Tricksy little flagses.
On the eve of the great Sacred Festival of Pride, one video editor on the Christian-created streaming series The Chosen might be cringing. He or she didn’t seem to catch that little fluttering Sexualityism flag in a May 28 behind-the-scenes video (start at 0:25). One hawk-eyed Twitter-er, who professes to be a “Christ Follower” and an “ANTI-WOKE SPORTZ GUY,” saw it and threw his own flag on the play.
The Chosen’s account reply led to a Daily Wire article. Which led to the article being lambasted by Daily Wire CEO Jeremy Boreing. And all this has of course led to a whole lot of Christian criticism, much from folks who revile The Chosen anyway.
Time doesn’t permit a fuller overview. It’s fair to ask why a cameraman was allowed to let this particular flag fly on the set of a television series made to illustrate the life of Jesus Christ. It’s also fair to ask why in the world Christian critics assume they can reject the whole creative project because the company employs nonbelievers.
I’m here to assume the former is bad (pride comes before a Fall, y’all) and ask the latter.1
Ten questions if you critique The Chosen or other Christian businesses, groups, or companies that hire nonbelievers
- Do you watch The Chosen—that is, are you even a “friendly” in this discussion?
- What was your introduction to the show—was this negative, positive, or neutral?2
- Did you hear of The Chosen from unlikable fans or trusted Christian friends?
- Can you imagine a world in which a trusted Christian friend enjoys the show?
- Could your introduction to the show prejudice you against its creators or goals?
- Are you continuing to carry discredited myths or plain slanders about the show, such as that it’s being controlled/scripted by Mormons and heretics (it’s not) or that the creators actively want to sabotage the real Jesus with this fake TV hero?
- Do you think it’s possible for solid Christians to make an illustrated-Jesus show?
- Do you think it’s possible for only solid Christians to make an excellent TV show?
- Does your church or ministry employ only Christians on its staff?
- No, I don’t mean only elders, deacons, or biblically qualified leaders—what about paper mills, designers, printers, builders, musical instrument makers, sound technicians, web hosts?
Eight more questions about Christians making stuff in the real world
- If you are sharing your criticisms on social media, notoriously run by Big Tech figures who often oppose the gospel, how is this different from a Christian business hiring skilled nonbelievers to portray fictionalized versions of the disciples?
- Do you truly assume a working world where only Christians do public things?
- Does the Bible assume such a world, or limit these boundaries to a local church?
- Do the apostles or Christ himself assume we can operate such a world?
- If we cannot, should we even try to have secular jobs or creative works in public?
- If we cannot, should we even try to make culture like songs, shows, or sports?
- For those Christian critics who write about things like football, do we expect, say, a Christian league to have only Christian employees who follow Christian rules?
- Given the sports games are a part of culture-making, just like TV show–creation is part of culture-making, what are the differences between a Christian’s call to evangelism as part of the local church and our continuing call to create things in the world to glorify God more generally, while often “mixing” with nonbelievers?
Ten more questions about common grace and straining-at-gnats ‘dizzernment’
- Is it rational to expect Christians can magically gain skills in visual production, camera operation, and otherwise without some collaborating with nonbelievers?
- Have you only ever learned life skills from professing Christians?
- Does not our good God grant some human intelligence, or even wisdom, to nonbelievers who can do good things, even if they’re outside His salvation?
- Might you actually believe, deep down, that Christians ought not make TV shows illustrating Jesus at all, and should only focus on teaching and preaching in the local church—and if so, why cover this with minute criticisms about the method?
- Is it possible the pagan flag, fluttering in the corner for a few seconds of video time, was a mere oversight by the editor and not some grand conspiracy?
- Is it conceivable that one could fault the editor for not catching the distraction (at best) or stumbling block (at worst) without also claiming (as I’ve seen) that “Dallas Jenkins is a fraud” or that this flag-placement was obviously intentional?
- Can anyone live up to such a high “standard” for visual/proximate “purity” in real life, even if you work for a Christian employer or ministry or local church?
- A little more aggressively now—if you don’t watch the show, and/or don’t care to acknowledge the obvious high regard Jenkins and other Christian creators have for the gospel, what gives you any authority to discern the little details?
- If someone photographed you in front of a pride flag or other heathen symbol, does this automatically corrupt you or call into question your entire enterprise?
- For those enjoining this issue who also endorse certain political causes and candidates—is this not possibly hypocritical, to excuse these candidates’ secular entanglements or anti-Christian behavior, while accusing the show of the same?
Final questions that dare to get even more personal
- Do you feel regretful about this sense of needing to confront what you feel are poor choices made by Christians, or gleeful at finding another target to blast?
- Finally, is any part of this criticism driven by previous disappointments about Christian-made culture, whether it’s cheesy movies, political celebrities, that cringe youth pastor from the church back home, or that one Big Evangelical Movement that someone told you was going to change your life until you learned the author was a plagiarist and/or a heretic and/or a fraud?
- Bonus: If you’ve had that bad experience, do you need to work through that with trusted biblical counselors, rather than digging deeper into your identity as an Internet Cynic and risking the slander of flawed yet faithful Christians?
- Bonus 2: When was the last time you enjoyed any creative work, made by Christians or non-Christians, to such an extent that you nearly forgot where you were and your own work and practical needs, and may have been later moved to thanking God for giving those artists this ability? If you have not had such a feeling, or even scoff at this question, couldn’t this be one sign that your life has become so driven by fighting battles that you’ve lost hope for eternal happiness?
Explore more at Lorehaven
- Sometimes Unbelievers Help Make Fantastic Biblical Fiction, So Let’s Thank God for Them, E. Stephen Burnett
- Why Do Some Christians Revile ‘The Chosen’? | with Josiah DeGraaf and Jenneth Dyck, Lorehaven’s Fantastical Truth podcast
- How Should Christians Discern ‘The Chosen’ and Other Biblical Fiction?, Lorehaven’s Fantastical Truth podcast
- The Chosen Succeeds Where ‘Woke’ Stories Fail, Jenneth Dyck
- Discerning Biblical Fiction, complete article series, E. Stephen Burnett
- By the way, each of these questions also applies to some critics who lambaste cultural conservative groups like The Daily Wire. I’ve seen echoes of anger against Boreing for supposedly claiming some Christian mantle while offering gestures friendly toward “gay marriage.” In this case, Daily Wire is not a professing Christian company. The company employs many Christians, including several of its celebrity pundits, and its purpose overlaps with some Christian sociopolitical causes. But it’s frankly irrational to get mad at a company for failing to attain a goal it never set. ↩
- By the way, I was an early adopter of The Chosen way back in 2019 before it was cool. But if the show were actually to run off the theological rails, I would know and say so. ↩