Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call featuring T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in. In today’s program, Tom concludes his two-part series with guest, pastor and author J.B. Hixson. Here’s TBC executive director Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. On this program, this is following the first installment of A.D.: The Bible Continues, which we’ve been talking about. We mentioned it on the - well, we started to address it in our first part of this program. But now, many of you viewers - I don’t know how many - but you’ve had an opportunity to see the entire production - that is, the first installment. What they’re hoping to do is have a series which runs for, I think, 12 programs, but that’s going to depend on how well it did in terms of its ratings.
If you’re not familiar with A.D.: The Bible Continues produced by Roma Downey - executive producers Roma Downey and her husband Mark Burnett - it’s a spinoff of The Bible, which was on the History Channel, and then later another spinoff which made theatrical…well, it was promoted theatrically, and that was Son of God. So that’s who we’re talking about here; that’s most of what we’re going to address, and with me to discuss these issues is J.B. Hixson. He’s an author, Bible teacher, and radio host. His ministry is Not By Works, which can be found at www.notbyworks.org.
J.B., welcome back to Search the Scriptures 24/7.
J.B.: Hey, my pleasure, Tom. What an honor it is to be with you again, and looking forward to our discussion today.
Tom: Yeah, as I mentioned, we’re going to talk about primarily A.D.: The Bible Continues, but we also have to talk about what happens when you put together a biblical production, when you turn it into a theatrical feature film, or you turn it into a production for television, the problems. I hope you’ll go back, folks, and check out our first program on this last week, because it’s your view of the Bible. If you don’t have a correct view of the Bible, much of this isn’t going to make sense to you. But if you understand that the Word of God is just that - that it’s God’s direct communication to mankind - and we have to deal with it. It’s a miraculous book, so it’s not something that you can play around with, that you can add to or subtract to, as we mentioned last week. It’s something that needs to be addressed in all seriousness, and utilized.
J.B., what do you think of that?
J.B.: Yeah, I mean, I think we have an obligation as people of the Book to, you know, call out those who are compromising on the authority of God’s Word. You know, you always get in trouble these days in this postmodern age where people are more inclined to draw circles of inclusion rather than lines of distinction. Any time you do point out some doctrinal differences, you know, immediately you’re charged with being mean or hateful. And as we go through some of these issues on today’s program, I want to be clear right up front: I’m not personally insulting anybody or making fun of anybody’s mother or calling them fat or anything, we’re just evaluating them based on their own written word and their comments and their viewpoints which, you know, according to Scripture, we have an obligation to do. I mean, 2 Thessalonians:3:6 says, “We command you, brethren, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly,” that you not keep company with them. I mean, Romans 16 says to “mark those who cause divisions contrary to the doctrine which you have learned.” So, you know, this is an issue that many Christians shy away from, because we like to just all get along. You know, it’s kind of the Rodney King approach to Christianity, but I think we have an obligation to evaluate critically in love those who are, I think, undermining the authority of God’s Word.
Tom: Right. And you need to be a Berean, folks. That’s what this program’s about. You need to search the Scriptures daily to see if these things are so, and when something comes along that, well, it sounds good, might be close enough - no! You’re affecting your own understanding of the Word of God which has to be accurate, or it’s not God’s Word.
Tom: So that’s just a head’s up. Now, you know, many Christians are excited that Hollywood’s showing an interest in the Bible, and Christian leaders and pastors are getting onboard by ushering their congregations to attend Hollywood productions, even renting theaters for their fellowships.
Now, I want to give you some quotes - actually quotes from two of them, the last one being Rick Warren. Well, here’s the first pastor talking about Son of God and referring to Hollywood.
Ray Johnston: And I think publicly as pastors, we ought to say thank you. Christians are really good at criticizing Hollywood nonstop. When something comes out of Hollywood that’s God-honoring and potentially high impact, we ought to be the first people in line to support it.
Rick Warren: Every time I see something like this come along, like this incredible tool that Mark and Roma have put together, I’m going, “I’m using that!” I’m not dumb. I’m smart enough to go, “Somebody just put a lot of money into that - time, energy, effort, marketing - we’re going to use that to reach people for Jesus.”
Tom: So, J.B., obviously they believe Hollywood’s doing the evangelical church, doing Christians - professing or true Christians - a favor. What do you think?
