Kirk Cameron is easily among the most versatile and recognizable Christian figures of the last few decades. From Growing Pains to Fireproof to Left Behind --to name just a few -- the 45-year-old actor and producer has appeared in a number of hugely successful films and television shows.
He's also a well-respected author, husband - he married former Growing Pains star Chelsea Noble in 1991 - and the proud father of six children.
In November, Cameron's hugely successful family film, Saving Christmas, arrived on DVD - just in time for the busy holiday season. Also starring Darren Doane and Bridgette Cameron, Saving Christmas attempts to "put the Christ back in Christmas" by debunking disparaging theories surrounding Christmastime.
"I'm hoping that people will take away a renewed joy for celebrating Christmas," Cameron told the Gospel Herald in an exclusive interview. "I'm hoping to give them new eyes to see it through, so everything from the decorations to Santa Claus to all the presents and festivities, I want people to see all those things as reason to celebrate the fact that God came to this earth to shine light in the darkness and bring life where there is death."
Because of his passion for passing on a lasting Christian legacy to his children, Cameron is also involved with Family Audio Adventures, which he describes as "movies that are played in the theaters of your mind." Each unique story helps teach children important historical and faith lessons through dramatic audio reenactments.
"Sometimes, you watch your kids as they're watching TV or movies and it seems like their brain is shut off. But, with Family Audio Adventures, all of the images are generated by your own imagination - so they're great for turning your kid's brains on instead of off," Cameron explained. "We take stories like the Civil War, the Revolutionary War and other epic adventures, and put kids in the middle of the experience by forcing them to create the images as they listen themselves. The production is amazing, and the special effects and award-winning audio design just make epic stories that your kids are gonna love."
Below is the exclusive interview with Kirk Cameron.
GH: Saving Christmas attempts to debunk theories that Christmas is still rooted in pagan traditions. What inspired you to create this film?
KC: The reason I made this film is because I love Christmas. I love everything about Christmas; I love the decorations, the food, the music, and the spirit in the air with people being a little kinder, a little more compassionate. And, of course, I love the celebration of the birth of Christ. But there are always those who want to be the Scrooge with the "bah humbug" spirit and take away public displays of the celebration -- there even those within the Christian camp who are concerned that we might be celebrating the birth of Christ in a way we shouldn't. People can get really upset about Christmas trees and Santa Claus. So, this movie is about a guy who is upset about the decorations his wife puts up in his house for Christmas because he actually thinks it takes away from the Christmas season. I go out there and take him by his Christmas sweater and attempt to give him new eyes through which to see all these traditions.
GH: Tell us about your character in the film. What drew you to him? Why does he feel the need to help his "all too serious" brother-in-law see the joy in the holiday season?
KC: He wants to help his brother see the joy in Christmas because there is so much joy to see there, and because he loves Christmas and they both love Christ. The one guy is just looking at everything wrong. He's listening to the wrong people and seeing the wrong symbols. My character is there to say, "Your wife is awesome and she's done a great job of decorating your house...I know you love Christ, and everything she's put inside your house points to him. You're just looking at it the wrong way." So, I'm wanting him to save Christmas for his family.
GH: What is your message to those who grow weary of the commercialism of Christmas or feel like the holiday is all about shopping and gift giving?
KC: Everyone loves to be thought of and appreciated, and giving gifts is a way to show someone that they love them. Of course, they shouldn't be maxing out their credit cards and going into debt, and commercialism can put a sour note on the holidays. But we should lean into the celebration and the joy and the gift giving and the decorating and the celebrating and the feasting - that is the heart of Saving Christmas.
GH: In this film, you help put Christ back in Christmas with explanations for the Christmas tree, Santa Claus and presents. Can you share how some of our modern-day Christmas traditions relate back to God's ongoing story for His children, and to the birth of Christ?
