Home / Movie Reviews / “Who is God?” – NatGeo’s Story of God Series Attempts An Answer

“Who is God?” – NatGeo’s Story of God Series Attempts An Answer

Synopsis

This is a National Geographic series hosted by famous actor Morgan Freeman. His involvement no doubt guarantees a certain level of viewership; but apart from that, the subject matter of this series is fascinating enough to draw viewers. The question of “Who is God?” is intriguing to both seekers and believers. However, very early in the piece we realize that the perspective of this documentary is that “all roads lead to God,” which seems to make the belief in any one God, or god, irrelevant. Of course, this is never expressed but implied by the position that everyone engaged in some form of worship is actually finding God.

In “seeking” the answer to the question “Who is God?”, Mr. Freeman travels to various religious points of interest, which are connected to the major religions such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism. He began his journey in Louisiana as a blues bar, likening a musical experience to experiencing God. Our host then travels to India to begin his quest to see how different people groups around the world connect with God. In India, his Hindu hostess takes him to a goddess’ shrine where the followers are invoking the goddess. The hostess tells Mr. Freeman that the goddess has blessed by his presence there. He makes an offering for the altar and bows deeply in reverence to the idol.

His travels then take him to Stonehenge in the U.K. where worshipping the sun first emerged; then on to Egypt where one of the Pharaoh’s, the famous Tutankhamun’s (King Tut) father, unsuccessfully attempted the switch from polytheism to monotheism in worshiping the sun. After that, Freeman’s travels to Jerusalem, Israel where Abraham first worshiped the unseen God, and where the “idea” of “an all-seeing single deity took root” He then goes back to Egypt to study the origins of Islam where he seemed quite taken with the beauty of the Muslim call to prayer and mosque décor. His travels then take him to New Mexico to witness a 12-year-old Navaho girl’s ritual transition from girlhood to womanhood. This tradition rite of passage involves the young girl running daily for a period then on the last night, which is spent in a designate hut with a medicine man singing over her to make the “journey “easier. In the morning, she takes a last long run, and by the end the invocation and transition is complete, the girl is now thought to be carrying the deity, Changing Woman, inside of her.

In the second half, Freeman journeys to Philadelphia, PA where a neurotheologist studies the changes in the brain when a person contemplates or meditates on God. The conclusion is that the part of the brain that hosts fear essentially switches off while the frontal lobe gets more prominent. In this set of experiments, it does not seem to matter what religion the person practices only that the belief is personal and genuine. A similar experiment was reportedly done on an atheist to see his brain reactions after being asked to meditate about God. The atheist’s brain showed no change and perhaps even a lessening of the frontal lobe activity, all because he did not truly believe. Mr. Freeman allowed himself to be injected with the radioactive fluid that shows up in the 3D scanner, which looks very much like an MRI scanner. This fluid facilitates the reading of the brain activity. According to this neurotheologist, Mr. Freeman had some increased frontal lobe activity. I imagine if he did not, it would be awkward to say so.

They filmed the very last segment at Joel and Victoria Osteen’s megachurch, Lakewood Church in Texas. Here, among the 10,000 people in attendance, Mr. Freeman was able to experience Lakewood Church, which was to be a typical expression of Christian worship. During the interview before the service, Mr. Osteen stated, “I don’t do a lot of doctrine, I go practical.” The sense here is that doctrine is not practical. I believe God would beg to differ. However, in all fairness to Mr. Osteen, this could simply have been an edited soundbite. Mr. Osteen continues, “I believe God is our Father, the Creator, Somebody that gives us purpose and destiny.” Of course, as is consistent with that ministry, there was no mention of sin and the reason for Christ’s death on the Cross to reconcile man back in to right relationship with God. Mr. Osteen, concludes by saying, “I think God can be involved in your life as much as you want Him to be.” That is certainly consistent with a biblical position. Mr. Freeman seemed pleased with this experience at Lakewood and states that the Osteens are “making God personal, approachable, helpful.” After the Lakewood service Mr. Freeman’s assessment of the service was, “that was quite a show.” He then begins to offer his insights on who he believes God is as having, “Faith in the God in you, your inspiration, your power…. God is so many things to so many people……a Friend.”

