FIRST I think that it’s of utmost importance for the reader to watch this video. Click on “Watch on YouTube”
Brothers and sisters in Christ, I cannot tell you how many times I communicated with the people responsible for “The Chosen” series. I even got through via email to Dallas Jenkins but to no avail at all. I came to them in a “Let us reason together” attitude. Each time I was shut down. I nearly wrote an article about this a number of times, but then put it back into drafts. I’m very glad that I listened to the Lord because this article from Bereancall.org says it all!
Audio Version of Article. click to listen
December 1, 2021 T. A. McMahon
At a conference not too long ago, I was asked to give a review of The Chosen TV Series. I did so, but before I began my critique, I informed the audience that I hadn’t watched even one frame of the series, and my guess was that that revelation would make more than a few people upset with my criticisms. The immediate response by those enamored with the series about the life of Christ was to scorn everything I said, saying, “He’s like those who criticize books, even the Bible, without having read them!” I can relate to that. I’ve had many discussions with some who tell me what the Bible says without having read it themselves, so I can see why my initial review and its approach would put some people off.
Since my first critique I have viewed a couple of the programs, parts of which I’ll address. However, I want to explain why I believe watching the series is not necessary for rejecting it. In doing so, my explanations will appeal to Scripture and reason in light of Isaiah’s words, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD” (Isaiah:1:18).
Why isn’t it necessary to watch The Chosen in order to criticize it, and how would that be any different than critiquing a novel without having read it? First of all, a novel is defined generally as “a fictitious prose narrative of book length, typically representing character and action with some degree of realism.” In other words, it’s a made-up story. Yet it must be read in order to be evaluated.
Not so with The Chosen. It professes to be true to the Bible’s teachings, as well as a faithful representation of the Bible’s stories and characters. The Bible, however, declares itself to be inerrant and infallible in all that it teaches, as well as God’s authority in all that it commands. It’s God’s Word. If it condemns any attempt to visually represent the content and characters of the Bible (which it does) then one has no need to watch The Chosen because it claims to visually represent it—in direct disobedience to the Scriptures.
All biblical movies are visual translations and interpretations of the words and narrative presented in the Bible. If a Christian was aware that the Bible condemns visual translations and interpretations of the Scriptures, there would be no need to evaluate a movie or video series based upon the Bible before rejecting them. But does the Bible denounce any such attempts to translate/interpret it through a visual medium?
It does. And it does so in many indisputable ways. But before I point out the scriptures related to the Bible’s denunciation of such productions, I need to present some of the components that are involved in the production of making a movie that must be considered when determining whether or not “biblical movies” can be truly biblical. These are things I know and have experienced while studying filmmaking in graduate school and having worked for 20th Century Fox studios for a number of years. I then moved on to a career as a screenwriter in Hollywood before being saved and spending four decades in Christian ministry with Dave Hunt.
This is how the process works. A movie begins with a screenplay. It’s either an original story or a screen adaptation from someone else’s work (such as the Bible). The screenplay or movie script, in addition to presenting the storyline or plot, the characters, and the dialogue, consists of visual descriptions of what is taking place in the movie story. For example, if a scene calls for a vehicle, a description is needed for the art director or prop man to find the right kind of car for a particular scene or purpose. If the script calls for the car to be crashed, that needs to be described in detail if the crash is going to be unique and significant to the storyline. This is just one example of the creative input that is necessary for the filmmaking process.
Although the screenwriter is the initial composer of the movie script, changes to the script always take place during filming. Such changes are usually made by the movie’s director. Reasons for the changes from the original script are seemingly endless: actors’ egos, budget cuts, weather problems, location problems, the executive producer’s ego, the cameraman’s “inspirational idea” for filming a scene, union problems, stunt failures, the director’s ego, etc. The author of the motion picture, for the most part, is the screenwriter, even though contributions of interpretation also come from the director, the actors, and a host of others creatively involved in the filming process.
All of that and much more are involved in every attempt to translate the Bible itself into a theatrical motion picture for the silver screen and/or television. The question therefore, for every Bible-believing Christian, is this: Can the Bible be presented through the filmmaking process and stay true to what God’s Word says about His Word?
Well, what does it say? Proverbs:30:5-6
:“Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar” (italics added). God’s words are His words, written down by men, His prophets (2 Peter:1:20-21
). “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device” (Acts:17:29
, emphasis added).
“I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Revelation:22:18-19).
Read rest of article HERE
For further insights into the problems with visually translating the Bible, we recommend Showtime for the Sheep and “The Bible According to Hollywood.” For materials related to the cult of Mormonism we recommend The God Makers and “Mormon Fiction” [see TBC article August 2