I know I mentioned yesterday at the end of our service that I’d be sharing with all of you my 2 cents on The Bible mini-series on the History Channel. I know a lot of people have been raving about it and the anticipation has been pretty high from Evangelical circles. I believe a lot of it comes from the fact that most of the time, when Christians do anything that relates to visual media (TV, movies, or any other pop related visual art), it tends to be a few notches down on the quality scale, so when a top-notch producer creates something that is exceptional in quality and biblically accurate it’s rare. On the other hand, when Hollywood attempts to tell a Bible story it’s production quality is high, but the story looks very different from the account in Scripture.
So here is my honest assessment of what I saw last night. What I liked:
1) I like it when people talk about the Bible. #TheBible was trending #1 on Twitter last night, so that was interesting. My hope is that there will be more people that are on the spiritual fringe, interested in the things of God. Maybe this will lead to picking up God’s Word and reading it. No movie or TV series on the Bible will ever compare to the actual written Word of God. If this whets the appetite of reading God’s truth, then I believe that that is a good outcome.
2) I also liked the costumes and the actual production quality. It didn’t feel like this was some hodge-podge show put together with bad makeup and cheesy special effects by TBN.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
1) I didn’t like the 2 angels going Matrix on the citizens of Sodom and Gamorrah. Could it have happened? There’s a slight chance, but that whole scene reminded me of a Junior High Sunday School lesson that went horribly wrong.
2) I didn’t like Hagar looking better than Sarah. Remember Sarah was beautiful at an old age (even Pharaoh wanted her). I thought they made her kind of look haggardly.
3) I didn’t like how it showed the lack of faith in Abraham when he went to sacrifice Isaac. Did he struggle emotionally with what God called him to do? I’m sure, but remember he told his servants that he and the boy would come back down the mountain together. In Hebrews it says that Abraham had faith that even if he killed Isaac that God would raise him from the dead. That’s serious faith. Didn’t pick up on that.
4) I didn’t like skipping Jacob and Joseph. Key figures in the covenant storyline.
5) I didn’t like how they made Moses look like he didn’t know what was going on when he was in Pharaoh’s household. He knew he was a Hebrew. Scholars know this because Moses never took an Egyptian deity name. The Bible also tells us that Moses was weaned by his mother, which meant that he was old enough to know who he was.
6) I didn’t like how they totally missed Moses’ struggle of faith at the burning bush.
Alright, I know I could go on about a few more things, but I’m starting to sound kind of picky. This is what it comes back to, I don’t know if you can ever totally get the message of what the Bible is about from showing it on film. Can you get the essence of what happened? Yes, but you can miss the central message of the story as well.
Let me ask you this question: How many of you walked away from watching last night with a deep sense of awe of God’s faithfulness as a covenant keeping God in spite of man’s sinfulness? You see that’s what those stories are about. The Bible is a story of God’s love, grace, redemption, mercy, and justice on humanity. People come in and out of the story, but the central theme is God’s redeeming love for His people.
Let me just close by saying this. I think that this TV series is a good thing, if only for the fact that it provides a great bridge to start discussions with others who might be far from God. Ask your neighbor of friend if they’ve watched it. Invite them to your house to watch an episode and ask them what they think about it. If it leads to conversations about deeper things like who God is or if it leads to a Bible study with someone who’s never cracked a Bible open before, then this will be a good thing.
One thing you must warn yourself against is thinking that just because the Bible is airing on a major cable channel that Christianity will suddenly become popular. It never will be. Keep all of that in perspective.
Above all check what you watch with the Bible. Maybe we should all make that a common practice.