Bible, Entertainment, Movies, Television

Six Thoughts on History’s “The Bible” ~ Part 3 ~ REDUX

thWith the movie Son of God releasing in theaters tomorrow, February 28, for the past two Thursdays I’ve been rerunning a three part series I wrote on last year’s History Channel miniseries, The Bible. This is the final installment. Son of God is Roma Downey’s and Mark Burnett’s movie about Jesus that is drawn from The Bible’s scenes pertaining to His life and ministry, as well as deleted scenes that did not make it into the miniseries.

Also see: Should Christians Boycott ‘Son of God’? Three Things to Consider


Six Thoughts on History’s “The Bible” ~ Part 3

This is the third of a three part series on The History Channel’s The Bible miniseries*. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

5. The faulty theology of “The Bible’s” theological advisors is influencing and slanting the way God’s word is being presented.

Rick Warren’s twisting of Scripture to fit his “Purpose Driven” overview of God’s nature and character, Joel Osteen’s self esteem boosting and positive thinking, T.D. Jakes’ prosperity gospel and modalism (an unbiblical doctrine of the Trinity), and Roma Downey’s New Age spiritual psychology degree have crept into The Bible’s stories and subtly shifted the Scriptures’ real focus on sinful man’s need of God’s redemption to a “follow the leader and together we’ll change the world” paradigm.

Go back to the beginning of the series and watch it again, counting the number of times the word “leader” is used. Every major Old Testament character has been cast as a “leader,” and Israel’s prosperity or demise is portrayed as contingent on whether the leader was good or bad and whether or not Israel followed his leadership. This is not the message of God’s word. When Israel was obedient to God, she flourished. When she rebelled and chose idolatry, she crashed and burned. Kings, judges, and prophets had influence on the people, but it was Israel’s obedience to God Himself that was the hinge on which the nation swung.

0bc90ac98e8e3d20a24be1f335b5966aIt was especially disturbing to hear prophets such as Jeremiah and Daniel being cast as “leaders.” The prophet’s job was not to lead the people. The prophet’s job was to speak the words of God to the people and exhort them to submit to Him, just as pastors are supposed to do today. Leaders say, “Follow me.” Prophets say, “Follow God.”

Further, nowhere in God’s word does it say that Jesus came to “change the world,” or “change people’s lives,” nor does the Bible teach that Christians are to do these things. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10), to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Christians are exhorted, not to the lofty goal of “changing the world,” but to the abasing role of denying ourselves, taking up our crosses daily (Luke 9:23), being persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12), and making disciples (Matt 28:19-20).

Jesus did change the world, and He does change our lives, but this was a side effect of His life, death, and resurrection, not His goal. He was here to carry out God’s plan of redemption. The movie’s “change the world” mentality puts the focus on us. Scripture puts the focus on God’s sovereign redemptive purposes.

6. The glory has departed from “The Bible.”

From the beautiful picture of Jesus’ sacrificial death for us in the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, to the overwhelming mercy and forgiveness of God after David’s sin with Bathsheba, to the awe-inspiring, God given faith in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s refusal to bow to an idol, the glory of God, which fairly drips from the Scriptures, is achingly absent from The Bible. To be fair, I don’t think any movie could ever completely capture the same revelation of God’s magnificence that a Christian experiences when he sits down and interacts with the Bible as the Holy Spirit moves in and among the living and active words. But there are movies that have come much closer than this one has. The Scriptures are not just a collection of stories meant to inspire us to emulate their heroes. Rather, they reveal to us who God is; a different facet of His glorious nature and character in each story we read.

As I conclude these six observations about History’s The Bible, it is my hope and prayer that the overall effect of the series having been telecast will be a positive one for the Kingdom. For those of us who belong to Christ, may we use it as a springboard to share the gospel with the lost and encourage discernment and study of God’s word for our brothers and sisters in Christ and for ourselves.

*Just a note for future readers: This article was written during the week between episodes 3 and 4 of the miniseries. Episode 3 wrapped up the Old Testament and introduced the New Testament, covering Jesus’ birth through the calling of Peter. As I write, I have not seen episode 4 or 5.

Bible, Entertainment, Movies, Television

Six Thoughts on History’s “The Bible” ~ Part 2 ~ REDUX

With the movie Son of God releasing in theaters on February 28, for the next three Thursdays I’ll be rerunning a three part series I wrote on last year’s History Channel miniseries, The Bible. Son of God is Roma Downey’s and Mark Burnett’s movie about Jesus that is drawn from The Bible’s scenes pertaining to His life and ministry, as well as deleted scenes that did not make it into the miniseries.

Also see: Should Christians Boycott ‘Son of God’? Three Things to Consider

Six Thoughts on History’s “The Bible” ~ Part 2

This is the second of a three part series on The History Channel’s The Bible miniseries*. You can find Part 1 here and Part 3 here.

