History Channel’s The Bible, more than just a TV series

Posted: March 4, 2013 in Evangelism, Leadership, Me and God, Me and people, Science, The Bible

Featured-Image-History-Channel-The-BibleAs it was to be expected, the internet is flooding with comments, reviews and complains about this series. Yesterday #TheBible trended on Twitter higher that one may think of a Bible based event. As the famous theologian Nate Rector pointed out: “Mission accomplished, Mark Burnett. The day after, people are talking about the Bible on Facebook”.

Nevertheless, with all the buzz, certain comments have not waited and –no surprise, a variety of critical arguments are raising. Someone here alluded to it as “wonky with the theology” of the series. Others, argue that it is not fit for kids.  Still, a group demands for more Biblical “accuracy”, to the point that a renown theologian claimed that some parts of The Bible “were meant to be fiction” 

First of all, let’s take it for what it is” A Hollywood production. Mark Barnett  is not God, or God’s messenger or even a theologian. He is a man, a man who happens to be extraordinarily good at doing what he does: making movie productions. He is not the incarnation of Christianity, and if, God forbid, he or anyone else were to ‘fall from public grace’ somehow (remember Mel Gibson?), it is not to be blamed on all Christians. He is a movie producer and as such, he did a tremendous work at it, aside from what his personal beliefs might be.

Second, there has to be some imagination mixed in when we don’t know all the details. We need to understand that if you make a movie form a text, you will have to make some assumptions and make some things up. Just write a 5-lines text on something you experienced. Then hand the paper to a friend and ask him to draw a picture that portraits it. More likely than not, there will be elements on that picture that you had not imagined so. Even worse, have them to make it into a three dimensions representation with sound. You get the idea. Now try making a 10-hour movie based on a document that contains more than 800,000 words and your imagination will be challenged. The Bible shows many facts without many minor details that the movie producer has to make come together. For instance, we know from Gen 19:1 that “the two angels came to Sodom…”, but doesn’t tell us the insignificant details (were they wearing a red or blue cape?, did they look like Jacky Chan or Terminator? did they have swords or AR-15’s?).  Here is where the movie producer uses his imagination and brings us the Call-of-duty/ninja-like angels we saw. 100% accurate? No. Did it convey the point from the Bible? Most certainly.

Third, it may be a little bit inaccurate, on the known details. So what?!?. From what I can see, nothing major was twisted from the facts that the Bible represent. For instance, we saw the serpent (looking like a serpent) tempting Adam and Eve. Well, that was not factual. One could make the point that considering that God, after the temptation, cursed the ‘serpent’ with “On your belly you shall go”. Therefore, we can safely conclude that before and during the temptation, the serpent had legs –more like a lizard. So what?. With or without legs on the ‘serpent’, it was clear that the point of the story was “bad choices’ (repeated several times), and that is what I hope my kids took away. That sinning against God is a bad choice –and there are bad consequences, whether eating from the forbidden tree, cheating on a test, or disrespecting their mother.

And now that we mention kids, fourth: is it not fit for kids? Hhhmm, you can make your own conclusion, but from what I saw, there wasn’t any more skin that what they would see on a football game, commercials, or at the mall. People kissing? Yes they know people do that. Violence and blood? Nothing too far from the war movies they may watch (have you seen the video games your kids play with?). On the other hand, like my wife pointed out, it’s a portrayal of the Bible. We are sinful people who hurt each other (fact), God deals seriously with sin (fact), God defends His people (fact). God is more than a sweet tame long-white-beard grandpa. He is a warrior who is loves us too much not to fight for us at any cost. If they understand, with such visual impact, the caliber of miracles God has done in the past for His people, they will perhaps more easily accept that, the same God, will protect them and keep them through a situation with a bully kid, a dangerous person, a storm or a terminal illness.

Finally, this stuff happened. Let’s not forget that what we have here is a cinematographic masterpiece on the ancient writings with more archaeological and historical documentation that any other religious text ever.  I don’t know if Pharaoh actually looked like Newsboys’ Peter Furler. One thing I do know is that they have found and excavated chariot wheels from the sea floor at the Red Sea crossing site.   These wheels found using a molecular frequency generator, happen to have four spokes, same as others found in an Egyptian tomb from the same time period, which were only used at the same time during the 18th dynasty or 1446 BC when the exodus took place. What a remarkable opportunity to explore The Bible, not as a collection of stories but as the HISTORY that brought salvation to us today.

Yes, there are things that I would have done different. Maybe I would have shown how the blood marking on the doorposts (horizontal and vertical in the corner) happen to make a particular shape: a cross –as it is a ‘picture’ of the blood of Jesus which PASSes OVER the wrath of God if we believe. Or maybe I would have made a point to show that the same geographical place where Abraham almost-sacrificed his son, and ‘God provided for himself a sacrifice’ , is the same place where almost 2,000 years later, God, would provide himself as a sacrifice for us.

My point is, there are way more reasons to take advantage from this TV series, than to stay away from it. What an opportunity to get a visual understanding of the big picture (The whole Bible from cover to cover is about Jesus and His plan of salvation). What a chance to, as parents, study and prepare to teach our kids. What an opportunity to have conversations with others and present, in a loving, cordial and intelligent way, the reason for what we believe.

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