Use Discernment When Watching "The Chosen"

The Chosen has many good qualities, but we must exercise caution when watching it.

The Chosen has some very good elements. It helps us realize that the disciples were human, and it helps us personalize the story of Christ in ways that are helpful and inspiring.

I've heard many testimonies from people who've said it helped them, and that makes it doubly hard for me to share my concerns. But I feel compelled by my faith to ask you to be careful and discerning. 

In fact, you'll improve your discernment and build your understanding of God's Word by carefully comparing the script with Scripture. 

The Script and the Scriptures

There's nothing wrong with The Chosen taking literary license to add details not found in Scripture. But those additions should never contradict Scripture. 

The Author of the Chosen

Two of my concerns are based on the person behind The Chosen and that fact that he feels God has called him to an incredibly important worldwide mission: 

“I felt like God was saying that ‘this will be the definitive portrayal of My people and this is what people are going to think of around the world when they think of My people. And I’m not going to let you screw it up.’” ~ Dallas Jenkins (source

This is an enormous claim. I'm not sure I've heard any Christian make such an enormous claim about his/her ministry.

In brotherhood with Mormons

I believe that if God were calling a man to such a mission, he would call someone who had an incredible understanding of Scripture and a keen ability to discern any and every false teaching. 

But Jenkins believes that one of the most beautiful things about doing The Chosen project is the fact that he has come to understand that Mormons worship the same Jesus as Christians. 

The words of Jenkins in the quote below came directly from a video interview with Mormons, that's why it doesn't always flow grammatically. But these are Jenkin's beliefs about the LDS cult:

“One of the top three most fascinating and beautiful things about this project has been my growing brotherhood and sisterhood with people of the LDS community that I never would have known otherwise and learning so much about your faith tradition and realizing, gosh, for all the stuff that maybe don’t we don’t see eye to eye, that all happened, that’s all based on stuff that happened after Jesus was here. The stories of Jesus we do agree on, and we love the same Jesus. That’s not something that you often hear…I’ll sink or swim on that statement…I don’t mind being called a blasphemer…” (source)

The LDS church denies the Trinity and denies that Jesus is God. It teaches that Jesus is a created being, born to God the Father and a celestial mother. Mormons define Jesus as God but they believe all humans possess the same potential to become gods (like the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost)” (source).

The whole foundation of the LDS faith is based on secret scrolls which Joseph Smith claimed an angel helped him translate, revealing that all Christian churches other than the Mormon church were “of the devil” (source). Mormons also believe that Jesus visited the Americas after his resurrection and that there is no eternal hell” (source). They hold many other beliefs that contradict Scripture, but these are a few of the basics. For more on the Mormon religion see the Bible Love Notes Articles on Mormonism. I especially recommend When Angels Tell Lies, Cults Are Formed.

There are many websites, videos, and articles by well-known Bible teachers that explain the LDS view of Jesus, so this information would be easy for Jenkins to access.

In Partnership with Mormons

Jenkins has partnered with Mormons in some significant ways. VidAngel, which is owned and operated by practicing Mormons, produces the series. Two of the executive producers of the series are practicing Mormons (source). Several seasons of The Chosen were filmed in the LDS Motion Picture Studio in Utah. This is not simply a studio owned by Mormons. It is owned by the LDS church and Jenkins had to secure permission from church leaders to use it. This is the same location where the LDS church films videos about the Book of Mormon, their most revered holy book, a book that contradicts God's Word (source/ source /source).

Scripture clearly says, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: ‘I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.’ Therefore, ‘Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.’ And, ‘I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.’” 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

Some people might argue that having LDS members in key positions and using an LDS studio isn't partnering with Mormons, but Jenkins goes even further than simply partnering in business. He publicly testifies that the practicing Mormons can be fellow believers. That's a very clear type of partnering.

The Chosen has many good qualities, but we must exercise caution when watching it.

Jenkins' discernment

If Jenkins is unable to discern the differences between the LDS Jesus and the Jesus of Scripture, how can he give us a definitive portrayal of God's people?

The Chosen Jesus

We may or may not agree with the way Jenkins develops Bible characters in his series. But our main concern is that he not contradict Scripture.

And the accurate presentation of Bible characters pales in significance to the accurate presentation of Christ. 

His manner, attitudes, and words should be in complete harmony with Scripture, carefully scrutinized and accurately portrayed. Nothing he does should reflect our fallen human nature. He was man, but He was a perfect man and fully God. 

