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The Bible Project

September 27th, 2017 | 19 Comments | Posted in Developing Discernment, Miscellaneous

bible project logoI recently learned about The Bible Project — a non-profit, crowdfunded creative studio located in Portland, Oregon, that produces terrific short-form, fully animated videos to make the Bible’s message more widely accessible. They’ve made videos about every book of the Bible as aids to help people read through the books themselves. They’ve also made videos about important themes in the Bible, such as God’s holiness or the image of God. They’re currently producing a series of videos on how to read the Bible and biblical word studies.

The videos are viewable on their YouTube channel, where they’ve had over 30 million views across 229 countries, and have over half a million subscribers.

The Bible Project was started by two friends. Jonathan Collins is a writer and creative director, and has a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Multnomah University. Tim Mackie is also a writer and creative director  and has a Ph.D. in Semitic Languages and Biblical Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mackie wrote his dissertation on the manuscript history of the book of Ezekiel, with a focus on the Septuagint and Dead Sea Scrolls. He’s also a professor at Western Seminary and served as a teaching pastor for many years.

I’m impressed with the quality of the videos as well as the biblical scholarship behind them. The videos, and the accompanying study guides, will help you learn to better understand the Bible and read it in its historical context — which is crucial if you don’t want to fall into the errors of interpretation made by leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and other wayward groups (such as the NAR prophet James Goll’s misinterpretation of Luke 7:44).

If you’re looking for a plan to help you read through the Bible in a year–with videos to  give you the important background information and jazz things up–check out their reading plan (scroll down to the bottom of the page where you can download the daily reading plan, sign up for a weekly e-mail, or download the Reading Scripture App.

———

Holly Pivec is the co-author of A New Apostolic Reformation?: A Biblical Response to a Worldwide Movement and God’s Super-Apostles: Encountering the Worldwide Prophets and Apostles Movement. She has a master’s degree in Christian apologetics from Biola University.

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19 Responses to “The Bible Project”

  1. Vincent Artale Jr Says:

    I appreciate your bog Holly!! Also, looking forward towards listening to your upcoming interview with Dr. Mike Heiser!! 🙂

  2. Holly Says:

    Thanks Vincent! I’m looking forward to the interview, too.

  3. arnold smith Says:

    I just took a peak at the bible project. Didn’t have much time to review the videos but I will later. I think it is a good thing that you included this info in your blog, as you are not just about exposing error but also trying to help us all find good resources for truth. Thanks Holly!

  4. Laura Says:

  5. Colleen Says:

    My entire church congregation recently started doing a scripture reading plan that includes The Bible Project videos. When I watched the first video in the series, something didn’t seem right with me about it, so I decided to look more into The Bible Project and it’s creators. The part that bothered me in the video was the fact that instead of naming the serpent in the Garden of Eden for who he actually was (Satan), they just said a “mysterious figure, a snake”, and they didn’t go into the fact that the serpent was a specially chosen instrument of Satan used for his own purposes (to tempt Eve into disobeying and not trusting God). To me, it almost seems like they took Satan and/or his name out of the equation in that video and shifted the blame for all sin and evil onto the free will of the humans (which God gave them).

    The Wycliffe Bible Commentary says, “He sought to break down the woman’s faith by sowing in her mind doubts, suspicions, and false pictures of the Almighty and his motives. He charged the Creator with selfishness and malicious falsehood, representing him as envious and unwilling for his creatures to have something that would make them like the omniscient One.”

    In the John MacArthur Bible Commentary, it says about Eve, “Though sinless, she was temptable and seducible. In effect Satan said, ‘Is it true that He has restricted you from the delights of this place? This not like one who is truly good and kind. There must be some mistake.’ He insinuated doubt as to her understanding of God’s will, appearing as an angel of light to lead her to the supposed true interpretation. She received him without fear or surprise, but as some credible messenger from heaven with the true understanding, because of his cunning.” The commentary also says, “She decided that Satan was telling the truth and she had misunderstood God, but she didn’t know what she was doing. It was not overt rebellion against God, but seduction and deception to make her believe her act was the right thing to do. The New Testament confirms that Eve was deceived.”