J.B.: Yeah, I mean, it just…it really breaks my heart when I think about the implications of all that, and in my mind, I go back to the first century - you know, picture the night Jesus is betrayed. Jesus is in the upper room with His disciples and He has those intimate moments, and He says these words: “I have given them Your word, and the world has hated them,” this is part of the high priestly prayer in John 17, “the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” And you know, I wonder if in Jesus’ mind back then and in the mind of the early church, you know, they ever conceived of a day when the church would partner with, arguably, the beachhead of worldliness - I mean, the frontlines of Satan’s worldly agenda - to try to advance the cause of the gospel. It’s just beyond me.
Tom: It’s staggering.
J.B.: Jesus knew that He was going to be leaving this present evil age, as it would later be called by the Apostle Paul, and that, you know, believers in the church age couldn’t leave, that we had a job to do. We’d have to be here to be agents of light in this dark world. And in every age, God always has His chosen people - in this age it’s us, the church - to be His witnesses to the pagan nations. But we’re supposed to be different. We’re supposed to be unique. We’re supposed to be taking a stand, and so there’s so many problems with this merger of Hollywood and Christianity on so many levels - we talked about some of those last week: the undermining of God’s Word, the undermining of the gospel, which is really what bothers me as much as anything.
But yeah, I mean, that’s…again, all due respect to some of these evangelical leaders; I’m sure they’re (in some cases) good people, and they may think they’re doing good, but the thought of applauding Hollywood - you may as well applaud Satan, in my mind.
Tom: There isn’t any doubt about it. It’s not that there haven’t been films that have come out - but what we’re saying here is that…well, Hollywood is never going to do biblical Christianity a favor unless there’s money in it. That’s why this pastor misunderstands, or…you know, he’s creating a myth here, and worse. Hollywood is in the business of making money, period. That’s what it’s about. So, you know, as soon as - if indeed (and we’re in the apostasy) - but as soon as the evangelical church loses interest in biblical movies, or they don’t get back their box office (Hollywood I’m talking about), then it’s over. The well has gone dry, and they’ll move on to another genre.
Now, to step this up a bit in terms of my concern, at least, we had Rick Warren saying that he’s going to get onboard with this, which he has. Now, he did an interview with EWTN, which is the Catholic television network, and he gave his objection to the movie Noah, which starred Russell Crowe. So we’re going to play Rick Warren’s quote here. We’re going to play it for you, and then the response by Russell Crowe.
Announcer: …there’s like Saddleback Church founding pastor Rick Warren, whom we spoke with exclusively. He took offense at Aronofsky’s recent comments about the film.
Rick Warren: What I know is what the director said. He said, “This is the most unbiblical biblical film ever made.” Then I say, “Why choose a Bible story? If you’re going to choose a Bible story, why not stick with the Bible story? There’s plenty of good fiction stories you can use. Why choose a Bible story?” I don’t have the permission to take artistic license with what God says.
Interviewer: In what way is Darren’s interpretation of this story different from the one found in Scripture?
Russell Crowe: Well, you know, that’s an interpretive thing, you know? You’re making a rash assumption there that I would think that there’s something different. But I’m not necessarily sure that it is so vastly different at all. I mean, it’s just an interpretation. There’s very few lines in the Bible, very few specific lines, you know, that tell the story, so if you’re going to make that tale into a narrative for a feature film, you’ve got to fill in some of those gaps.
Tom: So I asked audiences to tell me which response did they agree with, and most of the time they say they’re both correct, which I agree. But I have to add this: that one of them, particularly Rick Warren, is a hypocrite. Now, why would I say that? Because the thing that he objected to of taking artistic license with God’s Word is exactly what Roma Downey, Mark Burnett - whether it be the Son of God production, or A.D., whether it be the NBC production - they have to add to it or they have to subtract from it, because you can’t have a dramatic feature film, okay, without drama, without dialogue, without all of these things that the Bible doesn’t give. As Russell Crowe said, somebody has to fill in those gaps to make a theatrical feature film.
J.B.: Yeah, I mean, for the life of me, and I’d love to have this conversation with Rick, I can’t understand his rationale. I’m sure he has one, but why he would reject Noah the movie and embrace A.D.: The Bible [Continues]…to me, I just - that is hypocritical, at least on its face. Now, he may have some rationalization, and like I said, I’d love to talk to him. But it doesn’t seem to make sense.
