The Bible On TV

John the Baptist preaches that Christ is the life and light of men.

John preaches that Christ is the life and light of men.

Being as I am still living in the dark ages (I may have been the last person on the planet to get a cell phone), I don’t have cable TV and therefore don’t get the History Channel. As a result, I can’t see for myself what I think of The Bible, the five-part, ten-hour series produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.

However, I am finding talk about the series quite interesting. The ratings dipped some in week two but still outstripped the competition. Apparently some 30 million viewers have tuned in over the three-week period.

Never mind that the reviews have been tepid (see for example the one in the LA Times). One accusation is that the shows are quite violent, another that they are sensationalized.

Since I haven’t seen the TV production, I can’t offer an opinion. I can say that the stories in the Bible are quite violent. That’s a reflection of Man’s nature and God’s judgment. We don’t often think about all the people who died in the flood, for example, since the Biblical story focuses on the eight people who were saved. But to render the story accurately, the film version would have to show the loss of life along with the saving of life.

David faced Goliath in the middle of a war, so it would be logical to expect that segment to be fairly bloody. In fact Biblical times were quite violent. Even New Testament times.

The Roman rule was oppressive and insurrections were put down mercilessly–I was reminded of this when I read Tosca Lee’s Iscariot. I don’t know how peaceful the Burnett-Downey production will make it appear, but we know the Pharisees tried to stone Jesus once, that they did stone Stephen, that an adulteress would have been stoned had not Jesus answered her accusers as He did, and that He wasn’t the only person crucified. No, the Pax Romana was earned by the blood of the oppressed.

As far as the criticism that the shows are overdone and sensationalized, I suppose I’d have to see them to decide for myself if I agree or disagree. The irritating thing is that all the talk today is about the actor playing Satan looking like President Obama. I much prefer conversation about substantive issues, not some “Jesus in the smudge on the window” type imagination.

Some people, interestingly, criticize the TV series because they actually are criticizing God. Here’s a sample:

I won’t go into detail except to point out that I’ve never understood why God found it necessary to kill children and livestock. I almost understand the notion that adults were all sinners deserving of death (presuming the validity behind all that), but even the Catholics have the concept of the Age of Reason, before which children aren’t held responsible for sin because they’re innocent of responsibility for poor decision-making.

But what about the poor livestock?! With this story, as with God’s later plagues on Egypt, I’ve never understood why an infinitely wise God would punish soulless, conscious-less animals for their masters’ wrongdoings. Cattle are just wandering around . . . waiting to be slaughtered. Is their very existence a crime against God? If not, then why drown them all?

In reality, I prefer that to the jabs at the particular races of the actors or at the quality of the script. At least then the people are actually interacting with the text. The biggest problem I see with dramatizations of the Bible, and, in fact, with Biblical fiction, is that people will believe the modern interpretation over the Biblical record. That’s how we “know” there were three wisemen or that the shepherds say a really bright star.

Daniel019It appears that all this talk about casting President Obama in the role of Satan has detracted from some of the best of the series–the refusal of Daniel’s friends to worship a false God and being rescued from the fiery furnace meant to destroy them, John the Baptist, and the first appearance of Jesus. My guess is that “Satan” made his appearance in the temptations of Christ in the wilderness. How sad that the focus became so skewered.

So what do you all think? Are you watching The Bible? Why or why not? What do you think about it? What are they doing right? What could be better?

Discernment – The Realities


First, Lyn Perry at ResAliens Blog has started a 2 Questions feature—mini interviews—and I’m his guinea pig. 🙄 Seriously, I feel honored to lead off for Lyn.

Next, have you noticed the new rating option WordPress now includes? You can’t see it yet from the home page (they’re working to change this), but if you click on a particular article title and go to that post, you’ll see the stars (after a moment) at the bottom.

I mention this for two reasons. Some of you may wish to give feedback but simply do not have the time. This system gives you a quick way of registering your opinion.

Secondly, the more feedback I get, the more I know what topics visitors here at A Christian Worldview of Fiction would like to discuss. So please feel free to use the rating system, though I hope you will also continue to give your thought-provoking comments.

Finally, for those of you looking for the July CSFF Top Blogger Award Run-off poll, you’ll find it here.

– – –

So back to the topic of discernment. I want to address some realities, based on my observations … so you may rightly question whether or not they are “realities.” I think they are. 😉

First, discernment requires awareness. Part of the problem is that readers or TV viewers or movie goers or gamers look at entertainment as a time to put aside the serious and just have fun. Escape. Play.

Nothing wrong with a little fun, escape, or play, but there is something very dangerous about letting our spiritual guards down. Think about it for a moment. Any potential temptations for a guy going to the beach these days? Would a wise youth counselor tell the guys in his Bible study to take the day off from fighting lust and just have a fun day at the beach? 😮 Please, tell me No.

But as dangerous as lust is to a hormone-driven teen, so is false teaching to the Christian. More so, because false teaching is really about Mankind and God and eternity and salvation and revelation—stuff that will not pass away.

I’m reminded of Nehemiah and the people rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem who “took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon” (Neh. 4:17b). That’s what you do when you’re alert to a threat.

A second reality is that discernment is work. It requires us to think about what we are seeing and reading and hearing. We need to do some evaluation, and who wants to do that when we are in relax mode?

Now I think about the parable of the five wise and five foolish maidens waiting for the bridegroom to come. The foolish ran out of oil for their lamps. The wise were prepared. Note, neither the wise nor the foolish stayed awake all night. So I’m not saying discernment means we can never relax. But we are prepared, as the five wise were, when the need arises.

Which leads to the final reality for today. Preparation comes by knowing God’s word. Without knowledge of the Truth, we have nothing to compare stories with.

The analogy of law enforcement officers assigned to catch counterfeiters is apropos. These professionals prepare by studying genuine bills to the point that the fake ones will be easily recognized.

So, for us, the real work comes in listening to the preaching of the Word of God, reading it, studying it, meditating upon it, memorizing it … until ideas that clash with it jump out at us, even when we aren’t intentionally trying to make a comparison.

Published in: on August 3, 2009 at 12:35 pm  Comments (2)  
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