4. Does it really matter if “The Bible” is factually inaccurate and skips a lot of important stuff? It’s artistic license after all! 

Yes, it matters. And it matters on a lot of levels.

First, I’ve noticed a lot of details that this movie has gotten wrong when it would have been just as easy/inexpensive/practical to get it right. A few small examples:

0bc90ac98e8e3d20a24be1f335b5966aIn Scripture, when the Philistines wanted to bribe Delilah to betray Samson, they went to her (Judges 16:5). In the movie, the Philistines summoned Delilah to come to them.

In Scripture, Daniel was cast into a pit or cave with lions, and a stone was rolled over the opening (Daniel 6:17). In the movie, Daniel was put into a dungeon with lions and a door was closed and locked behind him.

In Scripture, it is clear that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed primarily for the sin of homosexuality (Jude 7). In the movie, homosexuality in Sodom and Gomorrah is not even hinted at.

Now, if the movie makers can’t even get these simple details correct, can they be trusted to get the much more complex details of Jesus’ life, teachings, and propitiatory death and resurrection correct? As I said before, a lot of people won’t pick up their Bibles or have a Christian share the gospel with them after seeing the movie. What about them and the real Jesus they need for salvation?

Second, the Bible isn’t just an anthology of short stories which are unrelated to one another. The Bible is one unified story—the story of God’s redemption of sinful man in the person of Jesus Christ. Every story, every incident, every jot and tittle of the Old Testament shows man’s need for redemption and points to the Redeemer to come: Christ. The gospels tell the story of Christ’s redemptive mission. Acts through Revelation point us back to the first coming of Christ and ahead to His second coming. When you omit or mangle any of the links in that chain, the story of redemption –the entire point of the Bible—breaks down, gets tarnished, gets lost in the shuffle. Why is that important? Because the Bible shows us our need of redemption from our sin. Our eternity depends on it.

Finally, and most importantly, God’s word is high and holy, and it must be treated as such rather than playing fast and loose with it. He has preserved it through thousands of years and at the cost of many lives. God takes His word seriously, and so should we.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Matthew 24:35

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
Revelation 22:18-19

To be continued…

*Just a note for future readers: This article was written during the week between episodes 3 and 4 of the miniseries. Episode 3 wrapped up the Old Testament and introduced the New Testament, covering Jesus’ birth through the calling of Peter. As I write, I have not seen episode 4 or 5.

Discernment, Entertainment, Evangelism, Gospel, Movies

Should Christians Boycott “Son of God”? Three Things to Consider ~ UPDATED

thWith the movie Son of God releasing in theaters on February 28, for the next three Thursdays I’ll be rerunning a three part series I wrote on last year’s History Channel miniseries, The Bible. Son of God is Roma Downey’s and Mark Burnett’s movie about Jesus that is drawn from The Bible’s scenes pertaining to His life and ministry, as well as deleted scenes that did not make it into the miniseries.

UPDATE: Click here to read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, of my article “Six Thoughts on History’s ‘The Bible'”.

During and after The Bible’s run last year, Downey and 0bc90ac98e8e3d20a24be1f335b5966aBurnett received quite a bit of criticism for the show’s inaccuracies and copious amounts of artistic license taken. It would give me great joy to discover that they took those critical reviews to heart and fixed in Son of God the rampant errors and faulty theology of The Bible, but since they are using scenes and deleted scenes pulled directly from the miniseries, it doesn’t sound like they’ve re-shot and corrected anything.

Since I have not seen Son of God, I’m not comfortable suggesting Christians boycott it, but I would like to throw a few things out there for your consideration as you make your decision about whether or not to see this movie:

1. Do you boycott products, organizations, restaurants, stores, actors, or political candidates who support abortion, the homosexual agenda, or any other sin?

Well, taking God’s name in vain, the third Commandment, is still a sin. A big one. And it’s not limited to saying “OMG” or boycottusing God’s name in an expletive. Far worse than those is attributing to God things that He has not said or that are not true of His nature and character. This happened a myriad of times in The Bible, and, unfortunately, I anticipate that the same will be true of Son of God.

Are you being consistent if you boycott Girl Scout cookies and Starbucks yet give your money to people who claim to be presenting the Jesus of Scripture but put words into His mouth that He did not say and philosophies into His teachings that He did not espouse and which conflict with God’s word?

2. If you do choose to see Son of God, or if you have friends stock-footage-african-american-friends-having-conversation-at-caf-x-ewho see the movie, make the most of the opportunity to start conversations for sharing the gospel and pointing people to the true Jesus of Scripture. God can use anything to draw people to Himself, but they can only be genuinely born again if someone tells them the truth of the gospel and they put their faith in the Jesus of the Bible.

