Semichristian Television

R. David Pogge

June 11, 2021

Popular television shows reflect Hollywood’s ignorance and bias against Christianity.

In recent years, several television shows have had religious themes. Five of them were Lucifer, Touched by an Angel, God Friended Me, The Good Place, and Manifest.

Lucifer

Lucifer debuted in 2016 and ran for three low rated seasons on Fox. It was a disgusting, blasphemous series which portrayed Lucifer as the hero, and God as the villain. It isn’t worth any further discussion.

Touched by an Angel

Nearly as bad as Lucifer, Touched by an Angel was a rip-off of I Love Lucy. In every episode God/Ricky told Monica/Lucy to do something. Monica/Lucy didn't do it, trouble ensued, but it all turned out okay in the end, proving that Monica/Lucy knew better than God/Ricky. The recurring theme was that disobedience is acceptable if motivated by love, and if the disobedient people know better than God.

The show was based on two heretical notions:

  1. Angels are dead people.
  2. You can get a second chance at salvation after you die.

Angels were created before Adam and Eve. Angels and humans are separate species. Humans don’t get promoted and become angels when they die.

There is no biblical support for the notion that since Monica wasn’t good enough to get into Heaven, but wasn’t bad enough to go to Hell, she could get a second chance at salvation by showing Jimmy Stewart “It’s a Wonderful Life,” or doing any other good deeds. Bells aren’t rung when an angel finally gets his wings. That dangerous doctrine gives people false hope in a second chance.

God Friended Me

God Friended Me followed the adventures of Miles Finer, the atheist son of an Episcopalian priest (who later was promoted to bishop). He got friend suggestions on Facebook from someone claiming to be God. Those friend suggestions led him to people who needed his help.

There were three possible explanations for these friend suggestions.

  1. God was using Facebook to communicate with Miles.
  2. Someone pretending to be God was sending these Facebook friend suggestions.
  3. An Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithm was the source of these messages.

Since Miles was an atheist, he rejected the first possibility (that these are genuine messages from God). No human could possibly know enough to be sending these friend suggestions, so the second possibility could not be correct, either. Therefore, the only logical conclusion was that someone had created an AI algorithm which was smart enough to recognize the plights of the suggested friends, and was directing Miles to help these people.

The notion that an AI algorithm could do something like this is frighteningly real. There is so much personal information about everybody on the Internet, that it is plausible that a computer could do this. We know (or perhaps just hope) that such technology doesn’t exist yet—but it soon might. When it does exist, there is the possibility that the power could accidentally (or in the wrong hands, intentionally) cause great harm.

The characters in the show were justifiably concerned about who was behind “the God Account” because of the potential for abuse. The attempt to discover the source of the friend suggestions was one of the threads that held the series together.

A minor character in one of the episodes, Gideon, believed that Miles might be an unwilling prophet chosen by God. That isn’t outside the realm of possibility.

It is clear from the Bible that God, not men, chooses who will be His prophets. Nobody can decide to be a prophet. The prophets God chooses are not people one might expect God to choose. (Jesus chose fishermen and a tax collector, for example.) God certainly could choose an atheist podcaster (whose podcast was titled, The Millennial Prophet) to be His prophet. After all, God chose Saul, a fanatic persecutor of the early Christian church, to become Paul, the most prolific writer of the New Testament.

Prophets are often reluctant. Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh to preach. Being a prophet requires commitment some men are not willing to make because the job often requires personal sacrifice.

Gideon suggested that Miles, because he is a prophet, might have to choose between following God’s friend suggestions and his girlfriend. That isn’t an outrageous thought. Peter recognized that he and the other disciples had given up everything to follow Jesus.

Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”

“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.” [Mark 10:28-30, NIV]

That promise is still true today. God will reward you if you make a sacrifice for Jesus. And, you can expect to be persecuted, too—but it will be worth it.

God Friended Me tars Christianity with an Episcopalian brush. Many people don’t realize that the Episcopalian Church is simply a beautiful building in which a regally dressed antichrist preaches politically correct secular humanism using imitation Catholic rituals. Many people could mistake Episcopalian doctrines for true Christianity.

