Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Review: Jesus: His Life by the History Channel--Read Your Bible Instead

Read your Bible instead of watching this program. The goal of the History Channel is not to present the Bible accurately. The intent of the of Jesus: His Life is to make money for their network by stirring up controversy and doubt, like many other programs on this network.

Seriously. I'm not joking. Read the Bible instead.

You should be aware that the History Channel is the source for Ancient Aliens, and other sensationalist anti-history.

But let us compare the Bible with an example of the History Channel's use of the Bible in Jesus: His Life episode 1.

The Annunciation starts at minute 7 in the program. 

It is very clear at the outset of this episode that the History Channel's producers and writers desire to inject the heresy of Pelagianism into the biblical text.

Pelagius was a late 4th and early 5th century British priest who denied the Scripture's teaching that humans inherited original sin and are by nature enemies of God. In place of this Pelagius taught that every individual was capable of choosing to do God's will and be saved through their own choice. Pelagius' teachings were recognized as unbiblical and condemned as false doctrine by numerous church councils and confessions (including Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Reformed) from the early 5th century to this day. His views are rightly considered heretical. And the heresy of Pelagius has been embraced by a many today who teach that they are Christian.

According to the Bible the angel Gabriel greets Mary:
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.  And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:30-33 NKJV)
According to the History Channel's Jesus: His Life Gabriel says:
"Mary, do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God. If you choose to accept His plan, you will conceive in your womb and give birth, a Son."
First, note the bold italics. These are words the History Channel chose as replacements for the rest of what Gabriel said in the Bible. It is important to notice what they are eliminating: They eliminate the words of Gabriel which declare that Jesus is the Eternal God coming into human flesh according to the promises made to David and Jacob.

They replace this confession of Christ with something that did not happen. Gabriel never appealed to Mary "to accept" God's "plan." And Gabriel never told Mary that Christ would only be conceived "if" she chose "to accept".

Eliminating the words of Scripture about the Divine Human Savior, the History Channel teaches the fiction that Mary's decision to follow God was the focus of this Biblical text.

Mary's response to Gabriel comes next.

According to the Bible, Mary responds:
“How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (Luke 1:34)
History Channel, Mary:
"How can this happen? I am a virgin."
The History Channel does make clear that at this point Mary was a virgin. So at least at this point in the show the Virgin birth is not denied.

The Gabriel of the Bible, says:
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.  Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Luke 1:35-37)
History Channel Gabriel says something completely different:
"Nothing is impossible with the Almighty. The Holy Spirit will visit you. The child you bear will become the greatest of men. He will be called the Son of God."
Eliminated from the Bible is the actual divinity of Christ, and in place of this the History Channel claims that at some time in the future this son of hers will become great and be called the Son of God. The Bible's Gabriel points to Elizabeth and in her the promise of the Forerunner. The History Channel eliminates the fulfillment of the Prophetic Word.  The History Channel Gabriel speaks in a way which is consistent with the heresy of Adoptionism: the false teaching that Jesus wasn't really the Eternal God who became human, but rather that Jesus was a miraculously conceived man who later in life was adopted by God at His baptism and was given the title "Son of God."

In the Bible, Mary responds:
 “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” 
And at this point the Bible says:
And the angel departed from her.
But the History Channel is not done with its version of Mary and Gabriel.

History Channel has Mary saying
"Why has He chosen me?"
To which the History Channel's Gabriel says:
"You are pure of heart and soul. Will you accept this gift?"
History Channel Mary says:
"Here am I, servant of the Lord."
This fictional interchange embraces the heresy of Pelagianism.

This interchange may have been included as a nod toward the Roman Catholic teaching of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. That is, that she was also conceived and born without the contamination of original inherited sin. The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was officially adopted by the Roman Catholic church by Pope Pius IX in 1854. This view of Mary became widely held through late antiquity. It is not a Biblical teaching, it was accepted as Church doctrine in the Roman Church based on the authority of the Pope.

History Channel Gabriel's fictional question "Will you accept this gift?" implies that she was, at least, if not also other humans, in a position of moral freedom with regard to the Will of God. This is the same kind of moral freedom the Church condemned as Pelagianism from the 5th century and on.

Summary

Don't bother watching the show. Read the Bible instead.

Some might object to this review as if it were cherry-picking evidence. Shame on you for excusing such false teaching. And may God bring you to repentance and faith.

This review could be many times longer on many more errors and serious heresies and false doctrines promoted in Jesus: His Life. I could have focused on the many baseless and false claims made by the commentators. I could have focused on the whole web of fictional background invented by the writers to frame the episode around their imaginings of what Joseph must have gone through, the fictional conversations between Joseph, Mary, and the people around them. All of which are a load of invented dreck. The invented stories about Jesus have no value at all in teaching us more about who He is or His work for us.

But what matters is how the producers represent the actual Scriptures, the Word of God. (Here understand that Joel Osteen is named, among others.) What do they take out? What do they add?

Here we have seen what they subtract: Christ as the Prophesied Incarnation of the Eternal Divine Son of God as Savior.

Here we have seen with what they replace Christ: The idea of free moral ability to choose to do what God wants, so that God can bless us. That is, the heresy of Pelagianism. And this heresy is often the foundation of both the Prosperity Gospel, the Social Gospel, and false teachers promoting the Word of Faith heresy.

Read your Bible instead.

Text Criticism News

Ancient History and Archaeology