Writer Kate Orson gives her reasons for boycotting the popular Christian TV show The Chosen.

pp44_Dec2022_OnScreen_The Chosen

"Have you seen The Chosen?" a new Christian friend asked me and then looked shocked and stunned when I said I hadn’t. A couple of weeks later when I mentioned I was reading the Bible with a few family members she looked even more aghast that I hadn’t introduced them to the Netflix series. I don’t have plans to watch the series anytime soon, or recommend it to my non-believing family, and that seems to surprise some Christians.

I have a few reasons, and firstly I have concerns that it’s not biblically accurate. I know the show’s website says that it sticks close to scripture and then "uses artistic license to fill in the many blanks where the text does not go into detail". However, I think sometimes the license goes a bit too far.

One of many examples includes the line: "What does your heart tell you?" and Jesus mentioning that "soon it will all be about the heart". This sounds to me more like the new age spirituality of following our own desires and what feels good. The Bible actually warns us that ‘the heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked.’ Jeremiah 17:9-10.

It sounds to me more like the new age spirituality of following our own desires and what feels good.

There are other quotes by Jesus that just don’t sound like Jesus at all, for example when he shares concerns with Mary that he might mess up his miracles in front of a big crowd. We don’t have anything in scripture that suggests he got nervous or worried about not being able to perform.

Why does this matter you might think? Small examples like these may not seem to matter, but a lot of small changes add up, and can distort the picture of the Gospel. There are some Christians who believe that The Chosen has Mormon influence as the owners of the production company who make it are Latter Day Saints. While director Dallas Jenkins says the show isn’t "produced by Mormons", some Christians have seen Mormon influence in the show. One example is when Jesus says "I am the law of Moses" which is not found in Biblical scripture. Something similar is found in the Book of Mormon, it’s claimed Jesus said: "I am the law".

To me, as a relatively new believer coming from new age spirituality, I want to get clear on what is biblical and what isn’t. I want to read the Bible every day, and get to know what it says. I don’t want to have a muddled confusion of who Jesus is based on other sources. If we don’t know the Bible well when we watch The Chosen then we won’t recognise all the little ways that it is different.

The other reason I don’t watch the show is I’m just too busy reading the Bible and learning about it from trusted sources. Many of my family and friends love a good debate so I feel like the Holy Spirit is calling me to get armed with as many good arguments as I can to use in conversation with them. I love learning about apologetics, and watching documentaries about subjects like the scientific evidence for creationism, or evidence for Noah’s flood. I love watching new age to Jesus testimonies, as it helps me reflect on my own journey and share with others.

A lot of small changes add up, and can distort the picture of the Gospel.

I know many dedicated Christians who watch The Chosen and I think that if you know your scripture inside out, perhaps you can watch with a discerning eye and figure out fact from fiction. But I think we’ve got to be careful not to use it as a teaching tool, or as an idol. While the Bible can seem complicated at first I love how God levels the playing field and fills us with his Holy Spirit, illuminating the words on the page, as we read and pray for understanding. It can take time and patience but it is so rewarding.

To any new Christian who is thinking The Chosen might help them understand the Bible better, I would instead suggest finding an accurate but easy to read translation, (The ESV is one of my favourites), and a good teacher. It might seem hard at first but with help from the greatest teacher of all the words will come to life. Jesus said: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26.