Friday, March 8, 2013

Two Creation Ministries Endorse The Bible Miniseries

Posted by Christine Pack

I love Young Earth Creation ministries, absolutely love them. Talk about a hard road for a Christian to walk, that is by far one of the hardest in this day and age. And I should know, because as a non-believer I was one of the most strident and most outspoken evolutionary thinkers around. In fact, I used to take particular delight in mocking and ridiculing Christians, especially Young Earth Christians. Christians were bad enough, but Young Earth Christians? Christians who rejected all the scientific evidence (or so I had been taught) that destroyed their young earth timeframe? Oh my, just turn me loose. I was ready to let fly with "carbon dating" at a moment's notice. So imagine my dismay, then, to find myself one day.......saved. A new creation in Christ. Born again. I was, in so many ways, like an actual baby. I would crave the Bible the way a newborn baby craves milk. And as I was reading and reading and reading through the Bible, the Holy Spirit began to do the work of dismantling my old, worldly ideas. The old man was gone, I was being rebuilt. I sometimes joke that this was a period in which God was breaking me down like a Marine sergeant, only to be building me back up in truth. I had so many wrong ideas about life, about the world, about myself, about marriage, about relationships, and, well, about everything. Except for one thing: I was pretty sure that science had proved evolution. I say "pretty sure" and not "convinced" because during that breaking down/building up period, I was truly no longer convinced that I had ever gotten anything right in my life, prior to salvation.

Enter the Young Earth Creation ministries. Yes, I did come around on the young earth/evolution issue, which just goes to show that perhaps God has a sense of humor. The mocker was now the mocked, and trust me, the irony of this is not lost on me. There are two young earth ministries, in particular, with which I have become very familiar: Answers in Genesis (AIG) and Creation Ministries International (CMI). These ministries are filled with scientists who have studied the evidences for and against young earth within their particular fields of expertise - archaeology, biology, chemistry, astronomy, physics, etc. - and have come away with the conviction that young earth is the most plausible explanation for the state of the earth today. It's been very exciting to me to have access to great articles, books and DVDs on the subject of young earth. No longer does the Christian have to just smile feebly and plead "Just have faith in Jesus!" when the secular Darwinian humanist mocks him with "scientific" data; we now have data of our own, and believe me, there are no village idiots at either of the Creationism ministries linked above.

As far as Creation Ministries International goes, I have listened to many of their testimonies, including testimonies by Dr. Carl Weiland, Dr. Jonathan Sarfati, and Dr. David Catchpoole. In fact, I have burned Dr. Catchpoole's testimony to CD for the purpose of handing it out to evolutionary atheists and skeptics. I have also handed out In Six Days, a young earth apologetics book which Dr. Sarfati contributed to. And, one of my all time favorite books is Gary Bates' Alien Intrusion. And Answers in Genesis? Our family has been to countless AIG seminars, including hosting one with Paul Taylor (AIG-UK) at our own church. We also have hundreds of dollars worth of AIG resources, and I've  purchased and given away many, many, many AIG items as witnessing materials. We've visited the Creation Museum three times since it opened in 2007, and I also regularly point the readers of our blog here to Answers in Genesis as a valuable resource. I'm saying all this to demonstrate how well I know these ministries, and that I truly do value them and their contribution to Christianity.

So I was surprised when I found out that both Answers in Genesis and Creation Ministries International recently endorsed the Bible miniseries now playing on the History Channel. (As an aside, if I had to hazard a guess as to why I think these ministries have written favorably about this series, I would say that it is probably because the series does show Adam and Eve as historical figures, and does depict a global flood, issues which are of utmost importance, obviously, to young earth ministries because these ideas are so profoundly under attack in today's secular culture. But more about that later.) You can read the Answers in Genesis article here, and the Creation Ministries International article here.

