I recently joined the millions of other Christians in my country who have been watching the new series “the Chosen.”
Some say it’s the best show about Jesus to come out.
And I’ve made it through all the available episodes, and I’ve been enjoying it.
This wouldn’t be a very interesting post if that was all I had to say though, and unfortunately, my impression of it is not all positive.
If you are new the blog and just clicked on this post out of curiosity then you may wonder why you should care what I think, though you’re you’re probably still curious, because don’t we all like to read critical reviws of whatever’s popular.
But I do have one claim to a relavent relavent opinion, I’ve been reading the Bible since I was a child, and have read the Gospels many times, which is the main source material for the show. I’m not a bible scholar officially, but I’m about as scholarly as laymen get.
And since I am the target audience for this show, a young woman who is always open to getting a btter undestnad of Jesus, I think my opinion ought to interest some people.
That out of the way, let’s begin:
What I like
I don’t need a lot of time for this part.
I love the sets and backdrops of this show, I can’t figure out how a webseries has the budget for those sets and constumes. They’re beautiful and very real feeling, maybe not dirty enough always, but I’m not one to complain about that.
A lot of beautiful locations too.
Also, the acting is good. It’s not the best I’ve seen, but it’s believable most of the time. The actors clearly enjoy their roles.
Jesus ins’t a stiff, I like that. I mean, he’s alive again for a reason, people. I’ve never been of the party that thinks Jesus doesn’t have a sense of humor, or that God doens’t. I have pets, I know God has a sense of Humor.
I do enjoy the miracles too… well, some of them. It’s very cool to see that with better technology than we used to have to depict these things.
What I don’t like
“Dislike” can be a strong word. Most of the things that I didn’t like about the show were minor annoyances that I was williing to let go of.
Again,I’m not a stickler for presenting Jesus as “holier than thou” super serious, and a buzz kill. I never have liked that version of Jesus.
As for the internal conflict, one of the other main complaints about the plot, I mostly don’t mind that either. We know from the Gospels that the disciples had clashes sometimes. They argued about who was the greatest.
If anything, they are a little too mature in this story because it’s hard to picture these guys having such a stupid argument. I guess we all stumble.
But there are some things I don’t feel right just glossing over as flaws in the show. Some because they are writing errors, and others because I am concerned they are going agaisnt scripture.
The smaller concern is the writing errors.
It’s not the most important thing, but approaching the Gospel and taking the stories out of order and giving the characters motivations not specifically denoted in the Bible creates problems.
The first being, the timeline is totally messed up. John the Baptist has been in and out of imprisonment, and has no disciples following him at the current point in the story, and this is kind of a problem if they wish to accurately portray the real issues he and Jesus had in the Gospel. When his disciples came to ask Jeuss if he was the one o ne, or if they looked for another.
Jesus responded them “Tell John, the blind see, the deaf hear,”
I wonder if John really doubted, or if his disciples did and he sent them to Jesus just to see what he’d tell them. Haven’t we all set up people to get a verbal set down at least once? No? Just me?
Even if John doubted, it was while he was in prison. Not before. this time line has become very confusing.
Also, I’m not sure that esus even met Mary MAdalgene befor ehe called teh 12. But, that’s not something we can verifiy, so I’d let that one slide.
The real issue is being in seaons 2 and not having all 12 dispcile stoghet yet. A lot of JEsu misntiry hasn’t evens tarted yet, because most o fi tihappend after he had the 12, and alarge other amoung of folower.
He sents out 70, if I reember right, to prepare the way for him. He hasn’t collected even half that maount now. And taht wasn’t that far into his 3 year misntiry.
they could decide to removed this, but since this is a very detailed vesrionf of the story, it would be odd to do so. Most depictiosn of JEsus only focus on his miracle, or hhis death. They odn’t try to vocer all the in bewteeen.
And there’s a godo reaosn for that.
The disciples themselves who wrote of his deeds said if they included all of them, the world couldn’t hold the books.
