Those of you who are not believers: Please try to “walk a mile in other’s moccasins,” if you will.
If the History Channel does a series on the Bible and you consider it a series on fables; very well, you’re entitled to your opinion. But our opinion of that series had nothing to do with whether we thought it to be about historical events or fictional ones, in-and-of-itself.
Rather, SINCE we thought it to be about historical events, we naturally hoped for a reasonable amount of accuracy—especially coming from “The History Channel.” And with the Bible series, we were moderately pleased. While inconsistent, it was mostly accurate to what existing documents say about the events. When it added details, it was mostly to flesh out the events without contradicting the existing documents. On occasion it changed details, and then, we weren’t pleased about that. But taking one thing with another, it wasn’t awful, and was sometimes decently good.
Now, THIS proposed series is an entirely different kettle of fish, isn’t it? Imagine, if you will, how the NAACP or the Congressional Black Caucus would react to a series on Martin Luther King, Jr. as an incestuous father, or working to sew sheets into hoods for the Klan? How would you expect folk from India to react to a series on Mahatma Ghandi’s years as a teenage entrepreneur making a killing in the meat-packing industry? How about atheists’ reaction to a series depicting the afterlife of Christopher Hitchens In Purgatory, in which he becomes convinced of the existence and goodness of God in episode one, finds out he has to atone for sins in episode two, and finds out his penance is to spend a thousand years as obsequious manservant to Mother Teresa while writing a travelogue of the afterlife, Dante-style? I wouldn’t pay to watch that one…but I might pay to watch atheist bloggers’ reactions.
Now, you might say, “Hey, MLK stitching for the Klan is an obvious slap; but Jesus driving out demons sounds entirely on-par with His later identity, so what’s the big sacrilege?”
Ah, but “driving out demons” could be played oh-so-many ways, couldn’t it? Only one way is right; all the others constitute getting it badly wrong. You could have Jesus exorcising demons in all kinds of fantastic ways, and yet still miss the whole point. And Christians have little reason to be confident this set of filmmakers would get it right, and lots of reason to suspect they’d screw it up, and yet say, “What’s the big deal?”
Perhaps a better example is “MLK as a Black Leader” ...which, on watching the series, turns out to be “MLK declaring that black people are superior to all other races and calling them to a non-violent racial separatism to preserve the blood-purity of black peoples.” The whole black community would say, “Hey, that’s totally wrong!” ...and the filmmakers would say, “What, wasn’t he a black leader? What difference does it make exactly what his message was? Why are you getting upset over trivial little details?”
That is the concern. Someone who doesn’t care overmuch is likely to be cavalier about really fantastically important details. And there is such ignorance about Jesus and the meaning of His identity and ministry that one cannot trust a filmmaker who isn’t personally invested in Jesus to discern what is important from what is not. Concern is warranted.