I Wish Religious Critics Would Stop Bashing “The Chosen”

by | Jan 11, 2023 | Fire in My Bones

Read time: 4 minutes 18 seconds
I’m not a big TV fan. I’ve never watched “Game of Thrones” or “Stranger Things.” Last year when I looked at the list of 2022 Emmy Award winners, I realized I’d never seen any of the nominated shows. Aside from reruns of “Everybody Loves Raymond” (I own every episode), I pretty much surf for movies, football or news programs when I control the remote.

All that changed when “The Chosen” began airing in 2019, thanks to donors who loved it after seeing the first episode. Now in its third season, the show is the most successful crowdfunded TV program in history. Viewers have given more than $50 million to support it.

And director Dallas Jenkins is just getting started. “The Chosen” is the only serialized dramatization of the life of Jesus ever produced. Jenkins said early on in his project that his goal is to get people to binge-watch the gospel. As of the end of 2022, 413 million viewers have already seen at least part of it—and we have four more seasons to go.

I’ll admit I’m hooked. I’ve never been a fan of Christian movies, which are often embarrassingly preachy. That’s not “The Chosen.” Never in Hollywood history has anyone captured so much of the heart of the gospel like Jenkins and his cast and crew have with this masterpiece. The casting is superb, the sets are amazing and historians and religious scholars from both Christian and Jewish backgrounds have offered input to the script.

The best part is that the show is just getting started. In Episode 5 of Season 3, which aired last Sunday, we saw the healing of the bleeding woman and the raising of Jarius’ daughter. But “The Chosen” isn’t in a hurry to rush Jesus to the cross. This is not an Easter-week miniseries. The narrative takes many detours, giving us the imagined backstory on multiple biblical characters and offering flashbacks from Old Testament scenes.

It even provides a few moments for Jesus (played perfectly by actor Jonathan Roumie) to roughhouse with his disciples during a swim in the Sea of Galilee.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that a segment of the Christian community is dead-set against “The Chosen.” A growing group of frowning fundamentalists (I’m not going to name names) are blasting the show because Jenkins is supposedly “adding to Scripture” (their words) or outright distorting the gospel. Some pastors have even blasted the series from the pulpit. And, of course, armchair critics on YouTube are dissecting every scene of the show and accusing Jenkins of being a pawn of the devil. It’s sad how we Christians treat each other.

It’s true that “The Chosen” uses creative license to explore the possibilities of the biblical narrative. All religious films do this—from “Ben-Hur” to “The Robe” to “The Ten Commandments” to “The Passion of the Christ.” No dramatic depiction of the story of Jesus can rely on the Bible alone, because we don’t know all the disciples’ previous occupations, how many of them were married or what Nathaniel was doing when he was under the sycamore tree.

“The Chosen” tries to fill in those blanks with possibilities. Peter (Shahar Isaac) relates to his wife at their home in Capernaum, and—don’t be shocked!—they don’t always get along. The man who caters the wedding at Cana, and worries about running out of wine, turns out to be the disciple Thomas (Joey Vahedi). The Pharisee, Nicodemus (Erick Avari), unsuccessfully tries to cast demons out of Mary Magdalene—and this leads to his meeting with Jesus. And Matthew (Paras Patel) is briefly disowned by his Jewish father because he’s a tax collector.

None of this is in the Bible. It’s simply creative storytelling. “The Chosen” takes its liberties to help make the story relatable. That doesn’t make it heretical, any more than John Bunyan’s allegory Pilgrim’s Progress is blasphemous. This kind of art makes the gospel easier to understand. And not once has Jenkins’ literary license changed the core meaning of the gospel story.

What excites me most about “The Chosen” is that young viewers are watching it, and many are discovering the gospel for the first time as a result.

Last year Jenkins and his team showed episodes 1 and 2 to a group of young adults, and all of them were a bit cynical toward Christianity. Yet many of them cried while watching certain scenes. By the end of the screening, all of these GenX viewers admitted being more open to the gospel—and at least one of the women started attending church. Another of the young viewers said: “I’m serious, this show made me want to be Jesus’ friend.”

Imagine what could happen if this amazing television phenomenon triggers that kind of reaction on a massive scale.

Instead of bashing “The Chosen” or nitpicking every detail, please watch it, support it and pray for it. God is using this TV series to spread the gospel to people who are too skeptical to visit a church, but who are happy to hear about a Savior who loves them.

J. Lee Grady was editor of Charisma for 11 years and now serves as senior contributing editor. He directs the Mordecai Project (themordecaiproject.org), an international ministry that protects women and girls from gender-based violence. His latest books are Follow Me and Let’s Go Deeper (Charisma House).

