This past Sunday night, millions of television viewers tuned in to watch the premiere of the ten-hour mini series, “The Bible.” And the reviews that are being touted are mixed, especially among the evangelical community. My personal feelings on the mini series are mixed. I was excited when I first heard about The Bible being turned into a television series. I thought it would be a great way to bring the lost into an understanding of who God is. But the closer it got to the premiere air date of the show, the more I began to feel convicted. The older I get, the more fearful I get about the stances I take in the name of God. I find myself asking questions like, “Is this truly going to be glorifying to God?” More than this, I find myself asking, “Is what I say or watch or promote to other Christians actually going to be a correct, Biblical, representation of how God portrays himself to us through the holy scriptures?
Paul Washer explained this dilemma like this. Sometimes we as Christians are much like the ugly girl at the school dance. She flocks to the first person who shows her the slightest bit of attention. In the same manner, sometimes we as Christians will throw our support behind a politician, movie or television program that will show just the faintest sign of belief in God because we are so desperate for some part of the world to be accepting of us. And that is so true. We want the world to love us. If a television show is advertised that says anything about the Bible or Jesus, we immediately begin to hype it to other Christians. I was guilty of this with my promotion of The Bible on The History Channel. We want to be accepted by the mainstream. We want, at least in some part, for the world to love Christians. But listen to what Jesus said….
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”John 15:18-19.
The world hated our Lord. The world did not accept Christ. The world crucified him because he did not conform. Because he was different. Jesus didnt side with the religious people of his day. His authority was God the Father. And as follower of Christ, are we not to expect the be treated like our teacher because of our Christlikeness?
“A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.”Luke 6:40.
The religious community today is very much behind this new TV series The Bible. And by no means am I saying it is heresy. But I am saying that we need to be careful that even though many professing believers will praise this tv show, we have enough love for Jesus to determine if this is truly bringing glory to his name. Let me expound on where I am coming from.
I want you to think about for just a moment the second commandment. Forget about all notions of what is normal or acceptable among your Christian friends today. I want us to just look at the second commandment, without bending it or twisting it to fit what we are comfortable with. Lets just read the commandment and examine what is being said.
“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.”Exodus 20:4.
God is giving a command to his people to not MAKE for THEMSELVES and IMAGE in the form of ANYTHING in heaven above or on the earth. The reason being that God goes on to say we are not to make these images for ourselves to worship. Now in our world today, we have pictures of Jesus everywhere. We even have moving pictures of him on the television and big screens. That is an image of God that is man made. But the argument could be made, “Yes, an actor or a picture of Jesus is an image, but we are not worshiping the actor or that picture?” But are you sure?
Here is what Im getting at. Lets say you have a picture of Jesus Christ hanging in your house. You love that picture because you love God. And so every time you pray to God or even think about God, you get this mental picture in your head of the picture of Jesus hanging in your house. You see unconsciously, you are praying to an image of God that is man made. When in reality, God is without form, he is spirit. The same with an actor on television portraying Christ. It is easy when we pray to God to get that image of Jim Caviezel from Passion of the Christ in our heads. We mean no harm by this, but none the less, we are doing exactly what God said do not do. In times of worship or prayer, its easy to let our minds focus on man made images of God.
Its kind of like this. I love my wife Lacy. But if every time I thought about her I pictured her personality with the mental picture of someone that didnt at all look like or represent her, she would be greatly hurt and offended. Therefore, there is the first danger with entertaining a man made image of God. This may seem extreme to some, but no one can argue the truth behind this commandment and how easily it can be for us to make these forbidden images of God and actually worship them.
The second problem with The Bible television show I ran into was the amount of Biblical inaccuracies. Im not talking about things being left of that were in the Bible. Because to truly do a show on every aspect of scripture would take years. Im talking about things that were added or taken away pertaining to the real Bible. One of the first things I noticed was in the story of Lot and the destruction of Sodom. The three angels came down and proceeded to get their ninja on, pulling out swords and slicing the evil men of the city to pieces! For those who may not know, there are no ninja sword warrior angels in the true word of God.
Secondly, the story of Abraham and Sarah was horribly distorted from the original scripture. My seven year old was the one to point out to me that the lamb caught in the thicket on television was actually a ram in scripture! And when Abraham went to the mount to sacrifice his son, Rebekah was running up the mountain behind them screaming for him to stop! Again, this was not in scripture. There were many more inaccuracies in the television show, but Ive made my point.
Could this show be used by God to point people towards scripture? Absolutely! But can it be deceiving as well? Yes it can. The danger is more so for the unbeliever or person that is lukewarm in their faith. People who do not read their Bibles will draw wrong conclusions of how God has worked through history. Their authority becomes a television show rather than Gods word. Just as a preacher can become the authority of many Christians. I cant tell you how many times Ive heard Christians defend their faith by saying, “Well thats what my pastor says!” What about what God says?
Satan is evil. But he is clever. And his ways are not always obvious. I once heard the best way to kill a rabid animal is to get the biggest, juiciest, steak that you can find and sprinkle poison all over it. The animal will tear into that steak with great pleasure, and even after consumption, it will feel temporarily satisfied. But not long after it has taken the poison, death follows. Satan works in much the same way today. He looks for that which will entice the Christian. And he tempts the Christian to break Gods commands while not actually being aware that he or she is doing so. He also ever so slightly alters Gods word, so that what you know about God is a deviation from the truth.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8.
Is watching a show like The Bible heresy? No. But again, I would say that it is a show that should be rated, “MC- Mature Christian.” A great way to redeem a show like this is to watch it with Bible open. That way, you can distinguish between truth and Hollywood. And as it pertains to the second commandment, be more alert not to put a television image or picture in your mind representing God when praying or worshiping. And point these things out to your friends and family. Dont just jump on the current Christian bandwagon of saying how great it is that The Bible is on television. Weigh EVERYTHING in light of scripture. Dont let a television show become your authority on your knowledge of God. Happy viewing!