Spiritual Warfare in American Media

Hillbillies To Superheroes

Godly Influences in American Media





Welcome to class two of our Christian Media Class series, Spiritual Warfare in American Media! Our first class was on the history of American media From Printing Press To Television. Our second class is Hillbillies to Super Heroes, and our third and final class will be Babylon To Hollywood. Tonight’s class will be entitled Hillbillies to Super Heroes, godly influences in American Media. This class will be divided into three parts: Hillbillies & Cowboys, City Folks & Country Folks, and American Super Heroes.


People have been looking for heroes ever since the beginning of time.  The reason for this can be found in the Bible and the first reference can be found in…


Genesis 3:13-15

And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.  And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:  And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.


Don’t you know that, just after God created the universe, mankind would find a way to mess things up!  We know that our God is a holy God.  However, even in judgment, He will always try to show mercy, where possible.  In this case, He holds out hope for the future even as He passes judgment on mankind. In these verses we see the first mention of the greatest hero of all time!


In Genesis 3, we see the first reference to the seed of the woman, who will one day crush the head of Satan.  This is a direct reference to the day when Jesus Christ would destroy the power of the devil!  Always keep in mind that Jesus Christ is the real hero of this book!  Anyone who would be mentioned afterwards can only be heroic and worthy of honor as he mirrors Jesus’ ultimate defeat of Satan. Throughout history there have been many important and powerful people, but there is only one worthy of the title Paul mentions in…


I Timothy 6:14-16

That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:  Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;  Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.


Over the many centuries since the beginning of time, there have been many kings and lords.  However, there is only one who is worthy of being King of kings and Lord of lords.  Throughout history we have seen other men who have become kings and lords, two types of heroes.


A lord is someone who has become the master over something.  Take, for instance, someone we mentioned last time, who believed what God said about the true nature of the earth and risked his life to prove it.  In the process of doing this, he discovered the New World.  His name was Christopher Columbus and for his exploits, the king of Spain gave him the title of the Lord of the Seven Seas.  Where did Columbus get the idea to do these mighty things?  Let’s allow him to speak for himself.


"I am a most unworthy sinner, but I have cried out to the Lord for grace and mercy, and they have covered me completely.  I have found the sweetest consolation since I made it my whole purpose to enjoy His marvelous presence.  For the execution of the journey to the Indies, I did not make use of intelligence, mathematics, or maps.  It is simply the fulfillment of what Isaiah prophesied."


A king is someone who rules over a nation of people.  There have also been many mighty kings throughout history.  One was King James of England.  He is the one who gave us the Authorized King James Bible which we still use today, nearly 400 years after he first published it.  He also began the English colonization of America.  Being a dedicated Christian himself, he said that the only legitimate purpose for coming to America should be for…


"The propagating of Christian religion to such people as yet live in darkness and miserable ignorance of the true knowledge and worship of God, and may in time bring the infidels and savages, living in these parts, to human civility and to a settled and quiet government."


So we see how certain men can become lords and kings.  There is a third class of people who can be classified as heroes also.  This third class is mentioned in…


Joshua 1:13-15

Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, The Lord your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land.  Your wives, your little ones, and your cattle, shall remain in the land which Moses gave you on this side Jordan; but ye shall pass before your brethren armed, all the mighty men of valour, and help them;  Until the Lord have given your brethren rest, as he hath given you, and they also have possessed the land which the Lord your God giveth them: then ye shall return unto the land of your possession, and enjoy it, which Moses the Lord's servant gave you on this side Jordan toward the sunrising.


Here we see our third class of heroes, mighty men of valor. This name is very specific.  All men who become kings and lords do not classify as heroes.  In fact, down through the ages, many evil men have been kings and lords.  So also, many evil men have been mighty men throughout history.  Goliath was a mighty man, but he was not a mighty man of valor! 




Thus we see that those who become heroes need not necessarily be a lord or a king over anything.  In fact, many of the heroes throughout the history of America have been common men who lived in the country on the farm.  These are men who today many call hillbillies.


While hillbillies have been the object of ridicule from many quarters, the truth is that our nation would not have survived as long as it has if not for the hillbillies.  As United States Congressman William Jennings Bryan once put it…


“Burn down your cities and leave our farms and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.”-William Jennings Bryan

One of the earliest of our hillbilly heroes was born to Quaker parents in Exeter, Pennsylvania in the 1700’s.  He helped with the founding of Fort Nashboro, that would ultimately grow into the city of Nashville, Tennessee.  His name was Daniel Boone.  To better understand the spiritual makeup of this man, you merely need to read his writings.


