The B-I-B-L-E

My friend, Kelly Burton, is my featured guest-blogger today:



"Blessed are the Christians who challenge The Bible Series in its Biblical correctness yet be the same ones who sing scripturally incorrect gospel and worship songs." -Sue Duffield

 

 

We watched The Bible five Sundays in a row. Our church, like many, made it an event. We had in-home viewing parties, our pastor tied it in with his sermons, and we Facebook'd it like the Oscars or something. Basically, Christians who also happen to be fans or followers of pop culture get Excited when Christian-based entertainment is offered that is not cheesy, cheap, or that panders. It is rare. I grew up watching the 1977 miniseries Jesus of Nazareth and the classic Ten Commandments. In my little world, those were the gold standards of Biblical representation on film, and both have stood pretty well against the test of time. Then in 2005, Mel Gibson gave us the phenomenal The Passion of the Christ. That movie was so challenging to watch, so raw and beautiful all at once, but alas, it showed only a portion of Christ's life and a sliver of the whole Bible. I know I am one of many who wanted more.

bible memes

 

jesus

The Bible miniseries is extra culturally-relevant because of the explosion of social media that has occurred since those other films were made. And from the night the very first segment aired, the debates began:

   
  • Why didn't 'they' show Joseph's coat of many colors, or Elijah and Elisha, or Ruth and Naomi, or _____ (other favorite Bible story)
  • Why are there LIQUOR commercials?! My eyes! My eyes!
  • Why is Jesus so good looking (/smoking hot/etc)? {Really, people? He is the King of Kings...why not?}
  • So and so did not say that at such and such a time. What gives, Touched-By-An-Angel Lady? You are going to mislead millions of people! (I especially enjoy this article... and pose to this author: Any of these 'kingdom' issues? Does it really matter if King Saul was peeing or pooping in the cave? REALLY?!)

I think it is safe to say that many, many Christian viewers missed the point. And that got me thinking: maybe this series wasn't for us. I mean, if "we" are such experts on what the absolute correct details of the whole Bible are, and the order of importance of each, we don't need to see a series. And if "we" are so sensitive to what we watch that a Jim Beam commercial is going to send us straight off our holy high horses on to a bender, then by all means, we should avert our eyes. {I'm not talking about people who struggle with alcohol here, either... I'm talking about the pious} I choose, rather, to participate in the dialogue. I don't know "who" outside my circle was watching The Bible. But I do know that between 11 and 14 million people were watching it for 5 straight weeks. And what did they see?

  • God made us 
  • we are flawed  
  • God loves us anyway  
  • God gives us amazing things, like children when we are infertile, strength to slay giants, protection from fires and floods and hungry lions, and second chances. And third chances. And many more chances... - 
  • God came to Earth in the form of a man, His son Jesus.  
  • Jesus served humbly, loved politically-incorrectly, ministered supernaturally, sacrificed completely, died painfully, resurrected miraculously, and ascended to Heaven after leaving us a Spirit to comfort and empower us.  
  • The Spirit of God visited the followers of Jesus after His ascension, showed off by causing them to speak in different languages, and gave them power to Do His Work.  
  • God continued to speak with, inspire, and enable His followers to preach the good news and live in service to Him.

I saw someone today call the last two hours of The Bible a "weak and almost unidentifiable Gospel presentation." I am not sure what he was watching. In particular, the representation of the "Upper Room Experience" (the different tongues, from Acts 2) was surprisingly 1) not offensive, 2) cooler than even I imagined it, 3) fairly self-explanatory. In my own opinion, majoring on the minors is the tragic flaw of the mainstream Christian churchgoer. Literally *millions* of people saw The Bible series and heard the gospel. As a result, they might accept it, reject, research it, argue it, love it, balk at it, understand it better, care about it more, debate it, or pass it on. But chances are, they will not forget it...because when God sends out His Word, we are unable to ignore it. Regardless of what details went askew (and I am willing to bet most of the quibbles are based on denominational theologies, but that's just a guess, and that's a whole other post...), 14 million people saw and heard that God created us, Jesus loves us, and that He is the way, not to mention that He calls, equips, heals, and walks with us still today. I'm feeling pretty excited about 14 million people hearing that! That they saw it with modern special effects and attractive actors is a method, not a new gospel. Today, I visited my favorite entertainment website and saw they had finally paid attention to the series (and will mention here that it was the back page ad of their weekly mag a few weeks ago - prime real estate):

 

EW on The Bible ratings

Along with this, celebrities Tweeted their congrats to the producers... some of the same celebs who showed very little regard for Mel Gibson's work in 2005. Columnists from a variety of outlets are reporting on a hunger for 'religious entertainment' and a new interest in Bible stories. A game app has been developed, and there are already talks of spin-off that will focus on Jesus. Maybe it will all end up a twisted mess, or maybe, these pieces will continue to break barriers and speak to people who won't, just won't, pick up a Bible or go to a Bible study. Let's at least agree that turning their eyes toward Jesus is a good thing... The Bible - the book, not the miniseries, is available to read for free at many places on the internet. Check out YouVersion or Bible Gateway. Coming Thursday: "The Top 10 Details That May or May Not Have Been Completely, Documentary-Level Accurate But That I Totally Loved About The Bible Miniseries."

(Comments are welcome) For more of Kelly Burton's writing, click here.   

Comments

Susan Mayo April 04, 2013 @07:40 am
Boom!!! Awesome! The bible mini-series was not for Christians to pick over!! Love!!! :) :)
Georgia Shaeli April 02, 2013 @01:48 pm
This is good, Sue. And even more "good-er", because you shared it. I wish that other bloggers/writers/authors were as graciously generous with your praise and promotion of other ministries. It's no doubt, that when you give voice to someone else, God always gives you voice too. I don't know Kelly, but if she's your friend, than I'm sure I would love her too. I am grateful for most of the Christian community who embraced The Bible Series. But to the rest, who can't seem to be pleased with anything - no matter what it is, they can surely stay as stuck and legalistic as they've always been.
Beth Zimmerman April 02, 2013 @01:42 pm
Amen! =) No feathers from over here!
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