Premiering March 11 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CNN, The Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History traces the Biblical origins of the Roman Catholic Pope and the formation of the early church. Over six episodes narrated by Liam Neeson, the series traces the papal origin and influence from Matthew 16 through its understanding today. With recreated scenes, historian insight, and quick-moving narration, the show has the ability to inform us about the way the early church was formed and the power we should use for the good of God's kingdom.
As a United Methodist pastor, the history of the development of the papacy is intriguing. There is political, military, social, and religious power all tied together to the role of the Pope, with aspects of the role contributing to the rise and fall of the Church. While some of the actions of the various popes have been benevolent, others like Pope Urban II incited actions like The Crusades, leading to bloodshed on all sides.
In advance of the show, I screened the first and fourth episodes, "The Rise of the Pope," which showed a more historical understanding of the position, and "Revolution: A Church Divided." While the first episode was more of an observer's view for me, I found the fourth episode compelling as it detailed the friction that some (including Martin Luther) had with various papal decisions, leading to the schism between the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant movement. From the sale of indulgences to 95 Theses, the episode provides a solid overview of how the once all-powerful Church separated to become many different churches.
Slickly edited and well-narrated by Neeson, the show provides an opportunity for Christians to consider the ways that the Church came into being after the ascension of Christ. It gives us some moments of hope and encouragment in the good that the church has done and continues to, with a fair number of warnings about the ways that we can sometimes confuse our vision with God's. For individuals or families seeking a bit more history about how the Church came to be, The Pope: The Most Powerful Man in History provides more talking points than simply that of papal authority.