I recently watched an episode of The Americans that had an interesting exchange about the Bible and faith. The Americans is a story of a family of four living in America during the 1980s. A big part of the intrigue is that the husband and wife, who work as travel agents, are actually Soviet spies born and trained in Russia. Their 15 year old daughter becomes a Christian, which offers an interesting twist given her atheist parents upbringing in an anti-religious, communist nation. The mother, Elizabeth, at first is very hostile to her daughter’s conversion, but over time starts to show acceptance and an interest. The following is an exchange she had with her daughter’s Pastor1 (you can watch the clip here):
Pastor Tim: None of us are in control. Not really. Not ever.
Elizabeth: Because we’re in God’s hands? [sarcastically]
Pastor Tim: I know you don’t see it that way, but there is something greater than this.
Elizabeth: Hmm. How do you know?
Pastor Tim: I don’t know. I believe. That doesn’t always work, but most of the time it makes things better.
Do you see the two unbiblical responses by the pastor? His answers were standard fare for Hollywood movies and TV shows. Whenever a Christian character presents their viewpoint, it is almost always a reformed view, a.k.a. fate, and their faith is one of “I just believe”, a.k.a blind faith.
The first, fate, is subtle and only implied, but certainly hints of reformed theology, a calvinistic view that opposes free will and promotes the false idea that God preordains everything. This would mean that every crime such as is committed in ‘The Americans’ was already for-ordained by God. All those despicable acts were already “in God’s hands”. Such a theology is roundly rejected in the Bible. For example, in three different passages God laments that people were sacrificing their kids to fire, something that God stated never entered His mind that they would do such a thing (e.g. Jer 7:31, 19:5, 32:35). Given these and so many other passages like it, it makes no sense to accept the reformed view of fate. For more on this, see the blog article The Predestined for Hell Myth.
The second unbiblical answer was in response to Elizabeth’s question asking Pastor Tim why he believes. It was virtually guaranteed the Hollywood-version pastor’s response (which sadly is a fair representation of many pastors in the real world) would be one that promotes blind faith. “I don’t know. I believe”. But what does the Bible actually say? The following would have been a biblical response to Elizabeth’s question.
Pastor Tim: “That’s a good question Elizabeth. How do I know? Because the Bible tells us in Hebrews 11:1 that faith is ‘the evidence of things not seen’. I know God is who he says he is because His invisible attributes are clearly seen by the things He has made. Just look at the creation and the amazing design of everything around you. Here, go to Real Science Radio at rsr.org and learn more about it! Then consider the overwhelming historical evidence for Jesus. Every day people honor his birth, willingly or not, when they put the date since his time of birth on a check or an application, or when they look at the time since his birth when they glance at their watch or set an alarm. Everything points back to Jesus. Here Elizabeth, read this article on the historicity of Jesus, plus so much more at bibleevidences.com.”
Instead of an expression of doubt on Elizabeth’s face (see end of clip), its much more likely she would have a look of curiosity and interest!
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. – 1 Peter 3:15
1 – Season 4, Episode 11. Please read Christian-based reviews before watching this ‘R’ rated series.