Created by Patrick Walsh and featuring Jay R. Ferguson, Ian Gomez, Lindsey Kraft, and David Krumholtz
CBS, Monday nights, 9:30 p.m. EST
In the last Weekend Roundup, I mentioned CBS’s new television show, “Living Biblically,” and last night I caught up with Monday night’s pilot episode via on-demand.
The show begins with “lapsed” (non-practicing) Roman Catholic, Chip Curry (Ferguson), who is very troubled by the recent death of his best friend. In the midst of his depression, he decides to start reading the Bible in an attempt to lift himself out of his doldrums and “make sense of it all.” His new “spirituality” consists of endeavoring to live his life in strict accordance with all of the Bible’s precepts. Chip’s local parish priest, “father” Gene (Gomez), tries to humor the zealot into mitigating his rigorous chosen path, while his atheist wife, Leslie (Kraft), is worried her formerly religiously indifferent husband has turned into a fanatical “Bible banger.” Chip takes things too far when he literally “stones” (i.e., small pebble to the forehead) a notorious womanizer who he works with, but his “obedience” seems to be divinely rewarded by a job upgrade at a higher salary. More “comical” clashes between Biblical literalism and secular culture are sure to follow as the series continues.
A couple of moments in the the show really captured its overall spirit:
- In one of the initial scenes, Chip visits priest Gene in a confessional (photo above) and declares that he’s already a “good” person who desires to be “even better” by following the Bible literally.
- In the final scene, Chip, Leslie, priest Gene, and Jewish rabbi, Gil (Krumholtz), gather together at a local watering hole and philosophize about Chip’s new “spirituality.” Leslie has just found out she is pregnant and is worried about how Chip’s newfound “faith” will affect their child. The rabbi and priest agree the important thing is that both parents just focus on raising the child as a “loving human being” and everything will be fine.
So what we see in “Living Biblically” is the prevailing gospel of works righteousness with the essential requirement of being a “good” person in order to merit a reward. Jesus Christ was not mentioned once during the entire thirty minutes, which was certainly not a surprise. The Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone is the red thread that runs through the entire Bible, but Chip doesn’t get it and neither do the show’s writers and creators. The letter of the Law is emphasized rather than the Gospel that the Law points to. In future episodes, viewers will no doubt witness many other examples of Biblical precepts pulled out of their context and made to look comically ridiculous just like the faux “stoning” of the adulterer in this pilot episode.
Few Catholics will have an axe to grind with Living Biblically’s view of religion because it’s largely in sync with the notions of popular Catholicism, but Biblical Christians will certainly have a problem with what this show communicates about the Bible. We can only hope that some souls might be inspired by “Living Biblically” to actually start reading the Bible and that the Holy Spirit will enlighten them to the Good News! of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.