The Chosen – A Series Every American Should See – With Darrel Eves – Darrel Eves, executive producer of “The Chosen,” joins us today to share how this amazing series came about. A series every American should see, tune in to hear a firsthand account of the behind the scenes of this movie!
Air Date: 08/16/2021
Guest: Darrel Eves
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. Thanks for joining us today on WallBuilders Live. We’re taking on the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. That conversation is taking place with David Barton, he’s America’s premier historian and our founder at WallBuilders, and Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders, and I’m Rick Green, former Texas legislator and America’s Constitution coach.
You can find out more about us at wallbuilderslive.com, where you can also get archives the program and make your one time or monthly contribution. Later in the program, we’re going to have Derral Eves with us sees the executive producer of “The Chosen”. Many of you out there have seen that, and it’s just really doing well across the country: a whole lot of folks, really, for the first time experiencing the gospels.
David, Tim, we say on the program all the time, we need biblical worldview, we need to be in the Bible, we need to be studying God’s instruction manual, any tool that will help Americans fall back in love with God’s word we’re going to be for.
Absolutely. And one of the things, Rick, as you said, a lot of people are familiar with “The Chosen”. I would say, for those of you who are listening, who are not familiar with “The Chosen”, you need to be familiar. In fact, they’ve made it so accessible that you can download on any smart device and app, or you can watch it on any smart device you have. You can watch it on a TV. You can watch it on Roku. So many places you can get this and they make it available.
And it really is something that, guys, we’ve talked for so long about how as Americans, we generally don’t know the Bible very well anymore. And I’m even thinking back this summer, one of the things we recently finished up was our summer institute program. We just got our leadership training program, and we bring college students in for the summer from around the nation. And one of the things that I love to point out to them, we will read several of Benjamin Franklin’s letters.
And reading Benjamin Franklin’s letters, one of the things that I will point out is, if you go through his letters, it is remarkable in some of these letters how much he quoted scripture. And you’re talking about at a time when you can just get on Google and look up Bible verses, and right, Google is helping you find those verses. This was a time back then that when Franklin is writing these letters, he’s able just to just have so much Bible coming out of him in these letters because he knew the Bible that well.
One of the things we point out in presentations at the Constitution Convention when Benjamin Franklin was trying to help bring the delegates together, after the first several weeks they had argued, and there was such contention, and they were so frustrated, and Franklin gets up. And the longest speech he gave was on June 28th 1787. And he really challenges them with getting back to prayer and remembering God, and that if a sparrow can’t fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire could rise without God’s aid? And he goes this long speech.
And one of the things we will frequently ask students and actually ask audiences at the end of the speeches, we’ll say, okay, I just read 14 sentences in this presentation to you from Benjamin Franklin speech, how many verses do you know? And it was 14 verses that he was quoting or referencing in those 14 sentences in the speech. And what’s interesting, dad, one of the things that I think is fun for Franklin is that Franklin acknowledged in America, he said, whenever he quoted the Bible, he never had to tell Americans that he was quoting the Bible because everybody in America knew the Bible. But was it a letter or an op-ed, where he talked about over in Europe, it was so different? What was he saying?
Yeah, he wrote to someone in Europe and said when I go to Europe, I have to tell people when I’m quoting the Bible because they don’t know. And so he was actually telling a friend the difference between when he’s speaking in Europe, when he’s speaking in America. And so when he’s in America, don’t have tell anybody, I’m quoting the Bible. They all know it. They all read it in the school. We all study. We all get it every Sunday at church. When I go to Europe, they are so secular, I have to tell them when I’m quoting the Bible.
But the thing that struck me with all those quotes like at the Constitutional Convention, you’re right, he certainly wasn’t googling them. He had memorized them. That’s how much Bible he had memorized. And we would certainly acknowledge that he’s one of the least religious Founding Fathers, but that is a comparative term. That doesn’t mean he’s a secularist. Here’s a guy who memorize so much of the Bible that it came flowing out of him and letter after letter after letter after speech after whatever, I mean, Franklin was just that knowledgeable of the Bible.
