Politically-Correct Religion

By | 5 Jun 2024
politically correct dictionary meme


My wife and I recently binge-watched a so-called “faith-based” dramatic TV series on Amazon Prime Video entitled “The Baxters” (not to be confused with the 1970s ABC sitcom by the same name). As of this writing, there are 3 seasons consisting of 34 episodes. Whether there will be further seasons or not has yet to be announced. From what I can determine, it originally aired in 2022-2024.

The series is based upon the Redemption books authored by Karen Kingsbury. Roma Downey of “Touched By An Angel” TV show fame purchased the television rights about a decade ago. She is the show’s producer.

Kathy Lee Gifford has a couple of cameo appearances and her daughter Cassidy is one of the primary cast members. The rest of the cast sports some familiar faces from various other TV shows you will have seen in times past; I’m sure you would recognize several of them even though you may not know their names.

A Summary Description of the Series

As the series title would indicate, the storyline details the lives of the Baxters, a family of seven living in an unnamed city in Indiana. The timeframe spans roughly a couple of years or so.

  • The father, John, is played by long-time TV actor Ted McGinley. He portrays a doctor at the local hospital.
  • Roma Downey plays Elizabeth, a housewife, cancer survivor, and the family matriarch.
  • The oldest daughter, Kari, is a housewife married to Tim, a journalism professor at the local university.
  • The next oldest daughter is a doctor who is married to another doctor, both of whom work alongside her dad at the hospital. They have 2 children.
  • The third daughter is a housewife married to a rising-star business executive. They are childless.
  • The youngest daughter, Ashley, is the black-sheep of the family, a gifted ne’re-do-well artist and singer/songwriter. She is also the unwed mother of 2-year-old boy.
  • The son Luke is a typical raised-in-church student at the same local university where his brother-in-law Tim is teaching.

Ashley and Tim are initially depicted as backslidden believers rather than outright pagans; everyone else is portrayed from the get-go as morally upright people who are faithful church attenders.

At the beginning of each episode, they display a Bible verse. All of them are well selected and pertinent to what is about to happen within that installment.

Four watershed events shape the overall storyline:

  1. In the opening episode, Tim, the professor husband, has an affair with Erika, a female student of his. He is ratted out to his wife Kari by Dirk, a mentally-disturbed student who is stalking Erika. Tim walks out on Kari. Unbeknownst to both of them at the time, she carrying their first child. His affair almost immediately falls to pieces and he crawls into a bottle to drown his conscience. After Kari’s pregnancy is discovered and revealed to him, Tim eventually repents, joins AA, and he and Kari begin couples counseling to facilitate the reconciliation process.

    When Tim repents, Erika leaves town. Dirk blames Tim for “ruining his life” by driving her away from his only access to her and ultimately murders him after holding Kari hostage for a couple of hours. The stress of that event triggers Kari into traumatically-induced labor and she successfully gives birth.

  2. The son, Luke, meets and falls in love with Reagan, a fellow college student portrayed by Cassidy Gifford. They are going strong for quite a bit, destined for marriage. They eventually fall into temptation and sleep together on a Saturday night.
  3. The very next day, before Sunday services, a deranged gunman (who we never see) enters the church and opens fire on those present. He murders the about-to-retire pastor, Reagan’s father, and a few others, then commits suicide.

    Reagan irrationally blames herself and Luke spiritually for her father’s death. She breaks up with Luke, and leaves town to live with her mother in LA, not realizing she is pregnant after that one night with Luke.

    Luke, crushed by both the shooting and Reagan’s abandonment then gets angry with God and completely backslides, progressively estranging himself from his family and friends, and eventually living out of wedlock with an atheist female student from a broken home.

  4. A couple of years prior to the first episode, the youngest daughter Ashley had travelled to Paris to pursue her art career, all to no avail. She ended up having an affair with a married Frenchman. Pregnant with their baby, she returned in disgrace to the US.

    She is consumed by guilt and shame over all that; indeed, her inability to forgive herself poisons every relationship she has, especially with her family and God. She struggles throughout all 3 seasons to process her self-reproach, eventually succeeding. Along the way, she also finds purpose for her life through working at a care facility for Alzheimer’s patients. Her art career gradually revives and she slowly but surely gets her life back on track (hers is the most interesting story line in the show to me, perhaps because it resonates so strongly with my own struggles to get my life moving in a positive direction).

    The cliffhanger at the end of the third season is she gets diagnosed as HIV-positive from her French affair. How that resolves health-wise as well as relationally with the man who loves her are left resolved until the next season, if one ever happens.

