Last year, I had a post promoting the series. But with season 2 and with additional information that is seen from the series, actors, and the direction it seems to be going, we have some major red flags. I’m also going to share some resources to help you critically think about how you should view The Chosen. I want to try to answer concerns people have in discussing criticisms. I will share what I enjoy about the show and what I am struggling with. With everything in life we are to be discerning, and this show is no different.
I’m not against anyone in The Chosen. Like the creator, Dallas, I want to focus on the true Christ. I ask for prayer for everyone involved in the show, and everyone being influenced by the show. That we focus on what is true of Jesus Christ. I think it’s important to discuss our Savior and the way He is portrayed. That doesn’t mean I think The Chosen is evil, isn’t doing any good, or can’t be used by God. All I ask if for you to hear me out. Check out the resources, some are Christian, Catholic, or Mormon. I do not think all Mormons agree on the same points of their doctrine, just like I do not think all Catholics think the same. I’m focusing on the core doctrine of their religions, and followers can certainly disagree with core beliefs. Some interviews with Dallas are not with Christians. I’m trying to help give multiple perspectives so you can critically think most about what matters.
I’ve spent several weeks on this post. I’m praying for clarity and I ask you pray as well. I’m aiming to have the truth of scripture direct me, not emotions. I do intend to have additional posts with the material broken up, in case that is easier for some readers.
This is a complex post. There’s a lot to cover. If you are a Christian, I am assuming you care about how your Savior is presented, you care for followers of Jesus Christ, you care for scripture to be explained correctly, and you care that false doctrine does not seep its way into the church. You care about the truth, as you should.
Which means, you care about entertainment, its messages, how it affects weak believers, and what it implies about Jesus Christ.
Arguments Against Criticism of the Show
Before I begin, people often have very strong opinions on the show. I’ve seen hate which is never helpful, and by no means do I support hate. However, there are decent criticisms of the show that should be considered. Disagreement does not equal hate, please understand. Disagreement can lead to good discussions. On the other side of the pendulum, there are people who have such a love for the show they struggle to hear any criticism. So, let’s cover some things people say and why they believe criticism should be avoided.
Argument #1 – The show brings multiple denominations together
I discuss this at the very end of the post. But let’s define terms. Denomination here includes Catholicism, Mormonism, and Christianity. Now, the Gospel message can vary with each one listed, which means the variations are presenting different Christs. Having various versions of Jesus is not only confusing but distorts the Gospel message, which affects salvation. There is only one Christ and one Gospel message. We are to know the Bible and we are to know the true Christ the Bible presents, least we be tossed to and fro.
Why is Catholicism and Mormonism different than Christianity? It relates to the doctrine of the religions, the foundation by which the religions stand on. It is this foundation that builds up what defines Catholicism, Mormonism, Christianity, and any other religion.
Got Questions – What Are The Core Beliefs Of Christianity?
LDS – Mormon Beliefs, Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Melissa Dougherty: Are Mormons Christians? What’s the difference between Christianity and Mormonism? 24:12 mins
For a much more thorough dive into Mormonism check out Mike Winger: 2 Hrs On Mormonism
Catholicism – Core Catholic Beliefs , Don’t Catholics Worship Mary, The Four Marian Dogmas
Mike Winger – His playlist of 12 videos Catholicism Evaluated Biblically , 1st vid – Catholics vs. Catholicism, 3rd vid- Why Catholicism Is Wrong
Argument #2– It doesn’t matter what the actors believe, what matters is the show material
I can agree with this to a point. But I begin to disagree when the actor’s beliefs are reflected in the show material, and those beliefs are false doctrine. I also care that the man who plays Jesus could influence weak followers because they are being emotionally manipulated by the show. Jonathan Roumie has made recent claims in which he has had interactions with a dead man. (You can see his tweet here, if it’s available.) Scripture tells us we are not to communicate with the dead. Roumie is a major influencer. Dallas, the creator of the show, is a major influencer.
They are in the same position as other Christian celebrities, like singers. Please pray for Jonathan that the truth is revealed. Please pray for those who are influenced and those who are influencers. We are not just dealing with the show. We are dealing with all influence that occurs from the show, but also outside of the show. We are to consider how influence affects followers, and if things are misleading we need to discuss what is false and what is true. In addition, to keep praying for everyone involved.
Argument #3 – It’s still a good Christian show, even if there are concerns
Actually, I think we have more danger here whenever the title of Christian is used. Again, we have many weak followers, new believers, who need the milk, basic understanding. Unfortunately, there is a vulnerability that can be lowered when we think material is “safe.” When our emotions are used against the truth. We are still called by God to be discerning with anything and anyone who claims to be of Him and for Him. In fact, we might have to be more critical than we would with a secular show because the show IS displaying a character representing the Savior, our King.
