Should You Choose “The Chosen”?

Should You Choose “The Chosen”?

Brent Pollard

Neal’s Note: While I personally enjoy this series and don’t think there is anything wrong with watching it, I appreciate Brent’s caution to not let religious entertainment replace our responsibility to get our theology from careful Bible study (2 Tim. 2:15).

Paul immediately addresses Timothy, his young son in the faith, with a warning about the Judaizers (1 Timothy 1.3–7). If you look closely at verse seven, you’ll notice that Paul says those who want to teach the Law have no idea what they’re saying. These Judaizers may wish to appear knowledgeable, but their ignorance renders them unqualified to instruct. 1 Timothy 1.7 cautions against false teaching and highlights the importance of sound doctrine.

While we quickly see this about a group like the Judaizers, is it not also true of those who would unintentionally do the same? It is safe to say that many people have good intentions but fail to grasp the actual harm they cause by teaching something false. Take Apollos as an excellent example of this. Apollos believed that the baptism of John was still valid and preached as much. Fortunately, Priscila and Aquila were there to correct him privately (Acts 18.24–28).

But the damage Apollos inadvertently caused had already been done. In Acts 19.1–7, Paul encountered twelve men who had obeyed the teaching of Apollos. Paul corrected their misconception and assisted them in rendering obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Imagine the fate of those twelve men had Paul not run into them in Ephesus! Given that we know Apollos’ heart, this was not his intention. However, confidently teaching things from ignorance has repercussions.

I imagine I am about to step into some hot water, but it is necessary to do so as I hear more and more of my brethren extolling the virtues of Dallas Jenkins’ The Chosen. The series itself begins with a disclaimer that many will likely ignore. The Chosen’s producers tell us, “Backstories and some characters or dialogue have been added.” They then add, “However, all biblical and historical context and any artistic imagination are designed to support the truth and intention of the Scriptures.” (“I Have Called You by Name”) 

Without even delving into the show itself, one should be alarmed that they freely admit that they have made additions to the Gospel story. In God’s Word, we are warned several times against adding to or taking from the Word of God (Deuteronomy 4.2; 12.32; Proverbs 30.6; Revelation 22.8). We should also be wary of what follows when Angel Studios says they derive this from an artist’s “imagination.” In his original dictionary, Noah Webster notes that imagination is a “conceit; an unsolid or fanciful opinion.” (“Webster’s Dictionary 1828 – Imagination”) So why do we want such a production about the Son of God?

As soon as the first episode begins, we learn that the pharisee Nicodemus is an exorcist, Peter and Andrew are having tax issues, and Matthew has some intriguing quirks, which later episodes explain are due to his Aspergers! That is a lot to unpack in a show that purports to help me better appreciate the life and mission of Jesus and His followers. Nevertheless, the response is nearly unanimous about why the show appeals to most of those I have spoken with. Viewers love the portrayal of Jesus in His humanity—a compassionate man with a good sense of humor.

I appreciate that. I admit that the actor portraying Jesus does a wonderful job. I, too, love the idea of my Lord smiling and palling around with His disciples. But I need help to sit through something otherwise potentially misleading to appreciate what Jonathan Roumie brings to his portrayal of my Lord. There is too much for me to ignore willingly.

The objector says this could be an excellent way to introduce the lost to Jesus. Though I appreciate any tool that can help evangelize others, this is something on which you have to spend a lot of time explaining how it differs from the Gospels. It ends up accomplishing what other pop-culture phenoms and Christian-based fiction have produced. How many eschatological views do people hold that are more “Timothy LaHaye” than biblical? How many visuals of the war in heaven do people erroneously subscribe to, thanks to John Milton’s Paradise Lost?

As Christians, we have liberty. So, I don’t want to hinder anyone from watching something entertaining that is undoubtedly more wholesome than any secular programming one might watch. As portrayals of Jesus go, this is not blasphemous like The Last Temptation of Christ or as disorienting as imagining Clueless alum Jeremy Sisto as God’s Son in Jesus (1999). But, please, “caveat oculus”—let the eye be careful. Nobody wants to stand before God’s judgment seat and discover that they are lost because they blindly believed something false confidently taught to them by another.

 1 “I Have Called You by Name.” BYUtv, 18 Apr. 2019,

2 “Websters Dictionary 1828 – Webster’s Dictionary 1828 – Imagination.” Websters Dictionary 1828,

A Three-Letter Word To Know And Avoid

A Three-Letter Word To Know And Avoid

Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent

Brent Pollard

If you want to win on the battlefield, you need to know your enemy and yourself, as Sun Tzu outlined in The Art of War. We are engaged in a spiritual conflict (Ephesians 6.11–13). As a result, in order to arm ourselves against sin, we must first recognize sin and its nature. Additionally, we need to be aware of how God will respond to any sin not atoned for by the blood of His Son. Finally, we must also properly respond to sin’s threat.

How can sin be identified?

First, it is a transgression of the law (1 John 3.4). By definition, transgression is “the act of passing over or beyond any law or rule of moral duty; the violation of a law or known principle of rectitude; breach of command” (Webster’s 1828 Dictionary). Accordingly, “transgression” describes instances in which we break the law, whether on purpose or accidentally. This infringement only needs to happen once to be considered a transgression.