And this is a guy too, we mentioned he’s the least religious. He’s a guy that some very interesting conversations can surround him regarding his faith. And he’s a guy that’s really fun to investigate on some level with faith with the Founding Fathers. Because we generally, we all agree he’s the least religious Founding Father. And yet, if you go to some of his faith belief statements, he says that he does believe that there is a God who created the universe. He rewards the good. He punishes the wicked. He believes that God gave the Old and New Testament that was inspired by Him and that ultimately, that God will one day reward us in eternity for all of the good that we have done or all the bad that we’ve done here on earth.
And as he goes through this, what you discover is that ultimately, like many Founding Fathers, he was very open to the Bible. He loved the Bible. Now, Franklin wasn’t sure about the divinity of Jesus. And this is where, of course, I would say well Jesus said in John 14:6 that he’s the way the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father except through him.
So if you don’t believe that Jesus is the Savior, the Son of God, right, it does raise a question. Okay, then I don’t think you’re really saved. It raise the question about what really your faith was. But the reality was, Franklin was not someone who doubted God, he didn’t doubt the existence of God. He actually believed in the Bible he actually encouraged. When he was the governor of Pennsylvania, he encouraged that more people should attend church because they would learn more about God, they would learn more of the morals of the Bible and help them be better citizens. These were not guys who are anti-God.
But back to the original point was that even a guy like Franklin who was not even sure of the divinity of Jesus, he is studying the Bible because he knows the importance of the Bible. Certainly, one of the things that I think is so great about this series of “Chosen” is it’s helping reintroduce people to the main character, the stories of the Bible centering around the life of Christ.
And this was something, dad, I even remember one of the letter from John Quincy Adams that when he was a diplomat over in Europe, and he’s writing back to his son, George Washington, Adams, who at the time, I believe was 10 years old in America. And one of the things that he told his son was with regard to the history contained in the Bible; it’s not so much praiseworthy to be acquainted with it as it is shameful to be ignorant of it, telling his son that it’s shameful not to know what the word of God says. And this is where today in American culture, most Americans genuinely do not know the word of God, or what it says. And this is so far from where we used to be in early America.
Yeah. And the point is really strong that you’re making, Tim. It’s like, if you don’t know the Bible, this is the greatest influence of any book in the history of the world. If you don’t know it, shame on you for not knowing it. And so today, it’s like a religious book. And if you’re one of those people, you should know it.
You know, back then as an academic reality, you should know this book. And it’s intriguing to me to see how long the Bible retained a very strong place in American culture, not only in the founding era, and certainly before that. As you go back to the era of the pilgrims and Puritans and then the founding era, and then as you move into the abolition era, I mean, such a strong emphasis on the Bible during that time, the same as you get into the turn of the century.
But then, even as you move into the beginning of Hollywood, and Hollywood begins back in 1903 there abouts, you look at Hollywood, you look at its early films before we went to sound film, so the early silent films, you go into early silent films and take someone like Cecil B. DeMille who founded Paramount Studios. Cecil B. DeMille did a film on the life of Christ in 1928, called the King of Kings. It’s a silent film. And it was viewed by 800 million people in the world. And at that time in the world, the population was about 3.5 billion, which means about 1/4 of the world watch the film King of Kings. Now we’ve had no film in the modern era where 1/4 of the world has watch it, much less a film on Jesus Christ.
Yeah, that doesn’t make me curious. Because now I’m thinking, okay, like Avengers, right, Iron Man, where there’s some films because some of them had such reach. It’s interesting, though, 1/4 of the world? Yeah. And the fact that it was 1/4 that was watching the life of Christ, it really is amazing that even that’s where one of the major themes of Hollywood.