(I’m not saying to go and watch secular shows. But I am saying we need to be careful with what’s true and what’s mostly true. We need to know those differences because wolves are disguised as sheep. Those differences COULD eternally matter, which is why we need to discern.)
Argument #4 – People are being led to Jesus Christ.
While for the past few years this show has been proclaimed to preach the Gospel, the Gospel message has yet to be shared in the show alone. Now, I don’t know the depth of other Bible studies or books that people can buy from the show’s creators, hopefully the Gospel is explained in those materials, which is awesome, if that’s the case. But the show by itself has not shared the Gospel message.
The main message that is received is that Christ is different and He loves us. While this is certainly true, this is not the Gospel. No one is being saved through the show. Christ alone saves, and it is scripture that increases faith. (Romans 10:17). As I share later, I’m not against people being led to scripture because of the show. I think that’s awesome! But it’s important to recognize the show has not yet shared the Gospel message. (I cover the issues of “authentic” Jesus from The Chosen down in point 1 from Problems With The Chosen.)
The Gospel message of Jesus Christ is most important. Anyone proclaiming the Gospel, Christian or not, is accountable for that message and what the message implies and claims. If that message is tainted, we are to expose the darkness, as scripture tells us. (Ephesians 5:10-11)
What I Love About The Chosen
With these arguments answered, let’s talk about what I DO really enjoy about the show.
1. I Love That Jesus’ Human Nature Is Focused On
God made us to laugh and dance, while the fallen nature of our body causes us to feel pain, hunger, thirst, cold, sorrow, and other unpleasant circumstances. The human nature of Christ, being in full submission to the Father, did not spare Himself from the difficulties and hardships of being a human. I appreciate that the series shows this. (Philippians 2:05-09)
2. I Love That There Is A Connection To The Jewish Culture
Proper Bible studying includes understanding the culture of the time and the audience for which the books of the Bible are written. The Bible was written for us, but not to us most of the time. This is why we need to understand if a text is prescribed to us or if it is describing something instead. Which is why it’s important we understand proper context.
3. I Love That People Are Encouraged To Turn To Their Bibles
With season 1, there were a ton of discussions I had with my husband. We discussed the human nature of Christ. We discussed scripture. And I can say season 2 certainly continues to have us discuss scripture (moreso… against most episodes, sadly.) But nonetheless, I appreciate being able to discuss scripture and Christ. I love that people are having questions about Jesus, and drawing closer to Jesus when they are encouraged to turn to their Bibles. That’s all wonderful.
4. The Episodes Have Beautiful Lighting and Storytelling
This is definitely one of the best productions of Christian storytelling. You can tell there is a lot of care behind the lines being said, scenery, and lighting. It’s obvious there is an attention to detail. The actors and actresses are extremely talented and they take their roles seriously. Everyone who is involved in the show cares about the show. Season 1, when John 3:16 gets covered and Nicodemus finally meets Jesus is my favorite episode. Very well done! It’s beautiful to see how all of these elements are valued for storytelling. As a writer, reader, and viewer, I very much appreciate this.
5. I Loved The Scenes Of Peter & His Wife
In season 1, I loved how Peter’s wife reminds him to put his faith in God. Her focus is very much about serving the Lord. As a wife, as a daughter, and then as a follower of Jesus. She shows the strength of being a woman and yet submissive. This is something our culture needs more of.
6. I Love That People Are Starting To Ask Questions About Christ & Possibly Be Led To Christ
This is all wonderful and good, as mentioned in point 3. Anything that is true and genuine about Christ I am all for! In fact, The Chosen allows a lot of opportunities to discuss Christ, including when it comes to discussing the Christ in the Bible and the Christ in the The Chosen. There can be some great Bible study to come out of this. I think it’s amazing some people are being led to Jesus.
Problems With The Chosen
Which leads me to what I’m struggling with in The Chosen. Some issues I know others have discussed. (See below for more resources.) I originally had a point talking about how women are depicted in the show, but I think Michelle Lesley explains that much better than I can. Michelle’s post: Overview/Review Of The Chosen
While Dallas works with Mormons, I’m not concerned that the Jesus in The Chosen is the Mormon Jesus. He isn’t. My concern is that the Jesus is The Chosen is watered-downed, weak, confusing, and lacks clarity to present the true Christ, which is what Dallas claims he wants to do.
