3 Stars - Educational
Using the same quasi-documentary style as Al Gore in “An Inconvenient Truth,” Frederic A. Larson presents his research on the star that led the magi to the presence of Jesus long ago. Filmed before a live audience, using biblical text and scientific projections, Larson presents a compelling case for the birth of Christ in the year 2BC. However, like Gore, he does not present any variant views on either his biblical interpretations or his applications of science.
Directed by Stephen Vidano, Larson begins by explaining that his lecture was first created as a class for his church. As a lawyer who became interested in researching the veracity of the claim that a star brought the magi from the East to Bethlehem, Larson was increasingly convinced and amazed that the growth in the science of astronomy could now accurately project back the exact movements of planets and stars such that we could “see” the same sky the ancient people saw. His findings were so well received by his own church that soon he was presenting his thesis all over the world. It was this interest that caused him to write and produce this film.
The use of the science to join together Jupiter with Venus in the constellation of Leo with the rising of Virgo in the year of Jesus’ birth is not new. What is new is the manner in which the film presents it. Using simple to understand language and yet complex scientific models of the universe, Larson demonstrates why these ancient scholars of the east would come to the conclusion that a king was born of the tribe of Judah, from a virgin and why it would appear to “stop over Bethlehem.”
Though this is not new material and has been taught in seminaries for decades, the manner in which it is presented is novel. In addition, Larson also presents a study of the constellations and lunar events at the time of Christ’s crucifixion. The explanation of the “red moon” is specifically fascinating.
Though faith does not rest on science, the understanding that all truth is God’s truth would cause us to expect that the Creator of the universe could and did set in motion the stars of the universe as reinforcing signs for the birth and crucifixion of the King and Savior of the world. That the stars are given as signs is stated in Genesis and reinforced throughout the Bible ending in Revelation. That science should affirm this claim is not a surprise for those of faith.
Discussion for those who have seen the film:
- It has long been recognized that Jesus was born a few years BC. Does it bother you that our calendar is off by a few years since we are measuring the “Common Era” by Jesus’ birth?
- Jupiter’s “appearing to stop” occurs on December the 25th. Science thus reinforces the dating of our celebration of the night the Magi gave the first “Christ-mas” gifts. Does that surprise you? Why or why not?
- The fear that Larson has of astrology caused him to avoid this study for a while. Do you believe astrology is a helpful or hurtful thing? Do you make a distinction between astronomy and astrology?