There’s subplots involving some of the other characters, all of them having to do with various health and/or relational and/or employment issues.

The entire series revolves around the cast, individually and collectively, processing all these events with varying degrees of godliness.

The Bible verses cited by the characters during each episode were all pertinent to the challenge they faced and their prayers were not at all unscriptural. As the series progresses, everyone started making better and better choices. Apart from Ashley’s HIV-positive diagnosis, season 3 ended on a positive note for everyone.

So Why am I’m Writing This Article?

In case anyone is wondering, I initially liked the series overall. It was refreshing to watch a TV series where woke ideology was not being crammed down our throats by the show-runner as is commonly the case nowadays. That being said, as we worked through the episodes, I found myself becoming disquieted in my spirit about something, a feeling it took me a bit of time to prayerfully wrap my mind around.

Once I got my answer, I cannot help but regard so-called “progressive” rhetoric as less dangerous spiritually than what the series portrayed. What the Holy Spirit showed me was this:

  • It was Christ-less Christianity. The name of Jesus was never once mentioned in any of the 34 episodes.
  • His title, Christ, was only used once — and only then when someone was quoting Him from one of the gospels (“Christ said…”).
  • There was not even one hint that any of the characters had a vital, personal, one-on-one relationship with Him.
  • There was zero mention of the Cross or the New Birth or God’s grace or the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in them or the crucifixion of personal selfishness required of all believers.
  • God’s “great and precious promises” (see 1 Peter1:4) as the hooks upon which we Christ-followers hang our faith were never once mentioned, despite ample opportunities to do so.
  • Not one instance of believers worshipping Jesus in Spirit and truth was portrayed.

Instead, the only mantra expressed in every instance of every challenge was “have faith in God,” hence my title for this article. In other words, the only folks who could be religiously offended would be atheists, almost all of whom spend tremendous amounts of time, energy, and thought-time hating Someone they claim doesn’t exist. Everyone else? Not so much!

Which leaves me with a burning question: why do those omissions exist?

First, let me go on record here that I’m neither passing judgment on Roma Downey nor on Karen Kingsbury. I know nothing about either woman apart from the show’s content. I have not read the original book series, so I cannot even evaluate how well or poorly the screenplays were adapted from Kingsbury’s books.

On top of that, knowing the hearts and minds of other people, believers or not, is way above my pay grade, so I am evaluating this series, rather than the people involved, and even that solely for what it says. Or rather more accurately, what it doesn’t say.

What concerns me is this: The Christ Event (Jesus’ birth, life/ministry, torture/death, resurrection, and ascension) is the centerpiece of human history, so much so even our reckoning of dates revolves around Him. Our Western Civilization could not even have come into existence apart from Him. Even atheists and woke ideologues are forced to reckon their absurd claims within that inescapable worldview and cultural history. In other words, the very philosophical and scientific underpinnings for the technologies required to produce and view the show could have never been developed apart from the historical event of His impact upon culture.

So the show, rather than portraying a realistic, vibrant relationship with our Lord and Savior (Who was tempted in all manner such as we are yet did not once choose selfishly), we are left with the empty husk of pietism where it’s all about our personal efforts “to believe.”

This is man’s religion writ large, where we earn salvation and the blessings of God through the merit of our believing. The Truth of the matter is those are freely given gifts of grace offered by a loving Savior to a humanity completely unable to find a spiritual clue on our best day with a flashlight.

What Are the Implications of These Omissions?

Jesus is Lord — and We’re Not!

We cannot receive salvation apart from our complete surrender to Him as the Absolute Ruler over our lives.

Jesus said to him, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
John 14:6

Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.
Acts 4:12

…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Romans 10:9-10

For by grace you have been saved by faith. Nothing you did could ever earn this salvation, for it was the love gift from God that brought us to Christ! So no one will ever be able to boast, for salvation is never a reward for good works or human striving.
Ephesians 2:8-9 TPT

Yes, faith is involved as it clearly states in the Ephesians passage I just referenced, but the New Testament’s definition of faith is “trust unto surrender” rather than some kind of religious act where God will love and bless us if we do it. The operative phrase is found in verse 9: “So no one will ever be able to boast, for salvation is never a reward for good works or human striving.”.

Anything we receive from God is a gift. We receive gifts from those who love us; we do not earn them through personal merit, even if that merit is exercising our faith in Him. Truth be told, we deserve nothing more than eternal damnation. Everything good we receive is by His loving grace.

Absent the lordship of Jesus in the heart of Christ-followers, our attempts to follow after God are reduced to dead religious works possessing zero eternal significance. Furthermore, our proudly pursuing a self-directed life is a sure formula for utter failure.

