~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~I am seeing a lot of tweets and other social media discussion about the debut of the History Channel's presentation of the miniseries "The Bible."
I am not going to be watching it. I will tell you why.
First, before watching, reading, attending, or in any way absorbing anything related to the bible, it is wise to look into the background of the people who prepared the material. In our day we have the internet to look into the doctrines of the people bringing us their message. Even in the first generation church, they have heard things about certain men who bring false doctrines and evil words. (Acts 9:13, Acts 15:24). So because we have the opportunity to be Bereans ahead of time, we are.
The people putting together this production adhere to false doctrines and do not know the truth. As Erin Benziger wrote on her blog,
"Not only, then, were seeker-driven and Word Faith pastors such as Warren, Osteen and Jakes consulted, but others of questionable convictions like Erwin McManus, Craig Groeschel, Gabe Lyons, Samuel Rodriguez and others. Time and space prevent from examining here each of these names in depth. The producers of The Bible even have consulted with Tom Peterson, founder and president of Catholics Come Home. The inclusion of Peterson is most interesting when one considers that the Roman Catholic Church preaches a false and deceptive gospel, having anathematized the true gospel as found in Scripture. The official Board of Advisors for the miniseries also includes such troubling names as Richard Mouw and Miroslav Volf. One cannot help but wonder, with the consultation and input of so many differing theological views (albeit most of them liberal), can this production actually be an accurate representation of inspired Scripture? Having viewed an extended preview (50 minutes in length) of the production, this writer would honestly like to ask the producers and consultants of this miniseries: Was the Bible itself consulted, or was this written using vague memories from stories learned in Sunday School years ago?"Roma Downey, wife of producer Mark Burnett, plays Mary in the mini-series, and was best known as the kind hearted angel on the long-running television program "Touched by an Angel." However, Downey's spiritual journey has taken a turn toward darkness. She openly embraces New Age and Mysticism. It is reported, "Roma also attends the University of Santa Monica, a private graduate school founded by New Age spiritual and self-help guru John-Roger, and will graduate with a master’s degree in spiritual psychology in June."
Self-realized, but not sanctified. When she reaches for the actor playing Jesus, which Jesus is she reaching for? The Jesus of the bible, or the Gnostic/Mystical Jesus that Eckhart Tolle teaches?
With the crew behind the production seeming godly but denying its power, I wonder how much of the pure truth will be presented. Can truth spring forth clean and pure from a whitewashed tomb?
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness." (Matthew 23:27)
Another reason to avoid this production is that the makers of the series admit to "dramatizing" the events, something that in the normal world is called "exaggerating" at the least and "lying" at worst. This is OK when dramatizing a story, but the bible is not story- it is truth. It is written, "But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God." (2 Corinthians 4:2).
CNN Religion Blog reports, "They took many artistic liberties to compress the story lines while hoping to remain true to the story. A public relations manager for the project described the liberties to me as “extra-biblical but not contra-biblical.”
"Artistic liberties"? If your preacher took liberties with the bible the deacons would be having a conversation with him on Monday morning. "Hoping" to remain true? That means they know they already aren't.
Ultimately, if it is extra-biblical, it is against the bible. Anything from outside the bible and inserted in, is false because it is not from God. (2 Timothy 3:16). If it is not from the bible, it is from man. Man's philosophy is called "hollow and deceptive" according to Colossians 2:8.
Third, I'd expect the liberal New York Times to give the mini-series a pan on the basis of it being religious, but that is not the total reason. Here is part of their reasoning:
"In this heavy-handed treatment, having Jesus born in a manger is not enough; the arrival also has to occur during what looks like a typhoon. Because why have a moderate amount of hardship when you can have an excess of it? ... The feelings behind the series may be sincere — Ms. Downey has said that she and her husband “felt called to do this” — but the approach here actually shows a lack of faith in the power of the biblical stories."In other words, no only has the source material been manipulated, the results aren't even that compelling, despite the dramatizations. It isn't even good tv.
"This doesn’t serve the source material — so rich in interconnections across time — very well, and it doesn’t make for very involving television. Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel and the other great biblical figures aren’t really developed in a way that illuminates them or makes them linger in our minds; they are simply called forth to perform a set piece or two. It’s like a trip through a Christian theme park. “Next stop on the tour, ladies and gentlemen: the Noah’s ark tableau, followed by the Daniel in the lion’s den diorama.”
Should we be grateful anyway that such a production offers us an opportunity?
Patheos acknowledges the problems with the way the bible was handled and presented in their piece, History Channel's 'The Bible'- Less Filling, Tastes Great', but they urge us to compromise. "So perhaps in this Lenten and Easter season we may be thankful for any conversation starter, however cheesy, that may give us a chance to have a richer discussion about the Bible and its riches."
Well, is Jesus a crumb and an afterthought that we are willing to grab onto because the world finally allows a sliver of a conversation about Him - on their terms? No. Did Paul say, 'well that slave girl is possessed of the devil but at least she is saying the right things. I think I'll use her as a conversation starter'? No. By the power of the Holy Spirit he ordered the demon to come out of her and he went on presenting the Gospel purely and unadulterated by any compromise (Acts 20:27). The Holy Spirit does not need the devil's help.
One thing that may help, is to imagine yourself on the couch watching the 'dramatization' of His life and His word with that big logo of the "H" on the screen, and Jesus was sitting next to you on the couch. In that case, would watching the show be edifying? Jesus-exalting? Well, the Spirit is in you, present with you always, and if you watch with your spouse then where two or more are gathered in His name, He is there also. (Matthew 18:20). So He will be with you while you watch it. How will you explain the compromise when you give an account for everything? (Romans 14:12).
Remember, this is the same channel that says evolution is truth and the big bang caused everything to come into existence from nothing. That happily teaches our children that dinosaurs roamed millions of years ago, and that archaeological data recorded through fossil dating is scientifically accurate.
Psalm 119:3 says that the unrighteous walk in His ways- they do not compromise. If you know ahead of time that the people involved in the writing and scriptural oversight of this series are false, and the people acting in it are false, and you already know they messed with the word, can they really do the justice to the bible that you would want? Are you willing to absorb that?
"I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown." (Revelation 3:11)
Part 2 here: "It sows error and confusion"