World Church Shelves The Record Keeper
General Conference leadership decided last week to suspend the release of an upcoming 11-episode web series, The Record Keeper. As featured in the September 2013 Gleaner, the series promised to reach an untapped segment of the world’s population with themes of the ultimate struggle between good and evil. Last week’s action took into account a list of theological concerns about the production drafted by the church’s Biblical Research Institute. This page will be updated when that list becomes available. Approximately $1 million was earmarked for this project, with half of the funds coming from a private donor, and the rest from non-tithe money. The vote to shelve the series has understandably been met with a variety of passionate responses, including this post by Adventist young people, as members around the globe seek to find appropriate ways to creatively express the Adventist mission and message.
Below is the of theological concerns that the Biblical Research Institute found based on their review of The Record Keeper. (Original document.)
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- The feminization of God is unbiblical and lends support to the modernist agenda that seeks to remove male depictions of God.