And certainly, dad, Cecil B. DeMille is somebody that that we have studied. And in fact, we have a book called The American Story where it’s kind of the beginning of America, and we’re working on maybe Volume II and Volume III right now. And in Volume III, we’re going to kind of go through the 1900s getting into Cecil B. DeMille. And it’s amazing how much Cecil B. DeMille and even major players in Hollywood emphasize and prioritize telling stories from the Bible, the stories of faith they thought those were so important for Americans and the world to see and know.
And it’s interesting that Cecil B. DeMille became known as the “Father of the Biblical Epic”. So here’s the founder of Paramount, and his nickname is the “Father of the Biblical Epic”, which tells you something about what he did. So I was interested in I kind of went into Hollywood and looked and man, just the number of Academy Award winning films that were Christ-centered: The Sign of the Cross in 1932, and The Crusades, 1935, and Angels with Dirty Faces and the Great Commandment, and things like The Song of Bernadette and One Foot in Heaven, and Heaven Can Wait and Going My Way and The Bells of St. Mary’s, and God is My Co-Pilot, I mean, just film after film after film, and he’s throwing The 10 Commandments, that’s the Cecil B. DeMille film, and then Samson and Delilah, and all these films he did.
This was the emphasis of entertainment at that time was making sure that we kept that Christian knowledge there. And so we really, once we got into the Golden Age of Hollywood which ended in the 50s, Hollywood really hadn’t put an emphasis on Christian films again, but it looks like maybe there’s an opportunity for some of that to come back.
Yeah. And I mean, “The Chosen” look, the numbers they’re posting right now are astounding. So maybe this can be an example of maybe not 1/4 of the globe, but hey, it’s a ton of people that are watching this and having a significant experience watching it. I mean, in other words, God’s really ministered to people through the series. In fact, one of the executive producers Derral Eves is going to be with us when we come back from the break. We’ll get some of the behind the scenes of how this series came about. Stay with us, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. Revisions today often assert that our Founding Fathers were atheist or agnostics or deity. This charge is not new. In fact, Patrick Henry was even called a deist in his lifetime. Clearly, no one could question his patriotism. But Henry was hurt that they would question his Christianity.
Against the charges he was a deist, Patrick Henry thundered “Deism with me is but another name for vice and depravity. I here to say by the deist that I am one of their number. And indeed, that some good people think I am no Christian, this thought gives me much more pain than being called a traitor. Being a Christian is a character which I prize far above all this world has or can boast.” Patrick Henry was quick to refute the charge of deism and to declare his open belief as a Christian.
For more information on God’s hand in American history, contact WallBuilders at 1808REBUILED
Welcome back to Wallbuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. We are so excited about “The Chosen.” We know you are as well. Many, many of you out there listening have already watched it. And we want to encourage those of you who have not, you’ve got to see it. We’re excited to have the executive producer with us today. We’ve had Dallas Jacobs on in the past. We have moved up in the food chain, I think, Derral Eves with us. Derral, thanks for coming on, man.
I can honestly say you move way down to the food chain. But you got me, I’m here.
Oh, man, I’m telling you, I know something like this does not get the success that it’s had without guys like you that really know how to reach the public with it. And I just want to thank you for taking your talents and putting it behind something that is life changing, literally, world changing. Of all the things you’ve done, this had to be one of the most personally rewarding, spiritually rewarding as you saw the success.
Yeah. I have been in the industry online, like getting people to see online content for 20 years. And I felt like every decision that I made in companies and business led me to the moment of working on “The Chosen.” And there’s no higher call from me outside of being a father and a husband that I feel like is so synergistic. I felt like everything in my life led to this moment where I can help get the world to see an authentic Jesus and see the betrayal of real people having real problems in times that are similar to today.
Like first century, there’s a lot that was going on in first century that are happening today. And I think from government oppression to just bigotry, hatred, and racism and all that other stuff. it’s kind of all intertwined together, and you’re able to see the beauty of what Jesus, his message is and his ministry that is so relevant in the first century, but probably more relevant now and much more needed now.
