The Chosen: A Reformed Defense of the Show

The very popular TV series, The Chosen, tells the story of Jesus over the course of 7 seasons (currently on season 3). It has sharply divided Christians as to whether it is proper or not. Some point to the fact that the production company, Angel Studios, was founded in part by 2 Mormons as enough reason to pass on the show. But I’ve watched the show and have not detected a single instance of Mormon theology is presented. It’s akin to saying we should disregard the US Constitution since some of the signers were Deists and Freemasons!

Contrary to what some critics are asserting, The Chosen’s creator, Dallas Jenkins, is clear that he does not regard Mormons as Christians and that no Mormon theology has made its way into the show.

I’ve noticed from reading social media (especially Facebook and Twitter) that the main group of Christians objecting to the series are fellow Reformed believers. Their primary objection is that they believe depicting a member of the Trinity is a violation of the Second Commandment since, they assert, such a depiction represents an idol. I believe such a line of reasoning is extremely poor and fatuous. They are in fact engaging in eisegesis, not careful exegesis.

In the article above by Dr. Travis Kerns, he argues that depictions of any member of the Trinity constitute idolatry and are thus forbidden and sinful.

Those who believe depictions of Jesus violate the Second Commandment, like Dr. Kerns, are known as holding to the 2CV (shorthand for Second Commandment Violation) position.

According to Baker’s Biblical Dictionary, the most prevalent form of idolatry in biblical times was the worship of images or idols that represented or were thought to embody various pagan deities. 

In the Old Testament, from the beginning, the threat of idolatry was in the midst of Israel. The forefathers were idolaters and, while Abraham was called out of a polytheistic background (Joshua 24:2), some persons brought their gods with them (Genesis 35:2-4). Israel’s sojourn in Egypt placed them under the influence of the Egyptian religion, but God’s sovereignty was manifest by his judgment upon the gods of Egypt (Exodus 12:12; Numbers 33:4). Israel, however, quickly succumbed to idolatry by worshiping a golden calf at Mount Sinai ( Exodus 32 ).

The first commandment is to have no gods before God (Exodus 20:3; Deuteronomy 5:7). In addition, the construction of any images (Exodus 20:23) or even the mention of the names of gods (Exodus 23:13) was forbidden. Invoking the name of a god was an acknowledgment of its existence and gave credence to its power. By swearing in the name of another god (1 Kings 19:2; 20:10), the people would bind themselves to an allegiance other than God (Joshua 23:7).

Since idolatry substituted another for God it violated the people’s holiness and was parallel to adultery; hence the frequent use of negative sexual imagery for idolatry, especially by the prophets. Both intermarriage and formal treaties were prohibited because of necessary affiliation with pagan gods (Exod 23:32-33), leading to eventual fellowship (Exodus 34:15) and worship of idols (Numbers 25:2-3).

So we see clearly that idols are representations of pagan false gods. Let me be clear: there is not one instance of Scripture that forbids depictions of God, nor declares such depictions to be an example of idolatry.

Further, the second commandment forbids the worship of idols. I don’t know of a single Christian who believes the depiction of Jesus in the Chosen by actor Jonathan RoumiJe should be worshiped.

Jesus Christ incarnated as a real human being that thousands of people saw. Church tradition holds that the New Tesatment writer Luke (the physician) created the first depiction of Christ (a painted icon). So there is precedent for such depictions.

Further, those who object to any representation of Jesus, whether a painting, sculpture, or movie, go against 1,500 years of church history. Icons of Jesus were widespread from the early Church until the time of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century.

The seminal text that those who believe depictions of Jesus constitute a 2CV (Second Commandment Violation) is Exodus 20:4-6 which is God speaking as He relays the 10 Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Let’s see what it says:

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

Exodus 20:4-6 (NKJV)

If this text was interpreted strictly literally it would mean we could not make any type of artistic representation of ANYTHING in Heaven (God, the angels, etc.) nor ANYTHING that dwells on the earth or in the water. Clearly, God is not forbidding that. I don’t see any Reformed arguing against artistic depictions of their mother, or a cow, or a whale. So they concede that point.

Further the context (“a jealous God”) is clear that God is forbidding pagan idols being represented (they were almost always carved).

Every single 2CV argument I’ve seen is extremely weak and seems to be a case of an already formed opinion being imposed upon Scripture, rather than a careful and well supported doctrine which comes from handling the Word of God appropriately.

I don’t believe one is sinning if they choose to watch The Chosen, or a beautiful depiction of God by a master painter. It borders on rank legalism to assert such and falsely judge our brother as being in sin.

Sadly even the Reformed can be guilty of elevating their pious traditions of men above the Word of God. Calvin’s writing, as well as that of the other iconoclasts, was not inspired by God. It is his opinion only. I think too many Reformed are being uncritical in their thinking and are guilty of holding to the 2CV postion because of tradition rather than careful biblical exegesis.

I’ve been attacked, mocked, insulted, and ridiculed, by some Reformed, for being against the 2CV position. I will stand on God’s Word always!

I find The Chosen to be a fantastic series that’s introducing Jesus and the Gospel accounts of His life to millions of people who would not normally watch such biblical content. It is spreading the Gospel and for that reason it should be lauded and supported by Christians.

The Chosen is the most popular Christian media for the past 20-30 years. It’s ranked 9.3 out of 10 by 32,000 voters on and scored a 99% approval rating on the popular site Rotten Tomatoes. The Chosen has been viewed nearly 400 million times worldwide!

By the way, you can watch every single episode of the show totally free here.

Please support this show by donating and buying seasons on DVD and Blu-Ray!!! See here. It is a crowd-funded show, and your donations and sales fund the next upcoming seasons. Currently, the first 2 seasons are available for purchase.

2 responses to “The Chosen: A Reformed Defense of the Show”

  1. Believe it or not, Zak, you just wrote an essay! A well thought out piece of writing supported by facts is a very good essay! You stated the opinion and beliefs of the Bible in a very clear way and I wrote many essays in such a way when I was in college! Excellent writing Zak! I do think that you are a great writer and I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts about Jesus, our Lord and Savior! The tv series is spreading Gods message to millions! Some of whom have never read the Bible, or are still not allowed to! (In the Muslim nations)! This tv series is phenomenal! I like how you made the conclusion that they are misled and basically completely confused! The world needs this to see the Glory and the passion of the life of Jesus!


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