Archive for the ‘The Chosen TV Series’ Category

The Chosen Season 3 Official Trailer. The scene in question starts @1:29.

Concerns About “The Chosen: Season 3 Official Trailer”

by Fred W. Anson
A week ago The Chosen broadcast series posted its official Season 3 trailer. At the one minute, twenty-nine second mark a scene starts in which the actor playing Jesus Christ says, “I am the Law of Moses”. And with those words the Internet, erupted in a hail of words with one side denouncing all or part of The Chosen and its creator/producer/showrunner Dallas Jenkins and the one side defending both. 

I find myself in the middle because let’s face it, none of us (including me) have seen the final version of the scene yet and we don’t, therefore, know the full and complete context for this line. Who knows, given the context of the full scene perhaps this line is perfectly fine. However, that said, just taken at face value, it is extremely problematic. This article explains why. 

That said, I must add, that fanning the fire has been The Chosen team’s weak canned response to inquiries from myself and others regarding the question which thus far has been as follows: 

“Jesus does not say he’s the law of Moses in the Book of Mormon (which Dallas hasn’t read), nor does he use those exact words in Scripture (like most things he says in the show). But either way, Dallas wrote the line for two reasons: one, he thought it was really cool and the kind of thing Jesus could say in response; and two, it’s theologically plausible. He’s the Word, he’s the Creator, he’s the Law.”
(see screenshots included elsewhere in this article) 

This article is, in fact, an expanded (though more tightly edited and polished) version of my own reply to this less-than-satisfactory explanation. I hope that it helps brings clarity to this situation, as well as an impetus to The Chosen team to rectify this problem before this particular episode airs. 

Why This is a Problem
Some have suggested that Jesus saying “I am the Law of Moses” isn’t much of a problem at all – a molehill, not a mountain. Here’s why it is, in fact, the latter:

1) It’s not only unbiblical, it’s utterly unbiblical – foreign in word and concept.
Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say this and neither do the Apostles, the Old Testament Prophets nor the Patriarchs – up to and including Moses Himself in the Torah. This is true both explicitly AND implicitly. It can be found nowhere in the Bible in either word or in concept, it is a teaching that is totally and completely foreign to the Bible.

So why then is Mr. Jenkins putting words in the mouth of The Chosen’s Christ when there is no biblical support or justification for it? It raises some real issues about Dallas Jenkins’ commitment to biblical fidelity, doesn’t it? Does this mean that we can expect to see more “missteps” like this going forward? That is more speculative theology that has utterly no basis in biblical reality?

Time will only tell.

2) Taken to its logical conclusion it teaches another gospel and another Jesus.
The Chosen team’s explanation for the line in their canned response to inquiries on it is as follows,

“Dallas wrote the line for two reasons: one, he thought it was really cool and the kind of thing Jesus could say in response; and two, it’s theologically plausible. He’s the Word, he’s the Creator, he’s the Law.”

This flippant, dismissive (one might even say adolescent) justification is fraught with big theological problems. Yes, we readily acknowledge and accept the fact that the Bible does say that Christ is the Word (Greek: “logos” meaning “word,” “reason,” or “plan” according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica), and He is the Creator just as John 1 so clearly states:

John 1 KJV
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

However, again, nowhere does the Bible state that Jesus Christ is the Law of Moses, because, plainly stated, biblically speaking He’s not, never was, and never will be. Rather, both the words of the Bible and Christ Himself are quite clear that He was both under the Mosiac Law and fulfilled the Law of Moses so that He might redeem those who were likewise born under it by living a sinless life and atoning for our sin by redeeming us with through His sacrificial death. This isn’t just some guy on the Internet’s opinion it is precisely and explicitly what the Bible says:

Galatians 4:4-5 KJV
“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”

Luke 24:44 KJV
‘And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.’

Furthermore, theologically, to say that Jesus is the Law of Moses doesn’t just run counter to that, it means that disobeying the Law of Moses in whole or in part is a form of rejecting Christ Himself in part or in whole as well. This is fraught with theological problems and the potential for heresy – such as the intermingling of Mosaic Law and the gospel that Paul so boldly and directly denounced as heresy in the book of Galatians (as well as Romans, Ephesians, and other New Testament books) and that the other Apostles echoed Paul in doing so in their own New Testament books. Or, as Bryan Catherman on the “Salty Believer” website said so well: 

‘Now, the Bible does say Jesus is the Word, the revelation of the living God to his creation (John 1:1), but that is by no means the same as suggesting Jesus is the Law. Jesus is not the Law. There is a clear contrast between the Old and the New Covenants. There is a compelling difference between the Law that “came along to multiply the trespass” and the grace reigning “through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20-21).’
(Bryan Catherman, “Jesus Is the Law of Moses? Did The Chosen Get This Right?”

And Lutheran Theologian Steven Paulson, referring to neither The Chosen nor the Book of Mormon, was even more expansive when he said:

“Luther in his …Galatians Commentary …directly asserts, ‘Christ is not the Law…Christ is not my work.’ Much earlier in this sermon from 1 Timothy, he makes the same assertion, but he also adds in case we are in need of clarification, “The Holy Spirit is not the Law nor vice versa.” God is not the Law nor vice versa.