God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
James 4:6b

That word “resists” in the Greek literally means “to set oneself in battle array against”. Guess who’s going win that match-up? Oopsie!

The Name of Jesus

Here’s a few verses addressing its significance:

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9-11 (emphasis mine)

And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
John 14:13-14 (emphasis mine)

And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
John 16:23-24 (emphasis mine)

We derive our spiritual authority over negative circumstances and the powers of darkness from our surrender to Jesus. When we pray in His Name, we are enforcing that authority, not on the basis of our own strength, merit, or holiness, but upon His finished work of the Cross. Whenever we face trials and temptations, apart from His supremely powerful Name, we have brought only our fists to a gunfight, a spiritual contest we are doomed to lose 10 times out of 10. His Name is the chiefest of our extraordinary infused-by-the-Divine spiritual weapons (see 2 Corinthians 10:4) for pulling down spiritual strongholds within our own thought processes and personal circumstances.

Personal Relationship With Jesus

No world religion other than Christianity cements its adherents into an eternal, one-on-one, Father-child relationship with the Almighty, period. This concept is so completely alien to all those other worldviews that some of them actually regard the very idea as arrogant and disrespectful.

Yet, the New Testament describes being a friend of God as the normative experience for all Christ-followers. Admittedly, many believers these days regard that concept more of a doctrine to be believed than a personal reality to be experienced, but that doesn’t change the fact of the matter scripturally one iota.

Yes, He is Lord, as we’ve just discussed, but that is simply the foundation for what God intended to be a life-long intimate friendship. Our friendship with Him cannot go where our surrender to His Lordship has not already paved the way. In other words, it’s impossible to have a functioning friendship with the King while you are rebelling against His rule.

The difference between servant and friend is significant: good servants merely know their master’s will and do it; a friend knows both that plus their friend’s heart and way of thinking about things, so they not only obey, but do so with His heart and viewpoint.

The Cross & the Blood of Jesus

There is no forgiveness of sins apart from these two things. Jesus bled and died to redeem us from the power of and the punishment for our all consuming and otherwise irreparable innate selfishness.

Our required-by-God forgiveness of the wrongdoings of others and ourselves is based upon and exemplified by His once-for-all-time substitutionary atonement at the Cross. In fact, our own forgiveness is conditional upon our choice to forgive those who have wronged us, no matter how badly we have been injured by them (see Matthew 6:12).

His Blood shed during that horrific event washes away not only the penalty for our stupid choices, but the guilt we experience over them as well. In fact, it is frequently only our prayerful contemplation of His signature sacrifice which can remove our personal shame.

What should have been communicated loudly and continuously to the youngest daughter upon her ignominious return from Paris should have been this very message. Though, like with many of us, it might have taken a bit to soak in, the daughter would have come to the foot of the Cross, received forgiveness, and thereafter begun the the process of forgiving herself.

The Whole Armor of God

The entire spiritual message of the series was figuratively holding up the shield of faith apart from wielding the sword of the Spirit (the spoken Word of God) and without having donned any of the rest of God’s armor. As I covered in my article on this topic, the armor of God functions as an integrated whole, just like the armament used by Roman soldiers and auxiliaries. Trying to employ only one piece of that armor is an exercise in futility, ultimately leading to spiritual defeat.

The Indwelling Presence of the Holy Spirit

Another significant distinction between Christianity and all other world religion is the fact that our object of worship actually lives inside our physical bodies through the New Birth (see 1 Corinthians 6:19). Yes, He is indeed omnipresent, but He is also simultaneously inside-present. All the others worship someone or something “out there” somewhere whereas we carry around the Lord we serve inside us everywhere we go.

His Holy Spirit is always speaking to our hearts, leading us into all Truth (see John 16:13). Tragically, once again many folks regard this as a doctrine to be believed rather than a functioning personal reality to be experienced, but that doesn’t change the fact of the matter; He is always speaking regardless of our willingness to listen or not.

The implications are huge! We never find ourselves walking through life and its attendant trials and temptations apart from His indwelling presence to guide and empower us. He is the Source of all wisdom. He ultimately has all the answers we crave if we will but ask Him (see James 1:5) in faith, have the wit to listen to Him, and then do what He tells us to do.

The characters portrayed in the show consistently tried to figure everything out on their own, then exercise a blind faith that God would somehow pull their irons out of the fire.

In Summary

So like I’ve said earlier, it was an entertaining series — initially, at least! Unfortunately, I feel the spiritually toxic aspects ended up far outweighing its entertainment value.

Thanks for reading!