The Expository Files

Jennings on Jesus & Paul

The major television broadcast networks venture into the field of religion sometimes, often during a season the world identifies with "Christianity" (Easter, Christmas). Recently the viewing public had opportunity to see another Peter Jennings ABC documentary, "Jesus and Paul, the Word and the Witness."

The show that aired on Monday night, April 5, was virtually a carbon copy of the previous Jennings work (In Search of Jesus, June 2000). In the former effort and in this one, Jennings did not find the Jesus Christ of the Bible. And he certainly didn't come close to the real apostle Paul. (There is no reason to believe he was looking!)

The misinformation conveyed in these programs is a product of the mind-set that gives more weight to human sources than inspired writers. To Jennings, the speculations and pronouncements of mostly liberal theologians is more attractive than the actual words of Jesus and Paul (and less demanding morally). He is more concerned with how contemporary "experts" and "specialists" interpret tradition than attending to the writings left by the Holy Spirit.

The documentary ABC aired Monday night (April 5, 2004) was noticeably slanted toward liberal "scholarship" that questions, denies and re-writes biblical history; that assumes a human superiority above the divine text. Along with that, it was bold in identifying Catholic ritual and modern religious rock music with the story of Jesus and Paul. Scenes from Catholic ritual predominating the visuals, and religious rock was used as the primary musical background. The content of the documentary was formed based on what is religiously and politically correct; what is marketable and what is demeaning of Christianity. The show never came to terms with the simple teaching of the Bible; was an exercise in comparing what one "scholar" says to another; left out vital context in quoting what Paul wrote; portrayed Paul as a "nasty" anti-Semite and eventually claimed, "he was making it up as he went along!" And, according to the scholars, "he had no idea that his ideas would ever become a blueprint for the 20th century." (I assume the "scholar" would extend that opinion to the 21st!)

I cannot offer any favorable recommendation of these major media religious documentaries, not even for some impractical academic purpose. Too much misinformation; too much distortion; too much bold unbelief in the biblical record. I agree with one reviewer on a website blog who said, "If even a fraction of what I mention [critical of Jennings] is true, then we're looking at something more akin to intellectual dishonesty than simple omissions."

The real Paul said: "But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ," (Gal. 1:11,12). And, "the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord," (1 Cor. 14:37).

By Warren E. Berkley
The Front Page
From Expository Files 11.5; May 2004