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Tom McMahon: Thanks, Rob, and, you know, I know Rob knows this, but I’m one of the most blessed guys you will ever know. Yes, I helped found The Berean Call, but Dave Hunt, my best friend in the Lord, who, as you guys know, is with the Lord right now.
But I want to mention some things before I get into my message. When I go, you know, if you guys would ever hang around The Berean Call staff, they will tell you right away we’re about prayer, we’re about family, we’re about encouraging one another. We run things by each other. This is not a T. A. McMahon “shoot from the hip” program at all.
And so…but we’re mainly about prayer! I’m not just making that up. I tell people, so The Berean Call’s been in…we’ve been in ministry for 30 years. We start off with Bible study, prayer. Prayer supports absolutely everything we do.
So when I go away, the staff is always praying for me, that the Lord would oversee, orchestrate. And of late, you know, as I’ve been going away, and I come back, I say…so they say, “Tom, how’d it go?” Well, it couldn’t have gone better. And I say that every time! It sounds like a cliché…no, it’s the truth! It happens.
But going back to 30 years in The Berean Call, we have 30 years of answers to prayer. If that’s not a confidence builder…I mean, we don’t need that as a confidence builder, but I’m telling you because it’s what the Word of God says. He’s faithful.
So, you know, and sometimes when I’m off of late, as I started to say, flights are cancelled. Now, I don’t want to be this aside, but I do hear a little child, and there’s nobody who loves the babies more than I do. However, we are recording this, so we would ask if you have a child and the child’s gonna make some noise, which they do—love the, you know, the kiddies. However, it affects our recording, and these are all recorded. So I would ask you, you know, if starts up… And look, I’ve got five kids, got grandchildren and so on. There could be a baby storm here and it wouldn’t bother me, okay? It wouldn’t! I’ve been through that. But it does bother our recording and so on. So I’d ask you to just be gracious enough to…because we have everything that we’re doing outside here. We have it on, you know, not just the sound, but the video and all that stuff, or the TV stuff is out there. So I’d ask you to do that, to help the recording, and also for the people around you. It’s a gracious thing to do.
All right, you know, as I started to say, sometimes flights are cancelled. And I don’t care how many flights are cancelled on me, it’s been like, one almost every time that I’ve gone out. I always get to the place where I need to be on time, and it’s just really great.
So that having been said, why is this ending? This has been—again, what’s my line? It couldn’t have gone better thus far. Now, I haven’t talked yet, so there might be an asterisk on that, all right? But honestly, the men that you’ve heard speak here, they’re my friends, they’re my really good friends. I don’t tell them what to speak. I said, “Whatever the Lord puts on your heart,” and every time we’ve had—and Rob’s been to all of them! He’s been our emcee for all of them—and when I don’t say what to talk about, it always ends up the messages are hand in glove. They all come together. And as you think back about what you’ve heard, there’s a strong connection, because the Lord has orchestrated, put on their hearts, what they were to talk about. So that’s a thrill that I have. And the Lord is faithful to do that each time.
Now this message…well, I’m not going to say anything about it. I’m just going to get right into it. And by God’s grace, I’ll just start with prayer.
Lord, as we’ve heard from all the speakers, we want to glorify you, first and foremost, and we want to be other-directed. Lord, we know that’s not only what biblical Christianity is all about, but, Lord, that’s what you are about. You came to serve.
And, Lord, I pray that that would be our heart, that the message would speak to the hearts of those here. And I want them to—my heart’s cry is that they would deal with what I’m going to say in you, be led and guided by you to take this information and use it to your glory and to the blessing and edification of others. Lord, I know that’s what it’s supposed to be about.
And I also know, as I’m aging, I just want to finish the race to your glory and to the blessing and benefit of others. So it’s to this end I pray in Jesus’ name.
Okay, the title is Visual Idolatry. So this talk is about that, what it is, and what are some of the related characteristics that we may not be aware.
As we read through the Old Testament, the Tanakh, we learn that the Israelites, when they rebelled against God, they quickly turned to idols.
That's “quickly” as in “almost immediately.”
What was the attraction? Well, no doubt we could come up with lots of guesses, but my guess is they would all center around getting something, something they desired. They would then put together various plans on how to get what they coveted.
Their methods usually involved achieving their goals in the easiest way possible. Getting that which would fulfill their desires, their lusts, make them feel better, even more spiritual.
As Israelites, they had a big problem. There were laws with which they had to comply.
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob set forth too many rules and regulations for them, 613 to be exact, and each and every one had to be strictly obeyed.
Idols have no such written laws, other than what the individual pagan priests decided upon. There were certainly rituals, but they were very subjective, owing to the preferences of the various worship leaders, pagan worship leaders.
For example, there was the come-as-you-are, clothes-are-optional approach.
We learned that aspect of worshipping idols when the Israelites danced around the golden calf they worshiped as Moses was receiving the law on Mt Sinai (Exodus:32:25).
But that was then. That couldn't happen in our very intelligent and sophisticated day. Right? Hardly.
Sometime ago, I was on my way to observe a service at Willow Creek church just outside Chicago. Well, driving there, I passed what looked suspiciously like a Hindu temple.
I immediately did a U-turn and pulled into the parking lot of a massive temple grounds. As I parked, my fairly new rental car seemed way out of place among nearly all of the other vehicles.
We're talking Mercedes, Lexus, BMWs, Audis, Maseratis…
I asked the tour guide about the luxury cars. He said most of the attendees were professional people, doctors, lawyers, engineers, business executives…
Inside the temple I viewed some of the well-dressed men presenting plates of food before the idol of the monkey god Hanuman and the elephant god Ganesha.
