Commercialism is a conundrum for the Christian community. Obviously, we need to get the message of the Good News of Jesus Christ to as many people as possible, and we need to be equipped to do it. But, where do we draw the line?
Then there’s the question of the quality of the products produced. As my friend, J.S. Park, blogged, buying into stuff simply because they have been made by Christians is pretty dumb. That results in poor quality that ends up grossly misrepresenting our awesome God.
Then there’s the problem of biblical accuracy whenever Hollywood gets involved with sharing the Gospel. The Word of God must never be altered so that His message rings loud and clear, and they just can’t help putting their own twist on things.
So, should we buy into this TV series on the History Channel or not?
We did. Here’s why.
Despite what the NY Times says, it is a quality production (At least the clips that I’ve seen). Let’s be fair, just as there is bias from Christians in favor of Christian things, there is often bias from the secular world in opposition to it. If a Christian movie is done poorly, I don’t mind saying so. If it’s done well, let’s call it what it is. That clip with Abraham and Isaac is very moving, exploring the great pain that must have been experienced by both father and son. It may not be the best thing out there, but it’s certainly good.
There’s that pesky problem with accuracy. When I first viewed the clips sent to us I was perturbed by the things I saw that aren’t in the Bible, like Sarah figuring out Abraham’s plot to sacrifice Isaac and running to the mountain to try to prevent it. Then I read that it’s based on a novel called The Bible that is a story based around the facts. That made it a bit easier for me to swallow. Then I read the devotionals that come with it (though we didn’t buy into them), and saw that they followed the stories in the movie but give the Biblical, accurate accounts. Even better.
Then I remembered a literary technique I learned at a Christian Writers Conference last year. When writing non-fiction, it’s an acceptable – and educationally beneficial – to interject what could have happened based on the facts of the story. It’s called historical fiction and it helps us to interact with the Truth. So many of us claim that it’s terrible when the History Channel does it, but Max Lucado has been doing it for years and we’ve never said boo about it. In fact, we love it and buy his books like crazy. And he’s not alone. Many of the best Christians authors speculate on what people could have felt in Bible stories. I hope to be one of them some day.
Randy, the Senior Pastor at our church, and I had a long chat about whether or not to use the History Channel series this Easter. The deciding factor was that it could be a great connection to get people back into church or even to come for the first time. He preaches truth every Sunday on the episode to be aired that evening using a video clip from it. Besides, how many times did Jesus accommodate someone’s faith in Him even though they had a poor grasp on Who He actually is? Jesus got them to commit to him first, then he improved their knowledge of Him.
Sounds like a fine modus operandi to me.