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The television series, “The Chosen,” has been getting a lot of press, pro and con. Is it something Christians should watch?

Hi, I’m Rex Rogers and this is episode #142 of Discerning What Is Best, a podcast applying unchanging biblical principles in a rapidly changing world, and a Christian worldview to current issues and everyday life.

“The Chosen” is a multi-season television drama, presenting the life of Jesus Christ and his disciples, with imaginative character backstories and interpersonal conflicts. Released in 2019, with a pilot episode on the birth of Christ released in 2017, and scheduled for seven seasons, the production company is releasing Season 4 of “The Chosen” in April 2024.

Earlier seasons of “The Chosen” may be watched free online. DVDs of each season are also available for purchase. Angel Studios is the distributor.

People have begun asking me what I think of this biblical television drama, but I am late to the party, only recently taking time to watch available episodes from the first three seasons and drawing my own conclusions. This is the first of three podcasts on “The Chosen.”

The show’s creator, Dallas Jenkins (son of Left Behind co-author Jerry Jenkins), put together a panel of expert consultants to ensure biblical and historical accuracy in the script he was co-writing for the show. On the panel were a Messianic Jewish rabbi, a Catholic priest, and an evangelical professor of biblical studies.

Of course, creative and artistic license is evident and herein lies the rub underlying several of the criticisms and controversies we’ll note later.

The show’s creator, Jenkins, has said, “The Chosen’ is a narrative show, which means it’s not a documentary. It’s also not a church. It’s not a nonprofit ministry. It’s not formally connected to a denomination or faith tradition. And it’s absolutely not a replacement for Scripture. It’s a show. However, that’s not to diminish the importance of getting things right. We have an obligation to take this seriously. We are talking about the son of God here.”

“Because this is a show and not a ministry, Jenkins hires people of all faiths or even no faith at all to work onset, as any business would do. Many of the actors and actresses who are hired to play different roles are not Christian.”

The Chosen” has a diverse cast including actors who are of Jewish, Arab, Southeast Asian and North African descent.

Jenkins provided a “statement of faith” for the faith-based show that portrays the life of Jesus in a 2021 YouTube video.”

The Chosen is not using the Bible as a script.” This allows for creative freedom, but then again it also makes some viewers nervous or critical.

“The Chosen has broken the stereotype of cheesy Christian entertainment.” And this I remember from my youth, watching so-called Christian films wherein Hollywood clearly did not know how to portray believers, spirituality, or religious devotion or passion, so the characters walked around bug-eyed staring off into the distance. Not so with “The Chosen.”

Jenkins “outlined four guiding principles — ‘the bedrock foundations’ — of ‘The Chosen’s’ approach to the show.

  1. People of all faiths, backgrounds and beliefs work on the show.

Counting the cast, crew, marketing and distribution teams, there are more than 200 people involved with “The Chosen.” ‘As long as the content itself is faithful, we’re less demanding with those who help deliver it,’ Jenkins said.

  1. The primary source for the show’s content is the New Testament gospels. 

Once written, the script is reviewed by cultural consultants to ensure Biblical, historical, and cultural accuracy.

  1. The show isn’t based on any religious tradition or particular faith perspective, it’s based on the stories in the gospels and history.
  2. There is no effort to please or seek the approval of one person, group or critics.

‘The only one I’m seeking the approval of is God,’ Jenkins said. ‘You don’t have to agree with some of my decisions or some of the decisions of our team, but as a viewer, you should at least know that these decisions were taken very seriously.’

Now that’s the introduction, what “The Chosen” creators say the production is about and what it attempts to portray. But before we delve into the content of the show and attempt to evaluate it, let’s establish some historic and cultural perspective.

Depictions of Jesus in Art

One of the criticisms right out of the gate of any art of any kind that attempts to portray biblical stories or teachings is that it is somehow ipso facto sacrilegious for even making the attempt, let alone for what it might actually portray. I do not agree with this anti-art, anti-creative perspective because I believe God gave human beings, made in his image, the ability to be creative, to vest themselves in their work, and that his is one of the ways we act as imago Dei.

Art and communication forms are important to us. In terms of ancient history, think how much we would not know if the Egyptians had not left their history in hieroglyphics, paintings, sculptures, and architecture.

Historically, before photography and film and CGI, biblical stories and teachings were depicted in art, for example the oil paintings of the High Renaissance like Leonardo Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” or Michelangelo’s The Sistine Chapel ceiling, or in sculpture, like, Michelangelo’s masterful David or his Madonna della Pietà, informally known as La Pietà, a marble sculpture of Jesus and Mary at Mount Golgotha, which is now located in Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City. I’ve seen it.

“The earliest surviving Christian art comes from the late 2nd to early 4th centuries on the walls of tombs belonging, most likely, to wealthy Christians in the catacombs of Rome,”

On “a mural painting from the catacomb of Commodilla, we find one of the first bearded images of Jesus, late 4th century.”

“The conventional image of a fully bearded Jesus with long hair emerged around AD 300, but did not become established until the 6th century in Eastern Christianity, and much later in the West.”

“Images of Jesus tend to show ethnic characteristics similar to those of the culture in which the image has been created,” like the Nativity Sets from around the world one can see at Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland store in Frankenmuth, Michigan.

Historically, biblical stories and teachings were also represented in music, and of course this continues along with, more recently, film and video. When artists use their divinely-bestowed creative talent to develop visual portrayals of biblical stories and teachings they make judgments – if Jesus is in the visual, is he taller or shorter, younger or older, does he have long hair, does he wear a beard, what is his skin tone, and on it goes. This kind of human investment is unavoidable and can be enlightening and enjoyable, but it also can lead to depictions that may not align with Bible truth.

It interests me that, so far, I have not found articles objecting to the fact the Jesus of Nazareth character in “The Chosen” is portrayed by an American, Jonathan Roumie, whose mother was Irish and whose father born in Egypt of Syrian descent.

In this hyper-racialized age wherein people are accused of “cultural appropriation” for daring to borrow or employ or enjoy some practice from a culture not their own, one would think a non-Jew portraying the lead character of the greatest story ever told would raise a ruckus. So far, not the case. And this is O.K. with me because I think “cultural appropriation” is for the most part politically correct poppycock. Acculturation and assimilation are two of the social inclinations that gave the American melting pot it’s social cohesion, its strength.

So, it is possible and indeed a blessing for individuals to use their creative and artistic gifts to find ways to communicate, explain, and elaborate the Scripture.

In this we are fulfilling the Cultural Mandate of Gen 1:27-28. Human beings may emulate their Creator by molding and crafting and inventing and developing new expressions of the verbal, aural, visual to develop culture and to honor God with our work.

I place “The Chosen” in this category, creative expression in the cinematic arts, fitting into a centuries-long line of human artistic endeavor in which Bible stories and teachings have been portrayed in a manner making possible greater levels of understanding and appreciation.

“The Chosen” is, as the producer said, not the Bible. It should not be considered a substitute for the Bible.

“The Chosen” is a help to anyone wanting to learn more about Bible stories, as flannel graph was to me during my Daily Vacation Bible Schools days.


Well, we’ll see you again soon. This podcast is about Discerning What Is Best. If you find this thought-provoking and helpful, follow us on your favorite podcast platform. Download an episode for your friends. For more Christian commentary, check my website, r-e-x-m as in Martin, that’s  

And remember, it is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm.

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2024     

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