The Problem With Christian Entertainment

Why do we not impact people in the entertainment industry? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday I saw a post on Facebook, and whether it was sarcastic or not, I don’t know, about why Christians shouldn’t watch The Office. Now I have never seen an episode of the show. The most I know about it is I understand a lot of memes on Facebook are from it and I know about the Owlkitty video of it. That’s it.

This led me to thinking about something else. I know we all realize it, but for the most part, Christian entertainment sucks. It’s often just boring and preachy. There are some exceptions, but it’s nothing the world wants to see. I remember when Fifty Shades of Grey came out that the same day, a counterpart movie called Old-Fashioned came out. You might have never even heard of it. There’s no way it could compete with Fifty Shades.

If there is one clear exception to this, it is the Chronicles of Narnia. Yet do you see Christianity explicitly spelled out in that? No. There’s a lot of symbolism in the books of course that points to Christ and so there is also in the rest of Lewis’s fiction, but many atheists can even enjoy reading C.S. Lewis.

Christians don’t have anything in the way of entertainment. We think you have to spell it out explicitly. It’s not fun. If we make something for the purposes of entertaining, our aim should be that the product is actually entertaining. That doesn’t negate we do it for Jesus, but people won’t want to watch Christian entertainment or play Christian video games or read Christian books for fun if they are not, well, fun.

Back in the days of the NES, I remember getting the Bible games from Wisdom Tree. They were alright games, but the only reason I got them was that they were Bible games. That’s it. They honestly hardly even worked on the NES at times. Bible video games are often some of the worst games that they are.

Many of us who are Christians don’t like it when we see a series and the politics is out there in front and everyone knows it. We think we are being preached to, and in essence, we are probably right. I know a lot of people have complained about the newest Star Trek series thinking that it’s going on. They could be right. If we don’t like it, why think unbelievers will like it?

What would be good is if we had a series come out on TV that was actually entertaining or a movie at the theater that was actually entertaining or a book or a video game or whatever it is and people wanted to play it and then find out later on that it was a Christian series. I know some of you will disagree, but on my podcast I have had John Granger on to discuss the Harry Potter series as a Christian series from a Christian viewpoint. Even if you don’t agree with that, if it is true, that is something powerful. That is having it done right.

When we think things have to be explicit, we also assume our audience is stupid. We assume that they have to state it outright or else no one will get it. That insults our audience. No one wants to be assumed to be an idiot.

I don’t know if you should watch the Office or not, but I know the reason we debate this is because we don’t have our own entertainment that’s good. You may enjoy watching Pureflix, but how many people do you know who are non-Christians who are buying it? This is not to knock them at all, but if we are wanting to reach people, it doesn’t help that goal if people aren’t interested in our method of outreach.

God gives us all things richly for our enjoyment as is said in 1 Tim. 6:17. Shouldn’t we do something for the enjoyment of our fellow neighbor? If we want to show Christianity to them in a way that is something they will want, shouldn’t we show them something they would want to have and something they can actually enjoy? This isn’t to say fun is the main goal of the Christian life, but fun is the goal of entertainment. If you sit down to watch the Office, you likely aren’t doing it to study theology or philosophy. Rightly or wrongly, you’re doing it to have fun.

We’re also meant to be creative people in the footsteps of the creator. Our creator created some very fun things for us here. I’ve seen our cat running around here playing some tonight. The animal kingdom is a testimony to the fun of the creator in many ways. Yes, nature is red in tooth and claw at times, but it’s also very fun in many other ways. Shouldn’t we be creative that way? Shouldn’t we make music and TV and movies and video games and books that unbelievers even will want to live?

Let’s do better.

Then maybe we won’t have to debate the Office because not only will we be watching our own great material, but so will everyone else.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I Affirm The Virgin Birth.)