The apostles Paul and John both warned the early church against following antichrists.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! [Galatians 1:6-8, NIV]

Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. [1 John 1:18, NIV]

Those warnings have gone largely unnoticed today. It isn’t just the members of the Episcopalian church who worship nonjudgmental Woke Jesus instead of Jesus of Nazareth. Some other Christians worship generous Santa Jesus, protective Plastic Jesus, sweet Chocolate Jesus, or sing along with Joyful Jesus. Modern Christianity has been so corrupted by so many antichrists that one can’t really blame Hollywood for rejecting Christianity. Many Christians think they are worshipping Jesus, but are actually worshipping a counterfeit Christ designed by a church council guided by a focus group in order to attract the largest audience. It is easier to find churches which excuse sin than condemn sin.

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! [Isaiah 5:20, KJV]

In the deeply disappointing final scene of God Friended Me, Miles discovered that God is a woman, and Buddhism is the path to enlightenment.

A better, more believable ending for the series would have revealed that, although there was an AI program running The God Account, the program didn’t really work; but God used it for His own purposes anyway. This would have convinced Miles that God really exists, and he would have become a real prophet and evangelist.

Despite its disappointing ending, there was some value in critically thinking about the issues the series raised.

1. Is there a God? If not, then life on Earth must have evolved from nothing through an incredible number of lucky breaks. That notion is scientifically absurd. The only rational conclusion is that there is a God who created the world.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

...

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. [John 1:1-5, 14, NIV]

The fact that God came to Earth and dwelt as a human named, Jesus, answers the next question.

2. Does God care about what is going on down here? Since He certainly does, it leads us to ask other questions.

3. Does God get involved with what is going on down here? Certainly He does. He came to Earth and died on the cross.

The answers to the first three questions are obvious. The answer to the next question is not. It is the most important question of all. It is the question which makes God Friended Me worth watching, despite all the doctrinal errors.

4. How does God interact with us? Is it really so silly to think that God might use Facebook friend suggestions to guide us? He has done crazier things.

Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the Moabite officials. But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, it turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat it to get it back on the road.

Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path through the vineyards, with walls on both sides. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat the donkey again.

Then the angel of the Lord moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat it with his staff. Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”

Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”

The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”

“No,” he said.

Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.

The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it.”

Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.”

The angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with Balak’s officials. [Numbers 22:21-35, NIV]

Granted, God simply could have told Balaam in a dream not to go to Moab to curse Israel, but what’s the fun in that? Balaam should have known better than to take money from Balak, Israel’s enemy, to cause Israel to lose the battle. So, God playfully demonstrated who the dumb ass really was.

We really should know right from wrong. All we have to do is to read the Bible. But, we sometimes forget, so God gives us hints in unexpected ways. He doesn’t limit Himself to Facebook and donkeys. He can even use a deeply flawed television program.

Watch for God’s leading everywhere, even places you might not expect. Like Balaam, you might be on a reckless path.

The Good Place

This very funny and entertaining series, although not even remotely biblical, was spiritually significant. It brought up many issues worth considering.

The stars of The Good Place said they were surprised by the surprise ending of the first season; but those of us who watched the Twilight Zone episode, A Nice Place to Visit, (broadcast on April 15, 1960) anticipated the “surprise” ending a few minutes into the first episode. The ending was a surprise only to people unfamiliar with classic television.

People unfamiliar with the Bible might mistakenly believe The Good Place is based on biblical teachings about life after death. In fact, The Good Place is based on Roman mythology. Unfortunately, the Roman Catholic Church adopted the pagan Roman mythology about life after death so she could sell indulgences to frightened believers in the Middle Ages. The Roman Catholic teaching is just Roman mythology with the names changed. Here is a side-by-side comparison of beliefs:

Sadly, many modern Christians mistakenly think the commonly believed Roman death myth comes from the Bible. According to the Bible, the dead are unconscious, awaiting their resurrection in the last days. (See http://krsf.net/tcyc/chapter1.htm) Since unconscious people aren’t very interesting, The Good Place could not have gotten four seasons of entertaining material based on the biblical truth about death.