1. The creator Dallas claims that the Jesus presented in the series is the “authentic Jesus.”
While listening to an interview Dallas had on the Mormon channel Saints Unscripted: Sharing the Authentic Jesus With The World ft. Dallas Jenkins Dallas explains how he looks at the word authentic. Instead of focusing on various false doctrines or different Jesus’, Dallas wants to present the true Christ. He brings up the analogy I shared a few weeks ago in Why Is It Important To Know The Basics Of Christianity?, that we study the real Jesus and by studying the real Christ we will see counterfeits.
Now, I totally agree with this perspective. It’s a GOOD perspective to have. Dallas cares deeply about others. He wants the true Christ to be presented. But there are problems, unfortunately.
Dallas, rightly, reminds his audience (almost with every episode) that this series is not a replacement for scripture. I completely agree with him, he is absolutely right. The only place to find the authentic Christ is in scripture.
This Jesus in The Chosen is a character. It’s a portrayal. This Jesus will save no one. This Jesus is created from the biases of multiple writers and their understanding of scripture. Note: We all have biases from what we understand. We all are going to get things wrong. Dallas says in this in the interview, and he’s right.
Which means the Jesus presented in The Chosen cannot be authentic.
To know the true Christ, we study scripture. Which is why people are having issues when the creator claims his series presents the authentic Christ and at the same time claims this is not scripture. Those who are looking at scripture are not seeing the same Christ in the series. They see a counterfeit.
Definition of “authentic” by Merriam Webster Dictionary is “not false or an imitation.”
The Jesus of the Bible is to be presented a specific way.
- He has 2 natures. The human nature and God nature.
- He is God and Man. (1 John 5:09-10, Mark 14:21)
- He is part of the Godhead, the Trinity. God is one God, 3 Persons. Christ is one of the three Persons. See: Mike Winger: Trinity: Can We Defend It Biblically? & Chris Rosebrough/Doreen Virtue: The Holy Trinity Clearly Explained
- He is not created. (1 Peter 1:20)
- He (God) is not the brother to Lucifer (a creation). Are Jesus and Satan brothers?
- He is sinless. (1 Peter 1:19)
- He atoned on the cross. (Colossians 1:20-21)
- He physically resurrected. (John 27:28)
- We receive salvation through faith alone, grace alone. (Ephesians 2:08)
- We cannot earn our salvation through works. (Romans 3:26-27)
- We cannot earn our salvation after death. (Luke 16:19-31) What Does The Bible Say About Praying For The Dead?
- We must believe in Jesus Christ through faith, believing the message of the Gospel. Christ came to set the sinner free. Christ came to pay off our debt with His blood, His life. Christ changes and cleanses us. (Galatians 3:22, John 8:36, 1 John 1:07-08)
- We cannot be a “good” person because we all are sinners, which is why our works are considered filthy rags. (Romans 3:10, Isaiah 64:06)
- All who put their faith in Christ are considered righteous because the righteousness of Jesus is imputed to them. (Romans 3:22-23)
- Imputation of righteousness occurs because of the atonement sacrifice that took place on the cross, for all who put their faith in Jesus. (1 John 4:10)
- For a much more in-depth breakdown of the Gospel check out: Why Did A Loving God Kill His Son (Does God Hate?) , The Gospel Challenge (30 Question Quiz) – Are You Ready To Defend Your Faith?
With all of this being said.
The Jesus of The Chosen is false because he isn’t the real and living Jesus Christ. He’s an imitation, therefore he cannot be authentic, either.
While Dallas says the show is not a replacement for the Bible, he also states the show will open people’s eyes to Christ (The Chosen Director Strives To Give Viewers Authentic Experience Of Jesus’ story). Notice the word authentic in the article title. We cannot have an authentic experience from the show, only an imitation of Christ, and an imitation of the apostles and followers. The truth is only the Gospel message can open people’s eyes.
“If you can see Jesus through the eyes of those who actually met him, you can be changed and impacted in the same way they were.”Walker, Y., & The Oklahoman. (2021, July 3). Director of “The Chosen” strives to give viewers authentic experience of Jesus’ story. Retrieved August 16, 2021, from The Oklahoman website: https://www.oklahoman.com/story/news/religion/2021/07/03/the-chosen-director-strives-portray-jesus-authenticity/7817803002/
This is not the Gospel message. Scripture alone, the word of God, opens our eyes, not watching a show. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes from hearing the word of God. Often throughout The Chosen scripture isn’t fully said. The Lord’s Prayer, in season 2, most of it gets cut out, which is upsetting.
