by Randy J. Guliuzza, P.E., M.D. *
The History Channel cable network began on March 3, 2013, a ten-hour new miniseries based on the Bible that will be broadcast over five Sundays. Without a doubt, the show confronts viewers with the question “Is the Bible literally true?”
The series is co-produced by actress Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel) and her husband producer Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Voice, The Apprentice), who have professed a love for the Bible and approach it as being both true history and factually accurate. The project cost over $20 million, and a large group of Bible scholars and theologians contributed.
During several interviews, including ones with journalists Cynthia McFadden1 and Bill O’Reilly,2 the principal question asked of Downey and Burnett was whether they believe the Bible’s narrative accounts are fictional stories, allegories, or literally true history. The couple stated unequivocally that “on this project, there’s only one way to approach this. You have to take the Bible as a fact.”3
O’Reilly asked, somewhat skeptically, if The Bible miniseries was intended to facilitate belief in a real Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark, and Jonah and “the whale.” Viewers of the History Channel programs may themselves wonder how they should approach these narratives.
Well, it is important for Christians to remember that the Lord Jesus Christ—whom Christians hold as the incarnation of God—both believed and taught the so-called “stories” that skeptics have always doubted and still question today.
Was there a literal Adam and Eve, a real man named Noah who rode out a global flood, and someone called Jonah who was swallowed by a fish and survived inside it for three days? The most definitive and ready references are Jesus’ own responses. So, O’Reilly’s questions do have answers—straight from the lips of the Lord Jesus.
The Bible has one author, God Himself, whose Holy Spirit directed each writer’s content while allowing individual styles to shine through. Jesus affirmed this when He said, “For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The LORD said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Mark 12:36). In regard to the divine inspiration of the Scriptures, Jesus knew that writers of biblical content, like David in Psalm 110:1, were in fact being inspired by the Holy Ghost (or Spirit).
The Lord also referred to the creation account in Genesis 1 and the elaboration of specific creation details in Genesis 2 when He coupled these narratives together in regard to the marriage of a man and a woman:
The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (Matthew 19:3-6)
Jesus specified the timing of the creation in Mark 10:6-8: “But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.” Humans were not only directly made by God; they existed “from the beginning.”
Worldwide Flood of Noah
The Lord cautioned that His return to earth would be sudden, worldwide, and catch most people unaware, just like it was before the Flood that Noah and his family survived:
But as the days of No’e [Noah] were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that No’e entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (Matthew 24:37-39)
The Lord illustrated His death and resurrection by Jonah’s very real ordeal inside the great fish: “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40).
On an optimistic note, Burnett and Downey hope that the miniseries prompts a billion people to “either open the Bible or reopen the Bible.”3 Perhaps their faithful renditions of biblical history, undergirded by the prayers of the producers (and others), will attain that goal.
The Institute for Creation Research’s website contains hundreds of articles detailing scientific research confirming the Bible’s teachings about the origins of the earth and the highly complex living creatures it houses. There are very good reasons to be certain of the Bible’s teachings and promises. But scoffers will always try to intimidate people into embarrassment, doubt, and disbelief.
Christians who hold to the literal truth of the Bible should try not to worry what others think about us personally. Why? First, history shows that attacks on the Bible come and go, but the Bible has always prevailed. Second, the scoffers and we will someday stand before Christ. His Word is again instructive:
Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. (Mark 8:38)
‘The Bible’: Remaking the Oldest Stories Ever Told. ABC News online video. Posted on abcnews.go.com February 27, 2013, accessed February 28, 2013.
History Channel debuts epic miniseries ‘The Bible.’ The O’Reilly Factor online video. Posted on foxnews.com February 27, 2013, accessed February 28, 2013.
Whitman, J. Hollywood Couple Created ‘The Bible’ Mini-Series to ‘Set the Record Straight.’ ABC News online video. Posted on abcnews.go.com February 27, 2013, accessed February 28, 2013.
* Dr. Guliuzza is ICR’s National Representative.