When I first heard of the Game Show Network’s idea for a new game show, I wondered: How is it no one ever thought of it before? There is so much material in the scriptures that if the producers play it right, they could have many seasons. It could be a way to bring Christians together around the Word.
On the set of Game Show Network’s “The American Bible Challenge” with host Jeff Foxworthy. ((c) GSN)This hourlong show that tests Bible knowledge is hosted by comedian Jeff Foxworthy (“Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?”), who told journalists in July he has been teaching Bible classes for years. I asked him: What Bible character is most like Shrek? Jeff knew the answer. (Both the Bible character and Shrek had a talking donkey that annoyed them with the truth.)
The format of “The American Bible Challenge” is framed to be lightly competitive: three teams of three people compete to answer questions that are presented in a variety of ways. The teams all play for charity. The contestants move around the set, go out for a Bible study and take turns answering in lightning rounds. The contestants are not so restrained (or straight-laced) as in “Jeopardy,” where people stand rooted to one spot. This show should appeal to people who want to test their own knowledge of the Old and New Testaments.
There’s always a threat to a respected topic when popular television gets hold of it, and what is sacred can become profane. In “The American Bible Challenge,” ordinary folks, dressed in casual down-home attire, get genuinely excited every time they know the answer. There is a warmth about the show that reverences the Word of God and living the Word in charity. The Word is prominent — the contestants stand behind lecterns made in the shape of large Bibles. In the pilot episode, it was very moving to see the reaction of the winning team and to imagine the good that will be done with the prize money. The fact that the money is for others rather than the players sets the show apart from the start and is the reason Foxworthy agreed to host the show after initial misgivings.