The Star of Bethlehem

| December 4, 2009

I have been a Christian for a majority of my life. My faith is the cornerstone of me as a person. Because of this, I have always been defensive and skeptical of movies and presentations about biblical studies and the life of Jesus. I am an avid fan of The Discovery Channel and they seem to be near the forefront of airing shows like this. My largest complaint about these shows is the perspective and backgrounds of those presenting the material. Anyone at all familiar with The Church (all churches collectively) understands that denominational differences and theological arguments have long been a problem. Beliefs on baptism or the birth of Christ can be dictated and often different by denominational background (Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, Catholic). This can even reflect the interpretation of the bible and to some extent it’s authenticity.
From the standpoint of interpretation, I can haphazardly divide people into two camps: Conservatives who would say that the bible is literal and everything occurred as stated and Liberals who may say some stories are more allegorical, for instance the creation story may not be actually true. I confess now that this brush is far too broad, but it should work to understand. This all ties into religious documentaries when too much of one denomination or camp is present and the other side is ignored. The reason there are two camps and multiple denominations is because, for the most part, there is evidence to support them. When The Discovery Channel runs a special on the crucifixion of Jesus, for instance, they may very well ignore these differences or grab hold of whichever one makes for best TV (you can understand why I am skeptical.)
In time for Christmas, though, The Star of Bethlehem has been released by MPower Pictures and it very carefully and effectively walks the line between scientific fact and biblical interpretation. Rick Larson, a lawyer and believer, has created a solid, biblical stance that powerfully identifies a stance about the Star of Bethlehem, the star the wise men followed to Mary and her baby and that shone over Bethlehem, that also uses strong scientific method and thought.
The problems that I have with most documentaries of this nature still exist in that Mr. Larson’s theological background and his hermeneutics (biblical interpretation) aren’t exposed, neither is his denomination. What is revealed by Mr. Larson, however, is that his entire method is based on the bible. He finds 9 clues in the Gospels (first four books of the New Testament) concerning the star, it’s location and it’s characteristics and then filters them through Johannes Kepler’s strict math and rules.
Mr. Larson makes an extremely compelling argument that is based in both biblical truth and scientific fact that I find very little problem with. He does make some assumptions about dates and times, but even these are based on solid research and biblical suggestion. There will likely always be a debate about Mr. Larson’s findings, but he has done everything he could to present a viewpoint that sticks to what all people of faith find important: The Bible.
From strictly a production standpoint the documentary isn’t fabulous. You bounce from Mr. Larson presenting his information to a small group in a library with his PowerPoint and software and talking-head interviews. This is broken up with short animations and screen captures of the software, as well as a few reenactments, which do help the movie along.
The Star of Bethlehem leaves behind the truth-stretching and the bias of most in it’s category and holds strong to it’s biblical principles and faithful approach. The ideas are presented clearly and convincingly with an outcome that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand-up. This is a strong presentation for anyone who is interested in the Christmas story. Whether you are conservative or liberal, you cannot deny the truth that Mr. Larson reveals.

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