"The Bible." Why can’t Protestants get this right?

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NaphtaliPress

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Staff member
While idolatry (i.e. images of any person of the Godhead) may only be one of the problems of The Bible show (as the saying goes never let a few facts get in the way of a manageable movie script), a consistent stance against images of God seems to be a long time problem for Protestants.

“It were much to be wished that suitable steps against this evil had been taken in the Protestant churches soon upon the initial purification of doctrine. And moreover, that the idolatrous images, which have been and still are one of the principal abominations under the Papacy, had been everywhere abolished by the Protestant estates for the recovery and preservation of the proper service of worship and for the possible prevention of various disgraces to the Christian religion and to its reputation…

“And even if all the people of this age had their eyes opened so widely that there would now be no more residue of offence or scandal on account of images, nevertheless all manner of injury could be sustained among their descendents no less than formerly as a result of the surviving idols.

“And even if this were not encountered, still it is right in itself. And, as has previously been often stated, it is commanded by God that one should do away with the monuments of idolatry or memorials by means of which great idolatry was being promoted a few years ago. And this accords with the approved example of Holy Scripture.

“For King Hezekiah broke up the brazen serpent after the children of Israel had burned incense to it, though Moses had made it at God’s command as a type of Christ, 2 Kgs. 18[:4]….”

The Nassau Confession of 1578, translated by R. Sherman Isbell, in Reformed Confessions of the 16[SUP]th[/SUP] and 17[SUP]th[/SUP] Centuries in English Translation Volume 3 1567-1599. Edited by James T. Dennison (RHB, 2012), under the head “The Christian Magistrate not only has the power to remove Idolatrous Images, but is obliged to do so on account of his office,” 531.
 

Unoriginalname

Puritan Board Junior
I am surprised at how few people even brought up the use of images in that series. I guess its "evangelical value" supersedes scruples about the second commandment.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
I am surprised at how few people even brought up the use of images in that series. I guess its "evangelical value" supersedes scruples about the second commandment.
How many people brought up the use of images with Mel Gibson's passion film? I dont remember there being many back then.

I think one issue with this documentary is that there have been no recent ones that attempts to do justice to the regular conservative Bible believers. So something that Protestants have been weak on for centuries will not derail the praise.

CT
 

A5pointer

Puritan Board Sophomore
Would any film director set out to produce a film depicting a great literary work and feel the need and license to add to the manuscript? Seems silly to me. But they checked with a few renowned theologians for advice. :confused:
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I'd forgotten how long ago Gibson's film came out; it came up in a lot of threads early on before I joined the board and since I think. I came to believe the larger catechism on this not long after coming to the Reformed faith, and while it may not seem so in view of the world, and still is rejected or unknown by many in the little world of the Reformed, it sure seems to be receiving much more attention now than then. Back in 1988 when Scorsese's film came out my church attempted to get a resolution condemning it passed by the Presbytery; they voted it down ("we don't do movie reviews" a prominent opponent of LC 109 said).
 

SRoper

Puritan Board Graduate
Would any film director set out to produce a film depicting a great literary work and feel the need and license to add to the manuscript? Seems silly to me. But they checked with a few renowned theologians for advice. :confused:
You must not have seen many film adaptations.
 

christiana

Puritan Board Senior
The names of the advisory board are very telling. They include Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, a cardinal, a bishop and others that may not have a high level of respect for God's holiness.
 

Zach

Puritan Board Junior
I watched the first hour last night because enough people in my life were very excited about this show. Not knowing what to expect, I was hoping that they could at least avoid images of "God" in the first episode. Sadly, this show looks like the perfect storm. It will be just faithful enough to telling the story that most evangelicals will rave about it and ignore the additions to the story, the overlooking of sin and undervaluing God's holiness, and the blatant idolatry.
 

Pilgrim

Puritan Board Doctor
I think there may be other very serious issues with it beyond 2nd Commandment violations. I don't have cable so won't be watching it regardless. But I saw this on Facebook yesterday from Ray Comfort:

It’s been brought to my attention, by a reliable source who conducted thorough research, that there are a number of unbiblical and very questionable things in “The Bible” television series–about the deity of Christ, the character of God, and the reality of sin (among other things). In light of this recent revelation, I cannot endorse this series. If you choose to watch it, I would urge you to do so with a discerning heart, testing all things.
Even in the OPC you have the occasional public plaintive wail raised against the confessional teaching on images. When I was a member of the OPC and a regular reader of "New Horizons," the denominational magazine, whenever the issue would come up you could expect to see letters to the editor in the next issue or two advocating the non-confessional position. "Oh! What are our artists to do!?" And these are merely the ones who are willing to speak up publicly.

But I was surprised and delighted to see at least two works on the Ten Commandments by Southern Baptist authors within the past decade (including one by Dr. Mohler) that came down against "images of Christ." In recent years I've had occasion to listen to the late J. Vernon McGee on the radio. Again to my surprise, he was very strong in his opposition to depictions of Christ. (Perhaps this was a vestige of his Presbyterian upbringing and ministry, even if "New School" and dispensational?) But this concept is foreign to most today, including a great many in churches that subscribe to a Reformed confession.
 

