Chris Pratt, Shia LaBeouf, and the Troubling Infatuation with Christian Celebrities

Chris Pratt has been all over my Facebook and Twitter feeds this week — not just for his role in Jurassic World, but because of his comments about faith. Evidently he turned to God at his son’s premature birth, posts verses to Facebook, and goes to church.

Last year, Shia LaBeouf received similar attention when he said he “became a Christian man” on the set of Fury. Then, as now, Christians excitedly shared the story across Facebook and Twitter.

But it’s not just these guys. We tend to glorify the Christian athletes who praise God after a victory, musicians who sing vaguely inspirational songs, or reality TV stars who say they’re Christians. In each situation, we hastily, enthusiastically share the story with glowing comments:

  • “Can’t believe that he is a Christian, too!”
  • “Wow, God could really use her!”
  • “Take that liberals in Hollywood!”

We treat their faith, no matter how genuine, as a cause for unbridled celebration.

To be clear, my issue isn’t with Pratt, LaBeouf, and others. I desperately hope they know our Savior, and I applaud their openness to talk about matters of faith.

Rather, my issue is with us. Our frenzied reaction to such stories points to a problem: we have an unhealthy infatuation with Christian celebrities. I’m afraid we subtly believe that we need Christian celebrities to vindicate our beliefs — or worse, that God needs Christian celebrities to accomplish His will.

But our infatuation with the celebrity is not a new problem. The Apostle Paul once addressed a similar issue in the Corinthian church. These believers were infatuated with teachers who had lofty credentials (the “celebrities” of their day), so Paul confronted them.

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men… For God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God”

-1 Corinthians 1:25-29

Did you catch that? God uses the weak and low to shame the strong wise and strong — so that none of us have a reason to boast. God doesn’t need famous people; he needs humble people.

The idea that God needs famous people is not just wrong, it’s dangerous. D. A. Carson helpfully explains:

“If God accepted people on such grounds [such as wisdom, “pull,” or wealth], he would compromise himself. He would be the worst kind of snob, the kind that is impressed by entirely superficial advantages  — like a panting, third-rate social climber in a pinstripe suit, desperate to be approved and eager to fawn all over anyone who speaks with a posh accent.”

-The Cross and Christian Ministry, 29

So I do desperately hope Pratt and LaBeouf have believed in Jesus. But I also desperately hope that the homeless man downtown, my former co-worker, and that troubled kid from high school have believed in Jesus as well — for their salvation would be just as much reason to celebrate as any celebrity’s.

Yes, we should desire celebrities to come to faith. But we don’t need them to vindicate our faith — and God certainly doesn’t need them to accomplish His will.

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