Please don't let your enjoyment of The Chosen cause you to defend errors. Our first allegiance is to Scripture, and God expects us to be like Bereans, making sure His truth is accurately presented (Acts 17:10-12).

This is a sampling of things in The Chosen that concern me:

✔  The Chosen Christ calls his mother the most important and powerful person he knows, a hugely important statement coming from the mouth of God and something the real Jesus never said. In addition, there seems to be a feminist flavor in some of The Chosen story lines.

✔  The Chosen Jesus approves mockery.

John the Baptist was called by God to be a voice in the wilderness (Matthew 3:1-3; Luke 1:13-17). He ate locusts and wild honey which were freely available, something poor people ate during that time. John did this because He was completely devoted to his ministry of announcing the coming of Christ (Matthew 3:4). He basically gave up a normal life to serve God, and he did it faithfully.

In one scene of The Chosen Peter makes fun of the fact that John ate bugs, mocking his sacrificial lifestyle and calling him "Creepy John." In another scene, Peter calls John the Baptist "creepy John" and The Chosen Jesus laughs at Peter's mockery and says, "That's good. I like that." The real Jesus recognized John's mission and admired Him (Matthew 11:11). He would not have laughed at this rude and childish mockery. He would have rebuked it. This is a direct contradiction of Scripture, and it's unnecessary.

✔  In another scene in The Chosen, Jesus tells John the Baptist he shouldn't confront Herod, and John says he doesn't care what Jesus says, he's going to do it.

Nothing in Scripture tells us that John the Baptist was wrong to confront Herod. And writing this into the story line does not constitute careful scholarship nor are there reasons it should be part of the script. 

Christ said that comparing the faith of all men who died before His completed sacrifice, John was the greatest (Matthew 11:11). In addition, Scripture tells us that John had great reverence and respect for Christ. The real John said, "I'm not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandal" (John 1:27). See Holy Awe

But in The Chosen, John arrogantly refuses Christ's advice. This is not biblical, and I'm not sure why Jenkins felt it added to the story. This is not a "definitive view" of God's people.

✔  The Chosen Jesus does not emphasize repentance in the same way Jesus emphasized it. And in several scenes he talks about listening to our hearts, something that will get us into trouble every time (Proverbs 3:5; 28:26; Jeremiah 17:9).

✔  In season 3The Chosen Jesus says He is the law of Moses, a statement that Scripture does not support. See Galatians 3:13; Galatians 3:23-24Galatians 5:18; John 1:17Romans 6:14Romans 8:1-42 Corinthians 3:7-11 and replace "Christ" where the law is mentioned.

✔  The most popular quote from The Chosen Jesus is “Get used to different.” It's become the title of sermons, articles, and t-shirts sold by The Chosen, but it doesn't actually resemble anything Christ said in Scripture. 

This makes me sad. Christ says life-changing, God-breathed words in Scripture, far better than any words spoken or composed by men. When we repeat this line or wear a t-shirt to display it, we need to realize we are praising and promoting a movie script, not the words of Christ.

Christians who've been concerned about some of these "little" errors in The Chosen have been heavily criticized, but little things matter to our Lord. In fact, how we handle little things affects how we handle big things. Scripture says, "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much" (Luke 16:10). 

This applies to Jenkin's accurate portrayal of Christ and it applies to our discernment. When we compromise in small areas, we usually begin compromising in larger areas. It's interesting that Jenkin's admits that his approval of the LDS Jesus came after his business partnership with Mormons. (See quote above in Brotherhood with Mormons section.)

Does the good outweigh the bad?

Do the things that inspire people about the movie draw them to the real Jesus? I'm sure that some good has come for The Chosen, but I'm also sure some bad has come from it.

I believe that mature Christians may benefit from the series, if they are willing to carefully examine what is presented and unashamedly admit whenever The Chosen misrepresents the gospel, especially the character of Jesus. Please don't let your enjoyment of the series cause you to overlook, excuse, or accept the errors. It's one thing to take some literary license in creating characters and conversations. It's quite another to create new "I am statements" and depict Christ enjoying mockery.

I think we human beings have a desire to make Jesus just like us, but He's not. He was fully God and fully man, but He was always perfect, sinless, and completely wise. He understands us perfectly, but He never had our hang-ups or our moral and emotional weaknesses. If He did, He would not be qualified to save us. Only the perfect man could die to rescue us from our sins.