“The religion I have is to love and fear God, believe in Jesus Christ, do all the good to my neighbor, and myself that I can, do as little harm as I can help, and trust on God's mercy for the rest.”


A century later, a young Tennessee hillbilly wearing a coon skin cap, would become another hero of the fledgling American nation.  His name as Davy Crockett. His adventures stretched all across the southeastern United States.  He would finally die at the battle of the Alamo, and thus became immortal in the minds of all Americans.


Hillbilly is a term generally used for those farmers living east of the Mississippi.  Once your pass over the mighty Mississippi and away from the hills of Tennessee, the name changes to cowboy.  Put another way, a cowboy is just a hillbilly on a horse!


There was a myriad of cowboy heroes in the early days of American history.  They would even become a major part of the early days of America’s electronic media in the 1930’s.  One particular couple became the personification of the Old West. I speak, of course, of Leonard Franklin Sly and Frances Octavia Smith, better known as ROY ROGERS AND DALE EVANS.  Roy even developed a cowboy’s prayer.


“Oh Lord,  I reckon I'm not much just by myself; I fail to do a lot of things I ought to do, but Lord when trails are steep and pass is high, help me ride it straight the whole way through, and in the falling dusk I get the final call - I do not care how many flowers they send - above all else the happiest trail will be for you to say to me, "Lets Ride My Friend." Amen.”


Roy and Dale were just the first in a long line of western stars of the electronic media age.  In 1949, they would be joined by Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels, better known as THE LONE RANGER and his Indian sidekick Tonto.


The 1950’s, when I was born, a multitude of cowboy heroes literally exploded into the small screen universe.  The first of these would be Duncan Renaldo and Leo Carrillo, more widely known as THE CISCO KID and Pancho. These two actors would be the first of a long line of Hispanic cowboy stars.


In 1954, the ladies got into the act as Gail Davis got her own cowgirl show entitled, THE ADVENTURES OF ANNIE OAKLEY.  Annie Oakley was a young fast gun and sharpshooter that actually did live in the Old West.


Most of these programs would last only a few years but some can still be seen today.  One that began in 1959 featured a family made up of four fairly unknown actors with the first names of Lorne, Pernell, Dan & Michael. We all know them better as Ben, Adam, Hoss & Little Joe, and the program was BONANZA.


As the 1950’s ended, cowboy stars gave way to hillbilly heroes, who came into their own in the 1960’s.  One of the most popular of these shows featured the acting talents of Andy, Ron, Frances & Don.  We know them better as Andy, Opie, Bea & Barney and the program was known as THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW.


Another of these many hillbilly shows premiered in 1964.  This program starred Buddy, Irene, Donna & Max, whom we all know lovingly as Jed, Elly Mae, Grannie & Jethro, the Clampett Clan.  The program was called THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES and it was unique in the fact that this story was inspired by an incident that occurred when the program’s creator visited a log cabin in the hills of Kentucky.  This particular cabin was the birthplace of American President Abraham Lincoln.  He began to wonder what it must have been like to have gone from a log cabin to the White House.  Then he wondered what would happen if something similar happened to a hillbilly family today and this classic television program was born!




Looking back at the 1950’s we need to remember also that all television heroes were not country bumpkins and cattle jockeys.  There were a lot of city folks and country folks in the roster of heroes during this decade of American history.  To better understand how city folks came to be, we need to take a look at what Abraham’s nephew Lot did in the Bible, as we can see in...


Genesis 13:9-11

Is not the whole land before thee?  separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.  And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar.  Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.


Abraham and Lot both had such huge herds of cattle and sheep that they had to separate to keep from starting a family feud.  Lot liked the look of the cities and went to the plains of Jordan while Abraham went to the hills of Canaan.  The next time we see Lot, he has lost all of his cattle and is living in the city of Sodom and has now become one of the city folks.  In other words, city folks are just hillbillies who lost their farms! 