    These commentaries show that it was the seduction and deception of Satan that caused Eve to disobey. The video de-emphasizes this fact as well as the important, prominent, antagonistic, rebellious enemy (Satan) and instead shifts the blame off of him and onto the free will (given by God) of the humans. This is exactly what Satan would want. He would want the blame shifted off of himself in order not to be viewed as the one who caused all of the sin, evil, and rebellion in the world. He doesn’t want to be seen as the Enemy or Deceiver, and by stating things the way they did and not calling Satan out by name for what he was truly responsible for, they practically gave him a free pass.

    Due to the fact that the content in the first video was causing me to question The Bible Project, I began to look into the creators (Timothy Mackie and Jonathan Collins, long-time friends/roommates from Multnomah University in Portland, OR; Multnomah University used to be Multnomah Bible College and has been completely infiltrated by emergent church and contemplative spirituality teachings). Come to find out, these men are both part of the “leadership collective” for the “ReGeneration Project”, alongside other leaders such as Dan Kimball, Scot McKnight, Alan Hirsch, Sean McDowell, Phil and Diane Comer (parents of John Mark Comer of Portland, OR; John Mark Comer was a pastor teaching polytheism at one point in time at Solid Rock Church but is now the “pastor for teaching and vision” at Bridgetown Church which is also located in Portland), Joshua Ryan Butler (author of The Skeletons in God’s Closet which is the book that Timothy Mackie and Jonathan Collins recommend people read to learn about hell, which happens to be similar to other emergent church teachings and Timothy Keller’s teaching on hell; This particular book was highly recommended by Mackie and Collins in one of their Bible Project Q&A videos), Rick McKinley (pastor of Imago Dei Community in Portland, OR), Gerry Breshears (Professor of Theology at Western Seminary in Portland, OR; co-authored books with Mark Driscoll), and John H. Walton (Professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College in Illinois), and more.

    In the video “Live Q+A – Heaven and Earth” on The Bible Project Youtube channel, someone asked Mackie and Collins, “My question is: the video talks about heaven and earth, but hell is never mentioned. Was that intentional, and if so will hell be covered?” Their reply was, “It was intentional that we didn’t talk about hell because we felt like we had enough ground to cover just in reframing the concept of heaven and earth. Just by itself that is a topic that is really important, and what hell is and how it fits into the story of the Bible is itself complex and needs a lot of reframing from our modern distortions of it, so we just decided to separate those out…So we left hell out because once you have this reframed story of what the Bible is actually about, heaven and earth, then hell fits as one piece in that larger story.” Then they go on to recommend the book The Skeletons in God’s Closet by Joshua Ryan Butler for a good explanation on hell. Here is that video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DH55c_GfPO0&feature=youtu.be&t=5m25s

    And here is the podcast of that author, Joshua Ryan Butler, discussing his views on hell: http://regenerationproject.org/podcast/#!/posts/Joshua-Ryan-Butler–Getting-The-Hell-Out-Of-Earth/4

    This teaching on hell is their “reframed” view on hell. I guess they believe that every theologian, polemicist, apologist, etc., for 2000+ years has gotten the doctrine of hell wrong and they need to reconstruct it. :0( It seems to me that the emergent church teachings are being repackaged into something shiny and new once again with some of the same players but using new vocabulary and theories.

    I attend a Baptist church in the Portland, Oregon area, and now that my entire church is going to be using The Bible Project together at the recommendation of all of the leaders of the church, I’m going to have to take this up with them because it has potential to lead many astray with wrong teaching. I think more research needs to be done on The Bible Project before recommending it to others. Who knows what false teaching they are sneaking into the videos, and if people really like their videos, they are more likely to search for other projects done by these same men which could also contain error. And since they are collaborating on a project with other emergent church leaders, people may be also be led unsuspectingly into the arms of those leaders as well. Red flags are going up all over the place for me. The fact that churches are now using The Bible Project in mass quantity in their congregations when there are links to the emergent church movement and false teaching is very concerning to me.

