Now that The Bible Series is over, we can explore the question: was it worth it?
I know that some were put off by the fact that The Bible Series didn’t follow the Bible one hundred percent of the time, and I’ve heard a lot of critiques from those who know the Bible well: It left out important parts. It added dialogue that was not in Scripture. It avoided exposing issues like homosexuality. It took too much liberty with the ninja-angels. It got the [you-name-it] scene completely wrong.
However, I’d like to put the holier-than-thou arguments aside for a moment and address the series from a writer’s perspective instead.
Was it perfect? No. Did it ever claim to be? No. But was it done well? Absolutely!
From the beginning, the writers and producers claimed that the series was a “Docudrama,” and I think that was entirely accurate. Some seem surprised by that approach, like maybe the series was the first time they were ever presented with a biblical docudrama before. But it wasn’t. Chances are, you’ve seen at least one docudrama every year for the past X amount of years you’ve been at church.
It’s called a Christmas pageant.
It doesn’t matter how accurate your church tries to be when they portray the nativity at Christmas time, I guarantee you, they’re not getting it one hundred percent correct.
I’m pretty sure that Mary didn’t sing a trio with Joseph and Gabriel when the birth of Jesus was announced. And when the time came for her to give birth, she probably didn’t disappear quietly behind a prop for 30 seconds, only to reappear at a musical crescendo with a perfectly clean 2-month-old child and a flat stomach. And when the shepherds arrived at the manger, they probably brought the whole herd with them, not the 2-3 token sheep that came for free with the donkey that your church rented for the weekend.
So, if your church can’t get it right, why do they bother?
They bother because they want you to be moved. They want you to be touched. They want you to be inspired.
The goal of most pageants or plays or productions of any kind is not to instruct; it’s to inspire.
Our church has done pageants that were set entirely in biblical times, some that had modern-day characters interacting with biblical characters, some that feature five-year-olds in the nativity, and others in settings ranging from a mall to an airport to the old west.
Dozens of people are involved in this process of presenting God’s Word on stage, and I’ve seen firsthand the dedication, determination, and frustrations of trying to piece together a successful production. There are so many limitations that churches have to work within. Biblical accuracy is one of them, of course. But others include: budget, time frame, talent on hand, materials available, lighting and technology, willingness of volunteers, and ability to rehearse effectively. All of that comes into play.
The measure of successful productions has never been, “Was it perfect?” When all you have are imperfect variables, it is impossible to have a perfect production. So the goal becomes instead, “Did it glorify the Lord and point others to Him?”
So, when I watched the ten hours of The Bible Series, I approached it in the same way I approach our Christmas pageants at church. I wasn’t measuring it for perfection. I know that’s impossible to deliver. Instead, I was measuring it for effectiveness.
And I believe The Bible Series was extremely effective.
Because of the series, millions of people were reminded of The Bible. Believers were reunited with their favorite biblical figures. Nonbelievers were introduced to them. Hollywood talked about Jesus more than the Kardashians. People tweeted about Abraham and Moses and Paul. Coworkers had unexpected conversations in the break room. Children asked their parents questions they hadn’t asked before. For two hours every week for five weeks, people were hearing about God!
So when people ask me what I thought about the The Bible Series as a whole, I’m choosing not to focus on the small things like Jesus walking into the grave of Lazarus instead of standing outside of it. Instead I’m focusing on the big things like was God glorified and did they point others to Jesus?
So by those standards, I would call it a hit!
If you missed the series or would like to purchase it to watch again, Amazon is selling the DVD set for $29.96 right now!