Today, the General Conference's Biblical Research Institute released a list it called "Theological Problems with The Record Keeper." The BRI enumerated what it believes to be inaccuracies under three headings:
- View of God and His Perfect Creation
- View of Christ and the Atonement
- View of the Holy Spirit
Here is the entire text of the document from the Biblical Research Institute:
Theological Problems with “The Record Keeper”
Biblical Research Institute, April 9, 2014
In contemplating the message conveyed through “The Record Keeper” film, those assigned in the Biblical Research Institute who watched the film noted the following theological problems:
View of God and His Perfect Creation
1. The power of evil and the violence that goes with it is predominant throughout the series, while the crucially important message that “God is love” hardly appears.
2. The beauty and love permeating God’s perfect universe is never really represented. The original creation of the earth is never described, nor is its eventual re-creation, and there is almost as much conflict in heaven as on earth.
3. Satan’s influence permeates heaven long after the evil angels are cast out so that heaven seems to be characterized in terms of the evil and violence on sinful earth.
4. Angels are depicted manipulating events on earth in order for the prophecy to come true of Jesus’ being born in Bethlehem, denying God’s foreknowledge.
5. Satan seems to be in charge of “hell,” where good angels can visit and evil angels can be tortured, but, in Scripture, the words translated “hell” refer either to the grave or to the final destruction of the wicked.
View of Christ and the Atonement
1. Having characters in the film say of Jesus “He’s not human” and “He cannot die” denies the foundational doctrine of Jesus as fully human. He is both God and Man.
2. The central role of God’s law in the controversy and the nature of sin (as distinct from evil) are never explained. As a result, there is the danger that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross could be construed in pagan terms.
3. A character incorrectly asserts that Christ’s death “was the pardon.” His death made provision for the pardon and salvation of human beings through faith. This so-called “universal justification,” that everyone was pardoned at the cross misconstrues the atonement and undermines Christ’s ministry as our High Priest.
4. Also wrong is the statement that “the plan required the death of God.” To the contrary, “Deity did not die” (5BC 1113.4). Christ’s death upholds both God’s justice and mercy, but this central truth is hardly visible.
5. Satan and his angels are told that God “sent you to earth to witness the death of His Son,” but the whole universe witnessed Christ’s death so this is not the reason for their banishment. Strongly, but wrongly, implied here and elsewhere is that Jesus died to save evil angels too. However, their destiny was sealed already by their war against God and being cast out of heaven. The reason they were not immediately destroyed was not this but so that Satan’s way of sin and evil could be seen in contrast to God’s way of love and righteousness.
6. The ending of the series is completely unbiblical: Lars, an evil angel, is given a second chance but ultimately commits eternal suicide (as if that were possible and even more desirable), suggesting the possibility of escaping the final judgment and obviating the need of confronting one’s choices in the great controversy.
View of the Holy Spirit
1. The Holy Spirit is the one member of the Godhead who has no visible form. Not only is it blasphemous to depict the Holy Spirit as an angel, but to depict the Holy Spirit as a woman suggests the pagan notion that the Father has a consort and that the Son is the product of that union.
2. The feminization of God is unbiblical and lends support to the modernist agenda that seeks to remove male depictions of God.
Comments on the Decision
People are beginning to digest the BRI's just-released critique.
Commenters on the Save The Record Keeper's Facebook page cite a "misunderstanding of storytelling." An anonymous writer said:
The largest issue with this document is a fundamental misunderstanding of the filmic medium. Art heavily relies on metaphor, subtlety, and context to communicate meaning. The approach taken by these BRI scholars took none of this into account. . . Furthermore, it is unfair to critique what the series did not explore: creation, the end of times, etc. This was an 11 part mini-series, consisting of a mere 10-12 minutes for each episode. It is absolutely impossible to condense the entire sweeping arc of All Time into a 2 hour film series.
Rajeev Sigamoney, one of The Record Keeper's creators, told us: "I believe burying the project is really a response of fear to a new format, fictional storytelling in film, within our denomination."
There are still many unanswered questions about how the web series came to be cancelled. Could theology really be the reason?
The Emmanuel-Brinklow Adventist Church in Ashton, Maryland, not far from the world church headquarters, was the location for the pilot of The Record Keeper last autumn. The church used the series as part of an evangelism campaign, which also included a health clinic, community outreach programs, cooking classes, nightly vegetarian meals, financial workshops, counseling services, music ministries and a children's evangelism series.
During the eight-week evangelistic effort, the church showed the 11 episodes of The Record Keeper, with each viewing followed by a sermon.
Last Sabbath, the day after the cancellation of the series was announced, Anthony Medley, senior pastor of the Emmanuel-Brinklow Church, read an open letter from the pulpit, responding to the General Conference's decision. He called the decision to suspend the series while also exploring the possibility of creating similar creative outreach projects "both disappointing and confusing."
He said that as a result of Emmanuel-Brinklow's "innovative evangelism series," 30 people were baptized. He said:
This official announcement from the World Church suggests that our approach to evangelism included presenting doctrinal errors. As an ordained pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, I take my responsibility of being the theological and organizational guardian of a local congregation very seriously. Our preaching and evangelism did not cause confusion, nor was it a misrepresentation of the fundamental biblical principles and core beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In fact, we upheld Biblical truths and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we led others to affirm and reaffirm their commitment to live by them.
The Record Keeper series made a very positive impact on many who attended the evangelism crusade, and as a result, have expressed an interest in Ellen White, especially the Great Controversy, Biblical prophecy and the Adventist Church.
He said that if he had the chance to show The Record Keeper again, he would.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5945