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Should Chris Pratt Guard The Evangelical Galaxy?

We can enjoy the “Jurassic World” star’s beliefs and stories without pretending he’s the next Christian pop-culture leader.
| Jun 16, 2015 | 6 comments |

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.

My responses:

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?

  1. We suspect we should actually condemn this behavior from professing evangelical celebrities, or
  2. 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.

jurassicworld_raptortraining5. 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 GalaxyJurassic 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

E. Stephen Burnett is coauthor (with Ted Turnau and Jared Moore) of The Pop Culture Parent: Helping Kids Engage Their World for Christ, which will release in spring 2020 from New Growth Press. He also explores biblical truth and fantastic stories as editor in chief of Lorehaven Magazine and writer at Speculative Faith. He has also written for Christianity Today and Christ and Pop Culture. He and his wife, Lacy, live in the Austin area and serve as members of Southern Hills Baptist Church.

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Totally agree with every word. Sorry, but I just don’t get this glorifying of “Christian” “celebrities”. From the Duggars to the Duck People to megachurch pastors to (now) Chris Pratt….it’s so ridiculous and really, really shallow. It smacks of desperation (“look at how cool WE are!”) and makes us look bad, and by extension, cheapens the glorious Gospel. Ugh.

J.M. Hackman
J.M. Hackman

Good points here.  If Chris Pratt really is a Christian, good for him. It won’t make me like him any more or any less. For example, I enjoy Johnny Depp’s movies, but am not a fan of his lifestyle. There are a few Christians who I don’t care for even if they are my supposed brothers/sisters. I’m assuming our eternal homes will be on separate streets.

I don’t think we should look to celebrities to validate our faith or to make us cool. We won’t ever BE cool — God’s word tells us that. If that’s what you’re looking for, you should hook up with the Scientologists.

Greg - AKA Tiribulus

I never heard of this man until I saw this article and couldn’t possibly care less about this movie. I do however think I agree with the general overall direction you are pointing in here though Stephen.

I love Columbo on occasion. Peter Falk was not a Christian.

Julie D

Yes for the Loki quote!

Walter Cantrell
Walter Cantrell

Great article Stephen.  I too have wondered why there is such an obsession with celebrity Christianity.

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 NKJV
26  For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.
27  But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;
28  and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are,
29  that no flesh should glory in His presence.