I agree. I hear it from people all the time when they watch it saying, you know, it’s the first time I’ve done anything like that with the Gospels where it felt so real to what I was literally dealing with last night or yesterday or what I just read about the paper. I mean, you guys did a masterful job of that, and it just seems like God brought together the perfect team. We love the Harmon brothers, love Dallas, love what you’re doing. I mean, I’m just curious, behind the scenes as you saw all of that coming together, I mean, you had to see the end got it all this because this thing has exploded in a short period of time, and just had a tremendous impact.
So, one of the things that we noticed from day one before we even started “The Chosen” before I was able to see the short film that Dallas made for Christmas Eve service that he made for his church, it connected with me on a level that it moved me spiritually. And I’m like, oh…
Are you talking about the shepherd episode, right?
The shepherd. I’m like, oh, this is so good. I then go if this creator, this writer, director did this on a meager budget, what can he do with a major budget? And Jeffrey Harmon says, well, that’s what we’re trying to do here, you know. And so when I met Dallas, and hearing his vision of what he wanted for the show, I felt like I needed that personally, my family needed that personally, but more important, my kids needed that personally. And it was just beautiful to watch.
And it’s been tough. It’s been the most difficult project I’ve ever worked on. But we see miracle after miracle after miracle because we have to surrender. We just get to a point where we can’t even move further, and that’s when God comes in and gives us what we needed at that time to go to that next level or get past that next problem that we had.
Just run down a couple of these metrics, right, so people can realize what you guys are doing in terms of who you’re reaching, and we first of all, largest crowdfunded TV series in history, 22 million bucks for Season 1 and 2. The episodes have been viewed 200 million times. Am I reading that right?
So it’s actually viewed more. That’s just in app views. But if you go on YouTube and take those, and then on Peacock and Amazon, because they’re all these different places that you’re able to watch “The Chosen”, it’s probably doubled those numbers.
Wow. That is incredible. And the power of it, I’m not saying this because your executive producer, I’m telling you, when my family sits in the living room and watches these episodes, there’s not a dry eye in the room when it’s over. I mean, it hits the core. I mean, it’s just anointed. It is truly anointed. And I know our listeners are going, oh, gosh, stop, gushing, Rick. But I mean, seriously, it’s one of the things that I’ve just, I mean, there’s so much entertainment out there, there’s so much content out there people trying to wade through find good stuff. This is gold, man. It’s absolute gold. And you all are looking at what, five more seasons?
Yeah, so we want to do a total of seven seasons. And the writers in Dallas, because Dallas is our head writer, of course, they kind of planned out the whole how everything’s going to go. But what’s great about this series, and I think you mentioned this of really feeling an emotional tie, where it is emotional, every episode in one way or another.
By doing a TV series, we can go into the depth of characters. And as every episode goes, you’re going to have more understanding of the character and their problems and their fears and the things that they need to overcome. And it’s just going to create more depth. And I think that as every episode goes, you’re going to actually be more emotionally charged, because you’re going to get to know these characters for who they are. And they all are different. They all have.
And if you haven’t seen Season 2, please watch Season 2, is the most amazing season ever. But the thing that I love is the very last episode, where Jesus gives a sermon on the mount, and he goes and explains the Beatitudes, but it gives it context of why he called every disciple that he called up to that moment. And it’s one of the most beautiful things that ever seen in film and television. And it gave me context of how Jesus comes to the one and understands our individual troubles and struggles, and he sees things a little bit differently than what everybody else does. He understands what we’re going through. He understands the baggage and trials that we that we face, and he’s there to help if we’re willing to receive.
Like I said, life-changing and world-changing. For any of our listeners that haven’t seen it yet, not even seen Season 1, what is your preferred way for people to go, I know they can go million different places to get it, where do you want to recommend for them today to go find it?
100%, go to your favorite app store and just type in “The Chosen” and download it. Or you can go to the chosen.tv. It’s the best way to do it. And we got some announcements coming up, but you definitely want to get the app.