In 1952, two city folks, Jack and Harry, took the nation by storm.  We knew them better as Joe Friday and Bill Gannon, and the program was called DRAGNET.  “Just the facts, Mam!” became a national slogan for all the hardworking police detectives across the nation.  Producer, director and star Jack Webb also created Adam-12 and Emergency.  These three shows would be the forerunners of such popular programs as Law & Order, CSI and ER; just to mention a few of the shows today following in his footsteps.


In 1953, we also began to see the entrance into the television universe of many country folks.  Folks from foreign countries, that is!  The first is a major series that starred the two British actors

Ronald Howard and Howard Marion-Crawford.  We recognize them more readily as DETECTIVE SHERLOCK HOLMES AND DOCTOR WATSON.  THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES was the first of a long line of programs starring heroes that were not American, but rather foreign country folks.

Following the success of Sherlock Holmes, another British hero would enter the world of American media.  We speak, of course, of Richard Greene and Archie Duncan.  These actors are better known to us as ROBIN HOOD AND LITTLE JOHN and the show was THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD.


Meanwhile, to the north, two Canadians named Richard Simmons and Kim of the North, became very popular.  Their stage names were SERGEANT PRESTON AND YUKON KING, and the program was called SERGEANT PRESTON OF THE YUKON. 


Moving to the western seaboard, one of the most popular of the foreign country folks hit the airways in 1957, and this hero is also my own personal favorite.  The star’s name was Guy Williams and the character was the Spanish born crime fighter ZORRO, which by the way, is Spanish for Fox.  Zorro was probably the best done of all the country folk programs of that time, courtesy of Walt Disney.  The first year of this program, it swept all awards for its excellence.  However, after two successful seasons, the program had to be dropped because the production costs had gotten too high to maintain that level of excellence.


Needless to say, with programming like this on the only three networks during the 1950s, you can see why our generation has such a love for righteousness and hate for evil.  We love these heroes, not because they were good with a gun or a sword or their fists, but because they were good by biblical standards.


However, in 1963 our government removed the Bible as a textbook in our public schools, thus removing the standard that all our nation’s children shared in common.  Before this decade is over the godly heroes of the 1950’s are replaced with a moral wasteland of ungodliness.  We go from Roy Rogers to Clint Eastwood, from Andy Griffith to Archie Bunker and from Sergeant Friday to Dirty Harry.


This moral wasteland has polluted the minds of the American youth for over 40 years and still continues to do so today.  While we may not be able to stop this flood of wickedness entirely, there is now a way we can stem the tide somewhat, and at the same time, brighten the corner where we are! 


I lamented for many years for all the young people who never had a chance to learn the moral lessons of the Bible as taught by Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger, Zorro and the many other heroes that I grew up with when we were still a Christian America.  Then along came cable television, videotapes and DVDs and suddenly all these old shows have been resurrected for us.  The question is will we use this opportunity to teach today’s children about the godly heroes of the past?


In 2001, a most unusual movement began that showed me I was not alone in wanting to use television to teach biblical truths to the young.  Another who shared this vision was Pastor Joey Fann.  He wrote a book entitled THE WAY BACK TO MAYBERRY in which he developed Bible studies based on episodes of THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW.  This book became an instant hit as churches across America began to teach the simple truths contained in these classic television shows.  They have even developed a website where you can still go for access to nearly 100 Bible studies based on this series.


In 2002, Television producer Steven Skelton began developing video-driven Bible studies on several different classic television programs.  He has a growing line of kits that can be viewed at including the MAYBERRY BIBLE STUDIES, BEVERLY HILLBILLIES BIBLE STUDIES and the BONANZA BIBLE STUDIES, just to name a few.



If Christian America was able to develop so many heroes out of everyday hillbillies, cowboys and city folks, it truly surpassed itself when it began to develop Superheroes.  Today there are superheroes for every possible stretch of the imagination.  These fanciful heroes are able to do things far beyond the powers of mortal man.  However, when you speak of superheroes, there is only one who can stop a speeding bullet, is faster than a locomotive and can leap tall buildings in a single bound.  We are speaking, of course, of the one, the only Superman!


One of the most interesting things about Superman is his history.  The term Superman is not originally an American concept.  It was an idea first developed by Nazi Germany nearly a century ago.  To understand this concept, we need to understand what happened in Germany and all the rest of Europe over 150 years ago.  In fact, the Apostle Paul warned of the evil that would be brought about by such a system in the New Testament in…


I Timothy 6:20-21

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:  Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.


