Jane Fonda: Did She Become a Christian?

 

Jane: Did She Become a Christian?

Richard Hollerman

Most of us have heard of Jane Fonda, the popular movie actress and feminist, and the daughter of the well-known movie star of a past generation, Henry Fonda. Jane, now 76 years of age, continues to be a favorite of some people, probably especially feminists and those with a new-age perspective.

Some years ago, there was a rumor circulating that Jane had become a “born-again Christian” and this delighted the heart of those who jump on such news and look for any signs that would validate their faith. Unfortunately, many of these people have a defective faith themselves and thus mistakenly assume something that isn’t true regarding the faith of other people.

As in other such situations, it is probably go to the person himself or herself to discover directly whether a person is saved or not. When we get information second-hand or even third-hand, there is always the possibility of error. Then we pass along the error to others. This is neither honest nor wise. So let’s ask Jane Fonda herself if she became a Christian and was saved.

We do this, not because it is of ultimate consequence to us whether Fonda actually was saved, but because we need to be taught to be wise and discerning when we hear rumors that may not be true. As we’ll find below, those stories that promoted the idea that Fonda was actually saved some years ago are totally false. And this we receive from her own pen.

We’ll be quoting extensively from Fonda herself and this comes from her own personal website (janefonda.com/about-my-faith/). We don’t want to plagiarize copyrighted material, thus wanted to be careful to document certain statements that she, herself, has made.

Let’s see what Jane has to say in her article, “About My Faith.” (This was posted on June 10, 2009, but we assume that it is still accurate since it is displayed prominently on her website.)

I am frequently asked about my faith. At the end of my marriage to Ted Turner I became a Christian. For several years prior, I had begun to feel I was being lead. I felt a presence, a reverence humming within me. It was and is difficult to articulate.

Does this sound like one who was being convicted by the Holy Spirit about her sin and her need of Jesus Christ and His saving death? (John 16:7-11, 14)

Today I think I know what was happening: I was becoming embodied, whole. I had spent 60 years dis-embodied, trying to be perfect so I could be loved. You can’t be whole if you’re trying to be perfect. Now, as I entered my sixth decade and with much work, I could feel myself becoming whole and I knew: This is what God is. . . .

We are beginning to sense a Gnostic thought process here, something that will become apparent as we proceed.

This is what the third step of Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Step Program means. It says we need to give ourselves over to our higher power, become whole (which addicts aren’t) by welcoming the Holy Spirit into our innermost selves.

While the Holy Spirit does enter a person’s life as God’s gracious gift (Acts 2:38; Romans 5:5), this sounds like a Gnostic idea.

I began looking for a container to house this fledgling feeling of reverence. Having grown up an atheist I had almost no experience of church and had never read the Bible but I had dear friends in my home-state of Georgia who found comfort and inspiration in their church community and they offered to open this world to me and “bring me to Christ.” Perhaps this would be the container I was seeking.

She grew up as an atheist but her friends wanted to introduce her to some form of Christianity.

Unfortunately, my very private, tentative step into religion became a loud public misconception. A small- minded person, knowing about my quest, did an interview on a national website without my permission and said that, because of him, I had become a Born Again Christian. I had no intention of going public about my spiritual journey and in no way wanted to be tagged with the fundamentalism that Born-Again Christianity has come to be associated with. I found myself having to defend my action before I was entirely sure what it meant. I did feel reborn, I couldn’t deny that, but it had nothing to do with the perceived doctrines of fundamentalist Christianity.

She shows her antipathy toward anything like Biblical Christianity. She surely didn’t want to have anything to do with “fundamentalist Christianity” with the Bible as her sole source of truth and righteousness.

Over the months, I went to Bible study every week, had it interpreted for me by biblical literalists, did my homework faithfully but, as time went on, I felt myself losing the very thing that had called me from within: Spirit. The literalness with which I was expected to read and interpret the Bible seemed to simplify and flatten out what I wanted to experience as metaphor. Christianity was beginning to feel shrunken, freeze-dried. Words like ‘Thou Shalt,’ ‘Salvation,” ‘Lord,’ and ‘Repentance,’ drowned out one of my favorite Sufi poems by Hafiz:

Every

 Child

 Has known God,

 Not the God of names,

 Nor the God of don’ts,

 Nor the God who never does

 Anything weird,

 But the God who knows only four words

 And keeps repeating them, saying:

“Come dance with Me.”

Come

 Dance.

Jane Fonda didn’t like ideals such as “Lord” or “salvation” or “repentance”—but they definitely convey the truth of Scripture. She preferred New Age ideas and concepts rather than Biblical understandings.

As I diligently slogged away in my weekly bible class, doing the homework and studying the charts, I began to notice that the dance was gone. Try to render it literal, concrete, and it dies. I had started my journey with a powerful sense of the divine presence, but the linear approach seemed too rigid to contain this and I began to get scared: What had I gotten myself into? 

Probably some of her “Christian” friends assumed that Fonda was accepting some of what she was learning in the Bible studies, but she seems to have been turned off by what she learned that was “literal” and “concrete”—the very words of Scripture.

