CNN’s Belief Blog reports that the marketing campaign for the new Superman movie includes a direct appeal to Christian movie-goers. A marketing firm is highlighting the Messianic themes of the film in order to attract the Christian market to “Man of Steel.” The firm has created an entire website filled with “Man of Steel” ministry resources including sermon outlines, video downloads, and digital images from the movie. They even hired a theologian to write sermon notes for pastors who want to make “Man of Steel” the subject matter of their Sunday morning sermon. The sermon intro calls for a viewing of the movie trailer during the sermon!
I am not sure how much commentary this actually requires. I hope there aren’t too many pastors who will be taken in by this. I couldn’t agree more with the line I saw in Jared Wilson’s twitter feed yesterday: “Pastors, your desperation to be relevant is easily manipulated.” Manipulation is exactly what is going on here, pastors, but the motivation is not the gospel. The marketers are not trying to help you to be relevant. On the contrary, their motive is to sell movie tickets, and these marketers have no problem whatsoever co-opting your pulpit for their profits.
Listen, I’m not against telling stories or using vivid illustrations in the pulpit. I’m not even opposed to a movie reference every now and again when appropriate. In fact, I began my sermon yesterday morning at my church with a long story about Forrest Gump. So I’m not railing against stories and illustrations in sermons. I am, however, railing against anything that displaces the centrality of the biblical text in preaching. Your preaching agenda ought to be set for you by the text of scripture, not by a Hollywood marketing firm trying to use you for profits.
The apostle Paul says it this way:
2 Corinthians 4:2 We have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.
2 Timothy 4:2-4 Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths.
So preach the word, brothers.
That’s all I have to say about that.