  6. Colleen Says:

    In addition to those comments I just posted, here is a link to a Timothy Mackie teaching series on heaven and hell that contains the same “reframed” views (The word “reframed” seems to be a term I’m hearing consistently these days):

    http://www.timmackie.com/heaven-hell/

  7. Holly Says:

    Colleen, I haven’t had a chance to read Butler’s book about hell yet, but I did read this review from the Gospel Coalition: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevin-wax/interacting-with-joshua-ryan-butlers-skeletons-in-gods-closet/. From what I read there, I do not see that Butler has rejected biblical teaching on hell. What, exactly, in his teaching do you find to be unbiblical?

  8. Colleen Says:

    Holly, from what I am gathering by listening to these men (Timothy Mackie, Jonathan Collins, and Joshua Ryan Butler) speak in their videos and audios regarding hell, they seem to think that hell will be contained within the newly restored heaven and earth just outside of the new city of Jerusalem, and instead of being a place that contains physical torment, fire, weeping and gnashing of teeth, etc. (as the Bible states over and over again), they think hell will just be where people are exiled if they choose to live a life apart from God and desire to continue living in their sin. They basically state that hell will be separation from God where they are locked in from the inside and left to their own autonomy and to live in misery due to their own choices and their rejection and rebellion toward God. Timothy Mackie said in one of The Bible Project’s Q+A videos: “The common popular understandings of what hell is are so distorted and actually not true to what the Bible is trying to tell us, that we need to rebuild from the ground up again.” Then he continues by saying: “So what God is saving people from is themselves, is from evil and the grip that evil and selfishness has on all of us, from dark spiritual powers of evil that work on humans in really mysterious and odd ways…Hell fits within the heaven and earth story as a place where God allows people to exist in their rebellion and in their resistance if they don’t want to humble themselves before Jesus and be a part of this kingdom…But hell…is not some place other than heaven and earth. It’s a place where people are sustained by God’s mercy and care, but God allows them the dignity of not being in a relationship with Him if they don’t want…It’s about exclusion from the presence. It’s about people who don’t want to be a part of the reunited heaven and earth, and God honors that decision.”

    One big thing I notice about all of this is that this view takes away from the wrath of God. I have also heard them say that heaven and hell are part of our current reality now. These men are deconstructionists trying to “reframe”, redefine, and reinterpret the Bible to fit a postmodern mindset.

    I haven’t really heard them talk much about Satan and his role in deception, sin, and evil. They also seem to think that we are currently living in the 1000 year millennium, and they believe in God’s judgment but maybe not the Day of His Wrath in the end times tribulation. It also seems like they are teaching some form of Kingdom Now theology.

    They don’t speak about the current heaven and earth being completely destroyed in the future and the fact that God will create a brand new heaven and earth. Instead they say that God is going to “heal” this current heaven and earth and reunite them back together by bringing more of God’s kingdom of heaven to earth. These men continually use the term “paradigm shift”, which is always a red flag to me.

    I watched another one of the Bible Project Q+A videos where Tim Mackie told everyone to look up theologian, John Sailhamer, online and buy and/or read everything he ever wrote. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAGkL2MDyfk

    John Sailhamer holds to and teaches a strange creation theory that attempts to match up evolution/science with the Genesis story of creation, and it allows for death before the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. Tim Mackie said that all of their videos were inspired by the teachings of John Sailhamer. Here is a video of an interview with John Sailhamer in order to see what his beliefs are. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_TEw_VmY81w

    As the Gospel Coalition article about Joshua Ryan Butler’s book said: “Take Augustine, C. S. Lewis, N. T. Wright, Tim Keller, even a little Jonathan Edwards, throw them into a blender, and pour it out. Then you have Butler’s view of hell. It is an essentially Augustinian one, tuned to a key postmoderns can actually hear.” All of these men have had distorted views on hell. Even though they don’t deny that hell exists, they are creating their own version of it to take away some of the harshness. Their views regarding hell just don’t seem biblical to me. I’m not an expert in theology, but when I read my Bible, it seems to be pretty clear to me. Are they just making hell more palatable? I would love to hear your opinion too. It would be interesting to get Chris Rosebrough’s take on all of this too. I recently bought your book on the NAR too, and I look forward to reading it! Thank you so much for all that you do. You are a blessing to so many people. Keep fighting the good fight!