While some people are encouraged to go to scripture, and I’m glad they do, not everyone turns to scripture, or has access to a Bible. The show needs to give people the word of God, the Living Bread, more. (I know they have resources people can buy that may explain the Gospel, but the focus here is on the series.) If Dallas wants to give people an authentic experience with the authentic Christ, then he must put the word of God more fully into the show.
Resource: Dallas shares openly with Melissa how he believes he is presenting the authentic Christ. Dallas refuses to answer multiple questions about Mormonism. He believes it would be wrong to do so, but in making this decision, clarity about Jesus is hidden. – Melissa Dougherty: A Candid Conversation With Dallas Jenkins, Director of The Chosen.
2. Mother Mary is getting a bit of screen time
It’s awkward. Mary is not given much reference in scripture. Yet, in season 2, especially, she is making quite a few appearances. Some have questioned if the screen time relates to catering to the Catholic audience.
From the first season, at the end of each episode, there is an option to view a discussion called “The Round Table.” In which Dallas speaks to 3 other men, one man being a Catholic priest. The round table discussions are what started to get me concerned, actually, and this was for season 1.
Catholicism views Mary as an intercessor. To explain this viewpoint much better than I can, check out this post written by a Catholic. Why We Must Ask For Mary’s Intercession For All Souls, Even Those Who Appear To Die In A State Of Mortal Sin.
The book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the High Priest. He intercedes on our behalf. We are also told that one of the names for the Holy Spirit is Advocate. He advocates all things of Jesus Christ. He also intercedes on our behalf with groanings that cannot be heard because we do not know what we should pray. (Hebrews 6:20, John 14:26)
There are no direct scriptures that say Mary intercedes on our behalf. (To say the wedding feast means we should ask for her to intercede is a prescription of scripture. The wedding scene is describing what happened, it is not about us. If it was, then Mary should be talked about more in scripture. If Mary is an important intercessor, she should be discussed more in canon scripture and more directly explained.) No scripture says we are to ask for her help. None of the apostles opened and closed their letters mentioning Mary, as the intercessor for their prayers.
I know Catholics say they do not pray to her, but if you are requesting help, to someone viewed as a spiritual being, that is a petition, a prayer. Part of prayer and worship is petitioning, asking for help. Mary is not God, and therefore, we do not need to ask her for help. Mary is not said to be our advocate, the Holy Spirit has the title. Mary can not help us with our salvation in any way.
You might notice if Christ and Mary are together, Christ is always mentioned first. He is Who we need to go to. He is enough. There are a few scriptures in which we see this regarding Christ and Mary, and I wonder if The Chosen will cover the scriptures to show the difference or avoid them. (Matthew 2:11, especially Matthew 12:46-49)
3. The Jesus of The Chosen Seems Very Uncertain
This becomes more apparent in season 2. It has been a criticism many share that seems to be dismissed, like a wave of the hand. Again, I understand this is not a replacement for scripture, and I agree.
However, if you are presenting the “authentic Christ,” can you show me in scripture where He seemed uncertain as much as He seems uncertain in the show? Particularly to the point He needed the advice of the disciples in how He preached to the multitudes?
My husband, actually, was the one who pointed this out to me. His question was, “Isn’t Christ always in submission to the Father? So, why would Christ be so uncertain about the Sermon of the Mount? Christ says He only does what the Father tells Him, so He wouldn’t need to plan what He says. He would just speak what needs to be said.” This point my husband made has had me chew on scripture.
Now, Dallas makes the point that what the writers decide on is largely based on the question if it is within the means of the culture, scripture, etc. This choice has led The Chosen to have the apostles influence Jesus in the series. However, students do not teach the teacher. Christ is not like any other man. Scripture doesn’t give us any room to think this. In fact, Christ says in the Gospels that the Holy Spirit, Who points to Jesus Christ, and His teachings, will remind the apostles everything they didn’t understand before. And, even as The Chosen points out, the apostles had a lot of questions. (John 16:08-14)
Based on scripture, and what the true Jesus has shared, I don’t believe this direction of uncertainty is possible. Jesus was in submission to the will of the Father. Yes, His humanity did not always know things, but He also had the Holy Spirit upon Him, as well. The Holy Spirit Who points to sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come. The Holy Spirit Who would instruct the apostles when they were persecuted so that they need not plan what they would say. Why wouldn’t Christ also be instructed through other Members of the Trinity? (Mark 3:11, Matthew 10:19-20)
Christ’s devotion to prayer, worship, and obedience to God far excels any pastor that ever walked this earth or will walk this earth. What mattered the absolute most is what Christ did, and He walked in the way of the Spirit. (ESV) Proverbs 3:05-06 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.“ We know Jesus followed through with this example to the T. Christ was prepared, no doubt. Christ was different than any other man, and it is important to remind and show the audience this, too. Jesus didn’t need the advice of the disciples on how He should preach. Christ was turning to the One who would instruct Him best.