Zach

Puritan Board Junior
From what I saw last night, Chris, you are right that there are bigger issues than 2nd Commandment violations. The biggest being the addition of things not in the biblical narrative into the story and their willingness to compromise on sin. For example, last night there was no mention nor implication that the sin of Sodom was homosexuality.
 

Southern Presbyterian

Puritan Board Doctor
Another sad side effect of this series will be that most who watch it will now consider themselves to be Biblical scholars and well qualified to speak with authority on every moral issue (not that most Americans don't already assume this). :(
 

SeanPatrickCornell

Puritan Board Sophomore
Abraham's "grumbling" at being told to sacrifice Isaac jarred me too. There's no biblical evidence that Abraham did ANYTHING other than immediately obey God.
 

Zach

Puritan Board Junior
My time was better spent with Master Brooks.

As for the show having "bigger issues than 2nd Commandment violations," why would we minimize such? A care and respect for the first table renders a greater care and respect for the second. It is interesting that the commandments which are expounded upon most are the 2nd and 4th, and grievously, these are the 2 Commandments most trampled upon and disregarded by the visible Church.
Josh, I was not trying to minimize the 2nd Commandment violations of the series. My apologies for doing so.
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
Staff member
I wouldn't want to prioritize the problems by saying one is in any way not a serious matter, but Perverting the Word of God, a third commandment issue at the least (first?), may be the grosser of the violations of this flick since without a pure Word, our basis of judging the truth is corrupted. Also, that pictures of Christ as a man should not be made is not the clearest issue of our day, when churches let so many teachers take issue with it; whereas most Christians worthy of the name would recognize and have issue with making the Biblical narrative say things it does not by either addition or subtraction. Again both are sins; but we can perhaps prioritize them to some degree in analyzing the film's errors.
 

Zach

Puritan Board Junior
I wouldn't want to prioritize the problems by saying one is in any way not a serious matter, but Perverting the Word of God, a third commandment issue at the least (first?), may be the grosser of the violations of this flick since without a pure Word, our basis of judging the truth is corrupted. Also, that pictures of Christ as a man should not be made is not the clearest issue of our day, when churches let so many teachers take issue with it; whereas most Christians worthy of the name would recognize and have issue with making the Biblical narrative say things it does not by either addition or subtraction. Again both are sins; but we can perhaps prioritize them to some degree in analyzing the film's errors.
Thanks, Chris, for saying what I wanted to say but couldn't quite figure out how to say it. I don't think it minimizes the sin to take issue with some sins to a greater degree.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
I didn't see the program (wasn't even aware of it). But the first concern I've had with any film version I've seen of any Bible account is that to make a dramatized film of it one has to add to and substract from the text we're given... choosing facial expressions, details of the setting and endless other details even if no dialogue is added or deleted, which itself is difficult enough. It's a hazardous endeavor fraught with third commandment implications.

I'm not sure I'd outlaw absolutely every dramatization of a scriptural story. After all, good preaching, teaching and even reading the Bible aloud with inflection take some of the same liberties. But dramatization should be done sparingly and with careful regard for the fact that the source material is not just another book, and with a recognition that the drama is not the Bible itself but rather an interpretation of biblical events.

Side question: Did the History Channel program actually picture God in Old Testament stories? I'd think even among typical evangelicals there'd be some backlash against that.
 

Zach

Puritan Board Junior
I didn't see the program (wasn't even aware of it). But the first concern I've had with any film version I've seen of any Bible account is that to make a dramatized film of it one has to add to and substract from the text we're given... choosing facial expressions, details of the setting and endless other details even if no dialogue is added or deleted, which itself is difficult enough. It's a hazardous endeavor fraught with third commandment implications.

I'm not sure I'd outlaw absolutely every dramatization of a scriptural story. After all, good preaching, teaching and even reading the Bible aloud with inflection take some of the same liberties. But dramatization should be done sparingly and with careful regard for the fact that the source material is not just another book, and with a recognition that the drama is not the Bible itself but rather an interpretation of biblical events.

Side question: Did the History Channel program actually picture God in Old Testament stories? I'd think even among typical evangelicals there'd be some backlash against that.
In the opening credits they depicted Jesus in future episodes and they depicted God in three distinct persons, one looking very much like the person who depicted Jesus in the opening credits, when the Lord visits Abraham.
 

SRoper

Puritan Board Graduate
I didn't see the program (wasn't even aware of it). But the first concern I've had with any film version I've seen of any Bible account is that to make a dramatized film of it one has to add to and substract from the text we're given... choosing facial expressions, details of the setting and endless other details even if no dialogue is added or deleted, which itself is difficult enough. It's a hazardous endeavor fraught with third commandment implications.