We recently wrote about our concern over this miniseries, given that the Board of Advisors for the miniseries includes seeker sensitive pastor Rick Warren, and Prosperity Gospel preachers Joel Osteen and T.D. Jakes. (You can review the Board of Advisors for the Bible miniseries here.) The miniseries was also produced by a devout Roman Catholic, former Touched By An Angel star Roma Downey, who, while a talented actress, has some very problematic theological views, at best.

Also, after viewing the first episode of the Bible miniseries myself, I am truly surprised that such highly respected ministries as AIG and CMI would endorse such a series. The problems are numerous, including many extrabiblical details that take far more than creative license in the telling of certain stories, including angels in Sodom who were attacked by the crowd and had to run to Lot's house, screaming for help, but who then went all Ninja warrior and threw down some moves on the Sodomites so Lot's family could escape. That's from Genesis, Chapter......nah, just kidding, that's not in the Bible.

Or how about the depiction of Abraham taking Isaac up the mountain to sacrifice him? This one was far more troubling to me, in that it was bad/bordering on blasphemous in its depiction of God. On a personal note, the biblical account of Abraham and Isaac is one of my favorite passages in the Bible, but it must be properly taught and understood. I learned this story as a young girl in a theologically liberal church that did not give any context or any explanation of this as a one-time event meant to point us to Christ, our ultimate sacrifice, and to show that even though God stayed the hand of Abraham over his son, his only son, whom he loved, that when it came time for God's hand to fall upon his own Son, his only Son, whom he loved, God did not stay his own hand. BUT, out of great mercy and love for mankind, God let his hand fall upon his Son so that his wrath could be appeased and atonement could be made for undeserving sinners. Understood in its proper context and its place in redemptive history, that story of Abraham and Isaac is almost unbearably sweet to the saved sinner who looks upon it and marvels at God's great love. But without such context or an understanding of the redemptive theme of the entire Bible, in which the historical account of Abraham and Isaac is meant to point us to the future, greater Sacrifice yet to come, that story just seems cruel, and God comes off as arbitrary, capricious and easily angered. In fact, the story of Abraham/Isaac that I learned as a young girl in a liberal church, in the disjointed way that I learned it, separated from its place in redemptive hisstory, was a story that stayed with me and troubled me for years. I can also definitively point to that particular story, as one of the reasons I ultimately walked away from the church in my late teens. Who would choose to worship a God who would tell a father to murder his own son? Who could love a God like that? And yet, the Bible miniseries also depicts the story of Abraham/Isaac in the same way: disjointed, a bit arbitrary, and without any teaching about this event as a part of redemptive history.

To sum it up, what the Bible miniseries got so wrong (skimming over the redemptive theme of the Bible), is exactly what Answers In Genesis, in my opinion, has always gotten so right. Ken Ham in particular has been consistently faithful to show why getting Genesis right matters, and not just in the details, but in the overall message of the Bible. Simply put, AIG has been a light in the darkness regarding this issue. Is this not true? In the "7 C's of History" section of the Creation Museum created by Ken Ham and AIG, there is a cohesive theme, and that theme is the unfolding redemption through Christ. For those who have been to the Creation Museum, think about the way the sacrificial system is presented in the museum walk-through, as well as the types and shadows of the first animal slain to cover the sin of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Isaac, the Passover, etc., all meant to point to Christ, our final and greatest Sacrificial Lamb, all meant to point us toward the ultimate message of the Bible: that God has made a way for sinful man to be reconciled to a high and holy God.  I mean come on, that's brilliant stuff, glorious stuff. But this Bible miniseries does not make that just strings disconnected stories together in a disjointed way. Big problem.

So, can a case be made that the "God" of the Bible miniseries is an accurate portrayal of the God of the Bible? I contend that no, such a case cannot be made. The "God" presented in the Bible miniseries is NOT the God of the Bible: in the Bible miniseries, "God" is arbitrary, capricious and easily angered. But in reality......

God is NOT arbitrary.......from the very first pages of the Bible, He is beginning to lay out, through glorious types and shadows, the redemptive theme of the Bible and his plan to reconcile wicked sinners to himself.