Ganesha, by the way, is the patron, according to them, of intellectuals and business men I was told.
So much for intelligence being the antidote for pagan superstition and idolatry.
Idolatry, however, includes far more than making statues of animals or human-like creatures.
Here's a basic definition of idolatry from my favorite dictionary. And those of you who know me know I use this all the time! Well, what is it? It's [Noah] Webster's Dictionary of 1828. I prefer it because most of his definitions drew upon the teachings of the Bible.
He defined idolatry as the worship of idols, images, or anything made by hands, or which is not God.
Idolatry he wrote, are of two kinds.
Number one: The worship of images, statues, pictures, etc. made by hands; and the worship of the heavenly bodies, the sun, moon and stars, or of demons, angels, men and animals.
And two, and you need to know this: The excessive attachment or veneration for anything, or that which borders on adoration.
Idols are images created by humans that represent a source for humans to seek in order to increase their welfare, both spiritual and physical.
Seeking them out is condemned throughout the Scriptures (1 Corinthians:10:20-21). Why?
Primarily, because to do so is a demonically inspired rejection of the only true God, the God of all creation.
That rejection for some may not be overt, as it was for the Israelites in their blatant rejection of God, which they did over and over again.
But—as it is mostly in our day—it constitutes a deceptive seduction that is emotionally beguiling.
The consequence for those who trust in idolatry is strong delusion (Psalm:135:15-18). They become like dumb (as in senseless) idols.
As Webster noted, idolatry also leads to "excessive attachment or veneration for anything, or that which borders on adoration."
Keep that definition in mind as you see and hear the overpowering emotional responses in the video that I'll be showing you featuring those who are enamored, as in bewitched, with The Chosen.
The issue of undermining the truth is at the heart of idolatry. It can work like a leaven of lies gradually contaminating and then totally corrupting the truth.
All idols are lies, whether blatant or subtle.
They are false replacements for the God of truth.
Demons, along with the world and the flesh, are behind all forms of idolatry and they can only produce delusion and destruction.
What then of visual idolatry? Obviously, the idols addressed in the Old Testament were all visual, and as the Scriptures declare, they are all condemned.
Yet today, the images of biblical characters presented through videos and motion pictures are not only thought to be acceptable, they are considered by many to enhance one's spiritual growth. I’m talking about those who claim to be Christians, biblical Christians.
So, let's follow what the Lord declares in Isaiah:18:1, "Come let us reason together… "
Often times simple reasoning brings things to light, especially when we have somehow been driven to erroneous conclusions by our emotions.
As some of you may know, I was a Hollywood screenwriter before I became a Christian.
In developing my craft, I learned that my main objective was to manipulate the emotions of the movie-going audience.
Make them laugh, make them cry, frighten them, stimulate their lusts, their vengeance, make them angry, and on and on.
When that's not taking place, as a scriptwriter, I was well aware that the audience very likely would lose interest in the movie’s story.
After becoming a believer, I recognized that condition was affecting Christians by drawing them emotionally into so-called biblical movies that presented things that were contrary to the Word of God.
I first saw that in The Passion of Christ, the Mel Gibson production that was based on the Roman Catholic ritual of the stations of the cross.
Of late, of course, the same is taking place in the film productions of The Chosen.
And seeing that take place among Christians who profess to be biblical Christians, including pastors who have a responsibility to protect their flock, it’s grievous. Incredibly so.
Well, it has and it continues to drive me crazy, in a sense. Why? Because 10 years ago I wrote a book called Showtime for the Sheep. That upset a lot of people who got into The Passion of the Christ.
Well, in the super early A.M. and when I can't sleep—and usually that’s not a problem for me. As my wife will tell you, I can fall asleep on a dime right away! But nevertheless, sometimes I get thoughts that I believe are from the Lord regarding what I've been praying about.
In this particular case it had to do with not letting movie-generated emotions overpower one's thought life.
Remember, I said often times simple reasoning brings things to light especially when they have somehow been driven to erroneous conclusions by their, or by our, emotions. It takes everybody into consideration. Any of you who here shed a tear at Toy Story 4? That’s an animated film! It can bring tears to your eyes! That’s the power of the medium!
Okay, well actually that morning a thought hit me, and I’ll let you guys figure it out if this is from the Lord or not. But I made up an acronym for this: it’s called S.T.A.[Q.] or "stack" for short, which has been helpful for me.
The S is for STOP...The T for THINK...and the A. Q. stands for ASK QUESTIONS.
Although this came about initially to deal with the overwhelming popularity of The Chosen, it seems to apply to dealing with the promotion of the various false teachings and practices that are seducing Christians who are lacking in discernment.
But let's S.T.A.Q. The Chosen.
How popular is the film/video series? According to its producers, the series, which is now beginning its 3rd year, has captured millions worldwide.
It includes visual accounts of Jesus and his followers, some of which are taken from the Scriptures, but most are not.
Those that are not are referred to by the director/writer as backstories.
The series mostly consists of scenes nowhere found in the Bible yet are put forth as though they took place in the lives of The Chosen's biblical characters.
For example, the backstory of Mary Magdalene (the very first episode of The Chosen's series) includes her being traumatized at the death of her father, her being raped by a Roman soldier, and the failed attempt by Nicodemus to cast demons out of her.
Such extra-biblical backstories, according to writer/director Dallas Jenkins, dominate the entire series of The Chosen.
That makes The Chosen a good subject to S.T.A.Q... STOP... THINK...and ASK QUESTIONS.
Biblical movies all contain images of biblical characters.
So, let's Stop & Think about that, then Ask some Questions.
Are the images true images of the individuals presented in the Bible?