In The Good Place, malevolent Pluto was played by a character named Michael. The name was probably chosen to trick viewers into believing he is “one like God” (which is what the name Michael means). Michael is the name the biblical books of Daniel and Revelation use for Jesus before He was born and became a human.

The fact that Satan pretends to be good is perhaps the only aspect of The Good Place that is biblical. The first season depended upon the notion that viewers would think Michael was an archangel right up until the last episode. Even if a viewer hadn’t seen the Twilight Zone, someone familiar with the Bible should have realized that Michael was actually a demon.

For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. [2 Corinthians 11:13-15, NIV]

The Good Place brought up the issues of second chances, and salvation by works, which definitely aren’t biblical. The Good Place brought awareness to these issues, and showed them to be foolish.

Specifically, The Good Place dealt with the difficulty of assigning points to good deeds, and the number of second chances a person should get, with a few other moral dilemmas thrown in from time to time. The program pointed out the fallacies of salvation by works and dependence upon second chances.

People unfamiliar with the Bible might have thought The Good Place was mocking Christian beliefs, when it was actually mocking pagan beliefs which have regrettably infected some Christian denominations.

Hidden in all that goofiness and mythology, there is a lot of truth in The Good Place. Here are five things you can learn from The Good Place:

1. You will die. Everybody knows that; but it can be hard to accept. It is easier to ignore that fact; but ignoring it won’t make the truth go away. You might die sooner than you expect.

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. [Romans 13:11-14, NIV]

2. Unlike what happened on the TV show, you won’t get a second chance to live your life over again and do it right. Once you die, your fate is sealed.

3. The judgment is based on how you lived your life. Paul put it very plainly.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. [2 Corinthians 5:10, NIV]

His advice to Timothy was,

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. [1 Timothy 6:17-19, NIV]

John saw the judgment in vision.

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.  The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. [Revelation 20:12-13, NIV]

Jesus said it somewhat more poetically.

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” [Matthew 7:13-14, NIV]

But then, lest anyone misunderstand, a few verses later He said it more plainly.

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. [Matthew 7:21, NIV]

You will be judged by what you have done during your lifetime. Jesus is a fruit inspector. If you bore bad fruit, you will be cast into the fire. A profession of faith without the deeds to back up that profession is useless.

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? [James 2:14-20, NIV]

4. You can’t earn enough points to be saved. Several episodes showed why the point system just doesn’t work. Eternal life is such a valuable reward that nobody could possibly do enough to earn it. There has to be another way—and there is.

Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. [Hebrews 9:27-28, NIV]

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. [Romans 8:1-4, NIV]

You can’t do enough to earn salvation by doing good works—but if you allow the Spirit to direct your path, and you live according to His will instead of your own fleshly desires, the righteous requirement of the law will be fully met in you. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross will pay the penalty of your sins.

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.  If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. [1 John 1:5-10, NIV]

You must confess your sins, ask for forgiveness, and follow as God leads you in the paths of righteousness to get eternal life.

5. There is a spiritual battle going on between Jesus and Satan. The Good Place made it appear to be a relatively good-natured competition—but in real life it is much more intense.

Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.  But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.  The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. [Revelation 12:7-9, NIV]

Because the war has moved from Heaven to Earth, we are caught in the crossfire.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. [Ephesians 6:10-20, NIV]

Manifest

Manifest just completed its third season on NBC. It began with a mystery. Montego Air Flight 828 from Jamaica to New York City landed more than five years after takeoff; but to the passengers it seemed like it had just been four hours. What happened? Did it fly through some sort of wormhole into the future?

The first few episodes used the mystery for character development. The passengers had been assumed to be dead for the past five years, so their friends and families had moved on. New romantic relationships had formed in some cases, which were reminiscent of every Hallmark movie, in which star-crossed high school sweethearts are reunited late in life. These episodes addressed the question, “How would you respond if a loved one from your past unexpectedly reappeared in your life?” For the characters in Manifest, the answers were more varied, more realistic, less predictable and more interesting than a typical Hallmark romantic comedy. Not everyone got back together.

