Keep Watch For The Theological Underpinnings Of Word-Faith Tenets In The History Channel's "The Bible"

Last night The History Channel aired its miniseries, "The Bible."  It is a miniseries produced by Roma Downey and Mark Burnett.  Leading up to this miniseries there seemed to be a well organized marketing campaign to promote this series.  The promotional efforts by The History Channel certainly grabbed my attention.  

Besides the marketing campaign, the miniseries seemed to generate a lot of grassroots speculation, reviews, and anticipation from Christian leaders, bloggers, and the Christian community in general.  CLICK HERE for a very worthwhile article by my friend Rev. Joshua Scheer at Steadfast Lutherans.  Pr. Scheer sets forth 4-5 things to be on the lookout for when watching the miniseries.

In case you haven't noticed, there has been a tremendous amount of dialog on the internet this morning assessing last night's show.  These conversations are very fruitful for the church, because they drive us back to the Word. With that said, this particular blog post is not an exhaustive review of last nights show.  For a more thorough review, I direct you to Steadfast Lutherans where Pr. Scheer has released a comprehensive review of Episode 1.

What I do want to address though is the theological underpinning of Episode 1.  While watching Episdoe 1 I found myself struggling with how the characters related to God.  It was as if the characters were constantly trying to generate and sustain their own faith by reminding themselves and others to keep the faith, that they must trust in God.  Let me give an example.  One of the scenes that really grieved me was right before Moses and the Israelites crossed the sea. In the episode Moses kept on yelling, "Keep the faith, be faithful, keep the faith, etc..." However, in Exodus 14:13-14 we read, 
"And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” 
This seems subtle, but it really is not. Episode 1 seemed to point out the Israelite's need for faith, faith that tended to be self-generated and faith that at times did not have a direct object. Whereas the scriptures show us how God gives signs and promises that 'grant' faith. In my humble opinion this emphasis in the episode is possibly due to the influence of the movie's consultants.  Several of the consultants have theological connections to the Word-Faith movement.

The Word-Faith movement urges the appropriation of faith through the making of a positive confession. Faith is seen as a power that is unconstrained by words. Otherwise stated, these words can produce reality: “The force of faith is released or activated by words. Faith-filled words put the law of the Spirit of life into operation.”[1] This energy of faith is only triggered by talking or confidently declaring what one wants and demands from God: “Your right confession will become a reality, and then you will get whatever you need from God.”[2] Conversely this means that negative words form negative realities.

The fundamental problem with the Word-Faith movement is that faith in one's faith is futile.  Faith must have an object.  Furthermore, faith is not a self-generated work of mankind, faith is not sourced in mankind's will or determination.  Rather faith is a gift of God.  Take note in Exodus 14:30-31 how and why the Israelite's believed in God after the parting of the sea.  
"Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.  Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians  so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses."  (See Also Romans 10:17 and Ephesians 2:8-9).  
While the internet will be buzzing with possible historical inaccuracies and opinions on the acting of The History Channel's "The Bible," I do believe that a consistent theme may emerge throughout this series, the theological underpinnings of the Word-Faith tenets.  Keep watch for this theological underpinning in the episodes to come.



[1] Kenneth Copeland, The Force of Faith (Ft. Worth: Kenneth Copeland Publications, 1983), 16. 
[2] Kenneth Hagin, Right and Wrong Thinking for Christians (Tulsa: Kenneth Hagin Ministries, 1966), 30.

To join in the conversation on Facebook, CLICK HERE.