Are they accurate images of Jesus and the disciples presented in Scripture through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit?
I'm just looking for a "yes" or "no" response to those questions.
A "yes" would indicate that the person answering "yes” has proof.
Proof beyond the wishful declarations that are put forth, such as the Byzantine icon images of Christ, or the Shroud of Turin, that supposedly left an image on a burial cloth dated back to the time of Christ.
A "no" would make them "false" images, that would therefore make their images idolatrous...or idols, for short.
Well, we Ask Questions:
Did those actors pretending to be the biblical characters actually look like Jesus, or Peter, or Matthew, or Mary Magdalene? Were they visually accurate?
A few sidenotes here: I remember when Sun Myung Moon, who was the leader of the Unification Church, the Moonies cult that was popular in the 1960s—I remember when he was being interrogated in court and he declared he got his instructions from Jesus. He then was asked how he knew it was Jesus.
His response: "I recognized him from his pictures."
As a Catholic altar boy, I participated in the ritual of the Stations of the Cross. I would swing a censer containing burning incense as I moved along the 14 visual depictions of Jesus during the via dolorosa, which also means in Latin “the way of sorrows,” as he went to be crucified.
Station number 6 featured Saint Veronica as she wiped his bloody face with her veil, thereby capturing his image for posterity.
The name Veronica (doesn’t sound like a Jewish name to me, but nevertheless…) means “true image.” She is the patron saint of photographers.
However, there's no proof that she ever existed. The myth, however, exists today that the image that she supposedly captured of Jesus produced many miracles.
Scripture, however, is clear in its condemnation as it constitutes a graven image (Exodus:20:4).
Nevertheless, following the movie The Passion of the Christ which was based on the ritual of the Stations of the Cross, as I mentioned, many evangelical churches set up their own stations, mainly for their youth groups.
What's the point of filming a person pretending to be Jesus when he's obviously not Jesus?
I have a personal, intimate relationship with Peggy McMahon, my bride of 53 years. Yet could that relationship be wonderfully enhanced by having a picture of someone pretending to be Peggy? Really?
You know, when I wrote about Showtime for the Sheep, I had a thing in here—well, my wallet falls out of my…you know, falls on the ground. Peg picks it up and it opens to a picture of, you know, Carrie Underwood. And she looks and says, “Tom, what’s this?”
“Peg, she reminds me of you!” You guys know Peg…I mean, it never happened, okay, but nevertheless, okay?
Do the biblical characters represented visually...do they say or do things not found in Scripture?
All The Chosen's backstory characters say and do things not found in Scripture.
The Chosen's Apostle Matthew, as just one example, was script advisor to Jesus. Well, if Jesus said something to him, which I think it’s the very end of the first series or the second, but anyway, Jesus is running his Sermon on the Mount beforehand, and Matthew is telling him, “No, no, that won’t go over. No, you can’t go there.”
So that’s The Chosen, and there’s much more to that, which we’re going to be seeing in a bit. So that…he was supposed to help Jesus in his preparation for the Sermon on the Mount message.
Doesn't the Bible condemn adding to or subtracting from God's holy Word?
Proverbs:30:6: Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
Why would God not approve of people adding to or subtracting from His Word?
Simply because what's being presented would not be—God's Word.
It would be fallacious, misleading, erroneous, deceptive, wrong, untrue, incorrect, and mistaken. Basically—a lie—as Proverbs:30:6 declares.
But can't man's input be helpful?
No! Man's purported righteous input can only be as filthy rags that are added to God's words (Isaiah:64:6).
Since Jesus is God incarnated, the image of the invisible God, the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, is it even thinkable for Him to be replicated by an actor?
The movie business has had a history of casting actors to play the part of Jesus. Everyone from Jeffrey Hunter to Christian Bale to James Caviezel to the latest, Jonathan Roumie, who’s in The Chosen.
In attempting to make an important point, I made a casting suggestion—remember, I’m a Hollywood guy, or was—I made a casting suggestion for someone to play the part of Jesus, and it upset more than a few people.
My suggestion was, and I was serious: Danny Devito.
Now, if you don’t know that name, he’s about 4 and a half feet tall, okay?
Well, as the dust settled, I asked the audience why Danny Devito would be any less legitimate than James Caviezel, who starred in The Passion of the Christ?
Or at present, Jonathan Roumie?
No! No one can play the God/Man. All attempts are blasphemy at least.
Blasphemy, by the way, is applying characteristics to Jesus that are not true to His absolutely perfect uniqueness and qualities.
Only the Word of God can declare the true person of God, Jesus Christ.
One liability for those who were enamored with The Passion of the Christ and The Chosen and particularly their Jesus characters, is most of them cannot get those false images out of their minds (you’re going to hear that) when they think about Jesus, even when they're praying to him.
I don't think it's a stretch to see a connection to the response of Jesus when His disciples asked Him about the times of His return. He said, "Take heed that no man deceive you." If that’s not a characteristic of the days we’re in and Jesus is right at the door, I don’t know where else you would go.
The days just prior to His return will be days of apostasy, which will feature false Christs and false prophets (Matthew 24).
Did you ever consider the Jesuses that appear in movies or television screens to be false Christs?
What else could they be?
Hold on a minute Tom, they're just actors trying to help people get to know Jesus a little better!
Really? How's that work? By the way, that’s one of my favorite questions, whether I’m talking to Catholics about purgatory or the sacraments: Well, how’s that work? Another good question! We should have questions, folks.
No, it doesn't work.
As I pointed out earlier, can receiving a picture of someone pretending to be my wife help my relationship with her? That would be laughable, but it's far worse.
