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Making a Fable into Jesus; A different way to present the Gospel, or a different gospel?

Aggressively going after faith-based audiences, Warner Bros. and Grace Hill Media are comparing Superman to Jesus as a way to trumpet Man of Steel and encourage ministers across the country to speak about the film.-The Superman Gospel According to Warner Bros.”[1]

I enjoy Science fiction, and many of us read a variety of comics when we were young, including Superman.

This is mainly promoted by Grace Hill Media that was founded five years ago by Jonathan Bock, a believer who worked in Hollywood and saw a need for a Christian public relations firm.

Jonathan Bock conceived of a new strategy to bridge the chasm that existed between Hollywood and the relatively untapped market of Religious America. In 2000, Grace Hill Media was born and quickly established itself as the reigning market leader in reaching People of Faith.


Mr. Bock serves on the board of Reel Spirituality at Fuller Theological Seminary and is a deacon at Bel Air Presbyterian Church.[2]

Tara Shaffer, a publicist with Grace Hill Media, says Hollywood executives have come to realize there is a big market for family-friendly films. … “and our mission is really to make Christians aware of entertainment that shares in their beliefs or explores the same values they believe in.”[3]

 These people may have good intentions to use Hollywood movies (or TV) to reach out; however, some of the points used to justify these actions seem to be weak, silly, and antithetical to the actual person who accomplished so much more than a fictional character.

Bock had said of the "Da Vinci Code" (a movie condemned by many Christians for undermining their religion by saying Jesus was married and had children), it was a movie that would probably be seen by a lot of Christians who realize it is better to see it and argue back than to boycott it.

"What they've come to believe is if the whole world wants to talk about Jesus, then let's be ready to have that conversation," he said.[4]

One of the characters in "The Da Vinci Code says, "Almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false." I’m not for boycotts, but is this supposed to help by having everything questioned.Actually, it would be far better not to add an argument to those who oppose the biblical portrayal than to give them ammunition. In fact, what this does is increase the movies sales (good for them). And NO: the whole world does not want to talk about Jesus. How can I say this? Well, the Bible tells us that’s the way it’s going to be.

John 1:4-5: “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

 John 3:20: “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

This is why 1 Corinthians 1:18 states: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.” There are numerous other Scriptures that explain how man is not seeking God.

Nonetheless, we have what some are calling the Superman gospel. It is what is called a recontextualization. Instead of concentrating on the gospel message from the Bible - our need to be forgiven for sin, they find correlations from another story (in this matter, the movie) and use it to illustrate the person of Jesus. Once you remove the integral parts for the gospel to be proclaimed, you can shuffle the pieces around and fit anything into the self-made mode, even portions that are not from the Bible. One is reduced to banter as they post modernize the message for an audience that is not be receptive to biblical truth. 

The success of “The Passion of the Christ” by Mel Gibson was an attempt to have a visual of what Jesus went through on His Crucifixion, though Gibson took a number of freedoms to embellish the story and slanted it with his strict Roman Catholic views. He admitted later after the movie had been out for some time that his goal was to convert people to Catholicism.[5]

Hollywood looks to this new segment of religious media as lucrative; but we, as believers, should not be made merchandise for ticket sales for movies with religious concepts. Don’t get me wrong. Movies with moral and ethical values should be welcomed, but let’s be careful not to reshape them into Bible lessons and a pseudo-Jesus, something the emergent church is certainly willing to do. Hollywood is not interested in truth even with hiring Christian consultants for a movie. They are interested in fresh ideas that will make money.

The question now comes up: Is it beneficial to use myths or fables to witness about a real person called Jesus? Can we use Hercules when we have a real life character from the Bible called Samson? Do we find a correlation in every hero movie to relate to Jesus or the Bible? Is this what witnessing the truth to people has come to. 

2 Timothy 4:3-5 “speaks of those who have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;  and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.  But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” Is this making a fable to be like Jesus or Jesus to be like a fable?

Fables are invented stories, fable: a fictitious narrative or statement: as a: a legendary story of supernatural happenings. b: a narration intended to enforce a useful truth; esp: one in which animals speak and act like human beings c: falsehood, lie (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

 A fable is to use a fictional story as if it is true. This is not what I think these men are doing. So our options are to decide whether it is a legendary story of supernatural happenings: a narration intended to enforce a useful truth.”

On the resource page of the movie, it states:

A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.


 You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders. — Jor-El

This sounds like New Age human potential, not anything of the biblical story of Jesus.