Alright, I have one inside baseball question for you.
So I don’t remember if it was episode 2 or 3, I’m blanking now of Season 2. Whose idea was it to, I think it was episode 2 and you all dropped 3 that night as Dallas was talking about it? That was brilliant. Okay, who came up with that idea?
Okay. So I all credit needs to go to Dallas on that one. Because the whole thing was, hey, we’re going to release it when it’s done. That was the whole thing. And it was, hey, these episodes are pretty much done at the same time. Like, why don’t we drop 2? And I personally says, look, I want momentum, but we can’t wait a whole month to watch another one. And Dallas says no, no, we’re going to do it. And I say okay, it feels right. We’re going for it. But that’s what’s great to be with Angel Studios, because generally, the studios will dictate that. Angel Studios have been vital for us to be able to do it the way that we feel like would be the best for our audience. And honestly, all kudos goes to Angel Studios to allow us to even try something that disruptive.
It made it so fun for us. And I mean, even that died, everybody say, we had grandma and great grandma down to the house, maybe we were all watching it together.
You as in watch that late too, because it was like wait, another episode, it’s like one o’clock at night before it got done. Yeah.
It was great. It was great, Derral, God bless you guys. Man, you all keep up the great work. We’re looking forward to Season 3. And for any of the folks out there if you haven’t seen it, “The Chosen”, go get it. Like Derral said, download on your app, whatever you got to do. But Derral, really appreciate you taking some time with us today, man.
Thank you too.
Stay with us, folks. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
Hey, guys, we want to let you know about a new resource we have at WallBuilders called The American Story. For so many years, people have asked us to do a history book to help tell more of the story that’s just not known or not told today.
And we would say very providentially in the midst of all of the new attacks coming out against America, whether it be from things like the 1619 project that say America is evil, and everything in America was built off slavery, which is certainly not true or things, like even the Black Lives Matter movement, the organization itself, not out the statement Black Lives Matter, but the organization that says we’re against everything that America was built on, and this is part of the Marxist ideology. There’s so many things attacking America.
Well, is America worth defending? What is the true story of America? We actually have written and told that story starting with Christopher Columbus, going roughly through Abraham Lincoln, we tell the story of America not as the story of a perfect nation of a perfect people. But the story of how God used these imperfect people and did great things through this nation. It’s a story you want to check out wallbuilders.com, The American Story.
We’re back here on WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us. And thanks to Derral Eves for joining us from “The Chosen”. We’ll have links today where you can get over to “The Chosen”. Like Tim was saying earlier, if you haven’t seen it or not familiar with it, it is very easy to find, any app on, pretty much any device on the planet and you can get access to it, two seasons now, and just phenomenal.
David and Tim, I mean, look, to tell the story of Christ, just like with Ben Hur, through eyes that we haven’t really looked through before. I mean, we’ve looked through the disciples eyes, or at least four of them, but in this case, I mean, you’re really getting a look at, honestly, for me, it was I could identify with some of these guys. I mean, I felt like, especially Peter, because he’s always getting in trouble, but I mean, it just I love the way that that allowed me to see Christ in a way I hadn’t before.
Yeah, and Rick, even as you mentioned during the interview, it’s something that as you watch these, it’s you connected on an emotional level and emotionally moves you. And you know, even as they talked about the sermon on the mount, one of the things that it’s so interesting is, obviously, if you study the four gospels, if you look at the life of Jesus, the sermon on the mount was one of the most significant sermons ever delivered, arguably history, right, nobody’s ever delivered a more significant, more important, or a better sermon than the sermon on the mount. No pastor has ever done that. No prophet, right, before the time of Jesus, nobody’s ever done something more significant in this.
