Hollywood, the Bible, and Weird Things

The Bible is the number one show on TV with 14.8 million viewers during the season premiere.  Given the large amount of professing Christians in the US, that is not a surprise.  The Passion of the Christ enjoyed this type of success for the same reason.

I admit it bothers me (slightly) that the most depraved industry in the world (other than the abortion industry) is taking advantage of the Word of God to make money.  Hollywood struck gold with biblical themes, and The Bible will be on display until Easter making the most of it.

Not only are they using the Word of God to make money, but Mark Burnett the producer of The Bible is now marketing to Christians who are not grounded in the Word of God.

Very ironic.

Burnett has borrowed on old technique previously used by the producers of The Passion to increase the shows audience.

He is marketing his perception that “weird things happened” during the filming of The Bible to invoke the work of the Holy Spirit in the making of the show.

From the Christian Post:

“Reportedly, when Jesus referenced the Holy Spirit as being like the wind, a huge gust of air blew across the entire crew for 20 seconds, which was filming the scene on a very still night in the Sahara desert.

In another incident, the set’s snake wrangler, who usually recovered one or two snakes per day on set to protect crew members, found 48 cobras and vipers hidden near the scene of the cross, where the crew was to film Jesus’ crucifixion.

The third incident, according to Burnett, happened when the crew was filming a baptism scene in a giant Sahara reservoir and part of Jesus’ detailed costume, which took months to create, floated away.

According to Burnett, a young boy from miles away returned the costume days later.”

Could Burnett possibly be trying to fool naive Christians into believing that God has given His stamp of approval to the show?

That the Holy Spirit really had a special presence there during the filming of the show?

That would sure make the audience grow… Naive Christians will be amazed by these incidents.  They would rather watch a show with special effects and beautiful actors, a show about the Bible, than read the Bible itself.

Ultimately, I hope the show will spark the interest of unbelievers to pick up a Bible or perhaps attend a church where they can hear the Gospel.

But for Burnett to imply the work of the Holy Spirit in this project is manipulative.

The Bible Has Gone Hollywood

Or perhaps Hollywood has gone… biblical?

Hollywood has a long history of digging into biblical story lines to come up with epic productions like Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, and The Passion of the Christ.  And now, Hollywood mega couple Roma Downey and Mark Burnett (producer of popular shows like Survivor) have come up with the highly acclaimed and well reviewed miniseries “The Bible,” which will run this Spring on the History Channel.

The docudrama will present 10 episodes with major stories from the Old and the New Testament, and evangelicals like Rick Warren are not only endorsing it, but Rick Warren himself is presenting a preview and a behind-the-scenes look at the series.

Unlike Rick Warren, I personally do not endorse Hollywood efforts depicting aspects of the Judeo-Christian faith and stories from the Bible.  This is a personal decision, and I understand that many Christians are eager to promote movies such as The Passion in an effort to extend the Kingdom of God.

There are several reasons why I do not get excited about these projects, and have serious reservations about recommending them:

1. I have a difficult time receiving a Bible story, especially one that encapsulates the gospel, told by directors and actors who do not know the LORD.  Some may know the LORD, but I suspect that their numbers are very low, or perhaps almost non-existent.  Again, this is a personal stumbling block for me.  Generically speaking, how can an actor “become” a depraved character in one movie, and then turn around and depict Christ in the next movie?  How can a depraved director depict for us the inspired word of Scripture in a film?

2. Every year around Easter and Christmas (I stopped watching TV for the last few years but I assume the trend continues) the Discovery Channel and History Channel present shows about Jesus and various aspects of our faith which are plain wrong.  Various forms of heresies are presented mixed in with fragments of truth as was the case with the all the shows surrounding the Gospel of Judas and the Da Vinci Code a few years ago. Moreover, authorities from all kind of backgrounds are interviewed, from Universalists, to Catholics, to atheist historians who weigh in on Christian doctrine, and these are people who do not know the LORD.  Having been illuminated by the Holy Spirit to understand God’s Word, it becomes a difficult exercise watching these “everyone-has-an-opinion” on the Bible shows.

3. Many of these shows and movies are not done with the intent of spreading the gospel message but with the intent to make money.  Lots of money.  The masses of Christians out there soak these projects up like they are supposed to soak up the real thing: God Word.  For example, the Passion of the Christ is the highest grossing R-rated movie of all time (yes R-rated in the same sentence as Christ).  It made $600 million just during its theatrical release, and many millions since then.  Producers are getting very wealthy from these “Christian” films.

4.  The gospel message and the Word of God as a form of entertainment is a turn-off for me.  Many Christians do not have a problem with this aspect, but the Holy Spirit speaks to me when I read Scripture, and I feel that the Word is profaned when the depraved of this world take advantage of it to create films… whatever their motives are.

So, starting next week I will not hold my breath for “The Bible” miniseries to entertain me.  “The Bible,” the real thing, is sitting right here on my desk ready to receive my delight.  It’s a delight in truth.

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