For some Christians, watching “The Chosen” is a heavenly calling. For others, like author and preacher Voddie Baucham, it’s the exact opposite.
In an Aug. 2 appearance on "The Babylon Bee Podcast," the 54-year-old dean of theology at African Christian University in Zambia cited one of the Ten Commandments as his reason for not watching the hit series.
The topic of “The Chosen” came up when hosts Sam Greer and Jarret LeMaster were discussing Baucham’s recent appearance with Glenn Beck and the wisdom of appearing on Christian-adjacent shows such as Beck’s, which line up more closely with his beliefs than other mainstream media outlets like CNN.
Baucham, who previously served as pastor of Grace Family Baptist Church in Texas, told the Bee hosts he appreciates the fact that when he appears on Beck’s show, “there are no restraints put on me.”
“I can communicate the Gospel. I can be, you know, free and bold and … he and I have a relationship behind the scenes and off the camera, and you know, I'm grateful to the Lord for all of that, right?” he said.
After LeMaster made a passing reference to “The Chosen,” Baucham interjected, saying that was another example where he chooses to exercise restraint.
“That's another deal, you asked me about my line,” he said. “You said ‘The Chosen’ ... that's a line I draw.”
When pressed further on why he doesn’t watch the show, Baucham replied, “2CV, man. Second Commandment violation,” in reference to Exodus 20:4: "You shall not make for yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below."
“The Chosen,” which outperformed a number of other TV shows in its broadcast TV debut on the CW Network in July, has enjoyed mainstream success as the first-ever multi-season show about the life of Jesus Christ, while also serving to renew debate among Christians about the theology behind media images of Jesus.
The series has also spurred controversy over the beliefs of its cast and crew, including when actor Jonathan Roumie met with Pope Francis for a private summit at the Vatican last September in which the pontiff referred to him as Jesus.
In June, series creator Dallas Jenkins was forced to speak out after a rainbow pride flag was spotted on “The Chosen” set in documentary footage. The controversy later prompted actors on the show to criticize calls for a boycott as “homophobic.”
Apart from the questions of idolatry, others have warned about attaching the image of Roumie to the person of Jesus Christ while in prayer or other times of worship.
Matt Pearson, the pastor at The Church at West Franklin in Tennessee, wrote a 2021 Patheos post in which he revealed the show had begun to interfere with his prayer life.
“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,” he wrote. "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.' I am probably weird in this and need to learn to block it out. But I can’t.”
The series, which began as a crowdfunding project in 2019 with Angel Studios, has been streamed by over 500 million people. Its new distribution partnership with Lionsgate is continuing to expand its reach worldwide, including under a new partnership with the CW.