3. Do your homework. If you choose to see the movie, read one or more of the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) before and afterwards. Did Jesus really say to Peter, “We’re going to bible-studychange the world,” as He does in the movie? If so, which verse says that? If not, what did Jesus actually say, and why? If you choose to see the movie, don’t just take for granted that what you see on the screen is true. Get your Bible out, dig through it, and sharpen your discernment skills. Be one of those Bereans Luke praised so much for comparing what Paul preached to what Scripture said.

~~~~~~~~~~

UPDATE: After the original publication of this article, Downey and Burnett announced that they would be removing all of the scenes from Son of God that contained the actor portraying Satan due to last year’s controversy over his striking resemblance to President Obama. 

A reader asked for my reaction to this announcement. My remarks to him were as follows:

Since I haven’t seen the movie, it’s hard for me to give a really fair comment on this, but I’ll take a stab at it. I am much more concerned about the theology of leaving out Satan than I am about the politics. 

When I read a statement like this (and granted, these are the reporter’s words, not Roma Downey’s words): 

Eager to avoid rehashing the drama, producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett decided to leave the character out of their film…” 

it tells me they are more concerned with political fallout and controversy than they are with adhering to Scripture. (In my opinion, the bulk of The Bible miniseries bears out that they were not overly interested in adhering as strictly as possible to Scripture.)

When I read a quote like this from Roma Downey: 

“‘It gives me great pleasure to tell you that the devil is on the cutting-room floor,’ …’This is now a movie about Jesus, the son of God, and the devil gets no more screen time.” and, “For our movie, Son of God, I wanted all of the focus to be on Jesus. I want his name to be on the lips of everyone who sees this movie, so we cast Satan out.”

it tells me that she and Mark Burnett don’t have a full understanding of the meaning and implications of Christ’s life, ministry, death, and resurrection. The story of Jesus goes much deeper than just words on a page. Everything He said and did had eternal, omnipotent, prophetic, God-magnifying, salvific, miraculous foundations, impact, and effects. We’re not talking about an entertaining little story like The Three Bears or Gone With the Wind, here. The story of Jesus turns the universe inside out for every atom of everything that’s ever existed, including every single human being who has ever walked the planet. You can’t just cut a little here and cut a little there and sew the edges back together without the crippling the impact of the gospel.

To say that now that they have cut out the scene with Jesus being tempted in the wilderness (I’m assuming this is the main scene they’re referring to. I can’t remember which other scenes may have had Satan in them.), NOW this movie is all about Jesus just further demonstrates their lack of biblical understanding. Are they saying the wilderness temptation was not “about Jesus”?

That incident was not about Satan. It was about Jesus. It is one of the major incidents in which we see that Jesus is both fully God and fully man. It also encapsulates the main point of the entire Old Testament sacrificial system– that Jesus is the perfect Lamb of God without blemish or spot, the only sacrifice that could permanently take away our sin. He could not have been our sacrifice for sin had He given in to Satan’s temptations even once. Finally, it is a demonstration to us that Jesus understands the struggle with sin that we go through because He went through it Himself, personally (Hebrews 4:15).

To sum up, I think leaving Satan out has worse theological consequences than the political fallout for leaving him in.

~~~~~~~~~~

Should you see (and financially support) this movie? That’s between you and God. But whether or not you choose to see it, as with anything else in life, use it as a springboard for sharing the gospel and studying God’s word more deeply.

What do you think? Should Christians boycott Son of God?

Bible, Entertainment, Movies, Television

Six Thoughts on History’s “The Bible” ~ Part 3

This is the third of a three part series on The History Channel’s The Bible miniseries*. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

5. The faulty theology of “The Bible’s” theological advisors is influencing and slanting the way God’s word is being presented.

Rick Warren’s twisting of Scripture to fit his “Purpose Driven” overview of God’s nature and character, Joel Osteen’s self esteem boosting and positive thinking, T.D. Jakes’ prosperity gospel and modalism (an unbiblical doctrine of the Trinity), and Roma Downey’s New Age spiritual psychology degree have crept into The Bible’s stories and subtly shifted the Scriptures’ real focus on sinful man’s need of God’s redemption to a “follow the leader and together we’ll change the world” paradigm.

Go back to the beginning of the series and watch it again, counting the number of times the word “leader” is used. Every major Old Testament character has been cast as a “leader,” and Israel’s prosperity or demise is portrayed as contingent on whether the leader was good or bad and whether or not Israel followed his leadership. This is not the message of God’s word. When Israel was obedient to God, she flourished. When she rebelled and chose idolatry, she crashed and burned. Kings, judges, and prophets had influence on the people, but it was Israel’s obedience to God Himself that was the hinge on which the nation swung.

