There are a great many tools out there today to use for evangelism. The best tool in your toolkit is your testimony. Other tools are available as well.
There’s an online streaming series called “The Chosen” currently available. It’s an ongoing series on the life of Jesus, and his last three years of His life. It’s loosely based on scripture, but holds true to it.
The show does take some license and liberties with backstories not found in scripture using historical documents and the ways and customs of the time, but when it comes to the teachings of Christ, it holds very close to scripture.
The other day, I was challenged in an online forum as to my support – first on the “fact that it is idol worship” and the writer proceeds to give a litany of scripture references to carved idols and those made out of silver and gold, as well how it doesn’t hold true to scripture.
Then another came at me with that it was backed by the Mormon church, and that the second season was shot on a Mormon owned film studio lot.
The second point caused me to take a pause and do some research, because if it was true, that the Mormon church was indeed backing and influencing the series in any way, I would pull my support without any hesitation. Mormon doctrine flies in the face of fundamental and evangelical Christianity.
Turns out, that the distribution company, VidAngel, is owned by the Mormon Church, and the studio lot is located in Utah, which makes it entirely possible for Mormon Church involvement.
The question that needs to be asked is whether the Mormon Church has any involvement in script development or doctrinal issues. Based on the content of both seasons one and two, the answer is no. We will be watching future seasons for content that differs from scripture.
In addition, neither creator Dallas Jenkins, nor does his production company, have any relationship with the Mormon Church. That’s a good sign.
While it’s true that people of all denominations, and even no faith at all, work on this project, it’s not taking away from the message of the project.
The actor Jonathan Roumie, who portrays Jesus, for example, was raised Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic. He’s still a practicing Roman Catholic, but his testimony is more Protestant in that he’s totally surrendered to Christ. He’s had circumstances in his life that required such surrender, he had nowhere to look but up. I truly believe that he’s saved.
And you never know, those who have no faith working on the project, are having seeds planted by the producers, directors and actors, which may indeed produce fruit. This is a good thing. We were all unsaved once in our lives, and something touched us, and this could happen here.
As I’ve said in the past, there are people who may have gone to church their entire lives, but aren’t yet saved. They may surprise people be raising their hand at an altar call. There may be those who come to the church a few weeks, and respond to an altar call. The Holy Spirit can work in ways that are totally foreign to we mere mortals. Our ways are not His ways, right?
Now, to that first accusation, that the actor portraying Jesus was akin to idol worship, or portraying themselves as God to be worshipped, or teaching falsely.
There was scripture given to back up their claim. Let’s look at these scriptures.
Jeremiah 10:8, “But they are altogether dull-hearted and foolish; A wooden idol is a worthless doctrine.”
This verse, in itself says that a wooden idol is worthless. The character is a living depiction of Jesus, not demanding worship. Idols are worshipped – a very big difference.
Habakkuk 2:18-19, “What profit is the image, that its maker should carve it, The molded image, a teacher of lies, That the maker of its mold should trust in it, To make mute idols? Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Awake!’ To silent stone, ‘Arise! It shall teach!’ Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, Yet in it there is no breath at all.”
Again, mounded images, inanimate objects. What’s coming out of the actors mouth is accurate scripture, not false teaching – so this scripture is not valid.
Romans 10:14-17, How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Now, we’re getting away from idol worship, and getting into false teaching and that only the Word of God is to be used for evangelism. As for the false teaching, there is no evidence of false teaching in The Chosen, and evangelism, although the use of the Bible must be used, God uses other tools through people. Testimonies, circumstances and teaching by other means are routinely used, and if used correctly, these can be used to lead others to Christ. The Chosen does this, and does it well.
2 Peter 1:19, And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;
Why this verse was given is a mystery. It’s part of the final words of Simon Peter to show the light and love of Christ in a dark world. The Chosen does exactly this.
In an overly secular world, many people view Christ as unapproachable, distant and cold. The Chosen shatters this view, showing Christ as approachable, warm and caring.
And finally, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Scripture is used throughout The Chosen. It may not be the King James Version, which I suspect these people use and subscribe to exclusively.
There are fundamentalist churches that refer to themselves as “Baptist Churches,” and use the King James Version only. Check the sign, if you see “KJV 1611” in the corner, it’s one of these churches. Walk in with an ESV or a NKJV, you’re “using the wrong Bible”.
I know people who prefer the King James, my better half is one of them. I prefer the NKJV and the ESV. She doesn’t think any less of me because of it. In these churches however, I may be seen as heretical.
The Chosen uses scripture in a conversational mode and as such, there’s no thee and thou in the dialogue. In my view, and the view of other pastors, this is still scripture, even though it doesn’t comport to the King James.
“Scripture” in these verses, to these folks, means King James scripture. This is rejected. Most pastors don’t preach in old English. A pastor may read from the King James, but he doesn’t use old English in his sermon text.
I certainly don’t know of any.
The actor, Jonathan Roumie, portraying Jesus is a very humble man and isn’t demanding worship from viewers. If any viewers are indeed giving the actors worship, this isn’t the fault of the actors.
If Jonathan Roumie is considered an idol by these people, then so is Charlton Heston as Moses in the Ten Commandments and every actor who portraying Jesus in film or television are also idols. I can’t accept this.
I consider The Chosen a valuable evangelistic tool, and until I see, or it can be shown to me, that this series has become heretical and teaches falsely, I will continue to use it.
In closing, here is the #Heb10 (Hebrews 10) Church statement on this issue:
The show itself is loosely based on scripture, and yes, there are concerns. What led me to this posting was someone telling me that the show and it’s backers and creators were Mormon. As a pastor, I found that very troubling and would be a deal breaker for me considering Mormon theology.
After extensive study on the subject, I’ve concluded that the show itself must be judged based on whether:
– that there’s any blasphemous content … as of yet, I’ve found none.
– that there’s been undue interference by the producers, writers, directors or other staff to influence content … as of yet, I’ve found none. Having worked the the radio and television industry in my prior life before ministry, I can spot interference of this nature.
– if the content agrees or departs from scripture. Thus far, although license is taken in surrounding plots, scriptural themes are kept.
– whether this can be used as a tool for evangelism. It can. Many unchurched people have a vision of Christ that He’s untouchable and unapproachable. This is totally contrary to scripture, and the show portrays a very approachable Jesus. This is important when evangelizing and trying to plant the seeds of someone confessing their sins and believing in Jesus as their savior.
My job as shepherd an evangelist and pastor is made easier by tools such as this, so long as it comports with scripture. If at any time, I see it departing from it, or becoming blasphemous, I will pull my support for it. As for now, I do support it and will use it as a tool in my evangelism toolkit, with the usual caveats included in this post.