Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Revisionist History Channel and Jesus

BEWARE of a phone call from the History Channel offering you a free 30 day preview of their DVDs as a ministry resource! Unless you are 'Church of Satan', you will find the History Channel hacks have nothing edifying to offer with their biased anti-Christian 'documentaries' about our Lord Jesus Christ. The following were some of my reactions:

Judas, Betrayer or Friend?’ has a polished appearance and loaded with scripture, but all the ‘scholars’ undermine the Gospels and viewers are taught that the Gospels can be wrong and biased about Judas. The holocaust is held up by the end of the show as the result of Christian tradition that Judas was the only ‘Jew’ among the apostles, a thief, greedy and whose name sounded like ‘Jewish’ in German: ‘Jude’. The show finishes with a clear depiction of Christ’s death as redemptive, but the damage had already been done rendering this show likewise unsuitable for Christian audiences. It contained some very obvious examples of exploitation of the audiences ignorance of the Bible. One ‘scholar’ announces that Jesus never calls Judas ‘betrayer’ or ‘traitor’, but only friend. Yet those who are not biblically illiterate will know that Jesus does say of his betrayer ‘one of you is a devil’. Is ‘devil’ another way of Jesus calling Judas ‘friend’? Or the Greek language is invoked to undermine the English word, ‘betray’. It literally means, ‘hand over’, little more malign that making an appointment. Yet what about the Bible quoting Jesus asking Judas, ‘do you betray the son of man with a kiss?’? It is the same Greek word. Is Jesus simply asking, ‘do you make an appointment for the son of man with a kiss?’? The show was counting on people being ignorant of the scriptures and then exploiting that ignorance. That sounds pretty diabolical, don’t you think?

‘Paul’, another show dominated by attempts to make St. Paul interesting by making sensational, often inaccurate claims, such as exaggerating the difference between his theology and that of St. Peter and the original apostles. Prominent among the liberals interviewed is Dr. John Gager, ‘re-defining Paul’. I almost switched it off after the narrator claimed the Gospel in St. Paul’s teachings shows him to be ‘the master of spin’ (!). I concluded I could not use this in my parish. Would I really want to have people taught by a DVD that St. Paul’s zeal was driven mainly by his conclusion that the end of the world must be imminent because the resurrection of Jesus showed that the dead were already starting to rise, reasoning he never articulated in any of his writings? Dr. Pamela Eisenbaum, a Jewish feminist, teaching at a liberal Christian seminary, says, I don’t know that Paul ever made it to Rome. I think that might have died in Jerusalem…’ Since human opinions are on centre stage, I might as well say what I think. And my question is, ‘why focus on what the revisionists are saying; are sensational new claims that make good television, the only things viewers should hear?’’

‘The Execution of Jesus’ is from the History Channel’s ‘Mysteries of the Bible series’. Although nicely narrated by the English actress Jean Simmons, very soon into the show viewers were subjected to the cynical materialistically biased prating of Jesus Seminar founder, John Dominic Crossan who announces that Jesus never called himself divine. ‘Since when?’ Well - since the ‘Jesus Seminar’ becomes the real star of the ‘Act I’, that begins with the alarmist observation that the gospels were written after Jesus’ earthly lifetime, ergo we have absolutely no written eyewitness testimony (!). Act II is about holy week, ruined by Crossan’s stupid doubts that Lazarus was really raised. Acts III & IV is about the triduum, ruined by narrative saying, ‘…scholars attempt to separate poetic license taken by the gospel writers from the actual events of the day’ and more of Crossan’s doubts (repeated from an earlier segment) and his own admission that, if it was not for the cleansing of the temple, Crossan has no idea why Jesus’ execution was sought. Act V is wholly devoted to the resurrection, ruined by more ‘scholars’ trying to explain it away as psychosis or myth. Would I inflict this on members of my parish? Far from it.

The Last Supper was the subject of a DVD from the History Channel devoted to ‘the holiest meal in the history of Christianity’. With the biblical narrative read by the late Jean Simmons, there is mercifully less of the Jesus Seminar hacks, but Crossan still pops up routinely as ‘scholars struggle to re-construct (read destruct) what actually happened’. Never is there the slightest hint that anyone regarded the bread and wine as anything but symbolic. For this reason alone, I would never contaminate my parishioners minds with this program.

With ‘Mary of Nazareth’ we get a program that is far more reverent in its depiction than any of those dealing with Jesus. Yet it is a program with inexplicable omissions: Lots of references to angels are made (including the non-biblical immaculate conception); why not mention that angels guided the shepherds to the stable to visit the newborn Jesus? How else did the shepherds know to go there? Other omissions are even more strange. Why omit the child Jesus in the Temple narrative? This had to be bad editing, with this important part of the story ending up on the cutting room floor or something. On the plus side there are comments from Dr. Paul Maier several times. But still, I would not waste the money on this DVD or the time to show it to my parishioners.

‘James, Brother of Jesus’ was a good documentary on the ossuary that may both prove in stone the existence of James, Jesus and his step-father, Joseph.

The 'Apostles Collection – 2 DVD set' was harmless and quite good. Perhaps, at some point in the future, I may obtain a copy, but not now.

After viewing all the DVDs sent to me by History Education, It did not take me 30 days to conclude that they are quite unsatisfactory for my pastoral use. I will NOT tolerate the Holy Scriptures being assaulted in this way, as I am sure no other religions would tolerate such disrespectful treatment of their holy books.