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Monday, September 7, 2015

Celebrity Christianity

by Barbara Early

Dean Jones
While I was debating what to write about this month, a couple of topics crossed my mind. I was considering chiming in about the Duggars and their recent scandals. But then the recent passing of Dean Jones got me thinking about him. Then I thought, why not do both?

There are several threads in common. Josh Duggar was brought up in a home that taught him Christian values, and apparently so was Dean Jones. Both rejected the teaching of their parents and walked away from God.

 Dean Jones did so openly, and at the height of his career was known to like fast women, fast cars (no, not just in the Herbie movies) and hard drink—and had a tendency to mix these ingredients together. He was almost killed in a drunk-driving accident.

Josh Duggar, instead of openly rebelling, played a game of Christianity, conforming outwardly, but
Josh Duggar
rebelling inwardly, which led to an increasing number of sexual sins which were covered up and hidden, leading to perhaps the greatest sin a person can commit: hypocrisy. (You may disagree. I’ll come back to that later.)

Here’s the problem. Most people today have a limited understanding of the Bible and what Christianity is supposed to be about. Much of what they learn comes from what they see lived out in front of them. In some cases, that’s you and me, hopefully living a sincere Christian life: not perfect, but striving to please our Savior in our thoughts, actions, and attitudes. But oftentimes that message is drowned out by the louder clamor of celebrity Christianity. And when Christian celebrities act badly, the world takes note.

The good news for Dean Jones is that, like the Prodigal Son, something woke him up and showed him his need for God. According to Christianity Today, Jones realized he was living a life that could never satisfy him.  “Could I continue to deceive myself into believing that whatever vacuum existed within me would be filled in the future by more and bigger portions of that I'd consumed in the past?” Read the whole article

What followed his conversion was perhaps the best evidence of true Christianity: a changed life. He became choosy about the roles he portrayed. He married one woman, and that marriage lasted for decades.And while I loved him in many of the Disney movies he starred in earlier, in my opinion he gave his penultimate performance in
St. John in Exile, Jones’s one-man performance of the life of the  apostle John. It has never failed to make me weep. No, not just tear up, but weep. Unfortunately, this renewed life wasn’t known by much of the world. No salacious headlines in someone behaving.

Now, the bad news for Josh Duggar and why hypocrisy may be the greatest enemy to true Christianity. Let me preface this by saying that I do not know the state of Josh Duggar’s heart, whether he is a true Christian who walked headlong into grievous sin, or whether he is a counterfeit Christian, doing what sinners do naturally. I can only say that his life doesn’t give much credence to his claim of Christianity. There is certainly nothing Christ-like about lust and adultery. (The good news for Josh Duggar is that the same redemptive power that changed Dean Jones is still available.)

But the hypocrisy is even more damning, and not just to Josh Duggar. Let’s say the whole world is
sitting in one gigantic jury box. They’re charged with deciding if Christ is real. While preachers the world over are making the case for Christ, this jury of billions is examining all the evidence, including the actions of Dean Jones, Josh Duggar, and…gulp…you and me. The question is not whether our lives bear enough evidence to accuse us of being Christians, but whether our lives prove that Jesus is real, and that He is who He says he is, and that He has the power to transform lives.

But for those still in the jury box, let me say this: I’m sorry that we have given you so many bad examples. But none of those bad examples negate who Jesus is, so don’t reject him on hearsay evidence and tainted testimony. Look to the source. Read his words for yourself. If you’re not all that familiar with the Bible, I’d recommend the Gospel of John as a great starting point.

Maybe even get your hands on a copy of St. John in Exile to watch while you read. I think Dean Jones would like that.

13 comments:

  1. That applause you hear is coming from me.

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  2. That applause you hear is coming from me.

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  3. Thanks. It was something on my heart. :)

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  4. Thanks. It was something on my heart. :)

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  5. That's excellent. That's what the world (including Christians) needs to hear. Whatever we do or don't do, it doesn't change who God is and what He wants for us.

    Wonderful post!

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  6. Loved reading the interview with Dean Jones --I didn't know that about him: I really want to see "That Darn Cat" again now ... =)

    I think you hit the nail on the head about hypocrisy. As a former home-schooler, I enjoyed watching the Duggars' tv show and even though I didn't agree with all of their convictions, I respected them and thought they gave the public a positive view of Christians. I think for me, it shows the danger putting people on pedestals --we are human and we will fail (but God never will) and also that we all make our own decisions --you can be raised in a Christian home, have the best parents, whatever, and still fall into sin.

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