IT’s ahrd to picurre just how cosntnat jesus works must have been, for them tos ay that.
So, sadly, any depiction of him as he lived his dilay life, is never going to be able to fit in all that he did.
The problem this presents us is that, it is impossible for it to be true to Jesus’s experiences under such limitations.
But I think that the show maybe be making the problem even worse by spending so much time on Jesus doing very little.
Case in point: Episdoe 5
This episode annoyed me, not because of them partying a did so Jesus that I don’t believe in, but because they portrayed a side of him that wouldn’t have existed unless they wrote it in.
When John and Jesus are talking about his ministry, John asks Jesus why he isn’t doing more, why he doesn’t call out the sins of the people more, the corruption at high levels.
And Jesus seems to ba little heistiant about answering, and cautioning John not to call out Herod’s sin.
I’m sorry, Jesus? Our Jesus? The Jesus that preached against sin constantly? That Jesus? Is telling John not to do this?
Is Jesus confused?
I know that I would get called uptight for complaining about it. Because “oh Jesus was human, they’re just showing him and John as human.”
I guess “human” now means uncertain of what to do in life. But that’s not what it used to mean.
What gulls me about this is that there is no biblical foundation for that scene whatsoever. And, the circumstances prompting it, John’s questions, would not exist, has Jesus been doing as he actually did in scripture.
Jesus called out the sins of the pharisee very early on in his ministry (something I cannot even see their version of him doing so far). He called out the secret sins of the heart in one of his first recorded sermons, the sermon on the mount, Matthew 5-7.
What puzzles me is that the writer have knowingly rearranged what Jesus did, and now, are making excuses for it, with his character. As if John is being used to lampshade their own show by asking what the audience might be asking, like “uh, why are we not getting more than one miracle per episode, save for the one with Mary.”
A good question. Jesus did miracles constantly, and he’s barely done any, yet most of his disciples are gathered..?
Yeah, if I were John the Baptist, and had read the Gospel, I’d be wondering what was going on with this version of Jesus too.
See, it’s actually bad writing to create problems, and then use characters to argue over those came problems, in an adaptation, because it would not have been there had you stayed true to the source materials. If you have to change the characters and actions so much to create conflict, you are doing something the author never did, and people don’t always read the source material, and will blame you for doing it.
Like those awful changes they made in the Narnia movies that made no dang sense…
I have another problem with John questioning Jesus at all and actually telling him what to do.
John, the same John who says “whose sandels I am not worthy to untie?” Is going to tell Jesus he’s dong it wrong.
John is the one who said “The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
I won’t say John never had doubts or questions, but it’s one thing to wonder, it’s another to go so far as to reprove Jesus. The one John believed was the son of God before anyone else did, even. An often overlooked fact.
Who said “He must increase, I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
Oh, and yet another problem here.
By the time John got arrested by Herod, Jesus already had a huge minority. We know this because he had began baptizing people, (his disciples had, John 4:2 ), and some of John’s were going over to Jesus. John said this was how it should be. That is was the natural order of things, basically.
Jesus had way more followers by that point. And John got arrested after that.
It would not have been when he still had less than 20. And hadn’t started doing a lot of miracles yet.
So between the timeline being messed up, and deviating from scripture, we have a serious problem.
Now John saying that isn’t going to make any sense, I doubt it will even happen, since he’s going to get killed by Herod (spoiler to no one who’s read the gospel.)
And that’s a key thing about ministry that will not get to be included in this show.
They changed John from the Bible.
And you may say that it’s not a big deal to change it. I’d counter that it’s too much change for a historical figure. A good example would be if someone made a movie about Martin Luther King Jr. and portrayed him as being racist against Mexicans, or mistreating other black people under him. It’s just not his character. Wouldn’t that get a real rise out of people?
But we can’t prove he wasn’t like that…
We can’t prove he was either.
And they changed Jesus, who never once doubted his own actions on record.
We attribute human weakness to Jesus because we know he was tempted like we are, but there is a reason He is not recorded at saying them.
