Truth in Jeopardy

I love the show “Jeopardy”. It’s truth and trivia! All of the questions and answers are fact based and its a fun and interesting learning experience…even for our kids. Last Monday night, we were watching the show and the answer was something like “In April of 1614 this interracial couple’s marriage was the first recorded in North American history”. I shouted out “Pocahontas and John Smith!”, but the instant it came out of my mouth I knew I was wrong. Where did that come from? It was John Rolfe…not Smith. When the contestant answered, John Rolfe was indeed the correct answer. Where DID that come from?

I knew the answer to that, too. It was that Disney movie made about Pocahontas. While there is no historical account indicating that Pocahontas and John Smith were romantically involved, the Disney movie added a dash of romance to the history books thereby changing the historical account just enough…for me to get a question wrong on “Jeopardy”! It was subtle. It was a children’s movie. It was a twist on the truth. It was a LIE. And that is just a small example of how a minor twist can be just enough to cause us to believe an out-and-out lie- maybe even changing history.

The mini-series “The Bible” had a series of inaccurate accounts that were over dramatized or sensationalized just enough to supply some action that would appeal to the audience for entertainment’s sake. But, many of those instances were just plain wrong. For example, in the mini-series they take a tremendous amount of “creative license” in the history of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The angels are bloody and begging Lot for help as they seek refuge. He rushes them off to his home and they take cover. In super-slow-mo they take off their robes to reveal their armor. They blind the men at the door and then come out swinging. They are portrayed as hardcore, sword wielding dudes as they frantically fight their way out of the city with Lot and his family in tow. They make it to the city gates just in time to see the fire raining down and consuming the city. Ok…It was a pretty cool five-minute action sequence with lots of stunts and blood. But, how much of it was correct?

When I read over Genesis 19, I see that the angels were sent to destroy the city. They walked into town and Lot offered to wash their feet and invited them to stay the night. They responded by saying that they’d stay in the night in the town square. (A far cry from the frantic bloodied angels running from a mob of men while begging for help.) Read on…

12 The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, 13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.”…15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!” 18 But Lot said to them, “No, my lords,please! 19 Your servant has found favor in your[eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. 20 Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.” 21 He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. 22 But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.) 23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. 27 Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.

Wait…no swords, no flips and kicks and bloody gore…no barely making it out of the city while feeling the hair on the back of their necks singed by the raining fire? Nope. As a matter of fact they grabbed them by the hand, led them safely out and told them that they couldn’t destroy the city until Lot and his family were at a safe distance. The next morning, Abraham rose to see the smoke.

You see? It’s a totally different account. They took the history and twisted it to make it entertaining. As a result, you end up with…well, A LIE.

“What’s the harm?”, you ask? “It’s just a movie- what’s the big deal?” you say? In our home, we have a seven-year old son who is a new Christian. Let’s pretend for a moment that he had seen this portion of the movie. Do you think it would have an impact? I am positive that it would. When he reads Genesis 19 for himself, what do you think would be playing in his mind? I am pretty sure that for my seven-year old son,  it would be the excitement in the movie and not the truth on the page.

Some would say, “If the mini-series is the only exposure someone gets to the Bible or to the gospel, then it’s a good thing.”. Or “It may generate enough interest to draw a person to read the Bible for him/herself.”. So wait…if a series of sensationalized accounts, lies and watered down gospel is all they get- then that’s good? God uses many different opportunities to get our attention; so, it’s possible that someone could be lead to read the Bible for the first time. But, I still struggle with that notion and I can’t agree with it wholeheartedly. In fact, it’s walking a dangerous line.

The future generations are in jeopardy.

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31-32

There’s no freedom in a lie, folks. None at all.

Be careful what influences you are exposed to. If you are listening to a sermon or in a group Bible study- open your Bible. Don’t take someone else’s word for it; go to the source. I have found flaws in a few studies by well known Christian authors…it happens and I don’t think for a moment that it’s intentional. But, we have to hold each other accountable and fact check. If you watch a mini-series like “The Bible”…watch it with your Bible and use it for some meaningful discussion. (As a side note: I saw the series and for entertainment it was pretty good. The familiar stories were there, but it didn’t follow the Bible accurately. Hubby and I watched with our Bible in hand and were able to fact check as we watched.  But, I actually wrote to CBN and cautioned them against endorsing the mini-series after the first episode and didn’t get a response.)

“Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.

Proverbs 30:5-6

That John Smith thing stuck in my head like glue. I wonder what else I have heard or seen that has shrouded the truth in my mind.

The truth is in jeopardy!


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