Did you know that Jesus Christ is your homeboy, hates zombies, is afraid of a boxing match with Satan, drives an Escalade, is better known as Buddy Christ, had a child with Mary Magdalene and that God doesn’t like Earth because Jesus hasn’t been the same since he went there?
At least that’s the view of Christ and God portrayed in modern fashion, comic books like Jesus Hates Zombies, and in television shows and movies like Family Guy, South Park, Dogma, The Simpsons, and The Da Vinci Code (I know it was a book first).
Three Typical Reactions
As far as I can see there are three ways that Christians have typically reacted to these portrayals of Christ and Christianity. Either we have condemned them and run for the hills, written books specifying why they are biblically incorrect and then sold them to the people who have run for the hills, or we’ve thought they were funny and haven’t wanted to consider if it’s wrong to watch or read them just in case it is.
On the whole, mainstream culture has fewer taboos than ever before. Family Guy and adult targeted cartoon networks like Adult Swim are seeking to push boundaries like never before (a reoccurring theme in Family Guy is the family’s liberal, atheist dog being sexually attracted to the sexually adventurous mother despite the dog being the father’s best friend).
They Love to Make Fun of Christians
Many of the most popular proliferators of popular culture are outspoken in their atheist views. Ricky Gervais, a regretful but committed atheist, takes part of his stand up comedy act directly from Genesis chapters 1-3 in a manner startlingly familiar to modern preachers. Seth MacFarlane, the creator of family guy, is a proud atheist and self declared gay rights activist (though not gay himself). It would be going too far to say that these two and the likes of Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Kevin Smith, and others have an agenda to destroy Christianity (they are equal opportunity mockers for the most part) but they do love to make fun of us.
The irony is that their mockery and satire has probably done more to bring Jesus and Christianity into the minds of Generation Y than most preachers in the world (Jesus has appeared in Family Guy in 19 episodes and that doesn’t include appearances made by God or other biblical characters). Generation Y is a generation that is deeply interested in spirituality yet many of its members have virtually no experience with the Church, let alone any conception of who the biblical Jesus Christ is.
Are We Missing a Genuine Opportunity?
If we as Christians remove ourselves from the pop culture discussion by only condemning portrayals of Christ like those mentioned above then the only conception of Christ that many members of Generation Y have are those which the likes of Family Guy shows them. If we are not a thoughtful and interesting part of the conversation, then we are missing a real and genuine way that we can engage people with the true gospel and the real Jesus Christ.
It is ultimately a conscience issue as to whether or not an individual Christian can watch a certain television show and they should weigh the issue against Scripture and let the Holy Spirit guide them. No believer should go against their conscience in the name of being culturally relevant or even for evangelism’s sake. However, if we fail to recognize the awesome opportunity that pop-culture depictions of Christ and Christianity are giving us to engage with a culture that ordinarily shirks at the name of Jesus, then we ignore Paul’s lesson at the Areopagus to engage a culture in a language they understand in order to preach to them a message they desperately need to hear.
This post was written by James Snare, from Hills Bible Church.
James raises an issue with which every Christian grapples – When it comes to engaging our culture, where do we draw the line?
Should a believer conform to contemporary culture or oppose it?
Is engaging with culture for the sake of the gospel the same thing as accepting it?
What do you think?