This is an age-old story, played out powerfully here, but echoing the best of the mission of Jesus in the New Testament. Think of the mirror reflection: From a place far beyond earth, sent by the love of a Father, Superman gives up all to come to live among a people doomed to death. Nurtured by adoptive parents, he stands in for justice and truth, but ultimately steps in to save humanity.[6]

Superman is an alien, born as a normal child to parents on another planet. He is a baby when his father, one of the lead scientists of Krypton learns the planet is going to explode. So his father sends his infant son (who had no say in it) to planet Earth. When sent to Earth under our sun, he gains superpowers. How anyone can think this would become a Christ story is beyond credulity. One must stretch the story as a rubber band to come to their conclusions.

This alien view is expressed: “You’re the answer, son. You’re the answer to ‘are we alone in the universe?’” — Jonathan Kent[7]

Jonathan Kent says - “you’re going to change the world because you are an alien.”[8]

Jerry Siegel and Joseph Shuster are both Jewish so some have assumed Superman's name on Krypton, Kal-el, is Hebrew; meaning voice and el being the name of God. Voice is the Hebrew word Qol, it is pronounce kol, Not Kal; and yes there is a difference. But there is even a more problem finding this family (with a mother) having the name el as the son is sent to earth to become a god like figure to mankind (certainly the biblical church would have a problem with this view).  This is about having people believe there are other human beings in the universe. The idea that a man from another planet who has superpowers seems to be more at home with Mormonism than Christianity.

He is portrayed as a visitor who is the protector, and humanity's hope - who stands for truth, justice, and the American way. This should not be confused with Jesus who is not about America’s way, but God’s.

Nietzsche spoke of a Millennial reign of the Superman who was to arise: "Behold," teaches Zarathustra, his creation, his type of the Superman, "behold, I show you the last man.”

Whether this is where the idea influenced the first Superman comic created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, is unknown. No doubt, Superman began the superhero genre that so many kids grew up on. The influences of the early Superman stories many see in context of the Great Depression that gave them hope. I think we are further on than this.

2 Peter 1:16: “For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”

In other words, they did not use what was invented by man when the apostles told the story of who Jesus is when He revealed Himself to them.

Warner Bros. Studios has marketed the movie to Christian pastors, some were invited them to early screenings. 
They also created a special Father's Day discussion guides with questions to ask children.

Jesus: More than our Super Man

Goals of Meeting Kids will better Appreciate Jesus and his sacrifice through looking at scripture and the parallels in the Man of Steel movie.


You may consider seeing the film together, or start by watching a trailer.


Questions to Get Conversation Started

What did you like about the movie?


What do you find most compelling about the Superman character? What does Superman discover to be his purpose?

Asking young children, who are impressionable, questions on this movie and correlating it to the Bible can be confusing to them, not enlightening. One can do the same for any fictional character that happens to have morals and a greater purpose. It may affect their ability to interpret the Bible correctly - can have them see metaphors and correlations when there are none.

One ad for the movie declares:

A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.

What parallels do you see between Superman’s story and Jesus’?

Scripture and Discussion Questions

Part 1: What was Jesus’ mission?

In the movie, Superman first offers himself to save the earth. Superman loses, earth wins. But then he realizes  he must fight to save the earth and stay to keep saving the earth. Christ didn’t just give himself over to reverse the judgment against us, he did that then rose victorious. and continues to fight for us. These truths are reflected throughout the New Testament.

See John 3:16-17

(Verse 16) Why did God the Father send his Son?

(Verse 17) What was Jesus’ purpose?

Part 2: How Does Jesus See Himself?

A character in the movie tells Superman: “If people find out who you are, the world will never be the same.”

Through his powers Superman could have ruled the world.  This was true of Jesus, too. Instead of lording it over them, however, he Chose a different approach.

 Finding an association of principles or ideas does not equal sameness, and we should not confuse this. For example, we could use Santa Claus who gives gifts as Jesus gives gifts. Santa flies through the air with reindeer; Jesus comes back on a white horse. Aliens that save us may be on the opposite end of the alien movies that are out to destroy us, yet making this concept into a bridge to the absolute truth of the Bible disfigures the biblical story. We can go on and on with associations that in the end are not helpful to a true historical figure, who by the way was God, not an alien.

People have found Christ in Toy Story or Harry Potter. If you are going to look for examples in places Jesus is not then you might as well look for Him in other religions. Which I think is where this is all headed unbeknown to those who participate in this recontextualized evangel folly.

 The whole point is to find out who Jesus is and not hide his true identity from the public as Superman does.

You can enjoy the film, but don’t embarrass yourself by trying to use it as a Jesus bridge.


[1] http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/superman-gospel-warner-bros-570668

[2] http://www.gracehillmedia.com/aboutus/

[4] http://legacy.utsandiego.com/news/features/20060505-0627-leisure-religion.html

[5] http://www.understandthetimes.org/commentary/c63.shtml

[7] Ibid.

[8] (interview Jack Snyder man of steel)



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