As you will see in some of the interviews coming up, those who profess to be Christians are serious about how the actor in The Chosen (pretending to be Jesus) has helped deepen their relationship with the biblical Jesus.
Tragically, many have been bewitched (“O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you?” We know that term. We know what it means). They’ve been bewitched by the emotional power of the film medium to accept a false Christ.
"For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." Matthew:24:24
Now, I'm going to stop here and turn the rest of my time over to a presentation produced by a lady who is an excellent video editor. Her name is Trish Burton, and she is a former 5th generation member of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints.
That's a very important qualification for her video because The Chosen is a Mormon production.
It’s produced by committed and practicing members of Mormonism, a belief system that has been recognized historically as a religious cult.
The Chosen series has made enormous inroads in Christendom.
Although that shouldn't be surprising…well, how many—look at what we’ve all heard from the different speakers. It shouldn’t be surprising, because we’re in a day of widespread and increasing apostasy in the world…well, the world is apostate, but we have apostasy taking place within the church, as you heard from Carl just a bit ago.
Well, as I said, it’s shocking to see The Chosen being promoted and used in evangelical churches, including those that would consider themselves to be committed to the Word of God.
The number of shepherds who have led their sheep into this antichrist video series is beyond tragic.
First, as you view this Visual Idolatry video, hopefully you will be motivated to S.T.A.Q. it: that is, to Stop - Think - Ask Questions.
Secondly, the seductive power of the film medium is being utilized to the max as The Chosen captures the emotions of its audiences throughout the world, thereby replacing God's truth with a lie.
Here is Trish Burton's video with which I had the privilege of helping her. Here we go.
—Here’s the good news is something that God pressed on my heart very strongly when I was an Israel, was I felt this very, very strong feeling of, “I’m not going to let you screw this up.”
--God wasn’t going to let you screw it up.
--Yeah, yeah! God isn’t, like…yes, you’ve been chosen to do this, and yes, I want you to be faithful, and I want you to listen, and I want you to obey, and I want you to get your sleep and be healthy and be kind to others, but I’m not going to let you screw this up. This is too important. Whew!
--"Now, the spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, listening to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons.” 1 Timothy:4:1
--Pretty much everybody knows what it is by now. I feel like everybody does, because I’m such a huge fan! We’re here at NRB 2021…
--When people watched it, they were fanatical.
--…I just want to like, start from the beginning, because I love The Chosen. I’ve watched a ton of it. I feel like, you know, everybody’s telling you that, right? We all love The Chosen.
--And so, what I love about it is that it’s so visual. I love that when I’m reading Scripture, I can think, Oh, that’s what Peter looks like, and that’s where they were, or whoever it was…
--Is that what Peter looked like? Is what’s being visually presented from God, or from man’s imagination?
--When they watch it, they are white hot. Like, and there’s a difference between loving something and being obsessed about it.
--I did a short film about seven years ago based on the crucifixion but from the perspective of the two thieves.
--So I explored the backstory of the two thieves on the cross, and most of it I imagined, I came up with on my own.
--You’ve just given me personally, but I know countless people, just that visual of Jesus’s kind eyes.
--Are those the kind eyes of Jesus?
--And when this person prays, they started to imagine Jonathan Roumie in their minds. And they asked me if this was wrong. And at the time, I told them, “This is really strange, and it could be really, really dangerous…”
--It could start to cross the line into people thinking, “I feel like I’m looking at Jesus.”
--The guy who plays Jesus always comes to my mind. You’ve just given me personally, but I know countless people, just that visual of Jesus’s kind eyes.
--"And the Lord said unto Moses, Arise, get thee down quickly from here, for thy people which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves. They are quickly turned aside out of the way, which I commanded them. They have made them a molten image.” Deuteronomy:9:12
--I want to say something very quick before I talk about this specific scene. We’re doing 56 episodes of this show, and most of the content of this show is not directly from Scripture. I know that sounds horrible, but it’s true! If you watched episode 1 of season 1, almost none of that is from Scripture. If you watch episode 2 of season 2, none of it is from Scripture. Episode 3, none of it from Scripture. Episode 4, most of it not from Scripture. Therefore, it is a guarantee that we are going to disagree sometimes. You are not always going to agree with everything that I decide in my portrayal of Christ or of the followers of Jesus. That is a fact.
--So what Mr. Jenkins is rationalizing is that he is portraying the character of Jesus and his disciples who say and do things not found in the Bible, but come from his imagination. Clearly the characters presented are false representations of the biblical Jesus and his disciples.
--So the mission of The Chosen is not to be Scripture…
--Yeah, yeah, yeah.
--…it’s not to pretend that we know exactly what Jesus was like or what his friends were like. It was simply to present him in the language, really, of a modern generation.
--What he is saying is The Chosen is not the Bible, although it presents a Jesus character and other biblical characters that are not true to the Bible. So it should not be thought of as consistent with the Bible. Yet its value, according to the Mormon executive producer of The Chosen, is in its representation of the Bible in the visual “language” of a modern generation. An added false representation is a misrepresentation, no matter what medium is used. Scripture says, “Every word of God is pure. He is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee and thou be found a liar.” Proverbs:30:5-6
--I know for me, I see these stories depicted, I see the scripts early, but, boy, when I see them come to life, man, I want to dig into those stories! I want to get to know those characters.
--Are you like me when you start reading Matthew, you hear Matthew’s voice? [Laughs]
--Oh, yes! Yeah…
--John:6:63 declares that “the flesh profits nothing.” Yet enthusiasm for Scripture is generated in this man’s mind by false movie imagery.
--Are you like me when you start reading Matthew, you hear Matthew’s voice?
