Question:

Is it unscriptural to use videos in Bible class? Recently, we decided to temporarily have Bible class for our Sunday evening services in order to watch and discuss the movie "The Gospel According to Matthew." The movie acts out the events of the book of Matthew and uses the words of the book of Matthew as either dialogue or background. Is this a scriptural practice? I originally believed that there wasn't anything wrong with doing this, likening it to using pictures to illustrate Biblical concepts in children's Bible class. However, some of our members believe that it is adding to God's word. I would appreciate any insight you have on this question. Thank you so much for your website! God bless you and the work you do here!


Answer:

I remember years ago watching pieces of a similar type of movie. I wasn't impressed. The translation wasn't one of the better ones. Worse to me is that the actors put emphasis in the wrong way. For instance, the one I saw had Jesus laughing at his illustration in Matthew 7:2-5. While it is a vivid illustration, Jesus was talking about a serious matter. Even if it was intended to be humorous, laughing at your own jokes comes off wrong.

What it did make for was some interesting discussions. Even my children found flaws in how the events were being portrayed. But there were times one of us would say, "It doesn't say that." Then we look up the passage and either realize we hadn't notice the wording (remembering it from another gospel) or finding a flaw in the movie's script.

Another problem is that since it used only one gospel's script, it would ignore what the other gospels said about the same event. For example, the number of angels at the tomb varies with the gospels because each emphasizes a different point; yet, all are compatible. Since visual can contain information not said in the text, they would visually present information that contradicted the other gospels.

What needs to be done, if the group wants to use something like this, is to realize that while the words are based on the Gospel, the acting and visuals are the works of men. This should be brought out and analyzed. Students should be challenged to see the movie critically: talk about the mistakes made and what was noticed that had been missed before.

Thank you for responding to my question. As an elder, I feel a great responsibility to what is taught in our Bible studies. We are about half-way through the study. The advise you offered seems sound. I think that we will finish the study, but I won't be using videos like that again.

Thank you for your time and service to the Lord's church. God bless.