Bible study uses classic TV shows as moral lessons

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When a pack of lost puppies found refuge in Mayberry Jail, it was more than just a shaggy dog ​​story. The former “Andy GriffithShow” also taught a lesson found in Matthew 5:7 – “Blessed are the merciful, for mercy shall be shown them.”

When Jed Clampett once went looking for food and found bubbling crude, it wasn’t just a setup for a series about a mountain family moving to Beverly Hills. It was a lesson in counting your blessings, as in Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.

These are the kinds of parables some Escondido worshipers will learn this month as part of a Bible study program at the Church of the Nazarene.

“I’ve always been an Andy Griffith fan and I know it’s universal and cross-generational,” said Reverend Tom Fry, who believes the Wednesday night Bible study will illustrate valuable spiritual lessons and could draw people who do not yet know his church.

love of neighbor

The Bible studies curriculum was written by Steve Skelton, head of the entertainment ministry in Nashville, Tennessee.

“The reason we respond to ‘Andy Griffith’ is because it’s about love of neighbor, and that’s a divine message,” Skeltons said.

The Entertainment Ministry uses several old TV shows as the basis for Bible studies. Fry said he first heard of the company when a youth pastor at his church was teaching lessons based on “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

Fry said the church tested Andy Griffith’s Bible study by showing it to a group of parishioners who worshiped it. They were curious to see how ‘Andy Griffith’ would turn into something spiritual, Fry said, “but I think anyone who’s ever watched the program sees a very moral lifestyle. I don’t think people will think that it’s too frivolous.

Take inspiration from pop culture

Skelton said there is nothing frivolous about using popular culture for spiritual lessons, and he finds the precedent in the Bible itself.

“In 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, verse 33, Paul quotes, ‘Bad company corrupts good character,'” Skelton said. “He’s quoting a line of dialogue from a comedy play. It’s a pagan game.

The play was “Thaïs” by Menander, about the mistress of Alexander the Great who married the king of Egypt. In other words, Skelton said, Paul cites entertainment who was the “pretty woman” of her time.

Paul knew people would understand his message if they could relate to it through a story they already knew, said Skelton, who uses the same method.

Since starting the entertainment ministry five years ago, Skelton said 10,000 churches have purchased his Bible studies. A full study lasts 12 weeks and each session lasts one week.

Fry, 58, became a fan of the “Andy Griffith Show” on his original series. Skelton, 33, is too young to have seen the shows when they first aired, but became a fan through reruns. He’s even worked on TV himself, as a writer-for-hire on “America’s Dumbest Criminals” and on a talk show produced by Dick Clark and hosted by former “Dukes of Hazzard” star Tom Wopat.

‘Bigger and better’

Skelton first realized the potential of old TV shows as moral lessons when he read the story of a Sunday school teacher who taught “The Morals of History with Andy Griffith.” .

“I got in touch with him and said, ‘We should do this bigger and better,'” Skelton recalled.

Skelton has put together lessons using 12 classic Andy Griffith shows. In one episode, “Andy’s English Valet”, Sheriff Andy Taylor allows an Englishman to settle a debt by being his valet.

“However, it is Andy who serves a lofty purpose when he makes Malcolm feel at home by accepting help he doesn’t want,” the program description reads. “Finally, this master sees that the only thing better than being served is being served.”

The lesson is taken from Ephesians 6:7: Serve with all your heart, as if you were serving the Lord, not men.

Many shows have messages

Skelton then presented several other televised Bible studies, including “The Beverly Hillbillies Bible Study” (morality vs. materialism); “The Dick Van Dyke Show Bible Study” (family and community); and “The Bonanza Bible Study” (strength and fairness).

Skelton also created a “Superman Bible study,” in which he draws parallels between Jesus, who came to Earth as the son of God, and Superman, who landed on Earth as a baby to be raised by children. parents named Mary and Joseph.

He thinks it might not be a coincidence that Superman’s biological parents shared the last name “El”, the Hebrew word for God, and that Superman’s greatest enemy was named Luthor, which seems oddly close to Lucifer.

Stories all around

Skelton said he’s used classic TV shows so far because it’s easier to find parables there, but he thinks almost every story has lessons.

“It’s really an eye opener for a lot of people,” he said. “The stories of our time fall into two categories. They are either parables or anti-parables.”

Skelton said examples of “anti-parables” would be pornography or any story that shows evil behavior is rewarded.

“There is no history for history’s sake, because there is no man for man,” he said. “Believers believe that God created everything. God created history. For what purpose did he create history? I think he created it to reveal his truth.

Like Skelton, Fry sees valuable stories and parables everywhere and said Jesus often used anecdotes to help illustrate lessons.

“The phrase he used over and over again was ‘It’s like,'” Fry said. “It’s like something you see all the time, every day.”

Fry said Skelton’s study follows the same idea by teaching lessons with stories people already understand.

“That’s the genius of this one,” Fry said. “It’s pretty simple when you get there.”

Contact the church at (760) 745-7061.

Contact editor Gary Warth at [email protected] or (760)740-5410.

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