his character’s vulnerability will really resonate with people.
David: I love Shane and I think he has so much to offer, he also has a pulse on the youth today, and that’s of course something that is so key to the God’s Not Dead franchise.
Sarah: Shane, we got to hear your music in the first film, will there be more in this one?
Shane: There is no new music of mine attached to this film but I’ll always be grateful for “Hold You Up.” I’m very thankful for all God’s Not Dead has brought into my life and the lives of so many people around the world. I’m so excited to bring it home with this 3rd installment.
Sarah: In closing, what’s on the horizon for you?
David: I’ve been enjoying doing some series work on a show called Malibu Dan the Family Man that’s on PureFlix.com. I’m excited about shooting more episodes soon, there’s lots of laughs on set!
Shane: I’m currently getting to release new music as a solo artist. I have a few film and TV projects coming out later this year.
Check out God’s Not Dead: A Light in the Darkness out in theatres March 30th. For more, visit: godsnotdeadmovieevents.com