I Don’t Have Faith in the Son of God

Do you remember the miniseries, The Bible, that was broadcast in March of 2013? Spanning from the book of Genesis to Revelation, producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett sought to expose audiences to the true meaning of the Bible (the book). And though it received praise from people everywhere, it really failed to convey the true meaning of the Scriptures. Now I know I am more than likely coming off as just another irritating Internet voice claiming to know the truth. After all, the Bible miniseries was made with the help of, as Roma and Mark put it, “a wide range of pastors and academics” – Rick Warren, Joel Osteen,  & Craig Groeschel to name a few.

Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, the Bible depicted the Biblical characters as purpose driven leaders. That is, they were depicted as men who received a “vision” from God and had to face the difficulties of that calling. It was the typical, “Here are the heroes of the Bible, be like them in this instance and don’t be like them in that instance.” The reason I say this isn’t surprising is because that is the teaching that swims among American churches today – God has a purpose for your life. Figure out His purpose for you, live it out in the face of adversity. In other words, the Bible is a strategy guide for how you ought to live. The goal for all of this, of course, was “world change”. And this was explicitly stated along with tons of textual liberty, and sloppy lines like, “They tried to kill Jesus, but they failed.” The meaning of His death and resurrection was also nowhere to be found, although He came back from the dead and expected them to spread the word. The word of what? That someone simply came back from the dead? It was ultimately your typical television Bible disaster.

But the focus of the Bible (the book) is not us. I know everyone says that. I don’t think that Roma and Mark would disagree with the idea that Jesus is the point of the Bible (the book). Neither would any other purpose driven pastor. But the Bible (the book) still gets taught as though it was all about us and our lives. After Jesus’ resurrection, there were two men on a road to Emmaus who were downtrodden because of Christ’s death. You can read about it in Luke 24:13-35. Jesus appeared to them on the road and walked with them. They didn’t know it was Him because it was prevented from them to know. They tell Him they are upset because they thought He was the Messiah. Jesus’ response to them exposes to us how the Scriptures are to be understood. Jesus shows them that the gospel is all over the Old Testament Scriptures:

25 And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

Luke 24:25-27

With that in mind, should we be hopeful about Son of God, the movie coming out on February 28, 2014? It was also produced by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett. Though the trailer mentions “forgiveness of sins” it again has Jesus telling Peter that He wants Peter to come with Him in order to “change the world.” What’s more is the above video featuring Paula White. The video was put out by the Son of God YouTube page. It’s official. And it officially takes liberty with the text. Here’s the real story from Matthew that includes Peter walking on water:

22 Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the crowds away. 23 After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. 24 But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary.25 And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. 26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

      28 Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind stopped.33 And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”

Matthew 14:22-33

In the Son of God movie, they are freaking out because of the storm, and Peter has to remind everyone that Jesus told them to get in the boat and go. They see Jesus on the water and start freaking out. Thomas yells, “It’s a ghost!” He is quickly corrected and told, “No, Thomas! It’s Jesus.” Maybe they are trying to make Thomas look like a skeptic throughout the film. I don’t know. But then what happens? Jesus starts calling out directly to Peter. Peter falls into some sort of trance and walks to the water, takes two steps and falls in. He then wakes up in the boat. Not exactly what happened.

But what is the message that Paula White and the producers want us to walk away with? If you keep your eyes on Jesus you can do anything. So keep your eyes on Jesus. As Jesus put it in the trailer, “You need to be strong.” You can do the impossible. You can defy the odds. You can step out on faith. And YOU can turn that which is against you for you, “even in the midst of the storms of life.” You. You. You. You. You. You.  So there it is. Just keep your eyes on Jesus. Easier said than done.

Peter did have little faith. We all do. We all don’t keep our eyes on Jesus. The “storms of life” so easily take our eyes off of Jesus. We would all fall in the water. The focus of this passage isn’t our need to focus more or trust more or have larger faith. It’s that when we sink, and we always will, there is an arm that will always grasp ours and pluck us from danger. Even in our constant idolatry, looking everywhere but to Christ, He is there to pluck us from it. It’s the voice that tells us not to be afraid. But we still are. It’s the voice that assures us, and we so often need even more assurance. If you want to know the point of this story, look at the last words of it – the conclusion that the disciples came to, “And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!”

I still plan on watching this movie, and even providing a review of it here. Needless to say, though, I don’t have much faith in the Son of God.

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4 thoughts on “I Don’t Have Faith in the Son of God”

  1. Excellent analysis! I enjoyed reading this. You really got me thinking.

    “The focus of this passage isn’t our need to focus more or trust more or have larger faith. It’s that when we sink, and we always will, there is an arm that will always grasp ours and pluck us from danger. Even in our constant idolatry, looking everywhere but to Christ, He is there to pluck us from it. It’s the voice that tells us not to be afraid. But we still are. It’s the voice that assures us, and we so often need even more assurance.” – Amen!

    God’s Spirit working through his written Word is the thing. An actual historical miracle being reenacted via Disney magic always gives me an unsettled spirit. Hollywood seems really good at making fiction look real and reality look fictitious and I doubt it’s accidental. I’ll be interested to see how they handle the miracles. Narratives presented visually also distance the audience and place them in a passive role, that of a spectator.

    I fear these sort theatrical presentations knowingly substitute sensation for inspiration, and have an effect of suppression in the long run. They do more to build faith in viewership, sort of like throwing your dog an artificial bone.

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    1. Thank you for the encouragement 🙂 These movies usually make me squeamish too. They take too many liberties with the text. It’s difficult for a Biblical movie to convey the truth even when quoting Scriptures verbatim, because the way they ought to be interpreted is usually the point of the movie. But God speaks through His word, and hopefully, if they quote Scripture it will still cut through. We can only hope!

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