Posted by: pastortomvabeach | April 2, 2013

Thought for the Week April 7, 2013

Last night I watched the final episode of The Bible, a TV miniseries produced by Roma Downey and her husband, Mark Burnett. I saw all five weeks of the series and thought it would be good to share some of my thoughts about this production. First, let me say that I watched the series primarily to see for myself whether the producers represented the Bible correctly and in a way that would be beneficial to viewers. Many movies or documentaries that depict or attempt to explain biblical events do so in a way that casts doubt on the truth of the Scripture which results in turning people off about the Bible rather than motivating them to read it. I wanted to be able to answer anyone who asked what I thought about this particular offering.

There are plenty of articles on the Internet that will tell you about parts of The Bible that do not line up with the Scripture. For the most part, I agree with them. The producers added some of their own ideas about what a particular scene may have looked like and/or how a situation may have played out. I’m sure they did this to enhance dramatic value so people would keep watching. One instance that’s been written about is when the angels came to Sodom. There is a scene that shows them in armor with swords and battling the inhabitants of the city. Of course the Bible says nothing about this. They struck all of the inhabitants blind and did not have to fight. On the other hand, there are narratives about angels fighting against demonic forces as in Daniel 10:13 where the angel said the “prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty one days.” I wonder what those spiritual battles look like? Probably nothing like we imagine but nonetheless warring angels are exciting when you think about it.

As I watched the series, I noted some times when I felt the producers could have connected better spiritually to viewers. A couple of examples are: when David sinned with Bathsheba and the prophet said, “You are the man,” I thought that would have been an excellent place to show David repenting of his sin and being the “man after God’s own heart.” I felt they missed showing viewers that if we repent and turn to God, He receives us. Another place was when Jesus appeared after the resurrection and showed Thomas his wounds, they quoted Jesus saying, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed,” but left out Thomas’ words, “My Lord and my God,” which are really important to Jesus’ identity as God the Son.

Certainly, because they were trying to depict all of Scripture in 10 hours (minus commercials) they skipped a lot of wonderful stories that make the Bible come alive like Joseph’s adventure in Egypt, Solomon asking for and showing wisdom, Elijah and the prophets of Baal, Peter and John being supernaturally released from prison, among others. They often jumped from one event to another decades or centuries later, like going from David to the Babylonian captivity without covering any of the events in the intervening centuries. They also placed events within the same chronoligical context, I guess, to speed things up, like calling Peter to be an apostle and the miracle of fishes which I don’t believe happened at the same time.

While there is a lot to be critical about, I think it’s important to remember that this was not intended to be Bible training film nor in any way take the place of serious Bible study. I listened to Ms. Downey and Mr. Burnett discussing the series on a talk show. They were very sincere in stating that they believe all of the events in the Bible are real history and they wanted to be able to share their love of the Bible with a lot of people. The series did depict God as all powerful and fully engaged in the life of people on earth and quoted several times Jesus words, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” These are powerful fundamental truths that every person needs to hear and take to heart.

It seems as if the producers succeeded in getting people to watch, because the Nielsen ratings of the first broadcast showed it received the highest number of viewers of any entertainment show of 2013 with 13.1 million viewers. 42 percent of adults report watching at least a portion of the program, with 27 percent of non-Christian adults tuning in to some part.

This is where I think The Bible will have the most value. If the series motivates individuals who have little or no Bible knowledge to learn more, if it attracts people who don’t have a relationship with Christ to find Him, if it draws people who have dismissed the Bible as fables to embrace it as truth, then it may have powerful impact for the kingdom of God.

Since so many, especially non-Christians, were exposed to this series, it is not unreasonable to think that people you and I know may be looking for someone to help them get more information about the Scripture and the truths it contains. I encourage you, whether you watched the series or not, to do as Peter says, and Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. (I Peter 3:15). If those who know you, know that you read and believe the Bible, they may ask you about something they saw in the miniseries. Are you ready to give a biblical answer? Is it possible someone could be attracted to Christ through this TV program and ask you how to become a Christian? Would you be ready and able to help them find a relationship with Jesus? The potential is amazing.

Again let me say that I do not endorse The Bible as a bible study source just as I do not use paraphrased versions of the Bible in serious study. I think it is a tool that can be used to aid us in encouraging people to read and grow intimate with God’s Word and may also motivate many Christians to be more serious about studying the Word like the Bereans in Acts 17, who searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things (that Paul was preaching) were so. That’s my take on it, what’s yours? God bless you!

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