The Prophet of Pop

The Prophet of Pop

The Justin Bieber Bible Study – Part 3


Today we rage on to the end of the Justin Bieber Never Say Never Bible Study!  If you haven’t been following, the Justin Bieber Bible Study was a booklet sent out to youth leaders to promote his latest film.  In part 1 we looked at the discussion guide as a whole, and in part 2 we put the introductory portions under our prophetic microscope.  Now we have arrived at the real heart of this text: The discussion questions themselves.


If you’ve read a teen Bible Study before then you can probably guess how this one is structured, but if you haven’t let me break it down really quickly:

1. Write a paragraph introduction on a really broad theme that connects to the subject, in this case the engaging plot arcs of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.

2. Ask questions related to that theme such as “For what things should we pray?” and “Have you ever used “God’s will” as a cover up for your own plans or ideas?”

3. Pull a scripture quote completely out of context and apply it to the paragraph and questions.  Then, rather than letting the verse speak for itself, provide the obvious analysis.  Repeat as needed.


4. At the end, write a summary about what the reader has learned in the study.

The recommended discussions for Never Say Never are broken into four sections: Discerning God’s plan for your life, the power of prayer, the importance of Godly friendships, and Goal Setting: Hard work and perseverance.  Here are a few of the highlights:

“Wealth, honor, pleasure – these are goals that the world promotes.  But God wants us to focus on other things, even if he creates a path for us in the entertainment industry.”

“Let us commit to being loyal and never allow weeds to grow on the paths of our friendships.”

“Perhaps the most impactful aspect of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never is the intense effort Justin puts forth to accomplish his goal of sharing his talent and happy disposition with his ever growing fan base.”


One key to understanding these discussion guides is knowing that they are geared towards people of different denominational backgrounds.  As a result, the discussions have to be very broad.  There is no real discussion of theology and any potential points of contention have to be glossed over.  The end result is that the study becomes more focused on humanity than God or the Bible.  This is evidenced here even in the chosen themes, which include sections on friendships and goal setting.

If those problems are consistent in typical non-denominational Bible studies based on biblical themes, they are multiplied in a study based entirely on the concert film for a 16 year old superstar.  There simply isn’t much depth to the source material, and what is there gets lost in the conflicting messages of the document.  Life isn’t about wealth or looks, yet here is Justin in designer clothes with a perfect haircut.  Life is about setting goals, but is the goal really superstardom?


The issue is simple: If you believe that the gospel is about giving of yourself and not being rich, it is just really hard to hold up the story of a famous pop singer as an example for daily living.  In fact, it could give teenagers the downright wrong impression of what it means to be a Christian.  Prayer is important, discerning God’s will is important, having solid friendships is important, and goal setting is important – but pop music and its excesses are not important.  They are fun, frivolous, and sometimes inspiring – but important they are not.

Yes, this movie is worthy of discussion with teenagers in faith communities, but at the guidance of promotional material generated for the film?  Not quite.  Justin Bieber, while talented and successful, isn’t the ultimate example of faithful living.  To try and make his journey that significant is not only misleading – it is unfair to him.  In making his story relate-able to teenagers the writers have made Justin the center of the discussion, and the problems that presents far outweigh any of the good that could have been done here.


This movie having a Bible study still baffles me as much as it did two weeks ago, but I can at least say that at the end of this I actually think Justin Bieber is a good person and not to mention a very talented kid.  But, is his movie worth a Bible study?  Hardly.

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posted February 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm

It makes me sad that a Christian publishing house (or maybe just a PR firm, I dunno) will spend money/time to write a “Bible study/discussion guide” on a film that bears little relevance to the Cross-centered life, when so many (secular) films are ripe for discussion.
I could write a great discussion guide for Ink (2009)–themes of Grace & redemption; Crash (2004)–issues of racism & discrimination; Lo (2009)–what real love costs us; LOTR — remarkable themes of grace/gospel … the list would be long. Not that media-driven Bible studies thrill my soul. I kinda wish we’d all just read the Book, you know?

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Stephen Russ

posted February 23, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Agreed, although I think that media related discussions should always be welcome no matter how often someone picks up their Bible. I think the subject of ethics is always very interesting with any form of media.
I do think LoTR has many, many bible study thingies, of varying quality I’m sure.

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The Deacon of Discs

posted February 23, 2011 at 5:54 pm

The use of media, especially moving pictures, in spreading the Christian movement dates back to the medieval Cycle plays.
The first form of movie censorship (similar to today’s ratings system)was led by the MPPDA and Presbyterian Church elder/chair of the Republican Party Will Hays and included, in addition to suggestive nudity and anti-patriotism, restrictions against ridicule of the clergy. In 1933 the Vatican created the Legion of Decency which told Catholics which movies where acceptable for viewing.
However, dialogue with film has also be prevalent with movies like “Pay it Forward” (2000) receiving wide recognition for its religious meaning despite a lack of religious content. The Vatican still has a group that reviews and presents awards to various movies. The group recently recognized, “The Blue Brothers” (1980) as a “Catholic Classic.” I agree with LoriR that a wide range of cinema can be used in our exploration of scripture.
I also agree with my Godly friend the Prophet, “Never Say Never” appears to present an aesthetic that is contrary to the ethic that the Bieber Bible study seems to be claiming. It reminds me of the Jonas Brothers and the purity ring campaign.
I dare not challenge the Bieb, but the conflicting message of his image and this Bible study is problematic. Its almost as if there were some big rich pastor in Texas preaching about giving to the poor. Oh wait . . .

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posted February 24, 2011 at 8:05 am

Yeah, we both know THAT has never happened! I mean, woops…

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posted March 2, 2011 at 5:19 pm

How do you get the bible study?

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Stephen Russ

posted March 2, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Hi Tara!
I am honestly not sure! The only contact info on the document is for the sales department, but it would be a good place to start! The e-mail is
Thanks for reading!

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