Therefore, the proper use of the Law consists of not introducing it where it does not belong. To understand this use rightly, you must divide man into two parts and make a sharp distinction between both, namely, the old and the new, as Paul divided them [e.g., Eph. 4:22-24]. Leave the new man completely unentangled by laws; urge the old man ceaselessly with laws and give him no rest from them. Then you have used the Law properly and well. The new man cannot at all be helped by works; he must have something higher, namely, Christ, who is not a law or a work but a gift and present, nothing but grace and mercy of God…”
(Steve D. Paulson, “LW 56, 105, 106-107 Sermons III 1 Timothy 1:8-11”)

And, ironically, this “blurring of the lines” that these authors are warning us about is the very false gospel that the Book of Mormon teaches, as Pam Hanvey summarized so nicely in her classic article on the topic:

‘The Book of Mormon claims to be, “Another Testament of Jesus Christ” but when it is put to the test, the gospel it embodies is nothing more than a man made concoction of of law mixed with grace; a tainted gospel that is condemned by the Apostle Paul.

In Galatians 5:4 (AKJV) Paul writes, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace.” He reiterates his point in Romans 4:13-14 (KJV), “For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect.”’
(Pam Hanvey (writing as “Marie Johnson”), “The Bible v. The Book of Mormon Gospel”)

So the fact that Dallas Jenkins and his staff could or would call this statement from The Chosen’s Jesus “theologically plausible” and “really cool and the kind of thing Jesus could say” is extremely troubling, to say the least. 

3) While it’s never taught in the Bible, it is taught in the Book of Mormon
The biggest question for many folks, especially those with concerns about Dallas Jenkin’s affiliation with Mormons and the LdS Church, is this: Why is The Chosen’s Christ teaching something that is in The Book of Mormon but not the Bible? Does this subtle shift represent the long-feared syncretism of Biblical Christianity with Mormonism that some of The Chosen’s more brazen critics have been warning would eventually manifest on the screen given Mr. Jenkins’ oft-questioned alliance with Mormons and their church? 

Even more concerning is that when I and others have contacted The Chosen team on their Facebook page (see this is the canned, boilerplate response that we received on this point:

“Jesus does not say he’s the law of Moses in the Book of Mormon (which Dallas hasn’t read)”.

Respectfully, friends, this is the kind of manipulative deflection and obfuscation that preys on the presumed ignorance of the other party that those of us in Mormon Studies see pretty much non-stop from rank-and-file Mormon Apologists. Stated plainly, given the Book of Mormon source (3 Nephi 15:9) in its full and complete context this statement is simply not true. That is “I am the Law of Moses” is indeed exactly what the Book of Mormon Jesus is saying when he says the shortened version “I am the law” in the Book of Mormon. If you doubt me, here is that passage for your consideration: 

3 Nephi 15
2 And it came to pass that when Jesus had said these words he perceived that there were some among them who marveled, and wondered what he would concerning the law of Moses; for they understood not the saying that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new.

3 And he said unto them: Marvel not that I said unto you that old things had passed away, and that all things had become new.

4 Behold, I say unto you that the law is fulfilled that was given unto Moses.

5 Behold, I am he that gave the law, and I am he who covenanted with my people Israel; therefore, the law in me is fulfilled, for I have come to fulfil the law; therefore it hath an end.

6 Behold, I do not destroy the prophets, for as many as have not been fulfilled in me, verily I say unto you, shall all be fulfilled.

7 And because I said unto you that old things have passed away, I do not destroy that which hath been spoken concerning things which are to come.

8 For behold, the covenant which I have made with my people is not all fulfilled; but the law which was given unto Moses hath an end in me.

9 Behold, I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life.

10 Behold, I have given unto you the commandments; therefore keep my commandments. And this is the law and the prophets, for they truly testified of me.

What’s more, the declaration that Dallas Jenkins hasn’t read the Book of Mormon is relevant how exactly? The fact of the matter is that he is citing from the Book of Mormon – be it intentionally or accidentally.  Christians in Mormon Studies who know the Book of Mormon saw the connection immediately and it gave us all pause – a big, long, stunned pause as in, “Did he really, really, really just say that?” And, yes, he did! 

So if Dallas Jenkins really, really, really wanted to hand those in Mormon Studies (and this author, for the record, has not been one of them, I have been a public supporter since Season 1) who have been concerned about his cozy relationship with the LdS Church and its members, bullets to snipe at The Chosen with, then it’s Mission Accomplished! Well done, Mr. Jenkins, well done indeed, your most vocal critics are locked, loaded, and ready to go – and they’ll be yelling, “Thanks for the free ammo, bro!” when they go full “Bonnie and Clyde” on y’all. 

