Monday, 10 December 2007
God, Jesus, Billy Connolly, Bruce Almighty and Homer Simpson: Using pop culture as a tool for spreading the gospel.
I was struck the other night when studying the gospel of John with some unchurched youth in Belfast.We were talking about the Spirit coming down from Heaven upon Jesus when one of them asked me: ‘Did you see the film ‘the man who sued God', there was a scene in it when the sky opened up and God spoke, it was amazing.’ I told him that though I hadn’t seen it I had seen ‘Bruce Almighty’ . This lead to us talking about different scenes in it, such as the massive filing cabinet which contained the details of all the words, thoughts and actions of disbelieving Bruce.
One of the guys is just off cocaine so during the study I encouraged him to reject the devil’s temptation which might come to him in a seductive manner such as : ‘take it this once, it’ll be okay this time, go ahead and take it’ while the Spirit would be encouraging him to be strong and resist the devil’s lies. He replied : ‘Yea, its just like in the Simpsons when Homer is in the bar and the devil is on one shoulder saying ‘go on take it’ and an angel is on the other telling him to resist.’
I had always believed that we could and should use aspects within the culture which can make the gospel accessible to those with no biblical background, but never had I seen it so clearly illustrated as this.
When Paul preached on Mars Hill in Athens Paul he did not quote Moses or other Old Testament prophets as he did when he preached to the Jews. He did however quote Epimenides who wrote of Zeus ‘In him we live and move and have our being’. He also quoted the Greek pagan poet Aratus who said ‘we are his offspring.’
He was not afraid to go outside scripture to make his point and use even pagan writers to speak the truth about God. He certainly did not pull any punches when he called on the Athenians to turn from their false notions and turn to the true God: ‘In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands people everywhere to repent, for he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed.’
Such 'mission practice' by Paul should encourage us to use aspects of culture because it is not all bad though much of it needs redeemed be it the internet, television and cinema.