God is NOT capricious......He is very long-suffering, attested to numerous times in Scripture (Exodus 34:6, Numbers 14:18, Psalm 103:8, Psalm 145:8, Romans 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9).

God is NOT easily angered......He was clear about his instructions to Adam and Eve, and his anger was righteous and just.

With this Bible miniseries, I have been feeling like I was reliving The Shack controversy all over again. During all The Shack hoopla, we had people mad at us, furious, for daring to challenge the portrayal of God in The Shack. The argument was that, well, hey, maybe it's not totally accurate, but at least people are interested in God because of it! (and never mind that the "God" of The Shack was presented heretically, with the Trinity being tossed out, and a sly form of Universalism undergirding the story). With the Bible miniseries, we're hearing much the same argument. Many Christians are stating that the Bible miniseries will spur lost people to be interested in the Bible. Christians are telling me, Stop being so nitpicky over doctrine! At least this will get people interested in the Bible! But how can that be true? I contend that (as in The Shack, as in the Bible miniseries) a wrong portrayal of God and his character and nature won't make lost people want to know God more; it will only serve to make them more confused and unclear about who God really is. If that's not clear enough, let me put it this way: if someone came to me and described a man who was violent, verbally abusive and addicted to pornography, and THEN told me they were describing my husband, I would be furious! That is not an accurate description of my husband at all. So it really does matter that we are honest in what we say about others, doesn't it? And beyond that, shouldn't we be striving to be the most honest, the most accurate of all when attempting to depict God? Well, the "God" in the Bible miniseries is NOT the God of the Bible. Nope.

Now please understand me: I am not saying categorically that there is not any way EVER that God couldn't somehow use this series to reach someone. God can and does use imperfect means to accomplish some of his purposes (after all, He uses us to carry the gospel forth, right?). For instance, if someone came to me and said, you know, I watched that series, and came under conviction, and I'd like to talk about it with you because I know you are a Christian, I wouldn't say, well, you can't really be under conviction because that series is blasphemous! No, I would go through the gospel, and it could be that, by God's grace, that person truly becomes a born again believer, which only proves that God is merciful to use very imperfect means, at times. My main point, however, is that I don't think this series, because of its profound theological weaknesses, should be purposefully and intentionally used as a tool to reach the lost, while at the same time recognizing that God, in his infinite mercy, might even use something as doctrinally and theologically weak as this to reach someone. But I personally could never recommend this series as an evangelism tool, it's just simply too problematic.

These are not minor quibbles. As noted above, AIG has always done a tremendous job at showing the redemptive theme that runs through the the question is: when they screened this series, why didn't they "get" that the Bible miniseries so profoundly fails to portray this redemptive theme in a coherent manner? But apparently, somehow they missed this. And as much as I appreciate these valuable Young Earth ministries, perhaps I should point out that the issue of Young Earth Creation (including a literal Adam and Eve and a literal global flood sent as a judgment on wickedness), although important, is not the only issue we need to be contending for today. Doctrine is important, doctrine really does matter, and just as it has been important for born again believers to reclaim and hold the line on truth regarding the biblical account of creation, it is also important for us to hold the line on how God's character and nature, as well as his overarching plan for the redemption of sinners, are portrayed. And in this, the Bible miniseries is an epic Fail.

 Additional Resources 

The Bible on the History Channel: A Review (Answers in Genesis article)

The Bible.....On the History Channel? (Creation Ministries International article)

History Channel’s ‘The Bible’ Exalts Man Over God

Theological Errors of the History Channel's Bible Miniseries, Part 1 (Pirate Christian Radio)

Rick Warren Lays Out The Theology of The History Channel Miniseries, The Bible (Pirate Christian Radio)

Wretched's Review (Todd Friel)

Joel Osteen a Consultant on Bible Miniseries

Roma Downey on Being Catholic

The History Channel’s Bible Miniseries Mishandling of God’s Word (Mike Ratliff)

Touched By An Angel, But Which Kind? (Berit Kjos)

The Bible Miniseries Board of Advisors