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/3/2019: The Apologetics Book Club

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When I was in seminary, I heard a funny story about an event that took place before I got there with the professor’s wives talking to the wives of students at the seminary, since the overwhelming majority of us were male. Most of them were giving the same kind of generic advice that wives would give new wives. Nothing wrong with that advice, but you could hear it anywhere. One wife did give a piece of advice you won’t find in most marriage materials, but it is directly applicable to seminary students’ wives or the wives of anyone in ministry.

“Make peace with the books.”

Yes. If you marry someone in ministry, odds are you will have to deal with a lot of books being around the house. My own wife was so thrilled when I finally got a Kindle because then there would have to be fewer books around the house. Many of my fellow apologists were astounded when Marie Kondo in her Tidying Up series said to ideally have no more than 30 books. (At this, I really wondered if my Preterism might be false and she could be the antichrist.)

We love our books in this field. What do you expect? Naturally, with the rise of the internet, we have several bibliophiles all coming together. Book clubs rise up and people come to discuss what books they love and why. Also, we can discuss what books we don’t like and why. One such club was started by one of our favorite bibliophiles who has come on the show a number of times. Now he wants to tell you about his book club. His name is Rob Bowman and he runs the Apologetics Book Club.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Robert M. Bowman Jr. is an evangelical Christian apologist, biblical scholar, author, editor, and lecturer. For over ten years (2008–2018) he served as the executive director at the Institute for Religious Research, based in Cedar Springs, Michigan (http://IRR.org). Rob has lectured on biblical studies, religion, and apologetics at Biola University, Cornerstone University, and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of over sixty articles and the author or co-author of thirteen books including Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ, co-authored with J. Ed Komoszewski, and Faith Has Its Reasons: Integrative Approaches to Defending the Christian Faith, co-authored with Kenneth D. Boa. His newest book, Jesus’ Resurrection and Joseph’s Visions: Examining the Foundations of Christianity and Mormonism, is forthcoming in late 2019. He holds the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in biblical studies from Fuller Theological Seminary and South African Theological Seminary. Dr. Bowman is widely regarded as the leading evangelical scholar addressing the uses and interpretations of the Bible by Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. He leads the Apologetics Book Club on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/apologeticsbookclub/) and blogs at https://RobertBowman.net.

We’ll be talking about this book club. Why does it exist and why should an apologist join? Why should a man of the book be reading other books? Isn’t the Bible sufficient in itself?

We’ve got the mechanism for uploading podcasts up again and I have a new sound guy who will be starting soon doing work on editing. I hope to be up to date again on episodes soon. Thanks for being a supporter and I hope you’ll keep listening to the Deeper Waters Podcast and leave a positive review on iTunes.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Are We The Crazy Ones?

What value does our society place on books today? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

My wife really likes to watch the Crazy ones, a show starring Robin Williams. I watch it with her, often reading or doing something else at the time. Tonight we saw an episode about a move to save a library, which was not necessarily greeted with enthusiasm by others on the show and the way it was saved by actually staging a fake book burning so that people would get enraged and come out and save the library.

Spoiler alert: It worked.

Yes as I watched, the thought of burning a book was horrendous to me and if someone says “Well Christians burned books in history!” then I would say that wherever that happened that that too was a great evil. I think it would be wonderful to have more of the works that have been lost over time. Now of course, some works are lost just because there was no interest and no one was copying them and some were lost by other circumstances, but it’s a shame when anyone purposely destroys a work of literature.

In the past two novels have been written that deal with books. In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury feared a world where people would have a job of burning books. In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley wrote about a world where there would be books, but no one would read them due to their quest for pleasure. Of course, this pleasure was mainly sexual pleasure.

Huxley’s view seems to have won the day.

Now keep in mind, I’m not against pleasure. I think we should enjoy our lives and that includes the sexual pleasure to be enjoyed in marriage. I’m not saying all we should be doing is reading. My wife and I go to a gym regularly and exercise. We have some favorite TV shows and movies we like to watch. We also have a number of game consoles and I do have a reputation as being a good gamer.

But do make sure to read.

In fact, this is my problem with too many Christians and too many atheists. They don’t read enough. Let’s look at some attitudes we see.

