The National Geographic channel has begun airing a six part documentary featuring Morgan Freeman in what purports to be a quest to discover and tell the Story of God.
If this is a genuine personal quest on Freeman’s part, then I pray God will graciously reveal Himself in a way that Freeman can apprehend. Because by his own admission, Freeman believes that God is a myth of man’s imagining. Indeed, he thinks God is a story.
The Washington Post examines the question of Freeman’s faith in their coverage of the mini-series:
The man famous for his godly voice and portraying God in “Bruce Almighty” doesn’t believe in God — at least in the traditional way. Morgan Freeman believes that man invented God. But that doesn’t mean he is an atheist.
“My opinion does not question the existence of God, merely how we arrived at the existence of God,” Freeman said. Even though man invented God, Freeman feels, God is still God. This God just exists in the mind rather than out in the universe as the creator of all life.
Apologists, pastors and youth leaders should have a great time piggy-backing on “The Story of God” as it explores a different question each week. The initial episode dealt with the ultimate query, “Where do we go after we die?”
Christian Post writer Jeannie Law summarizes Freeman’s opening salvo:
“Everybody grieves but some people have a certainty that helps them cope with grief. They are certain they will see their loved ones again in Heaven. For some of us, it’s not quite that simple. In fact, it’s the greatest question we ask ourselves: What happens when we die?” Freeman asks.
He reveals that he lived through the deaths of both his grandmother and brother before the age of 18, and admitted that for him, the hope that there is life beyond death doesn’t come easily.
In episode one, “Beyond Death,” Freeman explores the afterlife: how beliefs in the afterlife developed, how our reaction to the afterlife changed the way we live, and the rapid advances science is making for a “digital resurrection.”
Kicking things off in a cathedral, the series features the miraculous story of how research diver David Bennett survived a near-death experience out at sea. The professional diver was under water for about 18 minutes after getting hurt and experienced a glimpse of the afterlife.
Bennett described his experience as an encounter with millions of fragments of light that he felt very connected to. The light (he calls God) spoke and said, “This is not your time,” assuring him that he has a greater purpose. So after brushing up against a rock that brought the air back into his lungs, he came back to life.
Bennett stated he believes in the afterlife now and said that he believes in all different belief systems.
Just to be clear, that is not the Christian Gospel even though this scene takes place in a cathedral. You, as a Christian, bear the responsibility to explain that to others and to tell the rest of the story.
This “Beyond Death” episode witnessed Freeman exploring the various answers offered from the pyramids in Egypt to Mexico’s Day of the Dead to India’s Ganges River where Hindus believe that if you die at a particular spot and are cremated there, you can end the cycle of reincarnation.
The Christian answer to the question? Yes, Freeman also visits Jerusalem and the site of the tomb where Jesus as laid. Freeman is knowledgeable and comfortable with this storyline and as one would expect in a documentary series. This story is set on a par with all the others.
As Christians it does not threaten our faith for all ideas to be explored and weighed in a balance. From C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity to Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict to Alex McFarland’s 10 Questions Every Christian Must Answer, the Christian Gospel can handle the pressure of comparison, inquiry, scrutiny and human doubt. Notably, it is also the only so-called story that can actually handle (and overcome) death.
This coming Sunday the question centers around the Apocalypse and why people take comfort in the idea of end of days. April 17 will deal with “Who is God?”, April 24 “Creation,” and then on May 1, “Why does evil exist?” These are the BIG questions. Christianity offer the real answers, with real hope, full of grace and truth.
I encourage you to use this mini-series to invite your neighbors and friends into the conversation. Your role: bring God into the conversation and let Him tell His story through you. Join the conversation at The Reconnect and call during the show M-F 3-4 pm eastern starting April 11 and we’ll talk through it together.
I’m holding out hope that someone will find themselves in a position to speak directly to Morgan Freeman and ask how his understanding of God has been informed or altered. He certainly seems to be asking the right questions – but without a witness to the truth his quest will be a continual wandering in the dark of variant human imaginings.
“Why does almost everybody in the world have a God belief, however it’s manifested, and why? It’s a universal reality,” Freeman said.
Indeed, its a universal reality -because God is real, universally so. There’s a knowledge of Him and a desire for Him buried deep within the human mind and heart. Freeman will know himself and live into his own name more fully when he encounters the God who sets men truly free.