Even at a young age, beginning with his role in the Disney channel show Even Stevens, Shia LaBeouf has been a well known actor noted for a deep commitment to playing a wide variety of roles. He has also been noted for sometimes strange behavior and sometimes troubling actions including an accident allegedly caused by him driving under the influence of alcohol and multiple arrests for violent behavior.
Thus, he created a lot stir when, in 2014 interview with Interview Magazine, Shia revealed that he has decided to become a Christian, under the influence of people he was working with while creating the up-coming movie Fury.
His Decision to Pursue Christianity
Previously, he has expressed a lot of pride in his Jewish identity, writing in the book I am Jewish, compiled in memory of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, that he “has a relationship with God that happens to work within the confines of Judaism.”
He credits his work the movie “Fury,” with his changed decision. In the interview, he states, “I found God during Fury,” a process he describes as “a full-blown exchange of heart, a surrender of control.” Actor Brad Pitt and director David Ayers were influential in this decision.
Brad Pitt does not identify as a Christian, though he was raised in a Pentecostal church, while David Ayers practices Christianity in a highly visible way. The three men engaged each other on issues of faith and how it impacts their identity, leading to Shia to make this decision.
He further explains his decision, and how these conversations impacted how he reflected on his life. “I’ve been a runner my whole life, running from myself” explaining past controversial behaviors, including struggles with substance abuse. “I’m a dude who loves delusion.” His conversion is part of a life change involving taking a more honest look at himself and his behavior.
There is some controversy that this may be a publicity stunt, or an intense form of “method acting,” since Shia’s character in the film Fury is a devout Christian. While that is a possibility, we can not fully know what is truly going on in his heart.
We can still learn from his example, that being open to God’s movement in our life can be transformative. Lots of people can identify with the sense of identity that Shia articulates, and find that, in Christ, they can achieve a sense of peace that comes from God redeeming them and loving them unconditionally.
Some Christians are troubled that LaBeouf continues to use language that might be offensive to some Christians, even describing his conversion as “not a fucking bullshit way,” leading some to question his commitment to his new faith identity.
People who feel this way may expect everyone’s faith story to look like theirs, and invite a troubling sense of judgmentalism that is dramatically opposed to Jesus’ attitude that “There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents then over ninety-nine righteous persons who have no need of repentance” (Luke 15:7).
Christians in recovery recognize, perhaps more then others that radical personal transformation is not something that happens instantaneously. The decision to live a Godly life is a very hard process, requiring continual growth, and a commitment that must be renewed daily.
Even simply “baby steps” towards a better life can be monumental and worthy of celebration in God’s eyes. In our own lives, and in Shia LaBeouf’s we must appreciate the whole journey of slowly learning how to renew ourselves by God working in and through us.