This morning I started my day by reading through my Facebook wall and I stumbled across another ‘open letter’ to Guy Sebastian (http://bit.ly/WtO0Xd). This letter is the second of its kind that I have read in the past week; letters that have openly ‘called Guy to account’ for a recent interview (http://bit.ly/Th2LMv) where he described his current faith position. Before continuing I would like to openly state that I do not personally know Guy, nor am I a fan of Guy Sebastian’s artistry (though I have often stated I believe he is a very talented dude); and I have frequently spoken in opposition to the music industry’s infatuation with TV singing talent quests (e.g. http://bit.ly/VaVLfC). But this issue goes beyond Guy’s vocal talent or musical skill – this issue speaks to the topic of spiritual formation and our need to commentate on how another person runs the race of faith.
Specifically, Guy’s musical ability has hardly rated a mention in the social media back ‘n forth of the past few days. It is this very point that is of interest to me…Guy Sebastian is a vocal artist (regardless of his journey’s genesis); he is not a Christian leader, pastor or theologian! I can already hear you correcting me. But Daniel, Guy is a role model to thousands of young people. Yes, he is…and by current secular (and Christian) standards a rather good one. But Daniel, Guy has made categorical statements in the past advocating for the Christian faith. Yes, he has…statements I believe were made with a sincerity of heart and intention when he first made them. But Daniel, Guy should be held accountable for his current faith statements because they do not line up with orthodox/classic Christian views. Should he? I might be able to agree with you (emphasis on ‘might’) if Guy were a Christian leader, pastor or theologian; but he isn’t. He’s a muso; a successful, famous, talented MUSO! Does this excuse Guy from the responsibilities of a life lived publically? No, but it does call into question our expectation around how Guy should or should not articulate his faith journey…his own personal spiritual formation.
I would like to call us, the Christian community, to account. I am keen to do this with as much humility as my imperfect humanness can muster. I would like to suggest that it is us who is in the wrong; and not Guy. Our error is found in our quick judgement and our arrogant responses; responses that (if we are completely honest with ourselves) are driven by a need for power and ‘one-upmanship’. I am the first to admit that when I first read the interview where Guy stated his current faith position I uttered my opinion: “no surprise there…he was always going to let us down!” But there’s the rub. Guy didn’t let us down. It was our own idolatry that lifted Guy to a position of unrealistic and ungodly expectation. We expected Guy to be ‘super human’ and champion the Christian cause. We had literally made Guy an ‘Australian IDOL’. I guess the argument could be mounted that Guy never refused our support. But let me ask us the question, “Would we have refused the same support under the same circumstances?” I’m not bold enough to suggest I would have refused it.
This whole saga reminds me of Jesus bending down to write in the sand. I must admit, despite the bible not telling us what he scratched out in the dirt, if I had stood in the circle with stone in hand (and to my shame I have gathered for a good metaphorical stoning far too often), that my name would’ve been top of Jesus’ doodle list. You are right to think to yourself, “Daniel, your mention of this biblical story is taken out of context. The lady who was about to be stoned was caught in adultery.” That’s right – a moral crime for her day; a crime, according to Jewish law, that required death by stoning. My question to us as a Christian community is, what moral wrong has Guy committed, and why are we all standing around with rocks in our hands? Guy, like me, and like each of us, is on a spiritual journey. Currently, as it would appear, Guy does not view the world according to orthodox Christian views. It seems to me that Guy is questioning the faith construct that he was handed by virtue of his upbringing. How can this be viewed as anything other than maturity? If only more Christians actively reflected on their beliefs and questioned their worldview we might find that much of what we hold dear is not necessarily scriptural but actually cultural.
Now before you turn your attention on me and start casting those rocks my way, allow me to state that I am neither a Pluralist nor a Universalist; an accusation that I believe has been wrongly (and poorly) levelled at Guy. I personally hold that ‘Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life’. But my belief should not be used as a weapon of mass social media destruction in order to make me feel better about my own personal views. Faith is called faith; Faith is not called fact. It does not take faith to believe in gravity…as Fearless Felix Baumgartner recently reminded us (http://wapo.st/Vb8Eqb); but it does take faith to work through the unknowable…those things that cannot be categorised as ‘fact’. This is what, in my view, Guy is doing. Guy is contemplating the unknowable. Guy is exercising faith. How God responds to this, is up to God! One thing I’m most certain of is that God will respond to Guy’s questions with more grace than we have. Why? Because God answers questions. God answers faith…and, thankfully, he even responds to doubt.
In closing my ‘open letter’ I eagerly invite your comments and views. This being said, I ask you to write your responses (even those that agree with my post) with a sense of civility; ‘owning and grounding’ your comments with grace and humility. If you don’t feel you can respond with maturity then I humbly request that you abstain from contributing your thoughts.