Does our Faith Have a Place in the World? A Review of ‘God’s Not Dead - A Light in Darkness’ - Hope 103.2

Does our Faith Have a Place in the World? A Review of ‘God’s Not Dead – A Light in Darkness’

The tension between church and state, and the place of religion in schools and colleges, is a tension that takes centre stage in the latest instalment of the God’s Not Dead movie franchise.

By Laura BennettThursday 3 May 2018Hope AfternoonsMoviesReading Time: 4 minutes

Listen: Laura Bennett interviews David A.R.White, ‘Pastor Dave’ in ‘God’s Not Dead – A Light in Darkness’.

Mention ‘religious education in schools’ and a variety of opinions will surface. Some view it as foundational to creating a healthy society and educating our kids well, while others want it abandoned in favour of schooling that involves little spiritual curiosity. 

It’s a tension that takes centre stage in the latest instalment of the God’s Not Dead movie franchise. Made by the makers of Mom’s Night Out and The Case for Christ, it tackles the relationship between church and state, and God’s relevance to today’s world. In a chat with Hope 103.2. David A.R. White (who plays Pastor Dave) says it’s not an easy topic to tackle.

“It’s definitely tricky,” he said. “How do you react to this situation, and who’s right? We want to be authentic and tell an organic real story and the struggles on both sides of the aisle. Right now in our country it’s been one of those dark social, political, divisive times where everybody’s yelling and nobody’s listening. Where does the unity come in?”

David A.R. White in a scene from God's Not Dead 3

Above: David A.R. White plays the pastor of a church that’s vandalised in God’s Not Dead 3.

It’s a dynamic we’re seeing played out in Australia too. Christians are increasingly cautious not just in sharing their faith, but about how to express their beliefs to someone with a different cultural or religious framework. It’s a challenge White believes we should address, and can overcome.

“We know what the church is against, but we so often don’t know what they’re for these days. I think that’s one of the reasons why a lot of people have been hurt by the church; they feel the judgement, they feel all the stuff coming against them, and yet [the centre] of what we’re supposed to be doing is love,” said David.

“…[The questions is] how do we love in the midst of brokenness, in the midst of the hurt, the pain, the arguing, and the injustice that goes on… [Answering] that is one of the things the film tries to do.” David said.

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How Family Helps Refine our Faith 

Central to God’s Not Dead’s exploration of the divide between church and state, is White’s relationship with his atheist on-screen brother Pearce (John Corbett – All Saints, My Big Fat Greek Wedding).

“When you see the film one of the things people love a lot about it is this relationship because it feels really authentic,” David said. “[Family tension] is normal in a lot of ways. Families are split; somebody thinks one thing and the other side thinks another, and they can’t get along and spend years not talking… this kind of thing happens all the time and it’s another thing we wanted to address.”

John Corbett and David AR White in Gods Not Dead 3

Tense relationship: John Corbett plays the brother of David AR White in God’s Not Dead 3.

The two battle to see each other’s point of view, and having been raised by Christian parents there’s confusion over why one has embraced their faith and not the other. However it wasn’t all deep-thinking and intensity between the brothers though; one of David’s favourite scenes was with John.

“[We] had to cut down this tree… and you know I haven’t cut down a tree in a long, long time, and apparently there’s a lot of work that goes into it,” David chuckles. “You know, wielding that axe, and then pulling out a chainsaw, and trying not the have the tree fall on you, John and I had a good time with that. I’m not as young as I thought I was.”

A Film That Asks the Tough Questions

Being able to produce three films, and see audiences embrace their ethos, White and his team are clearly still passionate about generating conversations around the existence of God, and His relationship to us.

“One of the things people have really identified with in this franchise, is that it asks tough questions that a lot of movies, even faith-based movies, kind of skate around,” said David. “Something that the [franchise] has always been about is trying to drill in to both sides, both arguments, and the reason behind what we believe and why we believe it.”

It’s certainly a conversation starter, and a film that will hopefully help bridge the gap between the church and those unsure of the Christian faith.

God’s Not Dead: A Light in Darkness is in cinemas May 3.