For atheists, too many of them are simply only reading what agrees with them. They are not reading works that are outside their worldview that will truly challenge them. How else do so many get suckered into the idea that Jesus never even existed? I found much confirmation of this in looking at the bibliographies in new atheist literature. Works that disagree with them are woefully lacking in reference.

As for the Bible, too many atheists don’t read the Bible and when they do, they make a mistake of not reading it as literature. They don’t read it to first see what the author is really trying to say. I don’t necessarily mean the divine author. Let’s even just go with the human author. Let’s take a book like Romans that is indisputably Pauline. How many are reading it to see what Paul really said? I don’t care if you agree or disagree with him at this point. Do you really seek to find out what he really said?

The Bible is often read only to attack it and then to mock it. Even if someone doesn’t believe in the message of the Bible, to be an educated person in this society, you must be familiar with it. The Bible is without a doubt the book that has shaped Western Civilization more than any other. If you do not understand the Bible, you will be incredibly ignorant in this culture.

Now what about Christians? Too many Christians don’t read what disagrees with them and challenges them, but there is another dangerous idea they have.

“I just read the Bible. That’s the only book I need!”

What nonsense! Now I do not doubt the Bible contains all that is needed for salvation and the message is there, but if you want to truly understand the Bible, you will need to read other books. For instance, if you don’t know the original languages, you will either want to try to learn them, as I am, to seek to understand what the Bible says in the original languages. Until then, you are at the mercy of a translator.

If you want to understand the culture of the Bible, you will need to read about that elsewhere. If you want to know about the history of the Bible, you will need to read that. If you want to know about textual criticism, apologetics, philosophy, etc. all of those are found in books outside of the Bible by people who have dedicated their lives to understanding this book, and for atheists who are still reading at this point, not all of those are Christians.

Beyond that, Christians need to be educated in other areas they talk about. If you want to understand philosophy read giants like Plato and Aristotle. If you want to understand history, choose a period of history and read all you can about it. If you want to understand science, do the same.

Too often in our culture, we are not reading books. I am not talking so much about books being converted to electronic format. I get that. In fact, I own a Kindle as well. (And in fact, would love to upgrade to a Kindle Fire.) I am not talking about audio reading either. I’ve done that too. I’m talking about just not reading books.

Of course, I am not opposed to reading material online. If I was, I would not be writing this blog, but I have a problem when I debate someone and all they link to is wikipedia and think that that constitutes an argument. There’s a reason I never bother to look when someone links to wikipedia in a debate. Nowadays, many of them are going to just YouTube videos. Now there are some good videos out there that explain works well, but there are a lot that don’t and sadly in our age, anyone can look like an authority. (And for those concerned about my own work here since anyone can look this way, feel free to check what I say and also note the link of endorsements on the side of this blog.)

I’m also not saying by the way to only read academic works. I like to read some fiction from time to time. My interest there is mysteries. I just ordered the latest Mary Higgins Clark novel from the library and I eagerly await the next Monk Murder Mystery being a paperback so I can order it on Amazon. I have no problem with reading just for pure pleasure.

My main message at this point is simple. Just read. Try to read at least a little bit every day. There are days I can get really constructive and focused and read a whole lot. There are days I don’t get in as much. Usually Allie goes to bed earlier than I do and I just get up and go to the living room and read. She knows and is fine with it. For me, it is a great way to clear my mind. Then as I go to sleep, I look up a few verses of a passage of Scripture, namely the Psalms I’m going through now, and just think about those verses as I drift to sleep. It seems to work well.

I fear a culture that does not read. A culture like this is uneducated and is easily swayed by every wind that comes along. At this point, I honestly don’t care if you agree with me as a Christian or not. I simply ask that you read. If you want to remain an atheist, at least seek to be educated on both sides in your atheism. If you are a strong Christian, by all means keep reading your Bible, but make sure to read the works of other great minds that have bent the knee to Christ and sought to pass their wisdom on to you. They have much to teach you.

I just hope our culture is willing to learn.

In Christ,
Nick Peters