Tom: J.B., we talked earlier before we started recording about a view of the Bible. It has to be accurate, okay? This is God’s Word. But the mentality today is, “Oh, well, it’s close enough. Well, people get the idea.” That’s why we’re in the trouble that we’re in. That’s why the apostasy is gaining ground like nobody’s business, because, “Oh, it’s close enough.” No, truth is truth! It’s God’s truth, and as you deviate from that, or allow something else to come in, then…well, we have twice in Proverbs: “There’s a way that seems right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
J.B.: That’s right, Proverbs:16:25 and 14:12.
Tom: Yeah, and the death means separation - it’s separating truth from error here, and that’s…
J.B.: Yeah, I mean, I’m reminded of Paul’s words to Peter in Galatians 2 - that he records for us in Galatians 2. Now, keep in mind, this is Peter, the founder of the first church, you know? One of the closest inner three disciples, and the undisputed leader in the first church in the early days of the Christian church for 10 years into the establishment of the church, roughly mid-40s AD, and here Paul, the new guy on the block who got saved when he met the Lord on the road to Damascus and then spent 14 years studying and training, and now he’s on his first missionary journey, and he says, “When I discovered that Peter was not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I confronted him before them all.” And, again, we’re not equating ourselves with the Apostle Paul, but I mean, certainly there’s a precedent there for, you know, calling people out who are not accurate and clear and precise on the truth of God’s Word.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Well, we’re recording this prior to the first installment of A.D.: The Bible Continues, but now when you’re hearing this, that program has already aired.
Now, so part of the problem - a huge problem, but it’s not the main problem - is what these productions add to the Scriptures. Let me take you through a little quick history of this. In The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson had to add things to it. He had the character Jesus hanging from a bridge by chains. He had Satan show up in the Garden of Gethsemane to tempt the character Jesus. There was a scene in which a raven pecks the eye out of one of the thieves crucified with Jesus - all extrabiblical stuff, because we need drama; we need to have those things so people can get excited.
In Noah, we have fallen angels that were turned into rock monsters and supposedly they helped Noah build the ark, which Noah’s enemy gets aboard - here we’ve got Noah’s enemy, a stowaway aboard the ark.
J.B.: Which totally…I mean, obviously anything that’s unbiblical and contrary to Scripture is a problem, but in that case, it has implications for the analogy that’s later given in the New Testament of the cross.
Tom: Of course! And people go away thinking, “Oh, that’s what’s in the Bible. I saw it on the screen.”
You have Exodus: Gods and Kings. The worst part of that, you know - as bad as the demon rock monsters were in Noah, you have God Almighty appearing to Moses as a haughty 10-year old boy! I mean, talk about blasphemy!
In Son of God, the Jesus character raises Lazarus from the dead by entering the tomb and kissing him on the forehead. Come on, folks, give me chapter and verse for these things.
J.B.: Yeah, that’s right.
Tom: A.D., you know, again, the most recent… Now, the Apostle James and John are cast as black men and Mary Magdalene as a black woman. Now, I don’t want to make a big issue of that, but it’s extrabiblical information. We don’t have that information, and did they make that basis because it was good reason to make it from the Scriptures? No, they made it because, hey…well, Exodus got into trouble because they didn’t cast enough Egyptians, all right? So you’ve got these decisions that are made. We have the angel that removes the stone from Christ’s tomb. He arrives like a shooting star wearing battle armor and brandishing a sword. I mean…
J.B.: Yeah, you said it: I mean, it comes down to decisions. Somewhere along the process, people get in a room and decide what’s going to make it to the screen, and where are the biblicists? Where are the men and women of God who take a stand for the authority and accuracy of God’s Word and say, “No”?
I mean, Proverbs:1:15 says, “My son, do not walk in the way of sinners.”
Proverbs:12:26: “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.”
Proverbs:13:20: “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.”
Psalm:1:1: “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners.” So here we have evangelical leaders who are looked up to by the body of Christ going to meetings in smoke-filled boardrooms with the elite, worldly Luciferians, in many cases, and sitting down and making decisions about how God’s Word is going to be portrayed on the big screen. I mean, it’s just - at its core, it’s offensive to anyone who understands what God’s Word says about…
Tom: You know, from…J.B., from my time in Hollywood, I know the seductive aspects of it. I mean, it’s star power. You get stars in your eyes. I see this impacting these leaders. You have George Wood, the superintendent - the head of the the Assemblies of God. They’re mandating that their churches get involved in a program of following A.D.: The Bible Continues. You have David Jeremiah doing the same thing - coming out with a book and interviewing Roma Downey and Mark Burnett and so on…I mean, this stuff is powerful; it has power in it.