I'm not sure I'd outlaw absolutely every dramatization of a scriptural story. After all, good preaching, teaching and even reading the Bible aloud with inflection take some of the same liberties. But dramatization should be done sparingly and with careful regard for the fact that the source material is not just another book, and with a recognition that the drama is not the Bible itself but rather an interpretation of biblical events.

Side question: Did the History Channel program actually picture God in Old Testament stories? I'd think even among typical evangelicals there'd be some backlash against that.
In the opening credits they depicted Jesus in future episodes and they depicted God in three distinct persons, one looking very much like the person who depicted Jesus in the opening credits, when the Lord visits Abraham.
I thought two of them were angels. They were the ones that were in that awesome action sequence in Sodom where the one angel dual-wields long knives ("almost as cool as Legolas," my wife said).
 

Zach

Puritan Board Junior
I didn't see the program (wasn't even aware of it). But the first concern I've had with any film version I've seen of any Bible account is that to make a dramatized film of it one has to add to and substract from the text we're given... choosing facial expressions, details of the setting and endless other details even if no dialogue is added or deleted, which itself is difficult enough. It's a hazardous endeavor fraught with third commandment implications.

I'm not sure I'd outlaw absolutely every dramatization of a scriptural story. After all, good preaching, teaching and even reading the Bible aloud with inflection take some of the same liberties. But dramatization should be done sparingly and with careful regard for the fact that the source material is not just another book, and with a recognition that the drama is not the Bible itself but rather an interpretation of biblical events.

Side question: Did the History Channel program actually picture God in Old Testament stories? I'd think even among typical evangelicals there'd be some backlash against that.
In the opening credits they depicted Jesus in future episodes and they depicted God in three distinct persons, one looking very much like the person who depicted Jesus in the opening credits, when the Lord visits Abraham.
I thought two of them were angels. They were the ones that were in that awesome action sequence in Sodom where the one angel dual-wields long knives ("almost as cool as Legolas," my wife said).
It may be. That passage in Genesis has always confused me as to what exactly is occurring when the three visit Abraham.
 

Hawaiian Puritan

Puritan Board Freshman
I think there was one split-second view of the debauched crowd in Sodom where you can see a man dressed as a woman with makeup on, but yeah, they intentionally changed what Scripture says and instead showed the angels having been beaten up by the crowd, calling for help and bleeding. (Not sure that can happen to angels, to be quite frank.) But, in any event, it seems to reinforce the revisionist liberal view that Sodom was punished for "inhospitality." I suppose the creators of this would say the angels were just testing how they would be treated if they appeared as men. The one martial arts angel reminded me of Master Yoda in Star Wars.
 

christiana

Puritan Board Senior
Our expectations are far from realistic if and when we would expect a secular channel on TV to produce a biblical God honoring program! That would be an impossible task! I wont view the coming four at all!
 

Zach

Puritan Board Junior
Our expectations are far from realistic if and when we would expect a secular channel on TV to produce a biblical God honoring program! That would be an impossible task! I wont view the coming four at all!
Absolutely. Of course they will not produce a documentary that accurately depicts the sinfulness of sin and the holiness of God...they hate our God.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
"The Bible." Why can’t Protestants get this right?
Wrong premise. Roma Downey claims to be a "devout Catholic."

Downey hails from Northern Ireland, attended Thornhill College, and earned a Bachelor of Arts at Brighton College of Art before turning to acting with classical training in drama in London. She received (along with her husband, "Survivor" and "The Voice" guy, Mark Burnett) an honorary degree from Pepperdine's School of Business and Management. And, she claims to hold a master's degree in Spiritual Psychology (whatever that is) from the University of Santa Monica (wherever that is).

13 million on cable makes this a mega hit for the cable crowd. Like it or not, expect it to keep it up for four more weeks. You'll even get to see the 52 year old Downey play the Virgin Mary and Cee-Lo Green sing "Mary Did You Know" (I'm NOT kidding!!!). How do they keep Cee-Lo from breaking into profanity?

Incidentally, the project advisors are listed as:
The Bible project advisors included: Rick Warren - Pastor, Saddleback, Erwin McManus - Pastor, Mosaic, Jim Daly - Focus on the Family, Sam Rodriguez - National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Paul Eshleman - Campus Crusade for Christ, Bobby Gruenewald - YouVersion Bible, Brad Lomenick - Catalyst, Leith Anderson - National Association of Evangelicals, Frank Wright - National Religious Broadcasters, Tom Peterson - Catholics Come Home, Geoff Tunnicliffe - World Evangelical Alliance, Gabe Lyons - Q, Luis Palau, George Wood - Assemblies of God, Craig Groeschel - Life Church, Denny Rydberg - Young Life, Andrew Benton - Pepperdine University.
 
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Unoriginalname

Puritan Board Junior
I would rather watch Pawn Stars than this nonsense. (Actually, Pawn Stars is pretty nonsensical too...)
By no means was my comment an endorsement, I was just pointing out that sadly it is the closest thing to the original intent of the channel produced in a while.
 
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