KC: For example, some people don't know what to do about Santa Claus. The reason for the season is the birth of Christ, so what do we do with Santa? Do we look at him as a distraction or someone we should welcome to our house at Christmas time? I go back to the history of who Santa is. He was actually a man named St. Nicholas who lived in 270 AD, and he was the pastor of a church in a town called Myra in modern day Turkey. He became famous for his generosity toward the poor and kindness toward children. This is where we get the tradition of giving gifts at Christmas time. He's the one who stood up to a church heretic in Nicea, at a church council in Nicea, this is the same council that gives us the Nicene Creed. He defended a very important teaching, which is that Jesus was God in the flesh. And so, it was actually Santa who stood up to the heretic. According to the historical record, he punched the heretic at the Council to defend the identity of the Christ people. And a lot of people have just never heard of Santa Claus.
GH: Do you believe, like your brother-in-law in the film and like a lot of people today, that Christmas has, in some ways, been "hijacked"? What would you say to those who believe there is a war on Christmas?
KC: Certainly some people are trying to hijack every good thing, like love, family, Christmas, and even Easter. People would love to redefine those things to get away from the true meaning of them as defined by God. People need to do what I'm doing in their own way, and that is to lean into the opportunities that God's given you and me to celebrate what we know is right and true and good. So, I want to celebrate my marriage. I want to write about my marriage and make movies about marriage. I want to celebrate Christmas. I want to tell people about the real St. Nicholas. I want people to understand that because others might pervert something God has made, like a tree, like any other good thing, that doesn't mean that they need to define it. We just need to lean into the true meaning and celebrate them.
GH: For those who know someone that prefer to hold on to the rigid religious rules over the joy of Christmas, what is your advice for them to learn to really enjoy the Christmas season?
KC: I would say watch Saving Christmas (laughs). I've got a friend who's "bah humbug" about Christmas and it's not because he doesn't love the Lord, but because he believes it's all a distraction. Like you said, shopping can get out of hand, but so can eating, you can become a glutton if you don't have self-control if you don't understand what food is for. That doesn't mean you throw food away and starve to death, neither does it mean you shouldn't stop giving gifts to people. You just need to do it without breaking the bank and understand that this is an expression of our love for people. That goes with Christmas trees, nativity and Santa, and everything else.
GH: You are also involved with Audio Adventures with your son... tell us about this project?
KC: Audio Adventures is an amazing new form of entertainment. I absolutely love it. They're movies that are played in the theaters of your mind, they're epic adventures. In fact, someone gave one to me and I put it in my jeep, and my 12-year-old son James got so caught up in the story that when we got home, he stayed in the driveway for another hour to finish the story. They're great stories that teach teach kids important historical lessons and they're having a blast and enjoying the story and learning to apply their faith in difficult situations. They're called Family Audio Adventures, and they're awesome stocking stuffers.
GH: What are some challenges you face being a Christian in the primarily secular field of acting? What advice would you give to young believers who want to go into entertainment?
KC: I would say there's a very important role that people of faith, Christians in particular, need to fill. And that's the role of Christianity in the media...Media impacts so many people and shapes so much of our culture -- just think of music, TV, fashion -- the media is the gatekeeper for the news that we hear. We need Christians not to run away from Hollywood and the media, but to infiltrate and come on in and join us and use these powerful tools to advance what is good and true and right.
GH: Like you, your sister, Candace Cameron Bure, has been very vocal about her faith on The View and Dancing with the Stars. Who had the most spiritual influence in your lives of both you and your sister for you to be so outspoken and bold about your faith?
KC: You'd have to ask Candace to get a more accurate answer for her personally. But, for me, I've just had a series of friends that I've met since I was on Growing Pains and then beyond, and then my wife who is just amazing, we've been married for 25 years now. In the Bible, it encourages us to seek God with all of our heart, and when we seek God with all of our hearts, we will find him. He is seeking those who are wanting to know and love him with all of their heart. Ultimately, God is behind everyone who discovers the joy of Christ. I could point to people and say "It was this guy, or it was that guy pointed me to the Lord and gave me a Bible," but ultimately, I didn't find God -- he wasn't lost, I was lost. He found me.