The Chosen has many good qualities, but we must exercise caution when watching it.

Please pray that people will not be deceived by Jenkins' approval of the Mormon Jesus.

The Chosen has made Jenkins highly influential, and he is publicly affirming a faith that denies the true God, contradicts Scripture, and sends people to Hell.

Ephesians 5:11 commands us to have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

We should be praying that Mormons recognize they are still in darkness, worshiping a false god. We should be praying that Jenkins will understand the damage of partnering with false religions and claiming they are brothers and sisters in Christ.

I pray that this article will not make you angry or defensive. If we love the Jesus of the Bible, we must be willing to look at the Chosen Jesus with discernment (Proverbs 4:23Titus 1:9Titus 2:1). Our loyalty must be first and foremost to God's Word and Christ's character. 

If you are watching The Chosen with your children, please take time to discuss these things with them. This is an important responsibility of every Christian and every parent (Ephesians 6:4). I actually would not recommend it for children or young Christians.

And most important of all, get your definitive portrayal” of the gospel story from Scripture, not from a television series. 

God's Word always has been and always will be the most powerful force for transmitting truth. Nothing will take its place in defining God and His people (Romans 1:16; Romans 10:17; Hebrews 4:12).

Confirming his belief about Mormons 

In repeated interviews, Jenkins has clarified his previous statements about Mormons in these two ways:

1. He clarifies that he doesn't believe all Mormons are Christians just as he doesn't believe all Evangelicals are Christians. 

2. He continues to affirm his confidence that his personal friends who are Mormons worship the same Jesus he worships. 

3. He speaks of "differences" between Mormon and evangelical beliefs, but repeatedly maintains that some Mormons worship the same Jesus as evangelicals. 

If Jenkins were talking about former Mormons who have rejected the heretical Mormon doctrines and turned to the real Jesus, that would be great. But he always refers to them as Mormons who worship the same Jesus. 

Examples of these clarifications:

Christian Post, CBNMy Definitive (final) Comments on the LDS Issue

Regarding the "I am the law of Moses" Statement 

When confronted with objections to this statement, Jenkins described the quote as "a cool, Jesus-as-king moment" in the series. And he explained that "around 99% of people 'went crazy and loved it'... while only a tiny percentage made a fuss." 

When it was brought to Jenkin's attention that the Book of Mormon quotes Jesus as saying "I am the law," he said he wasn't aware of that when he wrote the line, but added: "It’s a cool line. So either way, it’s in the show because I believe it’s a really great line and I believe that it’s also theologically plausible."(Source)

Actually, the quote isn't an exact quote from The Book of Mormon which says, “Behold, I am the Law, and the light (3 Nephi 15:9).  But The Chosen quote is actually more troubling than the Book of Mormon quote because it specifies the Old Testament Law of Moses. 

Galatians 3:2-3: "Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?"

John 1:17: “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”  

Galatians 3:13: “Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law.”   

Galatians 5:18: “When you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.”  

BLN

8 comments:

  1. I always struggle to believe movies that try and portray extra information that are not highlighted by the Bible because I know men are not wise enough to get to Gods level by trying to give "coded" messages but christian movies that accurately depict a christians real struggle that we all can relate to and give scriptural references are good.

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  2. Thank you Gail. We don't really watch any of these movies but I do want to be informed about them because I know many that do watch them and think everything in them are true and accurate.

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  3. I think "The Chosen" is akin to the Left Behind series and other books/videos. Definitely some good stuff in there, but also some questionable "directors privilege". We as Christians MUST evaluate what we watch/read in relation to scripture. The danger, as is pointed out with works such as these two, is that folks accept them as absolute truth without any critical analysis. Great Love Note.

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  4. Thank you for always reminding us to go to scripture to find the truth; hold whatever you are questioning against what scripture says. Really good devotional.

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  5. Thank you, Gail. We watched the first few and some of the scenes really touched my family and me, but other things portrayed were troubling to me. We'll stick with The Bible.

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  6. just reading this in November 2022. I was always a bit troubled by how i felt watching certain scenes in the movie. i refrained from mentioning my cautions as most around me had no issues and u thought I was a bit off track, thank you for your comments.

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  7. You know as all things, we are to question anything outside of what is written in the bible and have discernment and test the spirits to see if they are of God. Thank you, this was some good insight. Can't wait for your book!!! Blessings

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