--Oh, yes! Yeah, there are some things that are ruined. It’s all ruined!
--I don’t know how that happens, but it does every single time!
--One of the major problems with movie imagery is the powerful and lasting effect it has on the viewer’s mind. If it’s a lie, that lie may become entrenched within the viewer. Second Corinthians 10:4-5: “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
--It’s funny, it’s like it’s hard for me, sometimes, when imagining the text now, to not picture the way you guys have portrayed it. You know, it’s like those are the images that are in there, you know?
--Is it funny to have in one’s mind the voice or an image of an actor, actually a false Christ, saying things that the biblical Jesus never said? And is it funny to have the image of an actor come continually to mind when the Scriptures are read?
--You know, it’s like, those are the images that are in there, you know?
--Up until The Chosen, there hadn’t really been a definitive portrayal of Jesus’s followers, and now, for me personally, it’s hard for me to read the Bible without picturing some of those people.
--And it doesn’t end up—it’s not a distraction. It’s not a…it hasn’t been a replacement for Scripture. It’s actually been kind of clarifying for me. So I hope it’s also clarifying for the audience.
--Definitive portrayal? What is being clarified? Nothing other than the imagination of Dallas Jenkins in portraying biblical characters.
--It hasn’t been a replacement for Scripture, it’s actually just been kind of clarifying for me. So I hope it’s also clarifying for the audience.
--Yeah, it’s the fun part about God making our imaginations what they’re supposed to be. It’s this holy imagination, letting our imagination run wild with him.
--Holy imagination? No. This is not God allowing our imaginations to “run wild” with His truth. It’s Dallas Jenkins’ imagination.
--I feel like my relationship with Jesus has been so deepened by how you portray Jesus. When I’m having my quiet time, and maybe this is weird, but I sometimes I’m just picturing, like, having a conversation with him, and the guy who plays Jesus that I don’t remember his name. Like, it always comes to my mind, and so you’ve just given me personally, but I know countless people, just that visual of Jesus’s kind eyes.
--How can one’s personal relationship with the Son of God be “deepened” by being enamored with a false Christ? “O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth? Before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified.” Galatians:3:1
--Where I really felt God speaking to me, like, laying something very strong on my heart, that God was laying on my heart The Chosen was going to be what people thought of when they pictured the disciples, like, when they pictured Jesus’s people. And I felt like God was saying, like, “This is going to be the definitive portrayal of my people.”
--Webster’s Dictionary, along with others, define “definitive” as “serving to provide a final solution, or to end a situation; serving as a perfect example; authoritative, conclusive, final, exhaustive.”
--I felt like God was saying, like, “This is going to 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.”
--So I think what happens with evangelical readings of Scripture is it all becomes flat, and there’s no relatability to these characters in the Bible, because they’re just these words on the page, and “Oh, of course we know that story. Here’s how it goes.” But there’s…I have nothing in common, because I live a three-dimensional life, not black and white letters on a page.
--So what a film series like this does for us is it reignites our imagination and helps us relate to what’s written on the page, recognizing that yeah, our imaginations need to be controlled by the page, but still, wow! Mary is a real person! She had real problems kind of like my problems. Yeah, that draws people in, and maybe they’ll start reading their Bibles more.
--Did the Holy Spirit need to have the assistance of three-dimensional motion pictures in order to get readers to experience a “relatability” to God’s Word? “God forbid! Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar. As it is written…” Romans:3:4
And how can images out of the imagination of a screenwriter and director help one to relate to the truth of God’s written Word? No scene of The Chosen is true to the Word of God. Therefore, the statement that it’s false scenes will encourage people to read the Bible is itself false. And if anyone who may be curious about the Bible after watching an episode, he would experience the movie equivalent of fake news.
--Yeah, no, we’ve heard it over and over and over again: “I’ve never read my Bible more than I do now.”
--I just hear Matthew’s voice when I read Matthew. [Laughs]
--It happened, I want to say, at least 10 times where a day player actor for example, or one of our regulars has been in a scene with you, and they weren’t expecting to be emotional, or they weren’t expecting to have goosebumps or whatever, but we’ve seen it happen a lot, especially when they’re doing a scene where they’re on camera and you’re not, and you’ll just kind of stand near the camera and just look at them, where they’re saying, “I felt something. I felt the Spirit.” Including people who aren’t believers!
--I mean, you and I have talked about this before, of people kind of—they feel compelled to share their story with you. This happens so often, and again, it could start to cross the line into people thinking, I feel like I’m looking at Jesus. The one actor telling us he couldn’t say a certain line to you without weeping every time, and he was trying not to weep, because he was trying to get the words out. And it happens often when the actors are doing lines that actually express that they believe. That moment where the character is having a change of heart or an acceptance of Christ in some way. Something happens to their bodies that I believe God is doing in that moment. You know, so I didn’t want to keep rambling about it, but…
--Does that ever make you feel almost uncomfortable, or have you come to grips with it?
--On set it’s one thing to kind of feel that and experience that and to channel that. Where it gets a little surreal…
--…is when you meet people outside of set…
--Who have seen the show.
--…who have seen the show. Like I know there were some…I think we’d run into some investors in Texas when we were out and about grabbing lunch and stuff, and it’s not just like, “Oh, you’re my favorite character!” There’s this other thing in some people’s eyes where it’s like, “Wow!” you know? And they’re like, Whoa, what’s going on? And for this particular role, it’s taken a different thing. I guess that does get a little scary at times.
--One of the reasons we haven’t done BTS stuff with you much, even B-roll on the set, we try not to show much of you screwing around with the actors and whatnot, is because…
--I don’t screw around with the actors! I’m perfect!
