Early last year a friend of mine (Alanah, who blogs here) sparked my interest in a certain TV show, and later on asked me about the crossovers between this show and theology. I have watched several seasons of the show and have since then stopped watching for different reasons, most of them are actually tied to the content of this blog.
The show that I am referring to is Supernatural. It follows two brothers who hunt demons, monsters, ghosts, and the like. There seems to be a great deal of importance for Christians to understand and interact with shows that interact the occult and the idea of God. Now in no way do I think that these shows actually interact with the God of Christianity, but these shows display to some extent what it is that people believe about God.
My initial impression of this show was positive, thinking that it was far too absurd for anyone to take it seriously. It eventually got a point where I would put the show on in the background as I was reading my Systematic Theology text-book just to have some decent theology going in.
The reason that I saw this show as absurd from the beginning is that it displays abhorrent theology that even Nestorius and Arius would have voted down at an ecumenical council. In case you are not familiar with those two names, let me put it this way, they have heresies named after them – that’s not good. The theology is far too bizarre to be taken seriously in the least bit. However as a Christian, watching this show forces you to have an orthodox understanding of God.
There is an angel in one season that has “lost her grace” and thus becoming human. Her name being Anna. At one point she refers to God as being an unknowable Father. She complains of blind obedience where she hears of what it is that is God’s will but never actually hears from him herself, only from her superiors. See what I mean by terrible theology? Interestingly enough gnosticism speaks of an unknowable father – a heresy that Irenaeus condemned in his five book work “Against Heresies”. Deism a more popular view of God also speaks of an unknowable Father, deism also speaks of a God who is no longer active in the world.
The biggest reason that I find importance in Christians watching shows such as this, or at least being familiar with shows that deal in this realm of the “supernatural” is the opportunity that it provides for evangelism as well as teaching proper theology. It is a springboard into conversation concerning a topic that many believe to be taboo, but is the center of the most important conversation you can have with someone.
Supernatural deals with God but it deals with Him in the wrong form. It deals with a god that exists as a single person that knows nothing of grace, forgiveness or love. The show speaks of an unitarian, one-dimensional, god. The god of supernatural has some of the worst character development that I have ever seen. Overall, the show leaves the watcher parched for the Living Water that only Jesus can draw. The entire time that you hear mention of God, angels, demons, the devil, etc. there is no mention of Jesus, outside of the one episode that takes him name in vain. This show presents a God who has no paid recompense for his people and has no concern for their fate. Further than this, there is absolutely no mention of the Holy Spirit, however once cannot expect a show that disregards the Christ, and his Bride, to have a proper understanding of pnuematology.
This show forces you to come to grips with who God really is.
It presents what seems to be some logical conclusions of belief in a god who acts as a watch maker. He builds the watch, and from there he steps back and does nothing. This god does not exist. The God of Creation is actively working (as Jesus identifies in John 5:17, as well as the rest of Scripture attests to) and concerned with the outcome of events (Romans 8:28). In this show God’s activity is minimal, he is working, however he is not holding all things together as the Bible teaches. In American theology we seem to believe that there is one God, however, we do not realize that the God that the Unitarians believe in and the God that Christians believe in are not, and cannot be the same God. We have monotheism down, but the issue is that we cannot agree on the character of God. I would argue that the show Supernatural displays and speaks of a god that is so far removed from truth that we cannot believe that anything it teaches is truly relevant to actually engaging in theology outside of corrective action.
There is one other aspect of this show that speaks greatly into the idea of our culture. The apocalypse, now I stopped watching the show before I actually got to the end of it. Eddie and I often talk about the whole reason we stopped watching is that we got really tired of hearing “The Devil’s gonna wear you like a prom dress” or something similar every episode. However, there is a much greater issue with the season that deals with this season aside from a bizarre misunderstanding of demon possession. It is that the apocalypse brings no promise. In 2012, there were at least three claims that the world was going to end. Each case involved a significant distortion of the Biblical Theology of the apocalypse (apocalypse comes from the Greek word meaning revealing, referring to the uncovering of Jesus used to describe both his first and second comings). The distortion that is at play in Supernatural is a simple one, that rings true of our society’s belief of the end of time. The belief is the lie that there is nothing good to come from the apocalypse. The return of Jesus brings much more good than it does bad. To finally be restored to how things were supposed to be. To finally be in the presence of God is not something to fear. There is much more to the rapture, return of Christ, apocalypse than this but I’m sure your attention is waning and I’m getting restless. One last note concerning the theology of this show: the way that it addresses Lucifer/Satan more often than not makes me want to vomit.
You can watch this show and completely ignore the flavorless aspects of God and disregard the theology, the same way we do the health benefits devoid of fast food, but in reality we must eventually come to a decision concerning how we justify what this show claims. It opens the door for conversation concerning God, demons, and eternity. That alone is invaluable.