Thursday, March 9, 2023

The Chosen: Mocking God?


At Bethlehem we have been watching The Chosen on Wednesday evenings. Last night we finished season  3.

There is no doubt that the show is well done. It is able to grab and hold your attention, which is a must for any show or movie. The additional story lines they have added to it are compelling enough to keep, even us who are very familiar with the Gospels, engaged and wondering what will happen next.

I think the main benefit of The Chosen is that it helps people to engage their imaginations as they consider what it would have been like to have walked along side of Jesus. For instance, watching Jesus perform miracles has given me a greater sense of awe and wonder as I think about what those events would have been like then simply reading the text. In this way The Chosen enhances my reading of the Gospels.

On the flip side is the reality that the show is the interpretation and harmonization of the events recorded in the Gospels by  a small group of people, if not just one guy. There are certainly things about the show I would argue about. I think the sending out of the 12 on their mission work happened too early. I also think the disruption in the Decapolis is implausible, since it is in Gentile territory I am not sure the disciples would have gone there on their mission trip. Jesus’ return to Nazareth just seemed odd to me, like  having Lazarus grow up with Jesus (having Jesus declare that he is the Law of Moses was a good touch, even though that was one of the most controversial things heading into season 3).

To be honest, when it comes to The Chosen, I am rather indifferent about it. I have enjoyed watching it, but I don’t feel compelled to keep watching it either.

I know some people who are big fans of the show. Which I think is good because there needs to be support of well done media that is influenced by and supports Christian faith.

I also know that the show has its critics. For example this critique that I saw on Twitter.

What? The Chosen is mocking God?

The Chosen is a TV show, it is not a commentary on Scripture and it is not adding to Scripture. It is attempting to tell a story, helping people engage their imaginations (which is an under utilized tool in discipleship).  Hopefully, this will help them arrive at a greater appreciate of the text the next time they hear it or read it.

I am positive that if you asked Dallas Jenkins if he thought the Gospels were lacking or were in some way imperfect he would say no. He has a desire to tell the story of Jesus in a way that grabs people’s attention, and hopefully feel compelled to read the Bible to discover the whole story.

Here Mr. Jolly made assumptions about the thoughts and motivations behind the show. Rather than being charitable with his assessment, he assigned evil motivations to the people creating it. Because he has a high view of Scripture (notice he is holding a Bible in his profile picture), he felt the need to protect the integrity and sufficiency of the Bible.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love the Bible and that I totally believe that the Bible is the word of God that He wants His people to have. The Bible reveals God’s wisdom and will to us. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, it renews our minds and transforms our lives. 

This is what I believe, yet, every week as I prepare sermons and lessons I think about how to communicate this wonderful book to people in a way that captures their attention and helps them on their discipleship journey. This work requires using illustrations, metaphors, and analogies to help  make the text understandable and applicable to the lives of those listening.

When a preacher or teacher of the Bible uses an illustration, does that mean he or she is judging the Bible to be lacking or boring? 

Of course not! 

It does show that the preacher or teacher understands that the Bible was written for us but not to us. In other words, the Bible was written to people in a different time and in a different culture, and what would have been understandable to them is not necessarily understandable to us. Therefore we need to do the hard work to understand it and explain it. The work God has called a preacher or teacher to do is to explain His word to people in a way that is understandable to them.

I believe that is similar to what Dallas Jenkins is doing with The Chosen

Is he doing perfectly? 

No, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t helping people understand a little bit better what it might have been like to follow Jesus 2,000 years ago.

The Bible is a wonderful book and the story of Jesus is a beautiful story. 

These realities should motivate us to make it as understandable as we can, whether creating a show about the life of Jesus, teaching about the parables, or preaching about the resurrection. 

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