CHARISMA NEWSLETTERS

Stay up-to-date with current issues, Christian teachings, entertainment news, videos & more.

The latest breaking Christian news you need to know about as soon as it happens.

Prophetic messages from respected leaders & news of how God is moving throughout the world. 


MORE FROM CHARISMA

Evangelist John Ramirez Exposing Satanism Infecting America

Evangelist John Ramirez Exposing Satanism Infecting America

Spiritual warfare is raging across America, yet few are talking about it or the ramifications that come with it. The Bible warns Christians of the enemy's plans, but the deception of the devil has relegated many to the sidelines instead of the frontlines where they...

Chad Becomes Latest Muslim Nation to Open Embassy in Israel

Chad Becomes Latest Muslim Nation to Open Embassy in Israel

Chad President Mahamat Deby is in Israel to inagurate his country's embassy in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, scheduled to take place on Thursday. The central African country is the latest predominantly Muslim nation to strengthen ties with Israel. The two...

14 Fervent Prayers for Gen Z

14 Fervent Prayers for Gen Z

Generation Z—those born between 1997 and 2012—is rising. They are entering the workforce, entering politics and entering the ministry. But spiritually speaking, this generation is in crisis. Forty-six percent of Gen Z say they’ve committed their lives to Jesus, which...

The Fresh and Mighty Wind of God’s Spirit Is Now Blowing

The Fresh and Mighty Wind of God’s Spirit Is Now Blowing

There is a fresh wind blowing. It is the fresh wind of His Spirit. It is not only a wind that will bring refreshment, healing, empowerment and strength, but it is a wind that will bring deep rest, deep clarity and a deep stirring of what He is breathing upon! I had a...

Yes, Jesus Did Address Sexual Sin

Yes, Jesus Did Address Sexual Sin

Yes, Chris Bryant, Jesus really did address the subject of homosexuality, no matter how much you might want to twist the issue. After the Church of England recently set down an edict that forbid same-sex couples to marry but that each individual would receive "God's...

Influential Jesus-Believing Rabbi Issues Stern Warning for America

Influential Jesus-Believing Rabbi Issues Stern Warning for America

Rabbi Kirt Schneider, a Jewish believer in Jesus, warns that our culture will continue to go from bad to worse, just as Scripture says. "It's already too late," Schneider says. "The floodgates of darkness have been opened and there will be no global restoration or...

Get Ready, the Next Revival Will Be Very Messy

Get Ready, the Next Revival Will Be Very Messy

Many Christians pray for spiritual awakening, and that’s good. But I wonder if we realize how disruptive revival will be when it hits us like a tsunami. If you read accounts of previous revivals, three things become obvious: (1) revival requires a lot of work; (2)...

RECENT ARTICLES

Breaking Free of the Spirit of Religion

Recently, I was getting ready to leave in the morning when I suddenly had a vision. In this vision, I was taken into a room that appeared to be inside a funeral home. Everyone was dressed in black...
Beware of Satan’s Deceitful Imitations

Beware of Satan’s Deceitful Imitations

During the week as I drive to my office, I almost always turn on the local radio station and listen to the news. On a recent morning, one of the main stories being covered was about a well-known musical artist who was suing a lesser-known artist for imitating them on...

It’s Time to Drain the False Prophetic Swamp

It’s Time to Drain the False Prophetic Swamp

I believe there  are many more false prophets than true ones in America. I applaud Mario Murillo, who came out and exposed the wokeness of Christianity today. The "prophetic" swamp must be drained. The degree of goofiness and tomfoolery in the false prophetic camp is...

Do You Follow God Out of Fear?

Do You Follow God Out of Fear?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BTiiiTUQYKM&t=24s People are either saved by experiencing His goodness (Romans 2:4) or by the fear of being cast into hell (Jude 23). Jesus told us He is the only way of salvation and sadly, many people say they don’t believe Him....

Outspoken Christian Actress Cindy Williams Dead at 75

Outspoken Christian Actress Cindy Williams Dead at 75

Cindy Williams, the hit actress known for playing Shirley Feeney on the sitcom "Laverne & Shirley," has died according to a statement released from her family. After battling a short illness Williams died at the age of 75. Williams was outspoken about her...

Prophecy: Get Caught Up in the Coming Revival Wave

Prophecy: Get Caught Up in the Coming Revival Wave

The Australian Prophetic Council met in early January to discuss, prophesy and weigh the word of the Lord for 2023. While not all individual words are captured here, there are key themes and major points that were established out of the mouth of many witnesses. Our...

Pin It on Pinterest