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Christianity TodayDecember (Web-only) 2012


 ARTICLE TOOLS

Should High-Profile Converts Wait to Publicly Share Their Conversion?
Experts weigh in on controversy over Two and a Half Men star's conversion.



Angus T. Jones, the star of "Two and a Half Men" and a recent convert to Seventh-day Adventism, raised eyebrows last week when a testimony video surfaced in which the 19-year-old denounced his notoriously raunchy TV comedy as "filth" and urged viewers to stop watching it.

(Note: Responses below are on a spectrum, starting with "yes" and ending with "no.")

"Yes. Discernment with mentors and prayerful reflection with fellow believers are always vital prior to sharing our personal faith. Our personalities frame the gospel for others. Who we are is always linked to who people will see Christ as being—whether we like it or not. We need to seek wisdom from others as to what we say, when we say it, and when we need to be silent. This is particularly true for those with large audiences."
Jeffrey F. Keuss, theology professor, Seattle Pacific University

"While conversion can happen in an instant, sanctification takes time. And speaking wisely to and about cultural realities requires just such sanctification. … Making a public profession of faith simply requires Spirit-inspired boldness. But that's very different from offering cultural commentary as a Christian. Christian wisdom isn't implanted in us by some sort of magic, like a mental upload in The Matrix. It is cultivated by our immersion in formative practices over time. [Angus T. Jones's] new Christian friends should have known better."
James K. A. Smith, philosophy professor, Calvin College

"High-profile converts should be free to publicly express their newfound faith, but preferably after they've spent some time fully getting to know the faith and becoming a somewhat articulate spokesperson. Whether they want to be or not, celebrity converts become representatives of the faith, and the church needs them to be informed and eloquent representatives."
Brett McCracken, author, Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide

"I don't think high-profile converts should necessarily wait to publicly share their conversions. But they should not rush with statements about the implications of their conversions for their public roles. They should bear witness to what they personally have found in Jesus Christ, but they may wait just a bit to tell the world how they think Christ relates to all spheres of our lives—including the sphere in which they are famous."
Miroslav Volf, professor, Yale Divinity School



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