A recent Newsweek magazine special edition titled ‘Jesus’ there was an article at the back called:
FAITHFUL ADAPTATION : Two of the church’s most influential voices explain why Son of God is a meaningful benchmark for Christianity’s future..
Here is the article. I have underlined the interviewer questions/statements for clarity :
Two of the church’s most influential voices explain why Son of God is a meaningful benchmark for Christianity’s future.
REV. JOEL OSTEEN
Pastor of Lakewood Church, the largest church in America, and the author of several books, including the recent Break Out!
What was it like for you to work with Mark Burnett and Roma Downey on Son of God?
I was technically a consultant, but I didn’t do much. That’s not my expertise. I felt they could get theologians or experts, so for me it was more about being a friend. . I was just there to support them as part of the Christian community. When I heard what they were doing . . . I was there to be supportive in any way I could.
What kinds of conversations did the three of you have about the way the story was going to be presented? Did you ever debate Scripture versus a good script?
I was on board the whole way. I never saw anything that was off base. . . . At one point in Son of God, Jesus walks out to Peter’s little fishing boat, and Jesus says, “We’re going to change the world.” I loved that. Some people might say, “But that’s not in the Bible,” but I said, “Look, guys, you’re making the Bible contemporary.”
Does that attitude also inform the way you minister to your community at Lakewood?
I get criticized for it, but people already know what they’re doing wrong. When I look at the congregation, I don’t have the heart to tell these people they’re crewing up. They already came in here and spent their time and energy. I want to tell them God is there for them, that they can overcome addictions, that they can make good decisions. I want to empower them. I don’t think Jesus came to condemn. He lifted people up. People are tired of being told what to do and tired of being talked down to. Of course, there are two sides of it.
Because other ministers feel they have a different calling?
Exactly. I can see the other side. Some people need to have somebody in their face saying, “You have to straighten up.” But that’s not my job. My role is to celebrate anyone who is doing something good. They don’t have to be like me. I don’t have to agree with them I00 percent. None of us agree 100 percent on everything. We’re in this together. We’re going to see the good in each other, and I think that’s one of the beauties of what Mark and Roma are doing. It’s a tool for us to celebrate who we are.
Lakewood is one of the largest churches in the country. Is it helpful for you to have a film like Son of God, which gives your congregation a common vocabulary or experience?
It is harder to have community in a church like ours. The church is very diverse, not only racially but economically. You could have a CEO sitting by somebody who took the bus. But the pros outweigh the cons for me. There are services that have 15,000 people, and it’s very empowering. It’s like a concert. It’s about bringing people together. So we see a movie like Son Of God as a tool; we see it as a way to get together. It’s easy to say, “Let’s go sec a movie.” People think, “I don’t want to go to church, but you know what, I’ll go see a movie.” And that can create a spark on the inside that says, ‘Tm not religious, but maybe I need a relationship with God,” and that’s who we’re trying to reach- not just the church people. Plus, the film is so well done .What I love about Mark and Roma is that they know how to do it right, with that added production value. Son of God is on par with anything you would go to see in the movies.
Do you feel Son of God is finally giving the Greatest Story Ever Told the treatment it deserves?
It really is. I say this all the time, but Mark and Roma could be doing anything. They have the opportunities, they have the fame, they have the money. These guys have chosen to use their gift, their power and their celebrity to do something great for faith and to bring the Bible to life. That’s why it’s easy to get behind it.
REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ
Leader of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Council l and author of Path of Miracles
Tell me briefly how you got involved with The Bible series and. ultimately, the Son of God film.
Roma Downey, Mark Burnett and their team engaged Christian leaders for the sake of The Bible series. The primary purpose was to advise and consent: We said, “Let’s look at the series, some of the segments, the trailer, the script. Is there anything that will cause great angst or consternation within the Bible-believing community?” So I was engaged at the initial stages, and it became a wonderful journey. The Christian worldview via the conduit of popular culture appears marginalized and ridiculed. But now there’s this redemptive opportunity to offer the Bible to a new generation n. It became a visual presentation of the wonderful life-changing narrative that’s stems out of God’s word.
How much course correcting did you do as an adviser?
None. Mark and Roma did their due diligence beforehand. For me, as long as the core message and core themes were, without compromise, about love and grace and redemption and taking care of those in need :and changing the world for good, I was covered .And they not only adhered to that, they actually elevated that message through the Bible series and now the Son of God movie.
What does Son of God do differently than The Bible?
By focusing on the Jesus narrative exclusively, Son of God takes The Bible and raises and amplifies it on a very powerful scale. There’s a difference between seeing the story through your television and seeing this radical journey of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ on the big screen. And because it’s being released in theaters, it offers an opportunity for fellowship and fraternity ty. It’s a convocation. It invites us to have a conversation about faith, religion and God.
Why do you feel that’s paramount at this point in our history?
We have so much confrontation and so many debates taking place in America on a plethora of issues every single day. I ‘m only 44 years of age, but I’ve never seen my nation as divided as I see it now. Son of God says, “Let’s come together and let’s have a conversation. Let’s experience something different, something that’s conciliatory, something that’s redemptive.” And that’s why it’s more than a film to me. It really is a call for gathering.
How significant is it that the film is being released nationally in English and Spanish on the same day?
I can’t find the words to describe the significance. It speaks to the hearts of Mark and Roma. The Hispanic-American community is not just a segment or a demographic. It’s the fastest-growing segment of the Christian community. By mid-century, the majority of Christians in America, in both the Catholic and in the Evangelical – Protestant world, will be of Hispanic-American descent, according to Pew research. Mark and Roma picked up on that, they acted proactively, and they’re releasing it in Spanish on the very same day. I commend and applaud them for that.
© 2014 Newsweek LLC
I could probably add a lot of personal comment, but I will only ask a question:
If “Son of God is a meaningful benchmark for Christianity’s future.”, and it just might be, what does that really mean?