0bc90ac98e8e3d20a24be1f335b5966aIt was especially disturbing to hear prophets such as Jeremiah and Daniel being cast as “leaders.” The prophet’s job was not to lead the people. The prophet’s job was to speak the words of God to the people and exhort them to submit to Him, just as pastors are supposed to do today. Leaders say, “Follow me.” Prophets say, “Follow God.”

Further, nowhere in God’s word does it say that Jesus came to “change the world,” or “change people’s lives,” nor does the Bible teach that Christians are to do these things. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10), to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Christians are exhorted, not to the lofty goal of “changing the world,” but to the abasing role of denying ourselves, taking up our crosses daily (Luke 9:23), being persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12), and making disciples (Matt 28:19-20).

Jesus did change the world, and He does change our lives, but this was a side effect of His life, death, and resurrection, not His goal. He was here to carry out God’s plan of redemption. The movie’s “change the world” mentality puts the focus on us. Scripture puts the focus on God’s sovereign redemptive purposes.

 

6. The glory has departed from “The Bible.”

From the beautiful picture of Jesus’ sacrificial death for us in the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, to the overwhelming mercy and forgiveness of God after David’s sin with Bathsheba, to the awe-inspiring, God given faith in Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego’s refusal to bow to an idol, the glory of God, which fairly drips from the Scriptures, is achingly absent from The Bible. To be fair, I don’t think any movie could ever completely capture the same revelation of God’s magnificence that a Christian experiences when he sits down and interacts with the Bible as the Holy Spirit moves in and among the living and active words. But there are movies that have come much closer than this one has. The Scriptures are not just a collection of stories meant to inspire us to emulate their heroes. Rather, they reveal to us who God is; a different facet of His glorious nature and character in each story we read.

 

As I conclude these six observations about History’s The Bible, it is my hope and prayer that the overall effect of the series having been telecast will be a positive one for the Kingdom. For those of us who belong to Christ, may we use it as a springboard to share the gospel with the lost and encourage discernment and study of God’s word for our brothers and sisters in Christ and for ourselves.

 

*Just a note for future readers: This article was written during the week between episodes 3 and 4 of the miniseries. Episode 3 wrapped up the Old Testament and introduced the New Testament, covering Jesus’ birth through the calling of Peter. As I write, I have not seen episode 4 or 5.

Bible, Movies, Television

Six Thoughts on History’s “The Bible” ~ Part 2

This is the second of a three part series on The History Channel’s The Bible miniseries*. You can find Part 1 here and Part 3 here.

4. Does it really matter if “The Bible” is factually inaccurate and skips a lot of important stuff? It’s artistic license after all! 

Yes, it matters. And it matters on a lot of levels.

First, I’ve noticed a lot of details that this movie has gotten wrong when it would have been just as easy/inexpensive/practical to get it right. A few small examples:

0bc90ac98e8e3d20a24be1f335b5966aIn Scripture, when the Philistines wanted to bribe Delilah to betray Samson, they went to her (Judges 16:5). In the movie, the Philistines summoned Delilah to come to them.

In Scripture, Daniel was cast into a pit or cave with lions, and a stone was rolled over the opening (Daniel 6:17). In the movie, Daniel was put into a dungeon with lions and a door was closed and locked behind him.

In Scripture, it is clear that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed primarily for the sin of homosexuality (Jude 7). In the movie, homosexuality in Sodom and Gomorrah is not even hinted at.

Now, if the movie makers can’t even get these simple details correct, can they be trusted to get the much more complex details of Jesus’ life, teachings, and propitiatory death and resurrection correct? As I said before, a lot of people won’t pick up their Bibles or have a Christian share the gospel with them after seeing the movie. What about them and the real Jesus they need for salvation?

Second, the Bible isn’t just an anthology of short stories which are unrelated to one another. The Bible is one unified story—the story of God’s redemption of sinful man in the person of Jesus Christ. Every story, every incident, every jot and tittle of the Old Testament shows man’s need for redemption and points to the Redeemer to come: Christ. The gospels tell the story of Christ’s redemptive mission. Acts through Revelation point us back to the first coming of Christ and ahead to His second coming. When you omit or mangle any of the links in that chain, the story of redemption –the entire point of the Bible—breaks down, gets tarnished, gets lost in the shuffle. Why is that important? Because the Bible shows us our need of redemption from our sin. Our eternity depends on it.

Finally, and most importantly, God’s word is high and holy, and it must be treated as such rather than playing fast and loose with it. He has preserved it through thousands of years and at the cost of many lives. God takes His word seriously, and so should we.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Matthew 24:35

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
Revelation 22:18-19

To be continued…

*Just a note for future readers: This article was written during the week between episodes 3 and 4 of the miniseries. Episode 3 wrapped up the Old Testament and introduced the New Testament, covering Jesus’ birth through the calling of Peter. As I write, I have not seen episode 4 or 5.