Is There Such Thing as a “Chosen One?”

What does it mean to be “The Chosen One”? How are they “chosen”? How do they know they’re chosen? Can anyone be chosen? How do different religions recognize their chosen ones? In this modern age, are chosen ones considered to be as important as they were in the dawn of their religions?

In the season two premiere of The Story of God with Morgan Freeman these questions and many more are addressed. Bloggers from Patheos.com weigh in on the episode and what it means to be a “Chosen One.”

Chris Williams of Chrisicisms writes on the show, “The imagery is some of the most surreal and colorful on television; watching it is a treat. Freeman is a great guide, interviewing his subjects not only with a kindness and humanity, but with what appears to be genuine interest and a healthy dose of skepticism. He’s not afraid to cock an eyebrow at an unbelievable story or ask a child guru if he really wouldn’t rather be on Facebook.”

He relates such callings to the everyday Christian by writing, “We believe these miraculous callings happened. But the specifics are meant not to imply that God only uses overt methods to call people, but simply that God calls,” and finally, “We’re all called, and sometimes that leads us to risk. Sometimes it leads us to something else. But if we follow the call, it leads to life. Ignoring it can rob us of that life.”

Kerry Connelly of Jersey Girl, Jesus helps define “Chosen One” by saying, “Sacrifice is a theme in this episode — this idea that all religions have A Chosen One — one who sacrifices for the common good, who bears the weight of the community.”

She goes on to discuss the seemingly noticeable lack of women mentioned, in episode and the overall discussion of “Chosen Ones”, by adding, “I also can’t help but notice that in the Biblical story of God, if men do the personal sacrificing, it’s women who are losing them to their ministries, giving up their babies in service of the Lord. So if we are created in His image, male and female we are created, women of the earth are the maternal God image, the ones whose children are being torn from them, separated from them, and sacrificed.”

Daniel Scharpenburg of Bodhisattva Road writes that the topic is much more complicated than we think, “It purports to be about people who were chosen by God (for example: Moses), but that doesn’t make much sense in a Buddhist context.”

Talking about the first story mentioned in the episode, Scharpenburg acknowledges how those of other religions might be amazed by Buddhist “Chosen Ones”, “It seems strange to us on another level because these are children. At a very young age children are declared to be Buddhist monks. Their lives are decided for them. I don’t want to say much about that except to say this: the Dalai Lama was discovered in a very poor family and he was plucked from obscurity and trained to be, not only a religious teacher, but also the ruler of Tibet.”

Padma Kuppa of Seeking Shanti writes “The absence of a chosen Hindu in the various vignettes contrasts with the use of and references to the Sanskrit word guru, a concept deeply rooted in the ancient traditions of Hinduism. The episode also presents concepts that that are both alien to Hinduism and intrinsic to it – leaving me with a healthy tension that allows me to explore and deepen my own faith.”

S.J. Mason of Hawkeye comments on the episode by saying, “Freeman exudes a natural warmth and folksy whimsy. Listening to him narrate is like receiving a gentleman’s invitation to lounge by a roaring fire in winter. It seems almost irreverent to refuse.” He adds, “The varied cultural landscapes around the globe that follow are intoxicating; the locales are exotic; the religious practices verge from the sublime and threatening to the seemingly inexplicable. It is like leafing through one of [National Geographic’s] magazines.”

Paul Asay of Watching God draws from the season premiere, “…the stories that resonated with me the most were probably those of very ordinary people who feel they were chosen to fairly extraordinary things—not, perhaps, connected with important titles and the like, or really any fanfare at all, but simply asked to do a job. And despite the risk, they do it well.”

Ambaa Choate of The White Hindu contributes by writing, “I think some religions have more of a concept of prophets that God chooses to spread a certain message. In Hinduism there isn’t so much of that. We all have that potential. It is up to us to open our minds and clear our individual biases so that we can connect with the Gods and their messages.”

She also praises the episode by saying, “The conclusion made a lot of sense to me. That many of us are too busy to do the spiritual work. And it is valuable to have people who take on that role and help elevate us all. I still think, though, that every one of us has a duty to raise our souls to a higher place. Without that the rest of life is meaningless.”

Kristina Elsayed of My Islamic Life identifies with the theme of series by writing, “Asking questions, investigating the unknown and becoming familiar to what is different or unique about people in the world opens doors. You can never go wrong by learning more. What we value and have in common is what makes us stronger together. Building each other up. Having hope for the future.”

Thanks to each of the bloggers for joining in the discussion! We’ll be back later this week to share thoughts from these bloggers as they tackle a variety of topics explored on The Story of God with Morgan Freeman.

Make sure to check out the discussion guide for this week’s episode written by experts and scholars from OnFaith.

The Story of God with Morgan Freeman airs Monday at 9/8c.