To better understand what Paul is talking about when he mentions a “science falsely so called”, we need to travel back in time to 1850 and meet an Englishman by the name of Charles Darwin.  He is the man who, although not a scientist himself, developed the so-called “scientific” theory of evolution.  He became convinced that all man had not been created by God but had instead evolved from monkeys.  He wrote a book entitled THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES BY MEANS OF NATURAL SELECTION, OR THE PRESERVATION OF FAVOURED RACES IN THE STRUGGLE FOR LIFE.  This book came out at a time when much of Europe had turned from God and his study took the continent by storm.  He himself said about this theory that…


"I am quite conscious that my speculations run quite beyond the bounds of true science."


Once you turn away from the God of creation, the problem is not that you don’t believe in anything anymore.  Rather, you will begin to believe in anything, regardless of how ridiculous it may seem to the rest of us.  For instance, Francis Galton, a disciple of Darwin, would take evolution to the next logical level and developed the science of Eugenics, the breeding of humans to improve the species.  Just as farmers have for years bred better cattle, Galton decided we could breed better humans. 


Friedrich Nietzche was another disciple of Darwin in Germany.  He devised the term “Uberman” or Superman, who was a man who had evolved to the point that he was above all moral law.  This ungodly philosophy would ultimately drive him insane and he spent his last years in a mental institution.  In his own words,…


"God is dead!  I teach you the superman. Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him?”


In 1932, another young German fell into this pit of deception also and the world would never be the same again.  Adolph Hitler was a disciple of Darwin, Galton and Nietzche who wrote “MEIN KAMPF” or “MY STRUGGLE” taking his title from that of Darwin’s original work.  He finally came to the conclusion that…


“Christianity is an invention of sick brains.  The war will be over one day. I shall then consider that my life's final task will be to solve the religious problem.”


Hitler also took the next logical step in this line of evolutionary thought.  He made it his life’s goal to create a race of German Supermen.  In his own words, he decided to take evolution and apply it to world politics. 


Along the way to his Nazi utopia, he came to the conclusion that he could speed up the process even more by systematically eliminating the inferior races of the world.  His first target was the Jews.  Thus the Nazi Holocaust was born in 1933.  By the time that the Nazi Holocaust was over, he had engineered the killing of over 6 million Jews. 


Rumors of the Holocaust soon reached America.  There were two young Jewish men, Jerome Siegel and Joseph Schuster, who lived in Ohio and attended American public schools.  They developed Superman as a comic book character in 1938 as a response to these rumors.  In their first story, they made Superman a villain like Hitler, trying to take over the world.  They revised their concept to make him a truly godly hero.  Superman was a mixture of the Old Testament character Samson and their idea of what the Messiah would be like.  Thus the concept of the American version of Superman entered the world of the printing press media.


By 1951, Hollywood took notice.  They chose actor George Reeves and called the show THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN.  Thus did this new hero enter the television universe.  The first episode of this series was called SUPERMAN ON EARTH.


The story line of this first episode runs as follows and this particular episode could be called a study of salvation.  In outer space, a father sends his son to Earth to save the child’s life, He is later saved from the burning spaceship and raised by a kindly couple. As a young man, Clark Kent gets a job at the Daily Planet. As Superman, he saves a man falling from a dirigible.  In fact, in the original story, the names of Superman’s earthly parents were not Jonathan and Martha but Joseph and Mary!


Do you begin to see some parallels to the gospel story.  In heaven, God sent His son to earth to save all of us.  While Clark Kent is an imaginary character, Jesus Himself is the real Superman, God in the flesh, who died to save us all!


Superman adventures in the world of electronic media did not end here either.  In 1978, SUPERMAN THE MOVIE, opened to rave reviews all over America, with Christopher Reeves in the lead role.  The following article gives some fascinating facts about this movie.  It comes from an internet website dedicated to seeking out ways to use electronic media to teach about Jesus Christ and other biblical concepts.  The website is called



Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, both Jewish, invented Superman in the late 1930's as a typically Jewish mythical hero. Jews were being oppressed by Adolph Hitler at that time and Superman or Super-Jew was their answer to Hitler. The "S" on Superman's shirt also stands for the last names of his creators. Superman comes from the planet Krypton -which sounds like "Tikkum olam" a Hebrew concept of restoring the world's wrongs.


