1. The History Channel (and any of those channels like Discovery) have hardly been friendly to a traditional, conservative, or orthodox understanding of the Scriptures. Many of their programs seek to build doubts and promote higher-critical understandings of the Word of God.
2. The Board of Advisors for the project is found here. It includes the likes of Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, T.D. Jakes, a couple folks from the Roman Catholic Church, a woman who was a co-founder of “Women in Ministry for Obama”, and a couple “scholars” attached to Fuller Theological Seminary (known for its Church Growth methods). That’s it, those are the advisors.
3. I have heard this promoted heavily by Glenn Beck. Beck is a mormon who claims Christianity as his own. Mormons are not Christians. They use the Scriptures to promote their false religion of the Law and morals. While Beck provides interesting political commentary, his views on religion are not to be taken as any form of orthodox Christianity.
There are a couple things to be on the lookout for in the program:
Higher-Criticizing – the idea that the Scriptures are man’s understanding of God and thereby can be tinkered with. This includes mythologizing the true histories of Scripture, minimizing miracles (or just “scientifically” explaining them). Beware, this understanding of the Scriptures is not in accord with the Scriptures and places the creature higher than the Creator.
Over-emotionalizing – This is natural in historical movies produced today. There is often an attempt to put our current societal thoughts and emotions upon the figures of the past. This would fit under the category of “artistic license” but should be careful.
De-doctrinalizing – It is natural that if something is going to be palatable to such a wide audience that the actual strict teachings will not be allowed airtime. If you look at the variety of folks used as advisers you get the sense that if there is any consensus around the teachings of Scriptures there it will be of the lowest-common-denominator type (which in the end is a denial of Christ’s own command that all things be taught). Beware, the new man created in Christ Jesus through the waters of Baptism never (and I mean NEVER) wants to oversimplify the teachings of Jesus and remove the most offensive ones, or make them one of many equal teachings. The Old Adam wants outward unity at the expense of the full teachings of Jesus. To paraphrase C.F.W. Walther – those who do not care about the teachings of Jesus do not care about salvation.
Christlessness – The sum and total of the Scriptures is Christ. Jesus taught that – “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39). Also: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). Also: “but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. ” (John 20:31). Beware this, because without Christ the Scriptures are boiled down to a book of the Law, morals, and “do’s” (and do nots). This moralism is the false teaching of the Devil, the leaven of the Pharisees, and does great damage to the Gospel of Christ.
An example of this can be found in the very first episode’s description:
As Noah endures God’s wrath in his lonely ark, he recounts man’s descent from Adam into wickedness. God has sent a flood to cleanse humanity, to offer a new beginning. Years later, Noah’s descendant Abraham is given a message by God. He is promised a land of his own, and starts out on the long and arduous journey to reach it. Abraham’s only descendant, his nephew Lot, chooses his own path and leaves his uncle to start again in Sodom, where he will escape death when the sinful city is destroyed by God. Meanwhile, Abraham reaches the Promised Land but his covenant with God is still not complete – he has been promised offspring as numerous as the stars. But his wife, Sarah, is barren. Much to her pain she encourages Abraham to sleep with servant girl Hagar to father a child. Ishmael is born. But years later three angels from God arrive with exciting news – Sarah will indeed bear a child, Isaac. Abraham is now forced to choose between his two sons. He casts Hagar and Ishmael into the wilderness. God then exacts on Abraham one final, terrible test. Calling for the sacrifice of his one remaining son Isaac, Abraham is forced to prove his faith in his new God. He passes the test and Isaac is allowed to live. The faith of the Israelites begins here, with the family of Abraham. Isaac has a son called Jacob who God re-names Israel…
Notice how Christ-less this is. There is no mention of the first promise of Christ, just Noah pondering a fall and new beginning. Abraham is a man who has a covenant with God, and the number of his offspring is mentioned, but not “the” Offspring in whom all the world will be blessed. Notice also the “three angels” is also free of Abraham’s calling them “the LORD”. Free from mention of promise to Sarah, the story of Isaac is explained. The whole of Gen 22 is Christ-less in the description. Behind it all is the language of human works. Noah’s endurance. Abraham proving his faith in his new God. Abraham passing tests. It certainly raises a few red flags which should be heeded.
Reading through the descriptions there are many other red flags that show up. A later description paints Jesus as a revolutionary rebelling against the Law of Moses instead of being the fulfillment of the Law. There is clearly a political/revolutionary view of Jesus in this program. This more political view of Jesus is taken into the work of the disciples as well. Peter is describes as finally understanding Jesus’ message and having his faith rewarded.. again strange language. The final episode description concludes with this: “And all who have the courage to keep the faith will be rewarded” which again is not a very good way to describe the Lord’s work of sustaining us in the faith until the end.
These things require a discerning eye, for leaven is small but can ruin a very large lump. These things should not be taken in without discernment according to the Word of God.
We here at BJS are working on producing a set of our reviews on this program and hope to have a review of each week’s programming the following week for our readers to consider. Stay tuned to our site to find them in the coming weeks.
In the end, I would suggest reading the book rather than the movie. The Book is far more interesting, and infinitely better at delivering Jesus to you than any movie ever could.