Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Faith(?) Of Elvis Presley

"The world is more alive at night…it's like God ain't looking." - Elvis

John 3:19-20 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. - God

After writing the blog post yesterday on the Beatles alleged quote “The Beatles are bigger than Jesus” I started thinking more about Elvis. I had said that I had always heard you either loved Elvis or the Beatles, not both. I think that saying actually dissuaded me from liking the Beatles through life, mostly because my mom, grandmother, dad and brother were all Elvis fans, which naturally made me an Elvis fan. (On a side not that is how many people profess to be Christians as well)

So, I have often wondered about Elvis’ true spiritual condition. Was he a Christian? No doubt he was a great entertainer who loved music since childhood. Elvis was quoted as saying, “Since I was two years old, all I knew was gospel music. That music became such a part of my life it was as natural as dancing, a way to escape from the problems. And my way of release." This goes back to his upbringing in the Assemblies of God church in Tupelo as a child. His mother, no doubt, was a model for his musical and spiritual choices then and throughout his life.

Elvis was known to sing gospel songs during his concerts, during rehearsals and notably surrounded himself with famous Southern Gospel groups. These included The Imperials, The Sweet Inspirations and JD Sumner and the Stamps Quartet. Elvis’ penchant for gospel music has been the influence for many gospel singers ever since, because of that you will likely hear his arrangement of “How Great Thou Art” in 99% of church services. Elvis’ live recording of this song always gives me goose bumps. But little bumps through my follicle system are not enough proof that Elvis actually meant the words he was singing. Elvis was also a huge giver. He was known to give cars away on the whim. But that also does not mean since he gave Sonny and Red each a Cadillac that he did so in the spirit of Christ but instead that he was just a giver by nature. This may be mostly in part that he did not have much when he was growing up and wanted to spread the wealth, not a bad thing but also not something that says “Yes, Elvis was a Christian”.

I have become very skeptical of Elvis actually being a born again believer. Many reasons are behind this, but most notably his lifestyle and that I never actually heard him profess to know Christ in interviews or print. After researching on the web, I still can’t find anything pointing to Elvis’ Christianity other than his singing of Gospel songs and his upbringing in a Pentecostal home. There are many people that would say I am being judgmental and that I can’t say for sure if Elvis was a Christian and I agree, I do not know for 100% certainty that Elvis was or was not a true believer.

I know that Elvis sang gospel songs, surrounded himself with gospel singers, talked of his upbringing in a Pentecostal home, had a bible and was very giving. But, I ask you, how many other people live this same lifestyle today? I know many people that profess to be Christians and back it up by things along the road of their life, even a prayer the recited as a child is pointed to. The question is, do these things make someone a Christian? Are these things fruits of a Christian? Or are these things simply a lifestyle instilled from childhood into a man that really loved and admired his mother?

One path Elvis lead through the later part of his life was spiritual in nature. But the spirit he was seeking was definitely not the God of the Bible. He was known to have been heavily researching Hinduism, Judaism, numerology, Theosophy, positive thinking, the new-age and meditation. None of these things beneficial or relevant to a true Christian. In fact, many in his inner circle were growing increasingly worried over his path into the spiritual realm away from the Bible. Presley was seeking something and that is proof that he did not have the True God present in his life.

Many people will by now be saying, “Jeff, you’re a little harsh here. Elvis was just wrapped up in his lifestyle and stumbled from time to time. Sure he made mistakes, sure he did things that were not good in God’s eyes, but hey, he was raised a Christian and sang Christ centered songs.” This is no more than what millions have done and continue to do daily, justify themselves. The bible says you WILL be a new creation in Christ, that God will not allow you to be taken from His hand. So if those are true, how does someone, with the rebirth in Christ, and remaining in God’s hand stumble into a constant and habitual sinful existence?

Elvis’ sinfulness is well documented. His bevy of women, penchant for drugs and cursing are all common knowledge. But, Christianity is not a balancing act between good works of philanthropy and songs being sang outweighing the lifestyle chosen to pursue. I would very greatly like to say that Elvis was a Christian. But I think I can say confidently, unless he truly repented of his sins before his death in 1977, he is burning in a relentless flame in the depths of hell. It is very possible that that night in ’77 Elvis did see himself as the sinner he was and his need for the imputed righteousness of Christ. I pray he did, as I pray that others I have known and have passed did.

The fact remains that many are still in the same situation as Presley. They are trying to work their way to heaven. They line the pews every Sunday, they donate regularly to their church and charities, they sing Christian songs and have Christian friends, but they have not trusted God’s Word and in the sinless Lamb who bore their sins. They know a lot about Him, but yet do not know Him personally, just as many know a lot about Elvis; they never knew him in a personal manner. If you are one that justifies yourself instead of trusting in Christ for that, then you need to repent now. Your sins are on your own head and you will be accountable before a Holy God on judgment day. You will stand before the Father with the Son beside you and instead of Him showing the scars of your sins as proof that He knew you, He will say “Depart from me, I never knew you.”