Words have power. Jesus’s had more power than anyone.
Whatever he sometimes felt and thought, he would not have voiced doubt in God, until that moment on the cross when it was part of completing his desolation.
Once you speak doubt, it take a much former hold on you. Even a psychologist would tell you that.
And, as a writer, I also know that using doubt in a story can be complicated. I actually stay away from it unless it serves a specific purpose.
Call me crazy but doubt doesn’t make me relate to characters more, or like them. I want to be confident in what I’m doing. I hate doubt.
And I get annoyed when characters obsess over it. For crying out loud, if you’re that unsure, I’m not sure you’re the right person for the job. (No disrespect to Moses or Gideon, there’s exceptions, in God, but He does tells us not to doubt. God treats doubt as an evil He sometimes has to get around, but mostly will just not tolerate.)
I find other elements of the show weird, like their portrayal of demons. Anyone who’s actually witness deliverance ministry knows it’s nothing like what they are showing. How it would be for Jesus, I don’t know, but the whole “false name thing” has no scriptural foundation. Demons have names, but people possessed by them don’t change their names. It’s doubtful if they even remember them half the time.
Also, calling out someone’s true name is not how you free them from a demon. It can be part of healing and other forms of ministry, but only Jesus casts out demons, and only His name is able to overcome them, not ours.
The Bible says God “gave him the name is above every name” for a reason.
That’s not the biggest problem, it’s just weird.
But the biggest problem is what I already mentioned. Going too far from scriptures.
I was watching the live chat for the episode, and someone said “This is like historical fiction for the Gospel.”
Right. That’s exaclty right.
Actually, it’s more like fan fiction.
Historical fiction doesn’t change how real life people acted, usually. It is set around someone who didn’t actually live then, experience it. And while they may give real figures in history more personality, they don’t change their actions, because that’s not historical then.
Fan fictions, on the other hand, is where you change canon characters and how they act and what they feel and what their backstories are.
And now my question, a serous one, is: How is Historical Fan fiction about the Gospels actually helping us?”
I can’t be the only one who wonders what the point of this show is.
The first season diverged less from “canon” if you will, but season 2 is taking some big creative leaps.
I believe strongly in the potency of the Gospels, as being God inspired for accuracy and power, and many people have been changed by reading them.
I don’t believe nearly as much in the power of a “good example” to win souls.
We are called to be a “good example” of course, or we are hypocrites. And sometimes that’s the only witness we can have.
But the primary commission of christian is to preach, heal, and free people. Jesus told us to do that.
And so, telling an accurate account of him is very important if we’re going to go everywhere and preach about Him.
You see, I don’t need “one interpretation” of Jesus. I need Jesus. I need Him as he was, what he really said, because I believe He said it for a reason. I believe there’s power in his words that there is not in ordinary men.
Changing what He said, and how He said it, to me is a great affront to Jesus, because it is as if we think we can explain what He meant better than he can.
Paraphrase, sure. Use an analogy to help people, absolutely.
But base it off what he actually said.
And when you have Jesus portrayed by an actor, being in His time, in His place, then changing what he said is a very problematical. It’s wrong, sometimes.
I noted it when he healed the man who was lame for so many years too. he didn’t say the same things to Him.
I for one, don’t think Jesus needs to really explain what He’s going to do, He just does it. I think it takes away form the power of what He says if you add all these weird explanations He never gave on record of why He said it.
To Jesus, healing the man was a simple as telling him to get up and walk. He didn’t have to say “I’m what you need” because He was what He needed. You don’t have to tell someone that if it’s obvious.
It sounds like I’m nitpicking, and that’s because it’s very hard to convey what I mean. It’s something you almost have to know God already to know is true.
If you know Jesus, deeply, you know he is direct.
I make up reasons, I make up explanations, I make up a backstory for what He’s telling me, I may be right, I may be wrong.
But He just tells me. Jesus isn’t vague.