But let’s back up and get “real” here, are they seriously telling us that the Mormons on The Chosen team, didn’t point all this out to him? Really? Seriously? Please paint me skeptical. Those of us who know and understand how Mormon Culture works, know better and we know that “small” details like quotes from the Book of Mormon in popular media are almost never missed by Latter-day Saints – heck they’ll even eisegete them into things if they need to! This is especially incredulous when you consider the fact that the official 2020 LdS Church Home Ministry manual “Come Follow Me” has a lesson entitled, “September 21–27. 3 Nephi 12–16: “I Am the Law, and the Light” in it which references the 3 Nephi 15:9 passage directly: 

“Like the law of Moses, this law points us to Christ—the only One who can save and perfect us. “Behold,” He said, “I am the law, and the light. Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live” (3 Nephi 15:9).”
(LdS Church, “September 21–27. 3 Nephi 12–16: “I Am the Law, and the Light”, in the “Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: Book of Mormon 2020″ manual) 

So, I call either baloney – or at least, “major fail” – on Mr. Jenkins’ Mormon friends and colleagues. You all win the tallest Dundie in the box, for the biggest fumble of Season 3 so far.  So if y’all are wondering who provided that hell storm of live rounds that you’re now seeing coming from the Biblical Christian side of the divide came from, you keep just go look in a mirror and you’ll find the culprit. Self-inflicted wounds are the worst, aren’t they Team Chosen?   

4) Regardless of whether or not The Book of Mormon was the source for this line or not, this raises serious questions about the soundness of Dallas Jenkins’ theology in general.
Dallas Jenkins claims that his scripts are vetted by a panel of Christians from various traditions and denominations prior to being shot. If that’s true then how in the world did they not catch a rather blatant misstep into an area of theological speculation that is as unbiblical and fraught with problems as this one?

Now if The Chosen Jesus had said to the Pharisee in the scene, “I am here to fulfill the Law of Moses” (or something like that) we wouldn’t be having this conversation because that’s biblical. But he didn’t, he is teaching a false gospel from The Book of Mormon instead, isn’t he? Mr. Jenkins and team, how could you all not see that would be a major problem? Why didn’t you woodcraft this line so that it was biblical rather than a squirming can of worms? 

And trust me, I know them well, the Biblical Christians are going to be howling about this if the rest of the scene in the final cut that actually airs, doesn’t remediate this major misstep somehow. It ain’t gonna get better, Team Chosen, it’s gonna get worse! In fact, even I may be withdrawing my long-held support of The Chosen and joining your critics in denouncing it as, minimally, theologically compromised, and, maximally, tainted with Mormon heresies. Team Chosen, I am not going to sit idly by while Dallas Jenkins allows Mormon dogma slowly begin to infect and degrade what to this point has been, at least in my opinion, a biblically sound television series. 

So, I highly recommend and would politely and respectfully (but pointedly) suggest that you all fix this before this episode of Season 3 drops. And, no, that doesn’t mean yet another long-winded rambling post-show “rap” from Dallas explaining why “it’s all OK after it, kids!” airs that we all now just roll our eyes at (that tactic has “played”, Mr. Jenkins, please stop – more walk less talk, please!).

That means that it needs to be fixed in post-production before it goes “gold”, like that. No, it’s cheap; no, it’s not easy; but, yes, it’s the right thing to do. And if you do, I can assure you that I will continue to support, and even defend, The Chosen TV series despite the misgivings about Mr. Jenkins’ theology and judgment that I have had for some time despite my great love for the screen product that he has given us. 

Again, and to sum it all up, if it’s true that Dallas Jenkins hasn’t read The Book of Mormon then putting these words into the mouth of Jesus raises some real issues about just how theologically sound Dallas Jenkins is and just how much discernment this showrunner who claims to hold to biblical orthodoxy actually possesses. If so, does this “ball drop” mean that we can expect to see more facepalm moments like this going forward? More really, really, really bad theology that has no biblical basis or justification at all, is that what we should expect from The Chosen? 

Time will only tell.

Friends, this is a problem. A big problem. And, with all due respect, Mr. Jenkins you need to fix it.


Screenshot of the trailer at the exact time when the actor playing Christ says, “I am The Law of Moses” (@1:42).


APPENDIX 1: My Direct Message Session With The Chosen Staff on Their Facebook Page
Here are the screenshots of my direct message conversation with The Chosen staff on 2022-10-22 for the record – typos and all. Click on the images to zoom them if you are still having trouble reading them. If you’re on a small-screen mobile device (like a phone or tablet) turn it sideways into “landscape” mode as well. 

This was The Chosen team’s final response to all my concerns and my reasons for them.

APPENDIX 2: Why the Term “Canned Response” Isn’t Hyperbole
For those who may be of the opinion that my use of the term “canned response” was hyperbolic, here’s another example of it from another person on Facebook (name redacted upon request) who received the exact same response from The Chosen team that I did. We are two such examples of this, but others have confirmed that they too received exactly the same response as well. 

Another example of The Chosen’s canned DM response whenever queried about this issue via Facebook Messenger.

APPENDIX 3: The Exact Time in the Trailer Where It’s Said
At the end of the article is a screenshot of the Season 3 Trailer at the exact timestamp @1:42 where The Chosen Christ says, “I am the Law of Moses”. The quoted text has been added to this screen capture by this author because the YouTube closed caption and subtitling systems weren’t working for this video when it was screen captured on 2002-10-23 at approximately 2:15PM US Pacific time. You can click on the image or the link on the timestamp in the image caption to validate all this.