I had met some inspiring, extraordinary Christians, but there were others that came at me, fingers pointing in my face, demanding to know my position on this or that and if I could not say certain key words like “died for our sins,” it meant I wasn’t a Christian.

We know that to be a Christian is to believe that Jesus indeed did “die for our sins.” That is the bottom line of coming to Christ and remaining in Him. In fact, it is our only hope of eternal life. We can’t reject the sin-bearing sacrifice of Christ and yet beome a Christian or hope for a place in heaven.

I winced when God was spoken of as a man. God is beyond gender, beyond being, and although gendering God as “Him” may not seem consequential to many, I think it belies the nonbeingness of the Divine. Seeing God as “Him” only serves to reinforce the belief that since God is man, then man is God-like and women are less-than.

Fonda’s feminist, anti-masculine, bias continues to manifest itself here.  God is not a man, but He definitely is a “He” as Scripture describes Him. He is “Father” which is a masculine term. We can’t reject this aspect of God’s being and still claim loyalty to the Word of God.

Riffat Hassan, a Pakistan-born professor of religious studies and humanities at the University of Louisville says that in Islamic, Jewish and Christian traditions there are three basic (and unwarranted) assumptions upon which the ideas of male superiority over women are founded: “first, that God’s primary creation is man, not woman, since woman is believed to have been created from man’s rib and is, therefore, derivative (As Carol Gilligan has said, “If you make a woman out of a man, you are bound to get into trouble); second, that woman was the primary agent of ‘Man’s Fall,’ and hence all ‘daughters of Eve’ are to be regarded with hatred, suspicion and contempt; and third, that woman was created not only from man but for man, which makes her existence merely instrumental.”

From what I can see, none of this was Jesus’ idea. He did not see women as less-than after-thoughts. In fact, his friendships with women were revolutionary for that time. The more I study the teachings of Jesus, the more convinced I become that a foundational aspect of his teaching is the equality of women and men in God’s eyes, deserving of equal treatment. Look at the many women who followed him, sustained him. Look at the women who were shunned by all others but who Jesus touched and kissed and loved. Christian women preached and performed the Eucharist. It was to women that the arisen Christ appeared. After his death, when many Christians fled into the desert to set up Christian communities women outnumbered men 2 to 1.

I find particularly moving and plausible his special relationship with Mary, the apostle that is revealed in the Gospel of Mary. Jesus was love, not just love for some and not for others but…love…for all.

Jane doesn’t like the fact that the man was created first and that the woman was taken out of the man (Genesis 2:7, 18-24). She also rejects the fact that the woman sinned first by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (3:1-19). She considers this demeaning and too masculine for her tastes.

I think two thousand years ago, Jesus’ teachings, including and perhaps especially his respect for women, were so radical and so threatening to the Priesthood (Patriarchy) that they had to try to claim and cage and redefine him as “God in our [read male] image.” The formal church that grew up in the centuries following his death had to diminish the revolutionary content of his teachings in order to create a unified Christian church.

This imaginative reconstruction of history is wrong, as any church historian will tell us.  First, the priests didn’t hide the truth in order to support the man’s headship for it is found right in Scripture. Second, the church of the second and third centuries didn’t change what had already been written in Genesis or in the teachings of Jesus.

In my studies, I learned that 325 years after Jesus was crucified at the Council of Nicea, a gathering of Christian leaders, all men, decided by a show of hands and amidst bitter theological differences, what would be included as Biblical cannon and what was to be left out and decreed that Jesus was not only the Son of God but God himself.

The Council of Nicea did meet in AD 325, however, they didn’t decide on the canon of Scripture. The books of the New Testament were inspired and authoritative the moment that Matthew, Paul, or Peter wrote them (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21; 1 Corinthians 14:37). Further, although the Council did proclaim that Jesus was “God” (Greek, theos), this was taught in the New Testament over 250 years earlier (cf. John 1:1; 20:28; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1; etc.).

In no way do I want to offend more traditional Christians, but if the content of the Bible was determined by a group of men (not all of whom agreed), then surely those seeking to know Jesus should not be demonized for looking outside the canons to what others (including women) had to say about Him.

I stopped my Bible study classes but was unwilling to renounce faith. I wanted to see if somewhere there wasn’t a perception of Jesus that reflected my intuition of him. This brought me to Elaine Pagels’s books on the Gnostics, along with various theologians’ and religious scholars’ interpretations of the Bible and the books of the early Christians, all of whom believed that experiencing the divine was more important than mere belief in the divine. I needed to move back into the reverence of metaphor, the language of the soul. That is where I know my faith wants to reside.

When we depart from the words of Scripture (that are entirely God-given, inspired, inerrant, and authoritative), we are bound to get into trouble. We are thrust into the realm of emotion and subjectivity.

