As I write this, we are one day away from viewing the third installment of the five-part History Channel series, The Bible. This epic 10-hour television series was jointly produced by Touch by an Angel’s Roma Downey and Survivor’s Mark Burnett, a husband and wife team that have put together one of the most comprehensive and expensive television projects ever.
Record Television Audience
Hollywood pundits are reportedly stunned by the series’ popularity and some Christians are too, although the latter camp has been doing so with a much more critical eye, one that may be missing the impact of an all-too-rare occurrence these days. That event has the gospel message presented on prime time with millions of people watching.
Viewers could have watched AMC’s The Walking Dead, but chose not to. Instead, they tuned in to learn what The Bible series was all about, perhaps desiring to be spiritually satisfied too.
The Bible is not a perfect series and that is why some of the chatter among Christians has been about dissecting its flaws instead of lauding a rare television opportunity.
White Space Narrative
One comment I found on Facebook seemed particularly aghast by a certain “ninja-style” fighting scene involving God’s angels. Others have criticized the various “white spaces” dialogue that the producers frequently interjected into each story account.
Those “white spaces” represent areas in the Bible where we might imagine what some people were thinking when they witnessed a miracle, saw overwhelming force repelled or simply went about their daily lives.
The Bible typically does not expand the narrative to include every word uttered, unless to make an important point such as when Thomas beheld the resurrected Jesus and exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”
Grace Under Fire
Perhaps in response to the usual Christian backlash, Franklin Graham issued a press release this week to defend the series. Said Graham, “While there are some story lines interpreted differently, the truth is that in all things the Lord Jesus Christ is seen lifted up before the world and glorified as the King of kings.”
Graham is certainly a gracious follower of Jesus Christ, one who has learned well from his mother and father about how best to handle conflict. Especially under fire. Graham said that the series “will likely cause a viewer to want to open the pages of Scripture to see the realities of Almighty God’s plan for the human race.”
Bingo. Or, should I say, “Hallelujah?!”
The Human Jesus
Who knows, maybe the series will bungle the transition from the Old Testament to the New Testament, perhaps inserting a bit of the Apocrypha along the way. Maybe Mary Magdalene will reveal a little too much cleavage.
Just the same, maybe we will see a very human Jesus, one who upset the conventional wisdom of His day by healing the blind man, reaching out to a Samaritan woman and supping with sinners. The very people that we, as followers of Jesus Christ, are supposed to reach in His name.
Then again, perhaps we are too involved building our earthly spiritual kingdoms by rolling out yet another church program, raising millions for a building — money that could be better used to minister to the lost, instead of taking up some other activity that keeps us busy, busy, busy!
God help us if we miss out on an opportunity to make a difference or forget to choose our words carefully. We know that the world hates us, but sometimes we do our own part by adding fuel to the fire.
Photo courtesy of the History Channel.
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