Angel Studios | Inset: Heartbeat International / Flickr

Popular Christian pastor and social commentator Voddie Baucham appeared on “The Babylon Bee Podcast” earlier this month, where he revealed he would not watch the popular series “The Chosen” because he believes it violates the Second Commandment. “2CV, man. Second Commandment violation,” he told the hosts. The Second Commandment states in Exodus 20:4-5, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” 

The exact application of the Second Commandment has caused a split amongst Christians, with some, like Baucham, insisting it means there ought not to be any representations of any member of the Trinity in any form, while others insist it means that images should not be made for the purpose of worship. Travis Kearns, writing for G3 Ministries, gave a detailed history of the understanding of the Second Commandment prohibiting any representation of any member of the Trinity. The article countered an argument by theologian J.I. Packer that the Second Commandment only refers to images for worship, saying, “So Packer argues the second commandment applies specifically to the use of images in worship. It can be argued, however, that any representation of a member of the Trinity would come to the mind of the believer while at worship; therefore, no image of the Father, Son, or Spirit should be created by humanity.”        

Dallas Jenkins, creator of “The Chosen,” responded to the criticism with a lengthy Facebook post. “I love Voddie Baucham, but I think this take is misapplied,” he wrote. “The 2nd commandment is clearly referring to objects of worship, and most likely, specifically objects of worship that compete with God.” He went on to quote Exodus 20:4-6 and then wrote, “Pastor Baucham’s logic is that because a movie or show portraying Christ is showing someone who comes from heaven, then it’s idolatrous. Or because it’s the portrayal of God, an image of God, it’s idolatrous. But it’s not the portrayal or image itself that’s the issue… It’s clearly the worship of it.” He shared that he agreed that God should be put first over any idols but that “no one is worshiping the TV screen.” “On no conceivable level does The Chosen compare to the gods and idols and images the Israelites were potentially worshiping to compete with God,” he concluded in his statement.

To date, Baucham has not responded to Jenkins’s post, but he has expressed his dislike of any images of Jesus in the past and has stated that believers should get rid of pictures of Jesus from their homes. Others have expressed some concerns about the way “The Chosen,” particularly actor Jonathan Roumie’s portrayal of Jesus, has invaded their concept of Jesus. In a 2021 Patheos article reflective of the concerns in Kearns’s post, Pastor Matt Pearson at The Church at West Franklin in Tennessee wrote that he quit watching the series as he began to imagine Roumie’s Jesus when he prayed. “After I watch several minutes of an episode of ‘The Chosen,’ I find that when I pray, I pray to the Jesus playing the character of Jesus in the television series. My mind goes to him. My attention goes to him. My words are expressed to him. I find that I am not talking to the Jesus of the Scriptures, but the Jesus portrayed in ‘The Chosen.’”

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