--Of course not! But we’re trying to protect a little bit—in some ways protect you, because there are some audience members who are like, “Well, I don’t necessarily want to see Jesus acting like Jonathan.”
--One of the powers of the theatrical film medium is its emotional control over the audience. When emotions dictate what a viewer is receiving, he or she has turned from the objective truth of God’s Word to his or her feelings.
In these next few clips, one of The Chosen’s top fans, his name is Brandon, and his YouTube channel is called The Snipe Life. This gentleman regularly makes videos praising The Chosen. He does, like, critiques and assessments, and The Chosen brings him onto their platform. Well, he’s starting to get concerned. Why? Because he interacts with the fan base.
--I think there are some Christians that still won’t watch the show, even if they were to believe a lot of what’s happening in the show. And I think the biggest reason that I’ve seen is the second commandment of the Ten Commandments. It says, “Do not make any graven images of things of heaven, or of hell, or of things below the earth.” The other side here is the complete opposite, where there is almost a worship of the show and some of the actors, as well. And I’ve seen a lot of people within our communities, they’re walking way too close of worship of the show, and worship of specifically Jonathan Roumi.
I remember specifically I got a DM on Instagram, or Facebook, or somewhere, talking about prayer. And when this person prays, they started to imagine Jonathan Roumi in their minds. And they asked me if this was wrong. And at the time, I told them, “This is really strange, and it could be really, really dangerous.” And there’s a reverence that’s being given to him by many, many people that makes it extremely uncomfortable. Makes me feel like people are more interested in the show version of Jesus than Jesus.
--Okay, we are live here in Texas with the feeding of the 5,000. All the people coming all over the world. We have 32 countries coming together, and every state in the United States is here for the feeding of the 5,000.
--Well, we have 10,000 people here in the last two days.
--Some really cool places. We have a little merch tent that we’ve got some very special merchandise gifts. We have some new gifts that are going out. We have some friends of ours, Snipe Life right here. How you doing? How is the experience so far?
--It’s been actually amazing.
--You still want to review it?
--Right, we still want to…
--We’re live with The Chosen Instagram! Say hello! [Crowd cheers]
--As you can see, it goes as far as the eye can see! So many people—there are about 4,500-5,000 people here today, and there was another 4,500-5,000 people here yesterday, and there’s going to be over 10,000 people total that are involved in this project. Really, really amazing!
--Everyone’s excited! We got cutout boards of everybody, they look just like…oh, so funny! They look just like them! Aww, Jesus!
--That’s what we do, right?
--Are we live right now?
--We are live right now.
--This is perfect timing. Brother?
--You and I haven’t had a chance to talk.
--How do you feel about this?
--I am so emotional right now.
--I know. This guy right here, he saw this even before I did. He was from the beginning saying, “This is going to be big, because people’s lives are going to be changed.”
--Derral Eves is a committed temple Mormon. He believes in the gospel of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That’s a false gospel, and it features a false Jesus Christ, who is the spirit brother of Lucifer and one of the multiple gods of creation. As a professing evangelical, Dallas Jenkins declares that executive producer Derral Eves was the driving force behind The Chosen.
What’s just one of the problems with this?
Second Corinthians 6:14: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers, for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?”
--This guy right here, he saw this even before I did. He was from the beginning saying, “This is going to be big, because people’s lives are going to be changed.” This is the result of a lot of faith and a lot of drive.
--But I think the moment that blew me away is the end of day one, they had all 5,000 people out there on the field, and I’m standing back there trying to get my footage for the recap, and there’s Jonathan Roumie…
--I want to see Jonathan. Every time he’s on screen in The Chosen, I feel at peace. To be able to hear that in person? I can’t wait.
--And there’s Jonathan Roumie, and then Jonathan Roumie says something and the whole crowd reacts, but their voice is like a wave—start at the front and roll to the back.
--And it’s one of those things that gives you chills, because it’s like, you can read the story in the Bible. But when you look at it and you see Jonathan Roumie standing in front of 5,000 people, and the sound of that crowd, that is going to forever be in my memory.
--They’re walking way too close of worship of the show, and worship of specifically Jonathan Roumie.
--What is visual idolatry? First of all, idolatry in general is the worship of idols, images, or anything made by hands, or which is not God. According to Webster, it includes the worship of images, statues, pictures, etc., and an excessive attachment or veneration for anything, or that which borders on adoration. Visual idolatry is a manmade image that attempts to represent God or His characteristics. It’s condemned in Scripture because it will inevitably misrepresent what is presented in the Word of God, which alone has communicated. That also includes all the individuals who are represented throughout the Bible.
Deuteronomy:5:8-9: “Thou shalt not make thee any graven image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them, for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.”
--I have witnessed in these recent months the impact of simply just putting before someone what we call an authentic Jesus. Now, we’re no saying that factually, we’re just saying, here’s a Jesus who came as God in flesh, but he came in flesh! He was a man. He danced, he blew raspberries. [Laughing and blowing raspberries]
--In this next clip, Derral Eves, the executive producer of The Chosen and a temple Mormon who believes he is going to be a god someday, describes how his teenage son, when watching series 1 episode 3, where Jesus interacts with children and blows raspberries, his teenage son is convinced that Jesus is real, and he comes to know this “authentic Jesus” of The Chosen.
--It hit him, you know, but not to the level that the episode 3: seeing Jesus interact with children. Like, that’s never really been done before in the way that it is. I mean, he’s blowing raspberries! Like, Jesus blowing raspberries? You know? But he was there and interacted in a way, and then he was hooked. And I’m an early riser, but he knocks on my door, 3 in the morning, and I open it up and say, “What’s wrong?” And he’s just…tears running down his face. And he goes, “Dad, Jesus really does live, doesn’t he?” And I say, “Yes, he does.”
