Question [composite of several]: In April’s Q&A you stated, “I’ve tried to explain in many writings that ‘the Word of God cannot be presented visually without destroying its truth.’” If this statement is true, how can we attempt to show God’s love through our daily lives?
Response: The attempt to present the Scriptures visually in dramatic form (a movie or a play, for example) is far different from believers living their lives in obedience to God’s Word, which is a witness to all who observe their godliness being manifested. We are commanded to do the latter in God’s Word: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew:5:16).
The major problem with attempting to translate the Bible visually is that it will always be a subjective presentation based upon the requirements of the visual medium and therefore at odds with biblical truth. The written Word is an objective medium. Believers discussing the meaning of particular scriptures can “reason together” by considering things such as context, grammar, meanings of words, the literal-versus-figurative use of words, etc., in order to come to an objective understanding of what God has communicated. That is what hermeneutics is all about.
The nature of a visual translation of the Bible, on the other hand, does not allow for such objective scrutiny. Evaluations are based upon cinematography, directing, acting, art direction, and many other considerations and decisions that go into a production. Both the decision-making and its evaluation by viewers are nearly always subjective, i.e., involving emotions and feelings. Furthermore, a visual interpretation of the Bible will always involve adding to or subtracting from God’s Word, which Scripture condemns. The actor, Russell Crowe, star of the movie Noah, made a statement that biblical Christians need to consider. He noted that the Bible itself does not provide enough information for a feature film and therefore dialogue and other information must be added. That insight alone should be enough to turn true believers away from translating the Bible visually, but there are many other problems as well. (See McMahon, Showtime for the Sheep?)