Saturday, July 16, 2005

God Billboards: Are the Billboard God Messages Really from God?

God Billboards are popping up everywhere. You’ve seen them along the highway—black background, huge white letters: Billboard with messages signed by God.

God has quite a PR team—in addition to Fox News, He is putting out quite a collection of humorous, thought provoking quotes, each on a huge billboard. God messages plus Madison Avenue, or in this case the Outdoor Advertising Association of America.

But I wonder. Does God feel a little awkward about some of the quotes? Here is a sampling:

“One nation under me.” – God
“The real Supreme Court meets up Here.” – God
“Loved the wedding. Invite me to the marriage.” – God

It appears God voted Republican.

OK, that wasn’t an honest representation of the messages—they’re not all conservative political statements. Here is a wider sampling:

“It’s a small world. I know, I made it.” - God
“Life is Short. Eternity isn’t.” – God
“What part of ‘Thou Shalt Not’ don’t you understand?” – God
“If you must curse, use your own name.” – God
“Feeling Lost? My Book is Your Map.” – God
“As my apprentice, you’re never fired” – God
“All I know is…everything.” – God
“Don’t make me come down there.” – God
“C’mon over and bring the kids.” – God
“You think it’s hot here?” – God
“That ‘love thy neighbor’ thing I meant that.” – God
“Keep using my name in vain, I’ll make rush hour longer.” – God
“Do you have any idea where you are going?” – God
“Need directions?” – God
“Big Bang Theory? You’ve got to be kidding.” – God
“Tell the kids I love them.” – God
“Let’s meet at my house before the game Sunday.” – God
“We need to talk.” – God
“Will the road you are on get you to my house?” – God
“Have you read my #1 best seller? There will be a test.” – God
“Feeling lost? My book is your map.” – God
“Need a marriage counselor? I’m available” – God

Cute, witty, thought provoking.

There’s only one problem: God didn’t say any of these things. At least, not in the Bible.

Just to make sure I checked all of the above supposed “quotes” against an online searchable Bible. After hundreds of hours of research and fact checking, I could come up with only ONE billboard quote that God—or Jesus—uttered:

“Follow me.” – God

(Jesus quoted in Matthew 9:9 for instance. The phrase also appears in one context or another in a total of 10 places.)

Maybe the OAAA isn’t trying to represent the Bible God, maybe they intended to quote some other God. I checked on the campaign’s website: It describes the goal and reasoning behind the 10,000 billboard-wide campaign. Following the attacks of 9/11:

"the donor behind the original campaign decided to develop a new campaign—complete with new sayings—based on the same God as the first campaign, the God of the Bible."
(GodSpeaks.com website.)

OK, so “the anonymous donor” sees this as a campaign promoting the God of the Bible.

I must have missed something. Does this guy really think it’s a good idea to mis-quote God? Won’t God sue? Libel or something? Imagine doing this to anyone else:

“I love killing Muslims” – George W. Bush
“Bill has no balls” – Hillary Clinton
“McDonald’s Big Mac is Delicious” – Ghandi
“Monica has more suction than Hoover” – Bill Clinton

No way you could get away with it.

The Bible has some 1,200 chapters. Couldn’t they come up with just fifteen or twenty pertinent quotes?

I guess not. They do provide a “scripture support” for each of their quotes, but they don’t actually USE the scripture.

Well, if they are going to put words in God’s mouth, here are some I would suggest, followed by the “scriptural support” verse:

“Taking Down Saddam was my idea.” – God, Romans 13:1

“Beauty: I made the mountains, the seas and Jessica Simpson’s Breasts. Enjoy.” – God, Genesis 1; Proverbs 5:19

“I did not have sex with that woman” – God, Isaiah 7:14

“Get circumcised and I will have nothing to do with you.” – God, Galatians 5:2

Some of you are thinking right now that I shouldn’t be writing these things—let alone putting them out for public consumption. I think you’re right. But if the writer of the original billboards can do it, why can’t I?

The reason this shouldn’t be done is simple: We shouldn’t take the name of God in vain.
(I checked, it’s one of the commandments.)

When we blithely stick God’s moniker on any quote we choose to make up, we not only muddy the water of a real picture of God, we also treat Him with a contempt we would never attempt with any human being.

The author of the quotes would argue his good intention. He would likely point to the good the billboards are doing for ‘merica. And in his defense, the GodSpeaks.com web site attempts to recruit people into the Kingdom of God through compelling testimonies and a “Campus Crusade-like” do it yourself “How to Become a Christian” assembly manual.

But here’s the real problem: The “god billboard” quotes easily picture a god very different from the God of the Bible.

The billboards with messages signed by god picture the current god of the western world—he’s our spiritual buddy, a guy we can have over to watch Nascar. Like pop-psychology, he doesn’t do much judging, but encourages us in our spiritual walk using humor. It’s the same god being pushed today by the church growth movement—the “least common denominator” god. Instead of the Light of God we have “god lite”.

Tastes great. Less filling. (Literally.)

If I might suggest just one more quote from God, it would be this one sent out to the god “marketing” people behind the god billboards:

“Get your hands off me you damn, dirty ape!” – God

16 comments:

Analyst_for_Life said...

The Word which came to mind after reading this, and your other blog postings:

"But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth."
- Colossians 3:8

"This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." - Ephesians 4:17-24

"Warn a divisive person once, and then warn him a second time. After that, have nothing to do with him. You may be sure that such a man is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned."
Titus 3:10-11

There are some potentially useful and edifying observations in these posts, which are muted and obscured by the spirit in which they are shared. Thanks for collecting the various billboard messages here. It's a useful archive.

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