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Revelation - Hope not fear

New TV show pushes panic button

With the airing of NBC's Revelations comes television's latest attempt to attract audiences - and turn a profit - through a twist of the truth. The last presidential election showed there was a deeply religious public that might be receptive to television series with a religious theme and what better choice than the last book of the Bible, with its elusive meanings and hints at future doom.

However, the Bible's book of Revelation is neither as scary nor as fatalistic as the producers of Revelations would have you believe, says theologian Fred Schmidt of Southern Methodist University. Recent published comments by Schmidt include:

  • "There's an increasing tendency to blur the line between fiction and biblical interpretation, and Revelations will undoubtedly fuel some misinformation. The biggest problem is that Revelation is a complex book and (this series) is playing to the literal, or more specifically the Left Behind reading of Revelation, because it offers a much more scintillating approach.  It misrepresents the New Testament and Catholicism." TV Guide
     
  • "Revelations" (is) the latest pop-culture agent of "speculation that veers away from theory into superstition." — The Associated Press
     
  • The series offers a "minority view" that treats cataclysmic present-day events as evidence of the coming apocalypse foretold in Revelation. … viewers "will take what they see on a fictionalized TV show and see that as the truth about the book." — The Los Angeles Times
     
  • "The unfortunate thing about this is that the lines between fact, fiction, theology and superstition are well and truly blurred now. In the process [NBC] will deepen mistaken impressions about the book [of Revelation] and about Christianity." — The New York Post
     
  • Many fundamentalist Christians will be offended by the show -- which (Schmidt) says presents a "minority view" that current events portend the coming Apocalypse. — United Press International
     
  • "The Book of Revelation is difficult to read and filled with opaque symbols that are 2,000 years old," Schmidt says. "Viewers will be told those symbols have to do with modern American life, and they don't. The Book of Revelation was written by a first-century Christian to a first-century audience dealing with first-century issues."   The Orlando Sentinel
     
  • "NBC's new show 'Revelations' is not a family-friendly show," Schmidt said in a public statement last month. "It's designed only to scare and to shape a way of thinking about scripture that is a zero-sum game of Christianity: In other words, 'I can only go to heaven if you go to hell."   The North Jersey Record

Schmidt is the author of a recently published Conversations with Scripture: Revelation  and a forthcoming book to be published by HarperSanFrancisco in June, titled, What God Wants for Your Life, Finding Answers to the Deepest Questions.

To interview Schmidt, contact SMU News and Communications by e-mail at newsinfo@mail.smu.edu or by telephone at 214-768-7650.