--"And he’s a real person, right?” Like, yes! Yes, I know he lives! I just know it! And right then and there, every inch that crawled on glass, every dollar that we put into the project was worth it.
--If that one person just could feel that and know Jesus? That was it. That was good enough for me.
--Can an authentic Jesus be presented when the screenwriter makes up the character of Jesus that fits with what he imagines the audience should realize about him? As was stated earlier, the truth is not emotionally driven. While we may have compassion regarding the experience of Mr. Eves and his son, the fact is the Jesus presented is one made up by The Chosen’s writers. Another question is: what is the gospel of Mormonism that can save Derral Eves’ son?
--Well, we want the viewer to see that the people who met Christ have the same issues that you do, and the same struggles, and the same needs, and the same hunger. And the solution for them is the same solution for you. And if we can get them to connect in that way, if you can see Jesus through the eyes of those who actually met him, we say you can be changed and impacted in the same way they were. And if you can really, truly connect to those people, then you can connect to the solution.
--Is this the gospel? If you really, truly can connect to those people, the people that Dallas Jenkins is portraying, then you can connect to the solution? And maybe your life can be changed? This is a false gospel and a false Jesus.
--One of the things that everyone loves about the show is that you are making these characters relatable. You are humanizing them.
--Was the written Word given by the Holy Spirit deficient in making Jesus and His disciples “relatable?” What value are the relatable Chosen movie characters when they are nowhere to be found in Scripture?
--My name is Kaelyn Reese, and I’m from Port Charlotte, Florida.
--With our daughter, she had some quirks when she was growing up. She was also obsessed with certain things. We didn’t know it was Asperger’s at first.
--Different ways that she would struggle, different ways that she processed things…
--Sometimes I think of things a little bit more deeply than some do, and don’t always understand people’s jokes. I had a few tics growing up that I’ve kind of learned to control. We watched it together as a family, and we were all, like, crying and stuff, and it was really good.
--Seeing Matthew for the first time, it just kind of struck all of us, like, huh, that’s really interesting.
--Matthew’s quirks, the way he interacted with people, was very mechanical, always looking around, and I kind of recognized that. At least, I had suspicions that he might be on the spectrum.
--Well, I just saw the character and I just really related with him. And also, I wanted to tell you how much that it impacted me.
--It was kind of a neat, cute gesture that she wanted to send a letter.
--When we created the character of Matthew, we decided that based on some of the characteristics we saw in the gospels, that it was plausible if not factual, but plausible that Matthew had Asperger’s Syndrome. So once we decided that, writing into Matthew these characteristics that I know very well, I felt like we could really do an accurate portrayal. Kaelyn wrote me this letter and she simply said, “I was moved by seeing a character onscreen that I could relate to.” The reason that the show is working and will hopefully continue to work is because the audience feels an authentic connection to these people.
--My kids, my girls, they dance when the songs come on, like at the wedding feast, they’re out dancing in the room. And then my five-year-old, who is a little bit on the spectrum we think—we’ve never gotten diagnosed—but she just said, watching, she’s like, “Matthew’s my favorite. He’s like me.”
--Right. Yeah. We’ve heard that over and over again.
--Is the young girl taking comfort from the character Matthew in The Chosen, even though the affliction she relates to is from the mind of Dallas Jenkins and not from the Matthew as he is presented in the Word of God? By introducing erroneous biblical scenes throughout The Chosen, is that how Christians are to develop spiritual discernment? Can a nonbeliever or a new believer discern between what the character Jesus says and does in The Chosen, and what the biblical Jesus says and does? It’s a strong delusion to believe that those who watch The Chosen will compare what they have viewed with what is written in the Bible. The biblically false Chosen images will almost always be retained as information believed to be found in the Word of God.
--So you go, all right, what do we know of Matthew from Scripture? Tax collector, so that means he’s a numbers guy. He’s a facts guy. The first chapter of his book is a genealogy split into three sections of 14 names apiece. He also chose a profession that made him an outcast, hated by the Jews for betraying their people, and I have a very strong familiarity with autism and with Asperger’s. It’s in my family, so I know that world as well as you can know it, and have some Asperger’s traits myself.
--So I thought, This guy, like, a) this guy has Asperger’s traits; b) wouldn’t it be really interesting to put him on the spectrum? That’s never been done before in a Bible project. I think it would be a really humanizing way to connect with this character, and not only that, but the show itself. And this is an attempt to try to really get you connected with these people. So what’s been interesting is Matthew has become, other than Jesus, the number one most loved and responded to character on the show. It’s just been a totally—it’s just been a door into, an open door into the story in a way that we couldn’t have otherwise predicted.
--My eight-year-old, before we watched the feast at Matthew’s house, after he’s called, we just finished that episode. That night she says, “Tomorrow can we read about Matthew’s feast at his house? Is that in the Scriptures?” And so we read it in the Scriptures, and she goes, “Oh, that’s what’s in there.” And then she watches it and she’s like, “So this part’s not in there, and this part is,” and she’s grasping what really happened, and it’s helped us with Scriptures.
--It engages you more with Scripture, even when you say, “This part isn’t from Scripture, this part is,” the very act of engaging in that way shows that they’re not replacing Scripture with the show.
--The show is not a replacement for Scripture. The show is not adding to the Bible, because the Bible is the Bible.
--Dallas Jenkins declares that The Chosen is not a replacement for Scripture. It is not adding to the Bible. To the contrary, The Chosen is indeed a replacement for Scripture in that most of the viewers will prefer watching the visual presentation rather than reading the Scriptures. Such is human nature.
