So Chris Pratt has made some comments about praying to God and love of country and things, according to a post from a former U.S. congressman’s website that was frequently shared over the weekend, via another culturally/politically conservative blog.
Amusingly, the websites said Pratt’s remarks about praying for his premature son were “just” and “recently,” implying these remarks are new. But Pratt actually said this in a July 30, 2014 interview with People magazine.
Another website’s headline said an undefined “they” told Pratt to “keep Jesus off the set,” a phrase used in quotes. But I’ve never heard that phrase before about Pratt, and the site does nothing to substantiate the claim.
So these are some factual challenges to the “recent” hype. Perhaps someone had sat on this older story until Pratt was back in the headlines thanks to last weeks’ release of Jurassic World. Doesn’t matter. Now evangelicals are all prepared to make him their new leader just because Pratt has a “cloak” of fame.
1. Folks with “cloaks” of fame shouldn’t automatically be made leaders.
“You have a cloak; you shall be our leader, and this heap of ruins shall be under your rule” (Isaiah 3:6).
Evangelicals, can we stop giving that kind of response to every celebrity who professes some kind of God-honoring belief?
2. Let’s not sound so desperate.
“How desperate are you that you call on such lost creatures to defend you?”
Christ’s kingdom is built not first by talented celebrities operating outside visible local churches, but His “ordinary” faithful adopted sisters and brothers who serve him within visible local churches.
3. I missed the parts about the actual Jesus Christ.
From what I can tell, Pratt has said nothing to support the claim that he is a biblical Christian. He’s only spoken about God, ‘Murica, guns, and family values. That’s nice, and we should not require overt John 3:16-statements from every Christian celebrity at every time. But let’s not pretend this the same thing as the Gospel of Christ crucified and resurrected.
4. Lifestyle contradictions much?
Pratt also drinks and acts drunk, gleefully states “bad words” in interviews and film roles (the People interview about his restored faith includes a hearty “damn”), and gets pumped and topless in movies.
Once evangelicals board the new Pratt hype train and arrive at the station, disembark, and actually see some of those movies, perhaps we can re-evaluate two of our assumptions about professing Christian (or God-believing) celebrities?
- We suspect we should actually condemn this behavior from professing evangelical celebrities, or
- We should wholly ignore/excuse this behavior because it’s not convenient for a “culture war.”
From Christian Celebrity Mascots: The Dangers of Conversion Without Transformation at Christ and Pop Culture:
The evangelical Christian community has a history of glamorizing conversion stories not only when that conversion falls from the lips of a celebrity, but perhaps particularly so in those instances, because many evangelical Christians have adopted a team mentality within the Church. Those outside said team are not necessarily regarded as enemies, but they are certainly regarded as “other.” When someone lifts a toe over the finger-drawn line in the sand dividing “Christian” and “Not Christian,” it’s easy to exalt the act as a testimony of faith. It works well for the Christian agenda (which exists), and, when the person in question has a checkered past, lends itself well to the point many Christians are trying desperately to prove: Christians need not be of a cookie-cutter design.
5. Can we not endorse this kind of pop-cultural pragmatism?
Do we want to support Pratt because we think he is effectively training raptors to sic on our enemies (and not because raptor-training is an intrinsically cool image)? If so, our motive is lame, un-creative, and ultimately inhumane in a non-God-glorifying way.
6. Pratt doesn’t need to be a Christian for Christians to be his fans.
So far, Chris Pratt has proved an overall awesome and talented human being, both in his recent films (The Lego Movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, Jurassic World) and in multiple interviews. We can enjoy Pratt’s reflection of God’s image as a human and an exceptionally creative human, and we can enjoy the fantastical cinematic stories he helps tell, without feeling we must automatically declare him a Christian.
7. And finally, a moment of lightness.
Chris Pratt could eat no fat
His wife could eat no lean
And so betwixt the two of them
They chewed up the scene.1