Don’t throw “The Bible” under the bus

Jesus walks on water The Bible

Jesus walks on water.

Tonight begins the showing of the highly anticipated mini-series The Bible. Produced by Mark Burnett (“Survivor,” “The Voice”) and Roma Downey (“Touched by an Angel”) I’m already seeing a tremendous amount of buzz on Facebook. Twitter also is seeing a lot of activity.

In fact, while I was looking at tweets more than 35 more dropped into the stream.

A few naysayers have popped up, primarily because they disapprove of some participants. This is to be expected, sad as it is, because there are always those who shoot first, aim second, and then determine whether they in fact had a reason to be firing at all.

Because this is an adaptation, I would expect some “storyteller’s license” though how much remains to be seen. Even if this is the case, it is still not a reason for concern. Here’s why:

There have been numerous adaptations of the Christmas Story, the Easter Story, indeed the entire Bible, over the years. None of them have halted the message of Christ. Even the scandalous Last Temptation of Christ did nothing to slow the spread, or diminish the power of the gospel.

If there are discrepancies in The Bible on HISTORY use those as further opportunities to point out the truth of the Bible. The Word has power and the Holy Spirit can use it to communicate the truth and convict of sin, righteousness and judgment.

So, even if there are a few minor issues, don’t throw The Bible under the bus.

To get a copy of the book A Story of God and All of Us, based on the mini-series, click here.

Marty Duren

Just a guy writing some things.

  • Christiane

    ‘The Vikings’ is on after ‘The Bible’ . . . making for an interesting telly evening

  • Marty, I often agree with you and certainly your statement, “So, even if there are a few minor issues, don’t throw The Bible under the bus” is no exception. But, after watching a good portion of the program, I don’t think there are a few minor issues. Instead, I see a huge, glaring problem – which is that while pastors all over the country have advised their congregations to watch this “incredible” series, it deeply reinforces childrens’ Storybook versions of the OT (with, of course, some gratuitous violence thrown in to the keep the adults on the edge of their seat). Given that it’s probably not much of a stretch to conclude that the vast majority of the 13 million viewers are folks who are “church-going Christians,” I would say that the last thing pastors need to be advising their congregations to watch is another program that furthers the stereotypes of the OT that people have had since their childhood.

    And I say this as a guy who, after 14 months, is only now about halfway through preaching a series entitled “Adult Bible Storybook” (which I had originally scheduled to end 2 months ago). Basically, we have taken each major OT story and sought to consider what is actually recorded in the Bible, what details the author focuses on and why, and how the NT writers speak of each story in light of the New Covenant. What I have continued to see over and over again is that the Church (in America, particularly) suffers from incomplete and sometimes erroneous readings of these OT stories. We tend to gloss over the them and miss the major, significant points the author is trying to relay, which are sometimes later highlighted by the NT writers to reveal how “the Scriptures speak of” Jesus Christ.

    Unfortunately, the producers of this series have continued to perpetuate the same errors that the Church has and even added a few [Laying aside all the fictional elements added to the story, many of which were just crazy (Ninja angels?), Moses’s response to the Burning Bush was particularly disturbing – “With Your power, I will set my people free!” Really? That’s almost the complete opposite response Moses had.] And so after watching a good portion of the first episode, I see this series as just another opportunity for Christians to miss the point of the OT. Because of that, for me, it’s definitely going “under the bus.”

    • martyduren

      Hey man,

      I’m glad we agree more often than not. Makes me look smarter. ;^)

      Your observations are not without merit, but I’m not sure they are fair based on what the series itself purports to be: a telling of the biblical history. You are speaking of interpretation, application, and a specific theological perspective and approach. Absolutely nothing wrong with that, but that isn’t what the series itself is or claims to be. I would prefer it not to try and interpret the text.

      I’m in agreement that some of it was over the top. Ninja angel yelling, “Cowabunga dude!” would have topped it off pretty good. But, the violence? The Old Testament is not sanitized unless we have a false understanding of it. There was more than enough killing, and I think the depiction of it helps us remember–or realize–the Bible records real events with real people. They died by the sword; it was violent.

      Or take the post-sex scene where Abraham leaves Hagar’s tent with Sarah only yards away. My wife said, “Well, that was awkward.” The reality, though, is nomadic reproduction was just about like that, and likely still is.

      If Sarah gave her servant to her husband, going to Motel 6 was hardly necessary. But, we don’t think of the dirt, grime and blood of that era, which, I think, exacerbates the problems of concern to you.

      Watching twitter all night I found a TON of people who recognized the discrepancies and others who admitted being driven back to the Word to find the truth.

      I thought the opening sequence was fascinating and important for this reason: for only God knows how many years the history of the Old Testament was orally transmitted. Noah had no scroll from which to read, and the truth of creation, the fall and eventually the flood, Abraham, Lot, etc, would have been passed along exactly in that way.

      Was it “Hollywoodized”? To some degree, but certainly no more or less than “The 10 Commandments.” At the very least Burnett and Downey are being honest both in their efforts and their shortcomings. Are they getting some things wrong? Yes. Is that their intent? I don’t think so, which makes a lot of difference to me.

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