Joanne, the wife of the late Jerry Siegel, says she had often heard about the Jewish connection to Superman. Jerry Siegel is listed in the book Jewish 100 as one of the 100 most influential Jews of all time. He is listed along with Moses, Henry Kissinger and Steven Spielberg.


The Jerusalem Post quotes Daniel Schifrin of the US National Federation for Jewish Culture as saying, "The older I got the more I saw there was something profoundly Jewish about Superman, that he was one of us."  He further states, "Like Clark Kent we've been Diaspora Jews for so long, being viewed as timid and bookish when underneath there are fierce Hebrew warriors doing God's work."

The 1978 movie was an 80 million dollar blockbuster - a phenomenon in its day. It was written by Mario Puzo (The God Father) and David Newman (Shena) and, of course, based on the comic book series by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.  Jor-El is Superman’s father. (played by Marlon Brando, the God Father himself)

The movie Superman essentially retells the life of Jesus Christ-the ultimate Super Jew.  Richard Donner, the director of Superman, had just completed filming The Omen (1976) which was a film about the Antichrist.

When Superman was released in Communist China in 1985 the Worker's Daily called Superman "a brave hero of incomparable strength who clearly distinguishes what to love and hate and culls strength from weakness."  Sounds very Christ-like to me.


It is interesting to note that the Hebrew word for God is EL and both Superman and his father have EL in their names. In the comic books "Kal-El" is Kryptonian for "Star Child" -which ties into the Child of the Christmas Star.



Superman would return to the small screen in 1993 in a new series entitled LOIS AND CLARK, THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN starring Dean Cane.  This series was followed by another show in 2001, SMALLVILLE, with Tom Welling in the title role.  There is not a young person out there who does not know whom Superman is.  This can be a natural bridge to sharing the gospel and other biblical concepts with young people all around us.  For instance…


Mark 15:33-35

And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.  And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?  And some of them that stood by, when they heard it, said, Behold, he calleth Elias.


The word “Eli” in this verse means “my God”.  As we have already seen, the Hebrew word for God is “El”.  The Kryptonian name for Superman’s father is “Jor-El”.  If you check the Hebrew dictionary of any Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, you will see that the nearest word to this is “Joel”, which means “Jehovah is God”.  Superman’s Kryptonian name is “Ka-El”.  In the Strong’s, your nearest word to this is “Kadmel”, which means “The presence of God”.  Superman’s arch enemy is Lex Luthor and the nearest name to this one in the Bible is Lucifer.  Armed with all this knowledge, anyone can use this media hero to teach the concept of Christ to anyone they meet!


In fact, many years ago I heard a sermon called the Sanctified Superman.  This preacher explained that we Christians are all like Clark Kent.  We have a secret identity that we maintain all through our lives.  However, whenever Clark Kent encounters evil, he rushes into a closet and out comes Superman.  When we Christians encounter evil, we also need to rush into our prayer closets. 


When we come out, we are Sanctified Supermen.  We have a big S on our chests.  That S stands for Saved.  That S stands for Sanctified and we have this S on our chest because we are filled with the Holy Spirit.  In fact, when we are in God’s will, nothing can harm us but that big, ugly green S called the kryptonite of Sin! 


There’s another aspect to this we need to consider also.  While today we may not be a “strange visitor from another planet with powers and abilities far beyond mortal men”, one day we will be.  One day soon, we will shed this mortal shell and become immortal ourselves.  Jesus Himself said that one day all of his followers would be like the angels. 


On that day, we will not have this evil kryptonite of Sin to deal with anymore.  On that day, we will no longer have to deal with this weak fleshly body we now abide in.  On that day, sickness and death will be but a fleeting memory.  On that day, when we finally leave our native planet and enter our new heavenly home, we will be the ones who are “stronger than a locomotive, faster than a speeding bullet, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound”!


Yes, Superman is indeed a Christ like super hero and we should all be more like that ourselves.  In fact, just last year, the Entertainment Ministry developed the SUPERMAN BIBLE STUDIES, just to use this media hero as a tool to draw people closer to God. Keep in mind that Superman is not Jesus Christ.  In fact, the Apostle Matthew warned us about this very thing in…


Matthew 24:25-27

Behold, I have told you before.  Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.  For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.


One day soon, we will be able to lift our heads and say, “Look!  Up in the sky!  It’s a bird!  It’s a plane!  It’s Jesus Christ!”