CNN's compelling new series "Finding Jesus" is sparking conversations about the Bible across the nation and one pastor in Canada said the series has inspired his Sunday sermons.
"Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery," a six-part series, explores mysteries of the Bible by investigating science and archaeology in a bid to dispel myths and reaffirm facts about Christianity. During episode two, the documentary explored the identity of John the Baptist and his possible remains which set the basis for a recent sermon led by Toronto's Willowdale Pentecostal Church Senior Pastor Dan Disabatino.
"It's given us a format to follow and it's given us something to try to engage our congregation," Disabatino said of the popular series. "It's very well done and we're very impressed with the quality. … [So far] we've done two sermons over two Sundays."
During his most recent sermon, referred to as "Repent and Receive," Disabatino looked at John the Baptist's practice of baptizing people for their repentance of sins for their transgressions. He said that although the information presented on the series is "opinion," it has been a great source for discussion, particularly with Easter fast approaching.
"I picked up on the theme of repentance," Disabatino said of his latest sermon, adding that his congregants "find it very interesting and are actively engaged."
The series is based on a book by author David Gibson titled Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery.: Six Holy Objects That Tell the Remarkable Story of the Gospels. It closely assesses poignant moments in history such as the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
In episode one, the series investigated the Shroud of Turin, which is believed, by some experts, to be the cloth used as Jesus' burial wrap after His crucifixion.
"I think they do a very balanced job, they're showing both sides of the spectrum," said Disabatino. "I was very skeptical and apprehensive at first when I heard CNN was doing a series, but as we watched the program we saw the people involved and we thought, 'this is good' and if it stimulates discussion that's what we're hoping for."
Expert commentary is featured from the likes of Ivy-league academics from Yale, Harvard, Princeton and Oxford universities who provide theological insight. This includes Erwin MacManus, senior pastor of MOSAIC Los Angeles, award-winning journalist and filmmaker David Gibson and Rev. Paul Raushenbush, executive religion editor of The Huffington Post.
"The series is presenting a historical perspective and we're presenting the theological, moral, spiritual side," said Disabatino who added that other churches could benefit by following his lead. "If we can get people thinking about Christ at this time of the year, especially then, it's one of the only opportunities that we have."
Episode 3 explores the story of Judas and his infamous betrayal of Jesus.
Finding Jesus airs at 9 p.m. ET Sundays on CNN.