Anonymous said...

Elvis was blessed with many gifts, but these gifts also brought many temptations and people that we as ordinary people do not face. We think him as well off, and initially he was off, but come the early 70's, the lifestyle got to him, I do not truly think he wanted to be in it.

There's no point questioning how Christian he was, he is long dead, and you cannot know because you are fortunate enough not to bear such a tremendous responsibility he had in life.

In my view he was Christian, just like the rest of us, the only difference was that whatever he did was there for everyone to see.

Let him be.

Jeff said...

Isaac - Whether I was/ am subjected to Elvis' temptations is irrelevant. Also to say I shouldn't judge him by his fruits is contradictory of you saying he is a Christian.

Even though Elvis is "long dead" doesn't change the fact that people still look up to him and compare their lifestyle to his, making excuses for their sins based on Elvis' supposed Christianity. The only comparison anyone should make is to Christ Himself.

Would someone devoted to Christ, following Him daily be able to fall into a lifestyle of sin? Not sinning, but a continual lifestyle of sin? If you believe in the false, modern teaching of a Christian being able to live in a "back slidden" state, then you could ascribe and excuse, but it would not be based on the context of scripture.

I also siad, in the post, that Elvis may have repented and may have been a Christian, I hope he did and was. I cannot say that he was though. He showed the signs of a "good man" in the eyes of the world, but being good saves no one and has sent and is still sending millions to hell believing their good outweighs their bad r that they are somehow working their way into the good graces of God.

Elvis had a kind and generous heart, had many gifts from God and even recognized those gifts and at times used them to sing about God. But did he follow Him? That is the question that won't be answered this side of glory.

Kathy said...

It's irrelevant how likeable Elvis was. Doesn't matter how many gospel songs he sang, or how many times he waved the cross in front of his chest.

What is relevant is what he did with his life. You cannot be called a Christian unless you are indeed following Jesus Christ. Jesus was poor. To Him the riches were of God and all that was natural. He didn't glorify himself. Everything He did was to glorify God. Christ's celeb status was brought about by stupid men. Jesus didn't ask for it. He was totally selfless and surrendered Himself to God's Will. He spoke the Truth for all to hear, even if they didn't want to hear it.

Elvis Presley did not serve Jesus Christ. He served himself and people. He grew heavy bank accounts. He bought gold plated things to horde. He did many drugs. He committed adultery. He worked long and hard to glorify himself. He was the epitome of IDOLATRY. Even the devil will speak some truth or do some good, just to deliver a huge lie or some sin. Elvis, in all his sequins and smirky grins, knew what he was doing. Anyone who truly knew the Word of God and all the commands that go with it would obviously know what is sinful. Elvis willfully chose his path. Every time he wiped his forehead clean with a towel, and gave it to some screaming woman, he smiled, knowing what he was doing. HE WAS A GOD. Millions of women worshipped Elvis, as well as many people altogether. There was a church dedicated to worshipping him. He successfully did Satan's work better than anyone I can think of. Just think about all the poor and needy people who have suffered, all the while Elvis was having cars gold plated. The man served himself. He did not follow Jesus Christ.

Jesus told the rich man to give up all his possessions to follow Him. The man could not do it. What makes Elvis any different? He ignored Jesus Christ. When Elvis sang about God, he was singing about SATAN.

At his final moment Elvis was living in fornication with Ginger Alden, had embraced polytheism, metaphysics, and mysticism, was heavily drugged when he went to the restroom and the investigative team found a porn magazine near his body instead of a Bible as some claim. Till his dying moment Elvis displayed decadence and rebellion against God and there is no possible way that a special clause, provision or loophole was Biblically provided to exempt Elvis Presley from reaping what he sowed. Furthermore I find it difficult to believe that he lived his best life on earth and because he was a mess that God somehow saves him at the last second and also allows him the blissful eternity reserved for faithful and fruitful followers of Christ. That would clearly underestimate the biblical teaching of losing one's life now to enjoy eternal life later.

Elvis' charm, good looks, talent, and mesmerizing and electrifying persona/image found commonplace with sinners and religious alike. Elvis was that wolf in sheep's clothing who became an anti-Christ image for the world to marvel at. His spirit of lust, decadence, rebellion, self-will and spiritual contradiction still linger even after all these years since his death. People desperately want Elvis. They want him to return from the dead. They want to meet him. They want to see him in heaven. They made him out to be a god image. People do not want God but they want Elvis Presley.