Mr. Freeman’s final statement is, initially, a biblical one. He states, “If you ask me Who God is, I would say, there is a bit of the divine in all of us.” This is true based on Genesis where God, speaking to His Son and the Holy Spirit, “Let us make man in Our image.” (Gen. 1:26-28). Therefore, it’s true that we humans do have a divine imprint. However, his statements quickly descend into deifying our humanity, “There is God in you, there is God in me, The God in me is who I really am at my core. The God in me is the best version of me. The God in me is who I strive to be. Who I was meant to be.” Of course, to a regenerate believer in Christ, this is basically true, but only because of redemption through Jesus Christ. Otherwise, there is no good in us due to original sin. So while his latter statement is true it is not true for everyone, only for the blood-washed saint who has been washed clean by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, receiving the Holy Spirit of God, Who comes to transform the life. None of Mr. Freeman’s statements about being our best us, etc., is possible without Christ and His work on the Cross.

No, Mr. Freeman, we are not gods, only “a little lower than God,” according to Psalm . Instead, we need God and can only find Him through Jesus Christ. Mr. Freeman’s position is clear from his statements that we have God in us therefore, there is no need to believe in an external entity. This is the height of the New Age system of beliefs, humanism, and idolatry. Instead of being made in God’s image their position is really that God is made in our image. That is an affront to biblical Christianity and to God Himself.

Pros

(1) The travel to exotic lands is a pro. One needs to travel to be truly educated. This is, however, is only important if this was a show about travel. (2) Another pro is that the show seems to begin by attempting to treat the major belief systems equally rather than making a conclusion at the outset that one is better than other. In some circles this would be considered good as it seems built upon equality. (3) Further, the show does give us a look as to the basic beliefs in these major belief systems. Most viewers may not have known much about Hinduism, Navaho Native Americans in New Mexico, or Islam. (4) Finally, the fact that all people have some of God’s divine nature in them is stated at the end and that is true based on Genesis 1:26-27:

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all[b] the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Cons

The show’s attempt to treat all belief systems as equal results in an unbiblical conclusion of “all roads lead to God” type of thinking when Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” Therefore, the position that all religions “end up” worshiping the same God is unsupported by Scripture. The problem is that Jesus Christ is seen as just “one of the ways” to God just as long as the person is sincere in their belief. With this approach, the show cannot and does not answer the question of who is God. Instead in shows us that people all over the world have varying beliefs.  Of course, we know that God to be the Father of Jesus Christ and to those who receive Christ. Lakewood pastor Joel Osteen differs in saying that God is a Father to everyone. Scripture differs when Jesus says, Perhaps the biggest “con” is the insistence that the God of Judaism and Christianity is the same as that of the Muslim. That is not the case as the two “religions” are at odd on key points, a major one being that Scripture tells us that Jesus is the Son of God, while Muslims do not believe that God had a Son. The question of “Who is God?” cannot be answered with this approach.

Conclusion

All in all, the show “Who is God?”, does not attempt to answer the question. While there is much value on this dialogue at this time in history is a noble and valuable one, perhaps the show would be more aptly titled “An Exploration of the World’s Religions.”  The Hindu expert explained their belief in millions of gods. There is a god in Hinduism for just about any and all situations a person might face. From my perspective there is no adequate treatment of biblical Christianity or Judaism.

In the end the host concludes that God is not just in you; but God is … you!

I would not recommend this series as a place to receive Biblical truth but perhaps only as a point of curiosity as to what the secular media sees as the answer to the many different religions of the world. I can see a suggestion that there be one religion and of course that would bring up a whole other matter.

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 Faith Filled Family

About A. Sonia Morris

Auriol Sonia Morris is a missionary, freelance writer and author, and an avid blogger at http://asoniamorris.blogspot.com on spiritual matters. She is a trained attorney with a M.A. degree in government; and has worked in various industries such as corporate, education, legal, and finance. Her main goal is the equipping of the saints to complete the Great Commission. This includes helping Christian businesses and ministries to find solutions that advance their role in this Kingdom purpose.

View All Posts