Remaking ‘The Chosen’ Boston-Style

September 29th, 2021

“The Chosen,” by director Dallas Jenkins, is drawing big audiences as the first multi-season TV series about Jesus.  The show is extremely well done, and I’ve recommended it to several CS friends, who responded favorably.

But that could only have been because, I suspect, they were compartmentalizing their enjoyment of a beloved Bible story well told, into a category quite separate from their allegiance to Mrs. Eddy’s teachings.

Were they to rewrite the former in strict conformity to the latter, the result would be a screenplay like nothing King James ever dreamt of.

Instead of John the Baptist saying of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), you would have him saying, “Behold the Master Metaphysician, who dispels false belief with divine Science.”

Instead of Jesus saying, “The kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15), you would have him saying, “The final revelation of Truth isn’t yet at hand. Keep on with your unscientific Christianity for another 1800 years, and the Comforter will then arrive from Boston across the ocean.”

We could go on in this satirical vein, but you get the idea. Christian Science presents a diluted, distorted version of who Jesus was and is, why he came, what he does for us and why we need him—tragically (and laughably) denying from the plain meaning of Scripture. CSers only avoid seeing this by keeping up the willful compartmentalization noted above.

One Volume from Two?

I unwittingly began breaking out of the compartmentalization just by trying to make sense of Science and Health as a sermon resource in my church Reader duties and as a life guide for teenagers in my Adventure Unlimited work. In both cases I struggled in vain to see how Mrs. Eddy’s book meshed with Jesus’ book, the Bible. It didn’t, I concluded. It wouldn’t, it couldn’t.

I got to thinking: If Science and Health was in fact based on the Bible and authoritative over it, why weren’t the two books published in a single binding? In a fit of logic, I got matched paperbacks of Science and Health and the Bible and fastened them together back to back with clear tape. Presto, one volume from two!

It started as a jokey experiment, something to smile about with friends on the A/U staff. But as I pondered, it came to feel profoundly irreverent and wrong. Those two books were no more to be equated than were the rods of Pharaoh’s magicians to be equated with Aaron’s rod of divine power.

While this didn’t become a conscious realization for me until years later, I knew it instinctively from the first. Looking back, I can see how God was even then at work in my heart and mind, using my mischievous stunt with the books and the tape to begin leading me out of the Mary Baker Eddy trap.

Break the Shell

Bottom line? Reasoning out the audacious claims of Christian Science to their logical conclusion–whether by reimagining Jesus’ ministry Boston-style or by literally merging the Scriptures with their purported “key,” the CS textbook–only shows how those claims must ultimately collapse of their own weight.

So the Man of Galilee was not the Master Metaphysician, he was (and is) the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. How blessed are my family and I to have been shown this good news.

How urgent is our calling now, yours and mine, to show others the same good news by every means at our disposal—including such God-anointed film projects as “The Chosen.”

Self-deceived compartmentalization is the Christian Scientist’s refuge from the inescapable human realities of sin, suffering, solace, and salvation.

The refuge has proved surprisingly sustainable for CS individuals and the overall CS movement these past 150 years. Actually, though, it’s but a brittle shell, and CSers know that, as their intense protectiveness makes clear.

Help us, O Lord, to find winsome ways, loving and truthful ways, of breaking through that shell and letting in Your light.


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