Hollywood—Noting parallels between the lives of Superman and Jesus, Warner Bros. Studios is encouraging pastors to incorporate Man of Steel into Sunday sermons. Pastors were invited to early screenings and presented with nine pages of sermon notes titled “Jesus: The Original Superhero.”
In the film, starring Henry Cavill, Superman was sent as a baby from the planet Krypton to save his species, and his parents try to cope with his extraordinary powers. At age 33, Superman must sacrifice himself to save the human race. At one point in the movie, his father tells him, “Somewhere out there you have another father, and he sent you here for a reason.”
Professor Craig Detweiler, author of the sermon notes, said they allow Christians to engage with pop culture rather than shun it. “All too often, religious communities have been defined by what they’re against,” he said. “This is a chance to celebrate a movie that affirms faith, sacrifice, and service.”
Quentin Scott, a pastor in Baltimore, said he was skeptical of the tie-in at first. But when he saw the film, he realized “it was the story of Christ, and the love of God was weaved into the story.” Scott acknowledges he’s being used but said it goes both ways. “If you give me another opportunity to talk to someone about Jesus Christ, and I can do that because of your movie, that’s a win for me, because it is about spreading the Gospel.”
Others aren’t swayed, though. P.J. Wenzel, a deacon in Ohio, said as pastors “entertain their congregants with material pumped out from Hollywood’s sewers, lives are kept in bondage, and people’s souls are neglected.”
- How do you feel about this Hollywood tactic? Do you think Man of Steel has genuine connections to Christianity, or is this just a clever marketing ploy? Explain.
- Does it matter what avenue we take to bring up the topic of Jesus to people? Should Christians look for every opportunity to use pop culture to tell people about their faith? Does that cheapen the important message we need to share? Why or why not?
- In what ways might Jesus be considered a superhero? How does that characterization fall short? Can the sacrifices of a fictional character come close to representing what Jesus did for us? Explain.
- Must Christians assume that everything that comes out of Hollywood is suspect? Can we engage with pop culture and media without being negatively influenced by it? without seeming to endorse it? Explain.
- Have you ever been able to share your faith through a secular movie, show, song, or game? If so, what happened? What other everyday connections can we use to convey God’s love for people?
- Do people know what you stand for? Do people know what you stand against? Explain.
- In what ways can you be a superhero to people who need to hear about Jesus? Do you ever feel as if God has blessed you with special “powers” or talents to do his work on earth? Explain.
- When it comes to evangelism, with what areas do you need the most support or guidance? How can sharing faith with friends become more natural?
Scripture links: Psalm 28:7-9; Matthew 9:35-38; 10:1; Luke 4:14-21; Acts 1:8; Romans 5:6-11; and 1 Corinthians 9:22-23.