Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Two years after their successful run with the BIBLE series on the History Cable Channel, that stunned the secular world, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey have done something spectacular which no ministry or Christian leader can ever do. They have managed to get the Pure and Mighty Name of Jesus, the Magnificent Son of God ON PRIME TIME! Not just that, but AD The Series is on the National Broadcasting Corporation, NBC. Whether this is a great marketing move for NBC, (which it is), the main thing is this - Jesus Christ and the Gospel is going around the world, over the air - unfiltered!

To be sure, there are obvious errors in moving the text (the Bible) to modern American TV or Movie production. There will always be poetic licence, liberty and outright alteration of the Word of God whenever man tries to bring such powerful truths to the TV and silver screens of the world. With a mostly successful run on NBC with their series, Burnett and Downey may be hard-pressed to match the success of both "The Bible" and "AD The Series...the Bible Continues".

As a student of the Bible, author and observer of the culture, there are certain pros and cons to this particular body of work, which are worth noting, to anyone who may consider watching the series from a website or Netflix. 


As aforementioned, the message of Jesus Christ as the unmistakeable Son of God, Savior and Lord, Who rose from the dead, is still stunning to me - on prime time, on mainstream network TV. That alone is priceless!

The second positive development is this time, Burnett and Downey stayed closer to Scripture and the facts than some of their creative “paraphrasing” in their “Bible Series” from two years ago. That History Channel Series which launched AD was roundly criticized by conservative and Reformed scholars, of which I am actually one. However because I saw the value of The Bible Series, I was called a heretic and unsaved pagan, almost, by a well-known “discernment blogger” (whose name shall not grace my page here) because I supported the showing of The Bible Series! This man, who is like most critics and discernment bloggers have almost no love for the lost and hurting in this world, was proven wrong the very next day. I told him that even if there were textual errors in all those hours of telling the Bible from Genesis to the Resurrection, we can use that show to create conversation at the work place, school or anywhere and correct the record ourselves. Sure enough, that occurred to me more than once! I was able to discuss the coming of Cyrus in the Book of Daniel with a person was not that familiar with Scripture. After seeing the portrayal of Cyrus in original Bible Series, it triggered occasion for discussion of what really happened and who Cyrus the first was! AD the Series is still causing conversation with the person who is also bringing others along. So to those self-righteous hyper-Calvinists out there, go get right with God and repent!
Jesus appears to Saul on Road to Damascus in AD The Series
Which brings us to the third positive aspect of the showing of AD the Series. It gave a glimpse of how tough the early church really had it. With Christians by the millions being displaced, chased out of the 2000 year old homes; murdered; beheaded and worse, it is confirmation that nothing has really changed for those who will inherit eternal life. The brutality of the Romans and the Jewish religious authorities against the followers of the Way, was phenomenal. The viciousness especially of the Romans continued for over 300 years until Constantine ended in, upon his alleged conversion. 

Apart from the positives of the Gospel of Jesus, Jesus Himself and the Early Church being the topics of high profile portrayals, there is one consequence of AD the Series. It does not matter if It was intended or not, but AD The Series should do away with this anti-semitic notion that it was the Jews alone who killed Jesus. Anyone who have seen historical documentaries or read books about the Roman Empire could testify to extreme nature of their viciousness, which extrapolated itself into a 300 year reign of terror in Rome, against our brothers and sisters in Christ. It was only the supposed conversion of Emperor Constantine which ended that persecution. The Jewish religious authorities did convince the Roman Pontius Pilate to execute the Jewish Messiah Jesus, and then persecuted and killed some of his early Jewish followers. But in reality, it was the Sin of All Mankind, for all time, which led the Son of God to the die on the Cross. So AD went a long way here. It inadvertently did a service in the cause against Antisemitism!

There are some serious issues with this beautiful production. Just like the first The Bible Series (2013), the producers took severe liberties with the Text. While this may be okay with books written by mere mortal men,  errors of omission and commission of the Inerrant Word of God are serious matters. Some of the errors in the program are historical and seem to explain the producers obsession with the Roman administration in Judea/Jerusalem. More than two thirds in the way into the twelve part series, inaccurate Roman shenanigans still take up almost half of the story which is supposed to be about the early church.

The corrupt and perverted immature Roman Caligula was not even in Jerusalem in real life at this time. It does appear that the conniving and sleazy lifestyle of these pagans make better television, which would be fine if totally accurate. Burnett and Downey are almost similar to Bill O'Reilly, whose "Killing Jesus" spent such an inordinate amount of time on the sick sex lives of Roman leadership that it almost turned me off from reading the rest of the Book. As well meaning as these folks were, it was hard to take the multi-media out of them to focus on what the earliest days of the Christian church were really.

While it is impossible to get everything that happened in the Book of Acts Chapters 1-11, on which this current series were based, there is a frustrating lack of context and in a couple instances - serious flaws. The Disciples who were in-dwelled by the Holy Spirit on Pentecost in Acts 2, were not cowards after this life-changing event. Yet, too many times, they appear to be cowering and sad men who were the opposite of the Actual 12 men who changed the world! They were also not troubled souls but bold men who willingly gave their lives for the Master.

The introduction of the Apostle Paul, as the Christian-hating Saul was accurate except for the tall actor they chose to play Saul/Paul. Again, the well-meaning producers sought aggressively to have a diverse cast, but in spite of the selected actors' great job with their lines etc.

One can go on nitpicking at this detail or that, but there is a better road to travel here. The best way for the Christian or those interested in what the Bible is about, is to take this body of work as a whole and view it as such. 

Next, this should be viewed and then taken back to the Word of God to read what the Books of Acts said about the main characters: Peter, Stephen, Philip and Saul/Paul, Barnabas. 
Third, a good commentary, preferably by Warren Wiersbe will help in understanding both the real historical background AND the application of what you and I just read about the Book of Acts. 
Finally - tell somebody else about it. Tell someone who does not know Christ as Lord and Savior or doesn't even know that a person must have a real authentic relationship with the Son of God, in order to get into Heaven!

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