The Chosen – And a Conversation about Biblical Art

This post is serving double duty, it is both:

  • A review of The Chosen, AND
  • A part of the series The Year of Gideon which begins here.

I have chosen, to watch and review The Chosen… sorry, just couldn’t resist.

Why? Because I personally need a re-introduction to Jesus. I’ve been in ministry now for over 22 years and somewhere along the way Jesus became less of a savior and more of a job and that’s… not great. I am in a season of “professional ministry pause”, or “professional ministry stop” (don’t know which yet and probably won’t know for a while). In this season I’m seeking to connect with Christ in ways that aren’t so “churchy”.

The Chosen fits the bill here, plus it’s a TV show and I love a good movie or episodic show. The creators of The Chosen have gone out of their way to claim that they are not beholden to any denomination or tradition, and I like that.

Am I worried about all the controversy surrounding the show…? not really. If it’s no good, I’ll just stop watching it. If it’s worthwhile, it will be worth my time. Even if it’s terrible, it will still start a journey of study and time in the Word of God, so that’ll be good too.

Using Christian Art

The Chosen is ART, not scripture.

Using Christian art as a tool for devotion and faith formation carries some inherent blessings and risks. I’ve listed the major ones below: This list applies to all Christian art in my opinion and not just The Chosen. It can, and I would argue it should, be applied to paintings, plays, novels, worship songs, and the like.

Blessings of Christian Art

  • Christian Art is a time-tested method of connecting with the Holy Spirit – worship songs, mystery plays, stained glass, and sooo much more.
  • Artists bless us by sharing their own unique perspectives on scripture (we get a chance to see what they see)
  • Sometimes, the Holy Spirit blesses the work of an artist and it is especially powerful in connecting – for me the song All Creatures of our God and King is a great example of this, as is the Lorica of St Patrick.
  • Good Christian art can inspire our imagination, call us to greater faithfulness, and deepen our relationship with God.
  • BIGGEST BENEFIT: Perspective – Art is most successful when it pushes out outside of our box, outside of the space where “we know everything” and reminds us that life is big, mysterious, and maybe… we don’t know everything about God yet.

Risks of Christian Art

  • The artist could have a misconception or misinterpretation of the faith that will be passed along in their work. This could be a conscious attempt to change the meaning of something, OR it can be unconscious (the artist doesn’t know that they have a wonky belief structure).
  • Art is inherently emotional. It’s there to get you feeling, thinking, or both. It provokes a reaction. I must not confuse my own emotional reaction with the work of the Holy Spirit. There’s nothing wrong with having an emotional reaction, it often starts off a good conversation, but a joyful shout, an emotional swell, or a tear while engaging art could come from God, but it could also come from well made art.
  • Christian art should never be made a substitute for scripture. If I find myself turning to art over scripture, I am in a dangerous spiritual place. Art is a great tool, but it’s never going to be capable of replacing the word of God, no matter how good it is.
  • BIGGEST RISK: Idolatry – yeah, breaking one of the big 10! If the art becomes the only or the principle way I connect with God then it’s time to shut it down. Additionally, if the art gives me a sense of control over God, or Christ then I need to shut it down too. Those are the two key signs that idolatry is on the horizon.

The principle (or lead) artist for The Chosen is a man by the name of Dallas Jenkins.

So… how will I try to enhance the blessings and reduce the risks?

My Reviewing Method

  • Read a gospel before each new season of the show is watched. I will start with the Gospel of John, as it’s first up on a reading plan I’m sharing with some great people where I work.
  • Prayer, I’ll invite the Holy Spirit into this work at each step and prayerfully consider the artwork in light of scripture.
  • Checkpoints: I’ll pause halfway through each season, and again at the end, to write a brief review on the site.
  • Partnership/Conversation: I plan to invite my lovely, perfect, and amazing wife to join me. And maybe I can talk her into sharing her thoughts as well. Much can be learned in good, faithful conversation.

So, a new piece of art, or at least one new to me, is an exciting thing. I hope and pray that good comes from this, perhaps the blessing of a fresh perspective.

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