Does The Chosen add to the Bible? It features the biblical characters of Jesus and His disciples, and numerous other persons found in the Bible. It includes biblical events involving those individuals who do and say things contrary to what the Bible presents. Dallas Jenkins, by creating his own stories featuring Jesus and His disciples, have falsified what God’s Word declares in truth about the Son of God. What he has done has not only added to the Scriptures (Proverbs:30:6), he has corrupted the teachings of the Word of God (2 Corinthians:2:17).
“But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that comes preaches another Jesus which we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit which ye have not received, or another gospel which ye have not accepted, ye might well go along with him.” 2 Corinthians:11:3-4
--The scenes that we were shooting, if someone was visiting, would say, “Well, that’s not in the Bible. I don’t remember that moment in the Bible with Nicodemus and this other character?” But what’s captured in Scripture is actually pretty brief.
--In season 1, when Jesus is on the roof with Nicodemus, we kind of had to write a lot of extra stuff into that, and so we were adding a lot to that whole conversation from the Book of John. And that, I think I’ve said before, it felt a little bit like being asked to rewrite or expand upon Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. It’s like the most famous, you know, verse in the Bible is in this conversation, and we were kind of zhuzhing it. And so that was like…that kind of had me on thin ice for a little while.
--Yes, we are adding to the backstory, but that makes it even more powerful when we get to those moments in Scripture that we all know and love so much.
--How do stories contrary to the Word of God that come from the imagination of Dallas Jenkins and Tyler Thompson lead us to the Scriptures and make them more powerful? Listen to the man that Dallas Jenkins considers his mentor and Bible scholar for The Chosen.
--So I think what happens with evangelical readings of Scripture is it all becomes flat. And there’s no relatability to these characters in the Bible, because they’re just these words on the page.
--“For the word of God is alive and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews:4:12
“Is not my word like a fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” Jeremiah:23:29
--It makes the work so much easier when you have these images.
--What I love about it is that it’s so visual. When I’m reading Scripture, I can think, Oh, that’s what Peter looks like.
--Those are the images that are in there, you know?
--"I’m not going to let you screw this up. This is too important.” Phew!
--"Because they receive not the love of the truth, God shall send them a strong delusion that they should believe a lie, that they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but have pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians:2:9-12
“Jesus said, If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John:8:31-32
--Nineteen thousand of you, as Angel Investors, wanted a TV series with a historically accurate depiction of Jesus. So you invested over 10 million dollars to produce The Chosen, which became a smash hit, which has now reached over a hundred million viewers worldwide, and has generated over a hundred million in revenues, with more seasons on the way.
--We all know that The Chosen has a goal to reach a billion people with its message. And this goal that I’m going to share with you tonight is not The Chosen’s goal, it is Angel Studio’s goal. But based on the trajectory that we’re seeing, we believe that we can help The Chosen reach a billion people by 2027. We want to dive deeper into what’s happening in Brazil, and it just so opens that we prerecorded Jeffrey and his wife Anieli, our cofounder and chief content officer, because they are helping to launch our teams in Brazil.
--Hi! So, thank you! So exciting to see how everything’s going all over the world. And I’m here in Sao Paolo, Brazil with my wife Anieli, and we have been here since February. We moved our family of five kids down here just to launch The Chosen in Brazil, and now the app is in Portuguese. During Easter, Brazil passed the United States for daily active viewers. So Brazil’s now number one in the world for The Chosen!
--We’re ultimately focused on getting it to a billion people, because we want a billion people to see an authentic Jesus.
Tom: I just have a couple more comments.
I hope that you’ve concluded that The Chosen is no minor issue in the increasing apostasy of our day. If you're not aware of that, let me underscore a couple of destructive aspects of this cult-driven production.
For those who are enamored, meaning emotionally bewitched, by the series, they have been seduced by programs that replace God's Word with the unbiblical concepts and scenes presented by script writers, directors, and actors.
They have turned from God's Word to man's words. They've turned to visual idolatry.
As we've seen, the popularity of The Chosen is becoming a worldwide phenomenon.
It has enabled the cult of Mormonism to be recognized as simply another Christian denomination. That has been their goal for the last 50 years, and maybe even longer. They just want to be just like every other Christian group.
The Chosen's never-ending additions to the Bible have so contaminated the Scriptures for many that most who watch the series cannot discern between what's written in the Bible and what they've seen in the various episodes.
That's an ideal condition for religious ecumenism, where even contradictory beliefs and practices are accepted.
It's astonishing to me that a great number of pastors who are on record as Bible-believing shepherds of the flock—Bible-believing shepherds—with which God has not only blessed them, but has also given them the duty to safeguard their sheep, they have failed in their responsibility.
They are unwittingly slipping into a setting...a situation that the Word of God likens to a hireling, one who cares not for the sheep (John:10:12-13).
As I pray for them, I also pray that the Lord will put it on the hearts of many born again believers to use this message and video, that they might get it to the shepherds who are uninformed or reluctant to address The Chosen.
Furthermore, I pray for those believers who have ignored The Chosen's influence among their brothers and sisters in Christ and therefore are disobeying the exhortation of Jude 3, that they are to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."
Lord, again, it’s not just what we’ve gone over in this talk, but I think about all the speakers, all of the videos, all of the live speaking, Lord. It’s what you want us to do. What else have we got to do before you return? And, Lord, we want you to come quickly, but we want to use the time to your glory and to the blessing and encouragement of others, Lord.
I pray that not only you’d keep that on my heart, but you would keep it on all our hearts, that we might glorify you and be fruitful and productive to your return, or you take us home.
In Jesus’ name, amen.