God in His providence, chose to send His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world when He did. Christ could have come to save the world during the time of cell phones and live streaming, but He didn’t. God chose to send His Son in the fullness of time, and to have the proclamation of His work be done through the Word. In short, God gave us a book, and it was not by accident that He did so.
I don’t watch much television these days, and don’t tend to keep up with what is new or popular on TV. One show, however, has caught my attention because of its notoriety, and its subject matter. The Chosen, which has been on air for a few years now, seeks to depict the life and ministry of Jesus Christ in the form of a television series. The series has been met with rave reviews, with thousands of professing Christians lending their support for the series, and a 90%+ rating on major review sites. I have only heard about it because of the success it seems to be having within the church, as more and more Christians talk about it. However, I find this new excitement over The Chosen concerning, and would warn Christians from watching the show for the following 3 reasons.
The Chosen Violates The 2nd Commandment
Christians ought to make quick work of discerning whether or not to watch The Chosen by simply recognizing that it violates the 2nd Commandment. For reference, here is the 2nd Commandment given in Exodus 20:4-6:
You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Additionally, the Westminster Larger Catechism 109 helpfully expounds what is forbidden in the 2nd Commandment .
Q. 109. What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising, counseling, commanding, using, and anywise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself; the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of imageor likeness of any creature whatsoever; all worshiping of it, or God in it or by it; the making of any representation of feigned deities, and all worship of them, or service belonging to them; all superstitious devices, corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, or taking from it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by tradition from others, though under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion, good intent, or any other pretense whatsoever; simony; sacrilege; all neglect, contempt, hindering, and opposing the worship and ordinances which God hath appointed.
Christians wanting to obey the Scriptures ought to reject the use of images representing “God, of all or of any of the three persons.” This applies especially to any use of images in corporate worship, but also directs what kinds of shows we watch, books we read, and more. To watch The Chosen, shows a disregard for God’s law. While most watching the show, I suspect, are not doing so with the intention of going against God’s Word, the end result is still the same. We must be careful to know God’s Word, and to obey God’s Word, in all aspects of our life.
The Chosen Comes From A Concerned Source
One issue that has not been given much publicity is the explicitly non-Christian religious influence on the show’s production. The production company behind the show, Angel Studios, was founded, and is operated by two members of the Mormon faith. It is worth noting that Angel Studios also creates a product called VidAngel which is used by many Christians to help censor and filter out inappropriate content from TV shows and other streaming platforms. Still, the company now moves into the production business, and their portrayal of Jesus and his ministry is concerning.
There have been many concerns about how faithful the representation of Jesus would be to Scripture. The very nature of television leads there to be edits and interpretations to set up more dramatic encounters and dialogues. Still, one explicit example worth noting came when the show had Jesus say “I am the law of Moses,” which is found nowhere in Scripture, but is found in the Book of Mormon. It would seem the potential Mormon influence is greater than perhaps some are willing to admit. Furthermore, the situation has not been helped by the Creator, Director, Co-Writer, and Executive Producer of the show, Dallas Jenkins, who has often responded to this controversy with joking and implications that he may work more Mormon references into the show. Jenkins has also been unclear regarding his understanding of the clear distinction between Christians and Mormons, and how they are fundamentally separate faiths.
It leaves me to wonder why Christians would partake in entertainment which comes from such a concerned source. As with a poisoned well, you may get some clean water from it, but is it worth the risk? The Chosen represents a dangerous source of entertainment, which dramatically takes Jesus and his words out of context, and even allows for heresy to be brought in. Even discerning Christians are at risk watching a show like this, and the payoff of entertainment does not justify it.
We Have Something Greater Than The Chosen
Perhaps someone reading this article disagrees with me on my interpretation regarding the 2nd Commandment. Perhaps its even possible that they disagree with the alarming concern surrounding the changing of Jesus’s actions and words. I know of several Christians who believe that productions such as The Chosen are helpful, because they stir their imaginations, and raise their affections for Christ. Even if you disagree with my previous two warnings, I would like to issue a third, by demonstrating that The Chosen is far less than what you already have in God’s Word.
God in His providence, chose to send His Son, Jesus Christ, into the world when He did. Christ could have come to save the world during the time of cell phones and live streaming, but He didn’t. God chose to send His Son in the fullness of time, and to have the proclamation of His work be done through the Word. In short, God gave us a book, and it was not by accident that He did so. God speaks to us through His Word, and He has not left us with some lesser form of revelation.
In John 20, we see the famous account of Jesus and Doubting Thomas. Thomas, demands to see Jesus in order to believe. After witnessing the risen Christ, here is what Jesus declares:
Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (John 20:29).
Immediately following this declaration by Jesus, John gives us his purpose statement for the entire Gospel account:
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 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 20:30-31).
It is clear what John is doing here. Jesus speaks to Thomas, but in a way, He is speaking past Thomas, to all of the readers. We get to hear Jesus’ declaration as a message to us as well. It is not a lesser form of revelation to hear of Christ through the Word than to see Him in the flesh. In fact, Jesus here positively declares that those who hear and believe are truly blessed. Many Christians think that their faith would be so much better if only they could see Jesus for themselves – Jesus disagrees.
When I meet Christians enamored with productions like The Chosen, I’m left scratching my head. Why would we settle for something which goes against God’s law, alters the events of Jesus’ life, and takes us away from the Word of God? Surely it is far greater to regularly commune with God through His Word, sitting daily under its instruction, that our affections would be shaped by God and stoked into a greater zeal by the true Christ! For Christians who have been caught up with shows like The Chosen, my simple desire would be to point you back to the Word of God, and to discover something far greater for your soul.
Joe Cristman is a Minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is Pastor of Redeemer PCA in Lombard, IL