If I’ve learned one thing from reading Jesus and imitating Him when I write, it’s that, when He is vague, He is actually being the most direct. It is only vague because we don’t understand it.
If a scientist said to you E=MC squared, with no context, you might say “that was really vague and cryptic.”
But to the scientist, that make perfect sense. It’s actually a very exact answer to them. Because it’s an equation. This is not room for interpreting.
When Jesus called out sin, and told us what it meant to be right now, I don’t think He intends us to try to interpret it away.
Some things require context and research now that’s it’s been 2000 years, but it’s important to remember, when they were spoken, that was not the case. I suspect it was crystal clear to them.
When Jesus was vague was with Parables, and those are not really that vague, just hard to grasp in fullness.
I just wonder, if anyone watching The Chosen and truly walking away with a better understanding of Jesus.
You see, The Chosen, is taking Jesus, and putting a modern spin on him. Changing his words, using our church cliches that no one really understands.
And that might be okay as a paraphrase, but it’s not as a direct quote, if you catch my meaning.
And what good is watching a paraphrase? Paraphrase is useful only for a few moments to help you understand the original meaning better, if you go to a paraphrase as your source of truth, you lose something in the translation. If you’ve ever read a “no fear Shakespeare” paraphrase, you know what I mean (ugh.)
You see, someone who only watches the Chosen, as it is now, would be quite shocked with how Jesus is in the Bible.
He would seem cold by comparison. Cold and judgemental.
I believe you have to learn to read the Gospel and see Jesus for how He really was. Not turn him into what you think He should be like.
I think, honestly, the problem is the whole concept.
“Getting to now Jesus through the eyes of His followers.”
I mean, when has that ever worked?
It’s helpful to build each other up with our personal stories, and try to see each other in them, but, I have never truly been helped except by directly knowing Jesus himself.
You an’t “know Jesus” through the eyes of his followers, if anything, that’s what we have too much of now in the Wast. We watch movies, read books, and hear sermons about what Jesus is like, but don’t get to know Him ourselves.
A sermon is helpful, but it’s not the core of Christianity.
We’re taking one thing that is meant to be a supplement, or at most, a portion, of our diet, and we’re making it the full meal.
This is not the fault solely of the writers and directors of The Chosen, but its saddens me to see such a clear influence of that kind of culture in the show.
I’m sure mine will never be a popular opinion, but I don’t expect it to be.
Knowing Jesus, really, is not ever popular, is it?
I Initially was wary of this show because it was popular, because I felt any real depiction of Jesus cannot ever be widely popular, it would offend too many people to see Jesus as he really is. The world hates him, that’s in the bible.
Then it seemed to be okay.
But what bothered me was how little power I felt in it.
Emotional response is not the same as power.
A powerful scene can give you a new perspective after watching it.
Just crying, and getting angry is not power.
In fact that’s all we know how to do now, cry and rage and laugh at stuff.
Even needing a show like The Chosen to give us an emotional background for these people, is just a sign of how emotional deprived we are.
If reading the Gospel doesn’t invoke some feeling in you, and watching it portrayed how it actually was wouldn’t, then…. that seems like a you problem.
I think helping us understand what is in there between would be more beneficial than adding stuff to it.
I know , I know, they are not trying to replace the Bible.
But… just what do you think you’re going to do then?
Get a bunch of people to read the Gospels, realize Jesus is not like that, and get angry, or say “I like the Chosen version of Jesus better.”
What an affront to God if that happened.
It probably already has.
I hope it would not work out that way, but since he’s just so different, I can’t really believe it won’t.
And, one last thing…
Why do we need a show about Jesus’s follower anyway?
Are they what matter? Should they be the main characters.
It’s startling when you realize Jesus is actually a side character who’s barley in some episodes, and it very muted most of the time he is there.
Jesus? A side character?
What about “I must become less, and he must become great?”
I question if there is any power or truth in focusing on followers.
I don’t want people looking at my life and trying to understand Jesus through that. I can help them, but by direct them to Him, no to me. I’m not the answer.