And it’s interesting, we talked about it at the beginning of the program, how little today that Americans or even Christians know about the Bible. And one of the things that used to be so basic was principles from the Sermon on the Mount, whether it be the Beatitudes, or the fact that we’re the salt of the earth, where we’re a city set on a hill, we’re the light of the world. We can go through literal principles, the Sermon on the Mount where we know where Jesus taught the disciples to pray, and it’s “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name”, and you go through this thing, and we’re not to worry. And then you have you can build on the rock or build on the sand and actually, you judge a tree by the fruit and all these things and unfold.
Well, in the midst of it, there’s some very important thoughts in the sermon on the mount about asking and seeking and knocking and the door is open. But even if you think about something as basic in American culture, as the golden rule, which is Matthew 7:12, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, so much of American life and culture was built on basic biblical values and teachings from the sermon on the mount.
If you look at really genuinely America today, most people have heard the idea, hey, you need to treat other people the way you want to be treated. That is the premise of the golden rule, which is Matthew 7:12. And this is something from the Sermon on the Mount from the life of Jesus, that unfortunately, again, unfortunately, today, way too few Christians, and certainly too few Americans even understand these basic principles and teachings of Jesus.
And that’s why I am so grateful for things like “The Chosen” that are helping a new generation of Christians coming up. Dad, like you mentioned, Cecil B. DeMille did so much of the storytelling in previous generations, in previous eras. And we really haven’t seen the same level of that. Now there are some independent filmmakers, right? You have the Kendrick brothers. You do have some people out there who are making Christian films, and actually doing a very good job of it.
But “The Chosen” is telling a story in a different way, helping people get back to remembering the life of Christ, and even the challenges, the principles, the teachings that he taught, and helping see ways that they are relevant and connected to life today.
Yeah, Tim. And I mean, we’re talking about true life-giving, life-solving issues, right. I mean, you watch this, and you use God’s Word to be the answer to the problems in the culture. And I’m really hoping it will create a new love to dive into God’s word, not just the four gospels as a result of this, but that people will once again say, wait a minute, there’s answers there for me with my relationships, which is the part that I think really comes across in the series is how to deal with relationships so much better. There’s just so much there that I think can be useful. It’s not just entertainment. It can be life-changing.
Yeah, it really becomes relevant again, that’s what you want. You want people reading the Bible because it has solutions for right now. People don’t know it has solutions because they haven’t been in it. And they think it’s a religious book. It’s an old book. It’s kind of like other books. It’s not like other books. It is very relevant, and very practical. I mean, it’s very fulfilling. When you start applying the principles that are there, and when you start looking at disciples and others who had questions at the time, and yeah, this is disciples 2000 years ago. No, this is all still relevant that works exactly today.
So hopefully, it’ll create a hunger for people to really want to get into God’s word and see how relevant and how practical it is. I mean, literally, all of us here we read through the Bible on a regular basis, and we’re continually finding things that relate to what we see in the news right now. It is great guidance. And hopefully, “The Chosen” will continue to inspire people to get into that book, to see that book, to learn that book. It will make a difference in everyone’s life.
And guys, let me throw out one more thought. I know at the beginning of the program, I was plugging in Franklin and some of his letters, I would encourage listeners, if you go look up, June 6th, 1753, Benjamin Franklin letter, June 6th, 1753, Benjamin Franklin letter. And the letter, as you go through, it starts off, “I received your kind letter the second instant”, read that letter. And one of the things you will notice as you read that letter, especially the last couple of paragraphs, you should see a whole bunch of Bible verses that he references, not giving quotations or citations, just referencing the Bible.
One of the things I would challenge is with the reason as Christians, we need to get back and study and know the word of God. Is if you go back to the founding era, one of the shocking tragedies is I would argue that Benjamin Franklin, the least religious Founding Father knew the Bible better than most Christians know what today, which should be a challenge to us that we need to get back into and study God’s word.
We’ll have links today at wallbuilderslive.com and watch it with your family. It’s really a special experience. So we’ll have links for you to be able to get to the program and it’s free. You can download it again on an app for pretty much any device out there. Thanks so much for listening today. You’ve been listening WallBuilders Live.