“People are not “proven” heretics (or anything at all) by a handful of misunderstood quotes, by not condemning everything bad the second they see it, or by speaking with a measure of situationally-aware class.” – Lyndon Unger
[Update: Make sure you see Justin Peter’s comment in the comments below as well as my follow up.]
On the Thursday, September 18th Worldview Weekend program, Brannon Howse and Justin Peters talked about Kirk Cameron doing an interview for a Catholic radio program, Busted Halo. The WVW episode can be heard HERE until it gets archived in the Situation Room. Justin talked about the interview more for the Monday, September 22nd edition of his own program, that can be heard HERE.
I’ll say up front that I have appreciated both Brannon and Justin and what they do. I have particularly liked Justin’s ministry of exposing the heresies of the Word of Faith movement. I know a lot of people who have been helped by his teaching in that area. I had the privilege of meeting him last year at the Strange Fire conference and spent some brief time with him at the RefMont conference in June up in Montana. And even though I have had disagreements last year with Brannon, I am supportive overall with what he is doing at Worldview Weekend, especially his efforts with pulling together the team of radio/podcast hosts that are heard on his network.
But with that said, however, I thought their critique of Kirk was grossly unfair. They accused him of giving an implicit endorsement of Catholicism because he didn’t immediately go into “sharing” the Gospel at the beginning of the interview when he and the host were making their opening pleasantries. They didn’t like certain terminology he used when he gave his testimony. And they were particularly bugged by the theme of his upcoming Christmas movie.
My honest evaluation: I think they are reading way too much into his comments given in a promotional interview for a recent DVD release and his film on Christmas.
Now, I don’t want to come off as a gushing, wide-eyed fanboy. I have had my criticisms of Kirk as well in the past. In fact, when it came to his teaming up with Glenn Beck for his film, Monumental, in a post I wrote up about it, I agreed with Brannon’s criticism of Kirk’s affiliation with Beck. But this recent interview was in no way like his teaming up with Glenn Beck for a screening of a movie. Their critical charges against him are in my estimation, so wildly off-target to almost be considered purposefully dishonest.
Kirk, for a while, attended Grace Church with his family where I got to chat with him a few times. Through a weird occurrence of providence, my former pastor from my college days in Arkansas now lives out here in California and he and his wife have become big buds with Kirk and his wife. My family and I once attended a picnic fellowship with my old pastor, his church, and the Camerons. We had a lovely time with them all. Kirk’s a sincere, genuine guy who loves the Lord.
So when I heard that he was cozying up to a Catholic radio host and treating him as a brother, my immediate reaction was, Really? I downloaded the WVW podcast and gave it a listen, and when they played the suspicious clips of the interview, I was not hearing what Brannon and Justin were claiming to hear.
I went a step further. I found the September 4th, Busted Halo episode with his interview and gave it a listen. After hearing the 20 or so minute interview, I became irritated. It was like they were not just mistaken about what they heard, but they were intentionally maligning the guy’s character. For example, they got all over him for giving a weak testimony about his salvation experience. They pettily complained about his illustration he used of liking his pre-conversion life as eating a hamburger to his post-conversion life of eating a steak. Sure, maybe it was a silly comparison, but to conclude he now has compromised the Gospel in some dastardly fashion? Really?
They were also critical of him saying that his new movie about Christmas will “talk about the biblical foundations of Christmas.” Both Brannan and Justin jumped on that, saying there are no “biblical foundations” for Christmas traditions, but they all have their origins in pagan religions that were co-opted by Christians. They even played a couple of clips from John MacArthur who talked about the pagan origins of Christmas in an old Q&A session at Grace a number of years ago.
Just a side note: during the Busted Halo interview, Kirk, without naming him, recounted the advice MacArthur gave him about his interest in seminary and his desire with pursuing movies and media culture. I thought that was a bit funny in light of how John was being used to refute Kirk.
Anyhow, if you listen to Kirk’s statement, he wasn’t denying the pagan connections of many of the Christmas traditions like Christmas trees, the nativity, and of course Santa Claus. He was just saying his movie will address the biblical aspects of the holiday. Will he take David Barton like liberties with the history of Christmas and make it Christian when in fact it is a stretch to say such a thing? I hope not; but I’ll be happy to write on that if he does. However, even the world recognizes the Christian elements to CHRISTmas, because they are attempting to tone down those elements during Christmas. Come on people!
Watch the trailer for his movie. I think it looks fun,
Well. With a lot of things in our social media driven internet culture, there is a broader perspective to stories like this one. I just so happen to have a good friend who is also a good friend with Kirk. He texted back and forth with him about the criticism from WVW. Kirk lent us this insight. He stated basically that after he reheard the Busted Halo interview, he figured he could have done better, had been clearer, and maybe more direct with the Gospel. What preacher hasn’t gotten out the pulpit and thought such a thing? How many of us have had similar missed evangelistic opportunities because we weren’t “on the ball” or were just wanting to get out of the conversation and on with our chores? A similar thing more than likely happened here, because the interview was like the 15th one he had done, and like all of us who are exhausted after a long day of talking, you want to wrap things up and get back home. Is that something we can learn from? Absolutely? Has he compromised the faith? Of course not.
Look it. If Kirk Cameron begins to frequent Roman Catholic TV shows, really becomes chummy with them, speaks at their gatherings, or whatever, believe me, I’ll be the first one calling him out on it. But just because he gave one mediocre promotional interview to a host of a Catholic radio program, I am not ready to throw him under the bus and label him an ecumenist.
BTW, one final thought before I publish my post. Were Brannon and Justin wrong for criticizing him without “contacting him privately first?” I don’t think so. Kirk is a public figure and it was a public interview, it’s fair game for criticism. But I do think Kirk has earned the respect of such a contact and I hope when those two brothers can be shown they have overreacted that they will have the courage to apologize to Kirk in front of their listening audiences.