The motivation of this writing decision would baffle me if I didn’t have an all too common explanation:
It resonates better with the audience.
Because, it’s easier to swallow than the truth would be.
And we’re used to the shallow and full spectrum of human weaknesses thanks to Hollywood.
I don’t think we need to be competing with that in Christian media.
I may have made the same mistakes in my writing, I can own up to that. But, I am avoiding portraying Jesus directly all that often. And I am not trying to put the gospel into a new suit.
I sue parallels, but that’s all they are. Like the Chronicles of Narnia. Parallels are powerful.
I looked it up, and I did find one person who seems to have noticed the same thing I did about the show, and had more time to research it:
“Quotes like “I came to know Jesus better through this show” and “I feel like I’ve been reading my Bible in black and white all these years and now it’s in color” have been circulating on social media by both the creators and fans of the show. The creator says he’s “trying to tell God’s stories in a fresh way” and “enhancing Scripture”. Those are all incredibly dangerous statements. Do you need something other than God’s Word to know Jesus? No. In fact, God’s Word is the only way we can know Jesus. Do we need anything to enhance God’s stories or tell them in a fresh way? Absolutely not. Only the Bible is the inspired Word of God and it needs no enhancing or modern re-telling by fallible men.
This is one of many examples of him stating that Mormonism, Catholicism, and Christianity simply have minor theological differences. He calls them “different perspectives” that are “exciting to explore, not dangerous”. He consults a Catholic priest, a Jewish rabbi, and an evangelical christian after writing each episode to make sure they are “biblically accurate”. You can find him saying many times that we all believe in or that we all love the same Jesus.
But do we? Both the church of LDS and Catholics believe in a combination of works and faith. Mormons believe that God attained His supreme status by righteous works and that Jesus is a created being and not equal to God. I could go into more details behind the errors of the Mormon and Catholic faiths and what makes them false religions, but I’ll save that for another day. However, the differences between the true Christian faith and the Mormon and Catholic faiths are essential, gospel issues and not simply theological differences we can brush over. And the bottom line is this: If Dallas Jenkins believes what he’s saying then he doesn’t understand the true Gospel. The Gospel that says there’s only one way. The Gospel that says we are forgiven on the merit of Christ alone and not of anything we can do. The one and only Gospel that is founded on the belief that Jesus is God incarnate.” Full article is linked here:
I think she summed it up pretty well too.
I do question the Show’s constant defensiveness about it not being “your bible.”
Like, no one said it was. But is it too much to ask we stick to the source?
As the Aesop’s fable goes, you cannot please everyone. If you try, you please no one.
But the show will have mass appeal, because it has values that appeal to the masses.
Jesus promoting women is biblical, and the article I linked has one thing wrong, Mary Magdalene and other women did travel with Jesus and supported him out of their own wealth. It was culturally inappropriate, but they did it.
But there is no record of the other things listed. The author is right about that.
I didn’t know about the connection to Mormonism and Judaism till now. But I can see it.
I was in a Co-op with Mormons for quite a while in my teenage years, and I can say, there is definitely a difference between Mormonism and Christianity. They claim to be Christians, but they don’t understand the idea of grace at all.
They also are not free thinkers, though they are very smart, educated people.
Being a free thinker is not perhaps a biblical requirement, but it helps you not be swayed by peer pressure.
I find the part where Dallas said he wants to “enhance” scripture to be the most disturbing, to be honest.
Like this lady says, we’ll all have to decide for ourselves, I would caution any Christian who is watching it to fact check it by the Bible at the very least, and take what it is for what it’s wroth, but not as fact.
Also, I think the show villainizing any Christians who complain about the biblical inaccuracy by saying that’s not their intention, are missing the point.
Because, bro, if you don’t want to represent my Bible, of my Faith, accurately, then, stop claiming to be of my Faith. I don’t need you to speak for me, thanks.
Don’t see why that’s so hard to understand.
All right, I think that’ll do for this post, until next time, stay honest–Natasha.