Do you believe Elvis will go to Heaven? God takes those who live "behind the scenes." Those who disregard their own needs for those of others; goodwill servants, those who throw away their worldly lives to spread the TRUTH about the Holy Bible. Elvis did not do these things. He became filthy stinking rich. Even worse, he brought millions TO THEIR KNEES in front of him! He led others to idolatry and SIN.

If you live this life like there's no other, then this WILL be your last one. ... strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Kathy B said...

I've often wondered about Elvis' Christian stance; but like everyone else, I have no idea. I've read many accounts of Elvis' life and while his spiritual searches are well documented, they don't give the impression that Elvis' spiritual source was strictly from God's Word. Elvis was a phenomenon - an icon of our generation. That's a lot of responsibility to put onto one person's shoulders. Luke 12:48 tells us: "...For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." I heard one of Elvis' close friends say that Elvis had wanted to join a gospel quartet but the man laughingly said that if Elvis had ever done that, they'd all have been pounding the pavements.

Only God knows the struggles that Elvis dealt with; only He knows what was truly in Elvis' heart. Elvis' lifestyle, his drug addictions, and the myriad of temptations that surrounded him - well, I can't imagine. But I believe God's Word and His Word promises that in ALL temptations, He always provides an escape.

Ultimately, it's up to each of us, individually, and so it was also for Elvis.

Bizsu said...

Well who is really able to follow God? I think not even God sever ,
Pastors !
So how Elvis could ?
The all think it was not a normal or he was a Really natural or human he gat something extra extra ,and
women And men gat crazy love he m
In a not a normal way !
Even after he dead ! Or still in a life?

Just unbeliveable love from people!
I feel gilty ,for it ! I sould love my
God !

Super human

Bizsu said...

God never ask and never sad that to follow
Christianity ,Jesus sad follow Me !
But you cant follow the darkness and the light at the same time !

Jamie said...

Kathy. You seem to judge alot,as does Jeff. How about the thief who hung on the cross,a sinner! All he said was Lord remember me when u enter ur kingdom & Jesus told him today u shall be with me in paradise.So he didn't have time to live or change his ways,but his last seconds of living he asked Christ to forgive him and he was forgiven.So no matter how bad u have lived ur life God's Grace will save you even in ur dying moment! Not the way I want to live my life,but it's a fact.Whosoever shall call upon the name of Jesus shall be saved.Not just the ones that live there life for him,but even the ones that call out to him even when there dying.We are no longer under law,but Grace. Thank u Jesus! Thou shalt not judge least u be judged! I will never say where I believe people are for the bible also says there will be people their that u thought would not be,and people not there u thought would be.

Jeff said...

Jamie - Did you just judge me? Did you just judge Kathy? Did you just judge Elvis?
You should proablaby continue reading Matthew 7. In verse 5 Jesus tells us to make sure of our motives in judging others, make sure we're not doing it hypocritically. Then He tells us to not give what is holy to the dogs or cast pearls before swine. How can we do those things if we do not judge who are dogs and swine? Then in verse 15 we are told to beware of false prophets. How do we determine who are false prophets? By judging them, which He tells us to do all the way through verse 20.
Then flip over to John 7:24 where Jesus tells us to "judge righteously".
SO, it comes back to motive. Why are we judging someone, something or some event in our lives? Are we doing it because it is spiritually dangerous? Are we doing it because we simply don't like that person?
With Elvis - I have loved his music since I was a kid, way back in the 70s. I remember the day he died and the sadness that engulfed our culture. We had lost an icon. I remember hearing him sing gospel songs on the albums that my family owned and on the radio. As I grew older I began to hear of other escapades of Elvis, things he did throughout his life contrary to the Word of God. Then after God saved me it all finally made sense.
It is not a simple profession, a one time even of being saved. It is a lifestyle of repentance and God has given us the ability to see and hear and to use those senses to form judgments and warned us that we need to do so. Comparing Elvis' life to scripture it is dangerous to flat out say he was a Christian. Doing so is dangerous because it gives the false impression that you can live his lifestyle, partake of his sinfulness and still be "alright" in the sight of God. Scripture is clear that a lifestyle of sin is evidence of a sinful person. A lifestyle of repentance marks the life of a follower of Christ. Simply saying certain words, singing certain songs and being a "good" person is nowhere to be seen in scripture to judge a person or their character.

So, Jamie, you have judge me. You have judged Kathy. And on what scriptural grounds have you done so? If you follow your logic you should not have done so and are in the same sin that you accuse us of. Or is it because you are a fan of Elvis and have heard his gospel music and heard of his extreme kindness to people and his nature of giving to those around him and have made a judgment that Elvis was something? See we all judge and we all should judge. To not do so is a dangerous thing. But we must judge righteously, or in other words - with the backing of Scripture.