Now, in terms of the individuals, you know, when Mel Gibson came out with The Passion of the Christ, I was told by people, “Oh, he’s a born again Christian.” And now I’m hearing the same thing about Roma Downey. Folks, she has a Masters degree from the University of Santa Monica, a school connected with the New Age cult leader John Roger, and most of her statements, certainly in magazines and so on, would give you the idea that her mentality is religious science. Della Reese was her mentor, you know, in Touched by an Angel, and she’s a religious science minister. So…but even if she did - and you know, our prayers could be for her, that she would become a true believer - that doesn’t get away from the fact that what she’s doing is antithetical to the Scriptures, trying to translate it visually.
J.B.: Well, and when people say, “Well, so and so’s a born again believer,” they can say that now because of the fact that clarity and precision in the gospel has been marginalized, so now anyone can “be a Christian” simply by declaration rather than by the biblical method.
Now, the Bible is very clear there’s only way a person can be saved: it’s by trusting in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died and rose again for our sins. It’s not by works, it’s not by your religion, it’s not by your heritage, it’s not by your baptism, it’s not by who you hang around with; you’re saved at a point in time when you trust in Jesus Christ as the only one who can save you from the penalty of sin.
J.B.: And so, you know, yeah. I mean, the average believer will say - or average Christian will say, “Oh, yeah, they’re a believer,” or, “They’re good,” and they’re only parroting what they’ve been told by the marketing masters in Hollywood.
Tom: Exactly. You know, the Scripture says, 1 Corinthians:2:14: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” When you have Hollywood, in terms of its production crews, making decisions about what goes on the screen with regard to the Bible, that’s a huge problem. Not only can it not be done, but now the people doing it have no idea.
J.B.: Yeah, and the converse of that - you know, 1 Corinthians:2:14 is true, too. You know, the natural man, the unsaved person, does not welcome - “receive” there is dechomai; it means to welcome and embrace the things of God; but conversely, he does welcome the things of the world, you know? Everything shiny looks like gold to the unbeliever, but to the believer, we ought to recognize fool’s gold from real gold, and we only can do that through the Word of God, by knowing the truth. Jesus says, “You shall know the truth, and the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” And how do we know the truth? He prayed in John 17, “Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.”
Tom: Exactly. And, folks, again, we said this at the beginning - well, we certainly said it last week: you need to be a Berean. Something comes along - a trend, something popular - people get excited about it, but you have to say, “Hey, give me chapter and verse for this. Help me to understand if this is really good for the body of Christ,” and the only way you’re going to know is by either example in Scripture or by the Scripture itself. Any other thoughts? We’ve got about a minute left here.
J.B.: Yeah, I mean, again, not to sound overly simplistic, but it really is this simple: “Thy word have I hidden in my heart that I might not sin against thee.” You know, the whole world is under the sway of the wicked one, and we can insulate ourselves from the deception of the devil by getting into the Word. I mean, Colossians 2 talks about how we should continue to walk in the truth that we’ve known from the beginning, not falling prey to all of these whims and philosophies of men and so forth.
And so, you know, the reason I think most Christians are falling prey to some of this stuff and jumping on these bandwagons so easily is that we’re just not discerning. We don’t have the Word of God and a clear understanding of the Word of God. We’re not being taught the Word of God, and so I would just encourage our listeners to just get in the Word of God, you use it - don’t take our word for it. Use the Word of God as the only standard for your beliefs and attitudes and practices.
Tom: Right. Scripture says, “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.”
J.B.: Amen. We’re there. That’s where we are right now.
Tom: We are, but there’s an antidote, just as J.B. presented it: it’s the Word of God. But you’ve got to be disciplined, and out of that’s going to come the fruit of the Spirit in your life. So folks, we’re not just trying to throw everything out, what we’re trying to do is throw out whatever is there that’s contrary to the Word of God.
So, J.B., thanks for being with us, and the Lord bless you, brother.
J.B.: Hey, my pleasure, and thank you for letting me be a part of the program.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 with T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. For information about J.B. Hixson’s ministry, go to his web site: notbyworks.org. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at P.O. Box 7019 Bend, Oregon 97708. Call us at 800-937-6638, or visit our website at thebereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us, and we hope you can tune in again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.