Why I Use Cultural References in My Sermons

Yesterday I got a question from a very sweet person about my use of Star Wars as an example of Dualism when I was preaching. You can view the sermon here… The person who asked the question was concerned that I was using secular movies in my message.

Here is their question: 

I am curious as to why you use secular movies to demonstrate the Word of God.  In the one reference you used, Star Wars, there is the Dark Side and the Force, which really are both evil.  It would be like saying the bad witch and the good witch, as they are both witches.  The Force is a form of sorcery and witchcraft as they use manipulation to get what they want.  The Force is not relying on God for trust and help, it is manipulating things and people to get what they want.  I am so watchful in this world where bad is called good and good is called bad that I think our only commentary to the bible should be the bible itself.  If I compromise that to try and get the world’s attention, then I am what the bible calls, weakening their consciences and compromising the Word.

Here was my response…

Using references to movies, novels, poetry, and art are common practice for CC pastors when they preach. We make these cultural references to illustrate the point in a familiar way or to bridge the 2000 year cultural gap that exists between our culture and the culture of the Bible. 

We do this based on the example of Jesus and Paul. Jesus made broad use of cultural (secular) examples when he made his points. When Jesus talked about the hypocrite in Matthew 5-6 he was talking about the theater actors of the day. The audience that Jesus was talking to got Jesus point because they were familiar with the theater. Jesus also used examples from business, agriculture, and the judicial system. 

In Acts 17:27-28 Paul quotes the greek secular poets that were familiar to the Athenian audience when he preached. 
Jesus and Paul did an excellent job of borrowing from a familiar culture to make their spiritual points. They didn’t seem worried about contaminating their listener with the world by borrowing examples from their culture. 

Now… translating that practice over to my sermon on Sunday. I brought up Star Wars as an example of the philosophy of dualism. And I was talking about dualism because 1 John was written to believers who were being threatened by that type of false teaching. 

I would encourage you to check out a recent series that we ran on CalvaryChapel.com about this idea of our relationship to culture. These articles do a good job of explaining our relationship with modern culture and how examples from culture help us share the gospel.