Some of the passengers had a psychic ability to sense danger, and felt compelled to go places or do things which resulted in miraculous rescues. The implication was that these “callings” came from God. The characters wondered if Flight 828 was somehow connected to the biblical passage,

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. [Romans 8:28, NIV]

Rather than turning to the Bible, one of the passengers formed the Church of the Returned. It was nothing more than a personality cult, whose leader gave people false hope based on a miracle. One member of the church started a fire, expecting it to be miraculously extinguished. (Spoiler alert! It wasn’t.) That’s the danger of trusting in man rather than God. Manifest correctly warned of the danger of cults. Unfortunately, some might mistake Bible-believers for a cult.

As a natural reaction to the Church of the Returned, the “Xers” (named for the fact that they graffitied an X on the homes of passengers) hated and feared all the passengers, whether they belong to the Church of the Returned or not. Manifest raised the topic of irrational religious bigotry.

Was God actually using the passengers of Flight 828? Or, as the Xers thought, were they demon possessed and dangerous? Were the 828 callings from God or not? More importantly, how do you know if the thoughts you have are from God or not? Is it the angel on your right shoulder, or the devil on your left shoulder, who is whispering in your ear?

Secular society accepts, and even celebrates, some sinful behaviors. Many people listen to the devil, and think they are holier-than-thou because they are so nonjudgmental and tolerant of sin.

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. [Proverbs 14:12, KJV]

Secular society will cancel you for standing up for righteousness and standing against woke political correctness. Despite that, you must not compromise and conform to the sinful standards of the world. God wins in the end. You need to be on the winning side.

Since the passengers had some sort of supernatural power, there was an ongoing competition to control that power. What these lone individuals, and competing secret government agencies, failed to realize is that God uses people by giving them power. It doesn't work the other way around. People can’t get power by using God.

The mystery of what happened to Flight 828 unfolded slowly. I’ll cut to the chase. Flight 828 crashed in the ocean and all abord died. The wreckage was not found. Five years later, the airplane, passengers, and crew were all resurrected, unaware of what had happened to them.

After the reappearance of Flight 828, other people died, were resurrected a short time later, and died again. This happened several times to establish the pattern that the time between their first death and resurrection equaled the time between their resurrection and second death. The passengers on Flight 828 realized that since they had been dead for five years, they only had five years to live before they would die again. They knew their upcoming “death date.”

It is a clever literary device to examine the question, “What would you do if you knew your death date?” It is a question worth pondering. Even if you don’t know exactly when you will die, you will certainly die. Maybe you, like the passengers on Flight 828, will die in five years. Since that is a reasonable possibility, how should you spend the next five years? If you die tomorrow, would you have spent the last five years wisely, or would you have regrets? Everyone should give careful consideration to what they have done, and what they will do in the time they have left. That's an important message raised by Manifest.

The title of the show is intentionally ambiguous. As a noun, manifest means, "a list of passengers or an invoice of cargo for a vehicle (such as a ship or plane)." The show is about the people on the Flight 828 manifest. But, as a verb, manifest means, "to make evident or certain by showing or displaying." That's appropriate because the program manifests some eternal truths.

Manifest explored the twin notions that the passengers on Flight 828 “have been called according to his purpose” and “in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” Furthermore, Manifest exemplifies the biblical principle that love is not just lip service. Love is obedience to God’s commands. You have a purpose in life, and God expects you to fulfill that purpose.

People sometimes confuse obedience with salvation by works. Salvation by works is the false idea that one can be saved by performing human rituals, like burning candles, saying the Rosary, doing penance, buying indulgences, being baptized, taking communion, or anything else a church might demand. Obeying the Ten Commandments, living a righteous life, and allowing God to use you as He sees fit are not attempts to obtain salvation by works. Jesus said it is important to make a distinction between God's commands and man's rules.

He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:

“‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’

“You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!” [Mark 7:6-9, NIV]

One difficulty the passengers had was trying to determine what the will of God really is. It is a difficulty shared by all of us. The more you know God, the better you can ascertain His will for you. The way to know God is to read the Bible prayerfully.

Near the end of the third season, the idea of a “lifeboat” was introduced. If a lifeboat sinks, everybody dies. The notion that all the passengers are in a lifeboat and will either be lost or saved together is not biblical. You cannot be saved or lost by belonging to a group. Your name on a church manifest will not save you.

