on February 6, 2014
I remember hearing so many people rant and rave about how great this series was. The producers even came to Liberty University a few weeks ago talking about this and the upcoming "Son of God" movie, so I was pretty excited to see this for myself. I have watched all of the episodes. I am quite honestly very concerned with how this may have presented God to millions of people worldwide.
The show seems to me to be primarily concerned with entertaining the audience. There were unnecessary fight scenes, added drama, and extra plot fillers that quite frankly, took away from the story more than they added. Often throughout the entire series the show contradicted what was written in the Scriptures (Examples: The people of Sodom were trying to sexually assault the angels, not beat them up, and the angelic kung-fu was unnecessary; Judas was not a really nice guy who was duped into betraying Jesus. He was in charge of the money bag but was embezzling money the whole time and then sought to betray him). The depth and lessons behind each account in the Bible were glossed over or altogether omitted, and the character of God was in no way revealed throughout the Old Testament episodes. If the viewer had no prior knowledge of the Bible, he would think that the Old Testament was just one big blood-bath.
Many don't understand God's motives and actions in the OT because we focus on the judgment. But If you read the Old Testament, God explains why He does many of the things that He did back then. The Israelites were an instrument of God's judgment because the Canaanites worshiped demons, burned children as sacrifices to 'Molech', drank blood, and practiced witchcraft. Additionally, sexual deviance was rampant. Men would sleep with their mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, in-laws, and even animals. Men were with men, women were with women, and they engaged in open prostitution (sometimes as a form of worship in their temples), and sometimes even forced their own daughters into prostitution. This list is by no means comprehensive. So if you think that's bad, there was still more. God gave them four hundred years to repent and they did not. Because of all these things God kicked them out of the land and gave it to the Israelites. Now back to the story:
There was a huge amount of content omitted from the New Testament, which is understandable I guess, if you can only summarize it all in roughly 5 hours. I'm not making a big deal out of that. But the concern stems from the fact that each account of Jesus' life and ministry was so reconstructed and tweaked that it was hardly comparable to the actual book. In fact, everyone's dialogue and actions deviate quite a bit from the real story. The beginning of each episode says that the show "endeavors to stay true to the spirit of the book". I think this is only lip-service. They changed words, conversations, and events for art's sake, which made the New Testament section very inaccurate. People at that time, like you and me, said what they said for a reason. If you add or take away words, or completely create new conversations (which happened often), you lose the context and the speaker's intended meaning. And if you add, subtract, and change historical events for dramatic effect or creative liberality, it ceases to be a reliable and accurate source of information and truth. Just ask yourself, if the spirit of the show is entertainment and artistic reinterpretation, is that the same spirit that the Bible was written in?
I know that no one can portray Jesus perfectly. But here, I felt that He wasn't just imperfectly represented, He was misrepresented. In this series, Jesus heals a bunch of people and draws a lot of attention to himself. In reality, Jesus did not seek to draw attention to Himself, and performing miracles was not his main interest. He was all about teaching people about who God really is, what true righteousness really is, rebuking religiosity, proclaiming truth, commanding repentance that leads life, and pointing people back to God, His father. But Jesus' words were severely altered, so that many of the most important things that He said were left out, and the teaching that was left was mostly paraphrased and reinterpreted (incorrectly). I suspect that this was done so that no one was offended. Jesus told a lot of people that they were wrong. That offended them so much that they murdered Him. Considering that we naturally aren't much different than them (human I mean), I'm pretty sure His words would have offended quite a few people today.
While for the creators of this series, this was said to be an attempt to present the Gospel to the world, I think they just made the Gospel more presentable to the world: the Gospel that was preached in the series had no power. We were never told why Jesus had to die or why He rose again. If you don't know anything about the Bible, why would you care if a nice guy got killed and then came back? What does that even mean? And after Jesus ascended, all the disciples were saying was: "Jesus is alive! He is the Messiah!". Not that those things aren't true, or part of the Gospel, but it is less than half of the entire message. Because the message is offensive. People weren't martyred, persecuted, and hated back then because they believed in a religion, but because they told you that you were wrong and that they had found truth:
You have a great problem, a terrifying problem. God is good, and you are evil. And because He is good, and loving, He must deal with evil, loveless people like you and me. A human is a depraved creature, he is morally corrupt, and he is Hell-bent on autonomy and self-will, even if it means his own destruction (and it does). He hates God because God is righteous, and he hates God's laws because they censor him and restrict his evil. He hates the truth because it exposes him for what he is and troubles what is left of his conscience. Therefore fallen man seeks to push the truth--especially the truth about God--as far from him as he can possibly remove it. He will go to any extent to suppress the truth, even to the point of pretending that there is no such thing as truth, or that if it does exist, it cannot be known or have any bearing on our lives. So when a man "gets saved", he gets saved from God. The justice of God is coming for you. And there is nothing we can do to be good in our own power, because we are enslaved to our own passions and desires. They are too powerful for us to resist. We live in misery, slavery, guilt, wickedness, and condemnation. And without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.
But God's love is so amazing that He has the capacity to express love even to the objects of His hatred and wrath. So He clothes Himself in a human form, to teach us about God and offer His own life and blood. Jesus allowed Himself to be accused, ridiculed, tortured, abused, and nailed to a piece of wood, naked, only to be crushed under the full weight of His Father's wrath as He bleeding and suffocating to death. Why? So that God would not have to kill you and cast your soul into Hell for all of eternity. The best part of this is that Jesus laid down His life willingly, and God sacrificed His son willingly. They were not in disagreement in what it would take to save you. They knew what it would cost, and they desired to do it in love for you. Every person on Earth, yes, but specifically, for YOU.
The Spirit of God affirmed to all that Jesus was the Son of God by raising Him from the dead, and showing us that in Christ we would die to our old selves and live new lives. And that is not poetry. We do not need to become better people, we need to be literally transformed into new creatures. So God saved you from Himself, God saved you for Himself, and God saved you by Himself. You are miserable because your life revolves around grabbing at whatever vain, empty pleasure you think will satisfy the emptiness that comes from all of your unmet desires. The only thing that can satisfy you is Jesus. And the more of the world you forsake, the more of Him you can have. God is a real person, not a concept. You can feel, love, and know God every day, and He will never leave you or cast you away. In Him is your only hope of forgiveness, redemption, freedom, joy, love, and life. Eternal life begins now, and it is worth giving up everything to obtain it. Abandon all hope in any other god, good dead, or philosophy. Repent and believe in Jesus, the one who was sent from God to reveal God and reconcile men back to God. But to those who hate God even though He has done all this for us, even though we were ill-deserving, not just undeserving, it leaves a horrifying question: If God didn't spare His own son, what do you think He'll do to you? And what do you have to gain by trying to do everything in your own power and grab whatever you can on this temporary planet? You will lose your life, your soul, your pride, your joy, and everything you hoped to gain in rejecting God.
That message is hated even today.
I'm worried that God was not revealed. I'm sad that the world did not learn more about Jesus. I'm appalled that truth was watered down. I'm horrified that the Gospel was not preached. We've traded depth and meaning for cheap entertainment. And I'm concerned that so many Christians didn't even seem to notice.