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(This is Part 2 in a series on my interviews with Heaven Is For Real Screenwriter & Director Randall Wallace of Braveheart, Secretariat, Pearl Harbor and We Were Soldiers fame.)

Randall Wallace is a writer’s writer. That may mean different things to different people. To me, it’s a matter of being real. For example, in Heaven Is For Real, Wallace reaches for his general philosophy on faith and writes it into each scene like a movement in a symphony that takes his audience one melodic step nearer to his conclusion.

“My belief is that all people have the same relevant issues,” Wallace says. “We’re all dealing with the same crucial internal needs, the need to be connected with what truly matters, the need to be set free; that ultimate freedom comes from the belief that God’s love is what brought us into this world and God’s love will continue beyond this world.”

Heaven Is For Real certainly fits hand and glove with that concept. It’s so universal that it fits every man, woman and child, and, for Wallace, every script. It’s no wonder he was drawn to a story so poignant and yet so simple that “a child shall lead them,” as it states in Isaiah 11:6. This is literally the case in Heaven Is For Real because the true-story film centers on a four year-old boy named Colton who visits heaven while undergoing an appendix operation. In heaven, he sits on Jesus’ lap, meets and talks to relatives that he shouldn’t know about, sees pets and colors and hears angels sing – although they wouldn’t sing, “We Will Rock You.” The child does, in fact, lead an entire church and community into a confirmation that God loves and most certainly loves beyond this life.

For Wallace, Heaven Is For Real is a more literal work of his faith because it is blatantly about Christianity and the Christian view of heaven. But how does he write more general movies with Christian themes while avoiding universalism? Perhaps Solomon’s universalistic tone in Ecclesiastes 3:11 that God sets “eternity in the heart of man” gives Wallace his intrinsic guidance for what some would call “crossover” art.

“God is bigger than my understanding of God,” Randall explains. “He is not impressed by our labels by ourselves. I see Christianity as a question of identity, that Jesus says, ‘Follow me.’ Our question is: ‘What does it mean to follow Jesus?’ When I look at the lives of all great people…there are times when they walked in darkness; people like C.S. Lewis who identified himself as an atheist for much of his life but he was still in the hands of God who was working on him. One of my favorite parables in The Bible is the passage where the father has two sons and tells them to go work in the field. One says he will but doesn’t and the other says he won’t but does. Which one did the will of his father? I like telling the stories that are not trying to convince someone to believe with the same understanding I have, but allows for someone to be open to the working of God in their life and the identity that God can bring to them.”

While little Colton helped adults step beyond their theology to conclude that heaven is for real, Wallace is helping many conclude that God is real right here on earth.

BELOW: WALLACE, LEFT, BRINGS LAUGHTER AND HIS SEMINARY TRAINING TO HOLLYWOOD.

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