But the lifeboat analogy isn’t entirely wrong. Although we can’t save others, we have a responsibility to help them to be saved. We aren’t “our brother’s keeper,” but we are our brother’s neighbor. It is “according to his purpose” that all should be saved, even though many will be lost.

God wants you to be saved, and God wants you to try to help and save others. But not everyone can be helped, and not everyone will be saved. You won’t be able to save everyone you meet. It's sad, but true.

The third season ended yesterday with a complicated cliffhanger. The details were messy, and many were simply wrong from a biblical perspective—but the season finale recapped three fundamental truths which recurred throughout the series.

First, there is an inherent, unavoidable conflict between government and religion because both are in competition for control. That’s why the Soviet Union embraced atheism and suppressed religion. In recent years we have seen the government interfering with organized religion more and more. The government has clashed with churches when it comes to paying for abortions, homosexual conversion therapy, and hiring practices. In this past year, the government has used public safety as a justification for limiting the size and manner in which church services may be conducted. It is a dangerous trend.

“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. ” [Matthew 6:24-34]

It is the duty of a master to take care of those who obey him. Will you obey God and trust Him to take care of you? Or, will you obey the government and expect the government to supply all your needs and tell you how to live your life?

There isn't always a conflict between God and government. Paul told the Romans,

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. [Romans 13:1-7]

And Peter wrote,

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. [1 Peter 2:13-16]

On this basis, kings in the Middle Ages claimed the divine right to rule. But, sometimes there are exceptions to the rule.

Then they [the authorities] called them [Peter and John] in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” [Acts 4:18-20]

When there is a conflict, you must obey God rather than man.

Second, Manifest also explored the conflict between faith and science—or, more accurately, the conflict between faith and “science falsely so-called.” In particular, there was an argument about whether or not scientific experiments on the tail fin could bring Cal back from wherever he mysteriously disappeared to. The scientists had no idea what had happened to Cal; but they insisted on doing things their way because they were scientists, and science (they believed) trumps faith. The TV show accurately mirrored a common modern belief.

There really is no science behind the theory of evolution, global warming, or wearing flimsy paper masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Those are examples of unverified opinions given by people who think their opinions are right because they wear white coats. There is no scientific basis for the claim that gender is determined by a state of mind rather than X and Y chromosomes—but that’s what politically correct pseudoscientists insist.

There is no conflict between science and Christianity. Both reveal the truth. If there is a conflict, pseudoscience has been mistaken for science, or counterfeit Christianity has been mistaken for Christianity.

This brings us to the third issue raised by Manifest. Christianity is often misunderstood. For example, the Bible really does say,

… without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. [Hebrews 9:22]

Some of the characters on the show took this to be a divine mandate for vigilante justice. Portions of verses are sometimes taken out of context in real life to justify sinful actions. In this case, the complete verse is,

In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. [Hebrews 9:22]

It is part of an explanation of why Jesus had to die on the cross to save us. It does not justify murdering sinners; but some of the characters on the TV show thought it did.

Another example in yesterday’s episode involved Noah. The truth is that God sent Noah to try to save the world from the flood, but all he managed to save was his own family. Some of the characters on the TV show used the Gilgamesh epic to claim that Noah caused the flood by getting God to exterminate everyone on Earth, except his own family.

Some of the characters on the show thought that some of the extraordinary events going on were signs of “end time events.” Yes, we are living in the last days of Earth’s history; but the signs of the times are often misinterpreted. Some people incorrectly expect certain things to happen before Jesus returns; but the fact remains that Jesus is coming back whether you understand the signs correctly or not, and we need to be ready for His return. The Bible tells you how you must live in order to be saved when He does return. Do what it says to do.

Manifest has been renewed for a fourth season. Will the passengers live past their death date? We will have to watch next season to find out.

Meanwhile, it is more important to ponder, will you live past your death date? Will you be resurrected at the Second Coming of Jesus and be saved; or will you be resurrected one thousand years later at the resurrection of the wicked, and die the second death shortly thereafter? (See http://krsf.net/John/Chapter28.htm#5 .) Are you living the life God wants you to live?