  9. Holly Says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply and the links, Colleen. Some of the views you described — such as hell being primarily a place of separation and exclusion from God where people are exiled due to their own rebellion against him — are not unorthodox, but are held by many conservative Bible scholars. But I will have to do some more research into his views to know more about them. Thanks for your encouraging words!

  10. Colleen Says:

    Here is a video of Joshua Ryan Butler giving a speaking presentation on his views of hell, and it contains a Q&A section toward the end. Start the video at 31:37 to hear him speak. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRL9EaL92xM

  11. Andrew Says:

    @Colleen

    In grace, you need to pray for a bit of spiritual humility.

    You say that…”Augustine, C. S. Lewis, N. T. Wright, Tim Keller, [and] Jonathan Edwards…All […] have had distorted views on hell.” But you then confess that “I’m not an expert in theology.” Sounds like you have a very strong, positive view of your understanding of scripture, and an undeservedly negative view on anyone (regardless of their education or background) whose views differ from yours.

    It also sounds as if you have a favored interpretation of the Bible based upon your personal reading and study, and perhaps some teachers and authors that you’ve read and who agree with you, although you haven’t mentioned them here.

    These men, and others, have done a great job of challenging people’s preconceptions about the Bible based on one big problem: many (most?) Christians know a lot “about” the Bible, but they don’t know the Bible. That is, Christians have accepted a lot of teaching about the Bible from their parents, churches, pastors, authors, Church fathers, creeds and confessions, etc — but without reading the Bible for themselves. It’s not to say these things are wrong or incorrect in whole, but they are not scripture…and we’re called to know scripture, not simply what others say about it.

    We’ve also missed the ball when it comes to understanding the Bible from the perspective of Jesus — that is, a middle eastern man with vastly different cultural norms, traditions, and context than that of Western Christianity today. When we read the Bible, in English, with the context of the modern Western world ringing in our ears, we can easily miss the point of the Biblical authors. I’m not saying scripture is insufficient, but our *understanding* of it might be, if we don’t include some study of historical and cultural context.

    So please…take another look at your opinions on the Bible Project, Tim Mackie, etc based upon the scriptures, and not the teachings or opinions of someone who’s against “the emergent church,” some heresy video on YouTube, or anything else.

    Finally, to your original objection: in Genesis, the word “Satan” does not occur when talking about the snake. The word “Satan” does not appear until the book of Numbers. The Bible Project’s video doesn’t look to hide this fact, but simply lets scripture say what scripture says, and not what it doesn’t. Saying “the serpent is the manifestation of Satan” is a matter of Biblical interpretation, and that’s not the primary goal for the Bible project’s book overviews.

    Under His Mercy,
    Andrew

  12. Howard Clarke Says:

    Andrew – thank you for adding some balance into this discussion.

    I have only just started to explore the Bible Project as a
    contextualization tool that might assist those unfamiliar with
    The Bible or having low Biblical literacy (even in our churches).

    Blessings,
    Howard

  13. Erlend Torp Says:

    I think Colleen has brought up a valid concern. Teachers like C.S Lewis are, after all, only men. They are not infallible. We are called – like the bereans – to search the scriptures for ourselves. And it is in the word of God that we will find truth (John. 17:17). We need Gods truth, not the teachings of men.