From time to time, there have been the awakened ones, conduits of perception, who, by fully embodying Spirit, have shown us the way—Jesus, Muhammed, Buddha, Allah, and others. Their messages have invariably been bare-bone-simple, remarkably similar and often embedded in metaphor, stories, and poems—all forms of art. Why? Because the non-linear, non-cerebral forms that are Art speak on a different frequency, they by-pass thinking, penetrate our defenses and jolt us open to consciousness.

We must never “by-pass” our thinking processes.  Further, this shows what Fonda came to believe about Jesus. He is on the level with Muhammad, Buddah, and other uninspired men—who are merely human, not divine.

For a while, I became a student at the Interdenominational Theological Seminary in Atlanta, the largest training center for African American ministers in the country. As a college drop-out who still has anxiety-ridden dreams of leaving a job unfinished, I relished being back in school and overwhelmed with homework: Biblical Exegesis, Feminist Interpretation, Systematic Theology. I was one of the few white students and, despite that, managed to come and go in anonymity—until Monster-In-Law came out and stirred up some excitement—the little old white lady in the back row is the one who kicked Jennifer Lopez’s ass!!

Over time, and, I feel, because I stepped outside of established religion, I was able to rekindle the spiritual experience that I’d been seeking. Some will say that because of all this I am not a true Christian. So be it. I feel like a Christian, I believe in the teachings of Jesus and try to practice them in my life. I have found Christians all over this country who feel as I do. They may not have been ‘saved’ yet they hum with divine spirit.

Jane believes that the teachings of Jesus are not identical to the teachings of our Lord as found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the other New Testament writings. In reality, if any ideas differ from what has already been given by the Lord, they cannot be right. They must be wrong. They are unreliable and will only lead one astray.

My faith is a work in progress (as am I) but I will plant my flag on the belief that God lives within each of us as Spirit (or soul). I like what Reverend Forrest Church says: “God is not God’s name. God is our name for that which is greater than all and yet present in all.” I believe that Christ was the personal incarnation of the divine wisdom in everything, including every form of spiritual expression.

Again, this sounds more like Gnosticism, a heresy of the second and third centuries, that claimed that “spirit” was the highest good and that one could obtain esoteric “wisdom” (Greek, gnosis) that differed from the inspired words of Scripture. Notice that she thinks that God lives “within each of us,” whereas the Word of God says that most people are serving Satan and are, in fact, “children of the devil” (John 8:44; cf. 1 John 3:10). Only when one is born again, or born of water and the Spirit, can he or she become a child of God (1 John 3:1-2).

Lots of folks go to church every Sunday and spend the rest of their time avoiding dealing with the question of consciousness. They try to pass time with pastimes, possessions, prestige. They think about God and talk about their religious beliefs but avoid experiencing Spirit. Thinking and experiencing aren’t the same. One happens in the head. The other is a flash, a rush of intuition that seems to permeate our entire being. That is what Jesus meant when he said that God is within us. That is what I am seeking, and I have found that since I have come to feel God within me, I experience less fear—of anything, including death. Sharon Salzberg, in her book “Faith,” explains it this way: “As our faith deepens, the ‘container’ in which fear arises gets bigger. Like a teaspoon of salt placed in a pond full of fresh water rather than in a narrow glass, if our measure of fear is arising in an open, vast space of heart, we will not shut down around it.”

This Gnostic idea that “God” is in each of us is entirely false and a lie of the devil. Instead, the vast majority of humanity are lost in sin and in need of redemption.  Only Jesus can change the human heart and give life to those in spiritual death (John 3:16-17, 36; 5:24).

Another result of my faith is that I have become a deeper, more embodied feminist. Helen LaKelly Hunt is right when she says in her book “Faith & Feminism,” that feminism is about fighting for the core beliefs and values of Christianity. “Religion and feminism are different expressions of the same impulse toward making life more just and whole.”

(janefonda.com/about-my-faith/)

Feminism is definitely an expression of Satanic teaching.  Scripture clearly teaches that the “head” of the woman is the man (1 Corinthians 11:3), a truth that is anathema to modern feminists! Scripture teaches that the wife is to be in submission to her husband (Ephesians 5:22-24; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:4-5; 1 Peter 3:1). This too is strongly denied by contemporary feminists, even those who claim to be “evangelical” feminists!  When Fonda says, “another result of my faith is that I have become a deeper, more embodied feminist,” she is admitting that she takes her directions not from the Word of God but from modern lies of contemporary Gnostic feminists.

This exposure should lay to rest the misunderstanding that sometimes is conveyed that Jane Fonda became a Christian some years ago.  Yes, she had a religious experience. Yes, she studied some with fundamentalists but then rejected it. Yes, she became deeply embedded in Gnostic thought and religious unbelief, as well as rejecting Jesus’ unique claims to deity, thus she could not have become a person who has the Spirit of God and the new birth.

Jesus is the only way to God in heaven (John 14:6). There is no other way, regardless of what we profess.  What matters is what do we believe? Do we believe in God’s written revelation in Scripture and do we believe that Jesus is God’s unique and only Son, the only way to heaven?

 

 

 

 

 

   

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