"NBC's 'The Book of Daniel' may have launched to great controversy and hoopla. But…the show ended with a whimper - pulled unceremoniously from NBC's Friday night schedule, effective immediately, with no more of an announcement than an entry on an NBC blog by creator Jack Kenny."
"One NBC affiliate after another dropped the show. Advertisers ran from it. And, apparently, despite all the controversy it generated, so did viewers. Nashville's WSMV-TV General Manager Elden Hale, Jr. said: 'Based on a review of the first three episodes and the clearly voiced concerns from our viewers, we have determined that the program 'The Book of Daniel' is not appropriate for broadcast television in this community.' After the first three episodes, only Burlington Coat Factory was left as a national sponsor."
The show was cancelled. What does it mean? Let's glean some practical implications from this short but volatile episode in American television history.
First, God answers prayer. We at our church prayed specifically for the cancellation of this show as I know others did. Our God is gracious to hear and mighty to act. We must resort to prayer far more often than we do, "for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds (2 Cor. 10:4)."
Second, we must put feet to our prayers. AFA Chairman, Donald Wildmon, noted that "the network had to absorb millions of dollars in losses each time it aired the program...because the show's sponsors bailed out. 'We want to thank the 678,394 individuals who sent e-mails to NBC and the thousands who called and e-mailed their local affiliates,' he added.
Third, in light of the above point, some will say the boycott worked. Indeed it did. However, the show was ultimately cancelled because of poor ratings. NBC may have an agenda, but they are not going to promote that agenda without making a profit. And yes, Christians must voice their concerns and speak out against iniquity. But, it is still true that had Christians not called for a public boycott (a public display of muscle and hitting them in the pocketbook as a means of fighting back, i.e. carnal warfare) and simply not watched the show and had then voiced their concerns in a loving way, the result would have been the same in terms of cancellation. The difference and benefit in such an approach versus the boycott approach is that Christians would not pose themselves as adversaries of NBC but as missionaries to NBC.
Fourth, we can praise God that as decadent as America is, they are still not willing to watch a pagan version of a Protestant minister and his God-hating family. It goes against a remnant of what they know to be right and wrong. It does not ring true to what even lost people know to be true about the Bible and most ministers. There is an opportunity for witness as God has not removed common grace from the land completely and as people still, and always will, bear the image of God.
Fifth, we bear some responsibility here for the likes of the "Book of Daniel" being aired in the first place. This event does highlight the fact that Christians are willing to get behind something public and controversial. It is easy to boycott and express outrage. A larger question remains unanswered however. Why do so many other objectionable television shows remain on the air? They do so because too many Christians are watching them and ratings are good. No boycott has been called for because they are not viewed as direct attacks on Christ as was the "Book of Daniel." But this raises the issue of where hearts really are. If Christians took Christ more seriously and strove to be more like Him every day, we would not need to call for the easy boycotts and we would see far less filth on television.
Sixth, let us realize that this attack on Christ will not be the last. Jack Kenny's cancellation announcement was brief but informative. "Unfortunately, due to many reasons, 'The Book of Daniel' will no longer be aired on NBC on Friday nights," he wrote to fans. 'I just wanted to say 'thank you' to all of you who supported the show. There were many wonderful, talented people who contributed to its success - and I do mean success. Whatever the outcome, I feel that I accomplished what I set out to do." Well, the only way he could describe a cancelled show as a success that accomplished what he set out to do is to have a goal of stirring up the firestorm he did. He may have other goals or expectations or even motives in such a show, but, the bottom line is that it was his attack on Christ. Again, there will be more. In light of that reality, how will we react? Can we engage in some real spiritual warfare now (prayer, holiness, witness, abstinence from such programming without threat but as a way of life) so we won't have to engage in carnal warfare next time?
Seventh, while our primary calling is to take the gospel to this culture and to the nations, Christian cultural influence is indeed part of the cultural mandate given to us in Gen. 1:28. That mandate is connected to the gospel and not divorced from it. This reality necessitates close scrutiny on our part as to how we engage this culture through different mediums and that we take great care in not compromising or watering down the gospel. That said, in light of this event as well as others including "The Passion of the Christ" and "End of the Spear," perhaps Christians could be more involved in Hollywood in a positive way as salt and light through the entertainment industry. With a move of that sort, theological dialogue will have to be had. At the same time, a show about Christians who have moral character and seek to do the right thing or a movie without the extra baggage would certainly be welcome, and quite possibly, influential.
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About Paul Dean
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.
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