What do you think of the $2 million campaign by the Love Singapore Movement to advertise God (reported on the front page of Today, dated 11 May, 2001)?

I have not seen the advertisements personally, but I must say that I was both outraged and grieved when I read the article (“God and the Ad Man”) in the Today paper.

For the sake of those of us who have not read the article, let me risk annoyance and further exposure by quoting part of it:

“What do I have to do to get your attention? Take out an ad in the paper?—God.”

And “God” literally did that for a brief two weeks when a series of print and TV advertisements on the heavenly being were aired.

Then they were taken down because of religious sensitivities.

But these irreverent ads are still causing a stir in ad circles.

Done in minimalist black and white, the simple ads featured tongue-in-cheek copy such as “Please don’t drink and drive, you’re not ready to meet me yet”, “I hate rules. That’s why I only made ten of them”,….

Made up of 17 television commercials and 24 print ads, the $2 million campaign was commissioned by a loose network of 150 churches, called the Love Singapore Movement.

Their brief to the ad agency, Ogilv & Mather?

To “reposition” God from “a frowning schoolmaster in whose presence laughing is prohibited” to an affable and wise-cracking bloke whom you wouldn’t mind putting on a guest list for a dinner party,“ said Mr Eugene Cheong, who was in charge of the project and head of copy in O&M.

When I read this I was left bewildered at how any Christian could have come out with this expensive idea, which borders on blasphemy.

In the first place, I cannot imagine how any God-fearing man, much less Christian ministers, could agree to calling the thrice-holy Creator and Governor of heaven and earth, “an affable and wise-cracking bloke” (note that according to the article, O&M actually ran the ad copy by 250 pastors, presumably members of the Love Singapore Movement). God is so holy that even the holy seraphims covered their eyes and feet as they cried out unto Him: “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isa 6:3). How could sinful man dare to reduce Him to “an affable and wise-cracking bloke” unless they do not know Him as He is, or think that He is “altogether such an one as [themselves]” (Ps 50:21)?

In the second place, even the world knows that these ads are “irreverent” (see above)! Making God say what He did not, and indeed would not say, is sacrilegious and a gross breaking of the Third Commandment as well as the Ninth Commandment. Distorting God’s character by putting words in His mouth is blasphemous.

In the third place, the advertisements would not only irk the sensibility of those of other faiths who profess to believe in God, but do precisely nothing for the furtherance of the Gospel. Instead, by their caricature of God as a cavalier bloke whom you may consider inviting for your party, they could potentially do great damage to the cause of the Christ.

In the fourth place, much good could have been accomplished with the $2 million if used responsibly. I do not think we need to elaborate.

I am saddened by the state of Christianity in this land as reflected in this episode. Oh may the Lord raise up ministers who are willing to preach the Gospel fearlessly without resorting to silly marketing gimmicks to tickle the ears of the world. Let us pray that the Lord of the harvest will supply, and let us pray that He will preserve His people in this land in holiness and truth with genuine fear and love for Christ.