    One could – of course – say the same thing about dr. Macarthur. I do not hold to all of his teachings myself (doctrine on election and cessationism). But this is not the point made. The concern is about how “The Bible Project”;a small group of individuals; get to influence millions of people in their view of the Bible. They offer their teachings for free. It looks good. It has that “easy going” attitude.
    I think it is important to ask the question: Why does millions of teens and adults give praise to “The Bible Project”, seemingly without discerning wether their Tim Mackies teachings are correct? I live in Norway, and even here these videos are used as a Bible-study tool. I´ve yet to hear someone questioning the validity of the teachings.

    And: One thing often said about “The Bible Project” is this; “It encourages me to open up my own Bible.”
    We, as followers of Jesus Christ, should delight in his word. We should go to the Bible to discern what is right and what is wrong. We should labour in the scriptures to make sure we do not fall away from the sound teachings. We should measure everything by the standard of Gods word. It is sufficient (2. Timothy 3:17). We don´t need Tim Mackie, or anyone, to encourage us to do this. I´m not saying that everything in “TBP” is wrong. I´m just asking why it is that millions of people find it necessary to get the scriptures repackaged into small, user-friendly videoclips. Why this praise, and why this popularity? The alpha-course is a great example of how an easy-going gospel may prevent people from a relationship with Jesus Christ. The jury is still out on “TBP”, but I won´t clap my hands and sing their praises just yet.

  14. Erik Galvano Says:

    Well said Erlend Torp. I’ve watched many of the videos on TBP website including many of the videos on the books of the Bible that they attempt to summarize. Sin, repentance, and Jesus Christ as being the only way to Salvation were hardly touched upon. There were good things in there but many crucial aspects of Salvation and who Christ is according to Scripture were left out. On Tim Mackie’s website he provides a list of authors who he admires and two of them are Karl Barth and NT Wright. Learning some of their beliefs sheds some light on Tim Mackie and many ideas and beliefs that he has been influenced by. There’s plenty of research out there on such things as the Emergent Church, Kingdom Now Theology, universalism, and New Monasticism. If you have an understanding of these ideas and movements, listening to a sermon from Tim Mackie should connect the dots.

  15. Rob Dias Says:

    I’ve watched many of The Bible Project videos and found them very helpful when I led studies on Ephesians, Revelation, and Genesis. They provide high quality animations to accompany narrative explanations of scriptural texts or themes. The videos cover what’s in the scripture and aren’t applying their commentary (or anyone else’s) to it. If you are looking for an in depth commentary or a specific hermeneutical perspective (other than historical-grammatical) you wont find it here. Or at least I haven’t seen it yet.

    As far as throwing out the Christian H-bomb (heretical/heretic/heresy), I feel like that’s the equivalent of comparing your opponent to Hitler in an argument. The first one to do so loses.

  16. Holly Says:

    Rob, the charge of heresy should only be leveled when it truly applies–i.e., when a teaching denies an essential doctrine of the faith, such as the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the bodily resurrection of Christ, the atoning work of Christ on the cross, and salvation by grace through faith.

  17. Mark Says:

    Great discussion – thanks Colleen, for taking the time to really expose TBP as a very subtle approach which results in a failure to impart or capture the fear and holiness of God or the seriousness of man’s predicament, all of which leads to a denigration of the work of Christ and other core doctrines. I found your post not lacking in humility but rich in reason, research, and concern for the integrity of the Word as presented.

  18. Kendriel Says:

    Reading comments from some people on this thread, one would think theology began in 1517 (or worse, the 20th century). There’s 2,000 years of Christian history that has gone into the shaping of doctrine in 2018. Those of you who pride yourselves on sticking to the old ways: how much have you read from the patristic era (Church Fathers)? Quite a few of them had a lot of things to say about Hell and atonement that would earn the ire of certain people on this thread. So who is a greater authority? Some people in 2018 or the Church Fathers who were taught by the apostles and their descendants? That is not to say tradition always carries the day (it doesn’t), but it does mean many of us would do well to actually study Christian history before attacking others.

  19. Erlend Torp Says:

    Thanks Erik Galvano. Barth and N.T Wright explains a lot. Or, perhaps I should say it explains why it is difficult to pinpoint error. I find it hard to understand what, exactly, mr. Wright believes.

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