Second, all unrighteousness is regarded as sin (1 John 5.17). Looking back to Webster’s original definition, we can see that unrighteousness “may consist of a single unjust act, but more generally, when applied to persons…denotes a habitual course of wickedness.” In other words, this is a condemnation of willful sinners. This is more than just breaking the law; it’s a deliberate decision to disobey God.

Third, anything not of faith is a sin (Romans 14.23). As Burton Coffman observes: “Where the conscience is in doubt, the definition of proper conduct must be made on the basis of what the word of God says; and, lacking any clear knowledge of what the word says, or, if knowing it, lacking full confidence and faith in it, the person is bound by his scruples.” This principle does not extend to situations where the conscience is not threatened.

Contextually, Paul is referring to the consumption of meat offered to idols. Meat offered to idols was technically forbidden (Acts 15.20). However, if the origin of the meat was unknown, you could gladly accept it. If, on the other hand, your host identified the meat source as coming from a pagan sacrifice, you couldn’t eat it for the sake of your conscience and the consciences of those who might see you and stumble as a result (1 Corinthians 10.27–29).

Fourth, God defines sin as not doing something. “So for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, for him it is sin” (James 4.17 NASB). This sin is the most concerning of all the ways we fall short. We’re aware of potential threats, but can we also spot opportunities? We can become so preoccupied with avoiding what is wrong that we miss out on what is right.

Now that we have identified sin, what is its nature?

First, sin is deceptive (Hebrews 3.13). You’ve probably heard the phrase “bait and switch.” That is what sin is. It makes promises that it cannot keep. It lures us with the appearance of pleasure, success, and freedom only to enslave us with guilt, shame, and emptiness.

Second, sin hardens the heart (Hebrews 3.8). It’s worth noting that the original Webster’s Dictionary from 1828 contains a definition for “harden” in this context. To harden means “to confirm in wickedness, opposition, or enmity; to make obdurate.” Oxford Dictionary defines obdurate as “stubbornly refusing to change one’s opinion or course of action.” As a result, the practice of sin causes one to become stubborn and reject God’s goodness in favor of the allure of sin.

Third, sin progresses (2 Timothy 3.13). David is a fantastic example of this. When one reads 2 Samuel 11, he finds David atop his palace when he should have been in the field with his soldiers. David could see into Bathsheba’s courtyard from his rooftop. He was moved with lust when he saw her bathing and had her brought to him. He had an affair with her, and she became pregnant.

Instead of admitting his sin, David brought the woman’s husband home, assuming they would have marital relations and that others would perceive his illegitimate child as her husband’s. Because he was such a great soldier, the woman’s husband forsook home comforts while he and his comrades fought. As a result, David orchestrated his death on the battlefield. When David paused atop his roof that fateful day, he had no idea what would happen. We can see, however, how quickly and far sin led him.

Fourth, sin’s pleasure is fleeting (Hebrews 11.25). Consider the phenomenon of intoxication. While under the influence, one may feel giddy or relaxed, but when sobriety returns, there may be things to deal with, such as headaches and the stupid things you did while drunk.

Fifth, sin’s price is astronomically high. (Romans 6.23). What a dreadful boss! Sin rewards you with death for your faithful service.

Sixth, sin dulls the conscience (1 Timothy 4.2). Paul depicts a conscience seared with a branding iron. He is discussing false teachers in the immediate context. One might wonder if such a person would repent if lovingly shown the truth. Unfortunately, there are times when one’s conscience is seared. They continue to teach falsehoods despite knowing they are false.

Note how God responds to sin.

God takes vengeance upon it (2 Thessalonians 1.7-9). We find this thought-provoking discussion about vengeance in Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:

“The infliction of pain on another, in return for an injury or offense. Such infliction, when it proceeds from malice or more resentment, and is not necessary for the purposes of justice, is revenge, and a most heinous crime. When such infliction proceeds from a mere love of justice, and the necessity of punishing offenders for the support of the laws, it is vengeance and is warrantable and just. In this case, vengeance is a just retribution, recompense or punishment. In this latter sense the word is used in Scripture, and frequently applied to the punishments inflicted by God on sinners.”

God punishes it (Matthew 25:46). This outcome is because, as Webster stated, God’s actions are just. God does not punish sinners because He is sadistic or because He can. Instead, God takes action because the punished person has done something deserving of the punishment. And this punishment is eternal (Matthew 25:46). Words like “eternity” are mysterious to us as beings defined by time. However, from our perspective, even one second of our skin’s exposure to fire feels like a long time. Consider a scenario in which the flames never die, and one cannot escape them.

Now is the time for a proper response to sin and its character.

We must adequately address sin. (Proverbs 28.13). However, hiding sins will not remove them. God reminds us that sin will eventually betray us, revealing its presence to all (Numbers 32.23). We can’t avoid our sins by pretending they don’t exist (1 John 1.8–10).

No, God has provided the means to save us. This method is known as the plan of salvation. “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins,” Peter says (Acts 2.38 NASB). We must walk in the light of God once He adds us to Christ’s body (1 John 1.7; Acts 2.41, 47).

However, because everyone has sinned, including God’s children, repentance never loses relevance (Acts 8.22). Similarly, we must confess our sins (1 John 1.9). By doing so, we have the assurance of Christ’s cleansing blood.

Lastly, keep away from sin by obeying the Lord’s command. “Hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9 NASB). Paul also urges us to “abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5.22 NASB). Trust in the Lord and obey Him to cleanse your life of sin and receive your soul’s salvation.