We can’t have a Jesus that is so relatable that we merely compare Him to everyone else. He wasn’t like everyone else, and that is a glorious and amazing blessing! We need HIM to be different before anyone else can be different.
4. The Series Encourages People To Rely On What They Feel, To Seek Christ In Mystical Ways
Let me explain what I mean before the pitchforks come out.
Go to the Facebook page, and often the show shares comments of their followers. Many, and I mean many, people have talked about how they have a “spiritual experience” while watching the show.
Remember, the authentic Jesus is not being presented in the show. So, what kind of experiences with this Emotional Jesus are people having? Feeling a particular way, or even a spiritual high of feeling loved does not mean we are experiencing the Holy Spirit or Jesus Christ. Which is why this is so concerning.
Here is the brutal and tragic truth. Satan does not care how close to God you feel, as long as it is to a fake Jesus Christ.
Scripture says we are to test everything, and my friends, I know it’s hard. I know, and I understand from my own past experiences, the desire to “feel a connection” with God. But friends, feelings are so fleeting. Jesus Christ is not fleeting. He is NOT a feeling. The REAL Christ is real no matter HOW we feel. My use of caps is to emphasize (not shout) because we often fall for deceiving lies because of…wait for it….HOW we feel.
This world is about feelings. This world is about seeking spiritual experiences, but only using our emotions to test if something is “good because it feels nice” or not. This is not the Biblical way to discern, friends. This is not how we experience Christ because as soon as the show is done so is our experience, and what then is left?
People who desire more emotional connection with a show than they do with spiritual connection to scripture will never be filled this way. I’m not saying Dallas or other creators are encouraging people to “experience” Christ in this manner, but they are not correcting people or encouraging them to only seek Him in scripture. The show promotes this experience, it’s promoted on their social media. There is no way to test if the “Jesus” people are experiencing by watching the show is the authentic Christ. These experiences could very well be demonic because there is no testing of the spirits.
Please check out these posts I’ve done regarding Christian Mysticism:
Should We Use Our Emotions As Truth? (What Is Emotionalism)
Contemplative Prayer/Spirituality | What You Need To Know About That “Still, Small Voice”
The Still Small Voice | Problems With People Speaking As “Jesus”
The Chosen encourages the audience to, “Get used to different.”
But the Christ presented in The Chosen does not look that much different in the eyes of the world. In fact, various faiths claim this is “their Jesus” which Dallas seems quite excited about. The issue though is that this Jesus does not look different to the audience, perhaps because this is not the authentic Jesus. Frankly, it’s close to a universal Jesus. People can make him out to be whatever they feel he should be. Or as my husband puts it, “a build-a-bear Jesus.”
If The Chosen presented a Christ closer to scripture, then people should be raising their eyebrows because this Jesus is, in fact, different than the one they perceive.
The Chosen needs to get used to different. Make those differences stand out to those who are following after a false Christ.
Their eternity depends on knowing those differences.
Get used to different.
Resources to check out (some were shared above):
A Word Fitly Spoken (Podcast by Michelle Lesley & Amy Spreeman) Review Of The Chosen (Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3)
Michelle Lesley: Overview/Review Of The Chosen
Melissa Dougherty: A Candid Conversation With Dallas Jenkins, Director of The Chosen. – Because of the interview Dallas did with Saints Unscripted, Melissa tries to ask Dallas how Mormons view Jesus.
Saints Unscripted: Interview With A Mormon & An Evangelical – Dallas claims Mormons love the same Jesus as an Evangelical. This is the interview that first sparked concern.
Saints Unscripted: Sharing the Authentic Jesus With The World ft. Dallas Jenkins – Dallas even talks about studying the real Jesus instead of counterfeits, but as the post makes the point of, the show is not showing the true Jesus.
Churchwatcher and Ingrid McCullough– The Chosen & The Shift – EXTREMELY well done and helpful to critically make you think.
Fighting 4 Faith – A Brief Reality Check On The Chosen
Scripture To Memorize/Meditate On – (ESV) Romans 5:08, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
*To learn more about what Jesus did on the cross and why His atonement sacrifice is so needed please see: Why Did A Loving God Kill His Son? (Does God Hate?)
*If you do not know the Gospel, do not turn away. If you think you know the Gospel, check out these questions and see how prepared you are for the day someone might ask you why you believe: The Gospel Challenge (30 Question Quiz) – Are You Ready To Defend Your Faith?
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