Issues of Passion
Historical Realities: The God with the power to create would also have the power to communicate and preserve that communication so that we could trust it and be judged by it. Dt 32:46 "Set your hearts on all the words which I testify among you today, which you shall command your children to be careful to observe—all the words of this law. 47 "For it is not a futile thing for you, because it is your life...
Communication and Art: God communication appeals to our head and heart and will, using culturally appropriate means. However, the primacy is given to the cognitive. 1Co 9:22... I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
Why Jesus had to die: Hebrews 9: 26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. 27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
Emphasis of Jesus and the Scriptures: Christianity and the Bible are not so much about dying as about living to glorify God.
Paul Harvey Comments on "The Passion": One scene in the film has now been forever etched in my mind. A brutalized, wounded Jesus was soon to fall again under the weight of the cross. His mother had made her way along the Via Della Rosa. As she ran to him, she flashed back to a memory of Jesus as a child, falling in the dirt road outside of their home. Just as she reached to protect him from the fall, she was now reaching to touch his wounded adult face. Jesus looked at her with intensely probing and passionately loving eyes (and at all of us through the screen) and said "Behold I make all things new." These are words taken from the last Book of the New Testament, the Book of Revelations. Suddenly, the purpose of the pain was so clear and the wounds, that earlier in the film had been so difficult to see in His face, His back, indeed all over His body, became intensely beautiful. They had been borne voluntarily for love.
A law professor whom I admire sat in front of me. He raised his hand and responded "After watching this film, I do not understand how anyone can insinuate that it even remotely presents that the Jews killed Jesus. It doesn't." He continued "It made me realize that my sins killed Jesus" I agree. There is not a scintilla of anti-Semitism to be found anywhere in this powerful film. If there were, I would be among the first to decry it. It faithfully tells the Gospel story in a dramatically beautiful, sensitive and profoundly engaging way. Those who are alleging otherwise have either not seen the film or have another agenda behind their protestations. This is not a "Christian" film, in the sense that it will appeal only to those who identify themselves as followers of Jesus Christ. It is a deeply human, beautiful story that will deeply touch all men and women. It is a profound work of art. Yes, its producer is a Catholic Christian and thankfully has remained faithful to the Gospel text; if that is no longer acceptable behavior than we are all in trouble. History demands that we remain faithful to the story and Christians have a right to tell it. After all, we believe that it is the greatest story ever told and that its message is for all men and women. The greatest right is the right to hear the truth.
We would all be well advised to remember that the Gospel narratives to which "The Passion" is so faithful were written by Jewish men who followed a Jewish Rabbi whose life and teaching have forever changed the history of the world. The problem is not the message but those who have distorted it and used it for hate rather than love. The solution is not to censor the message, but rather to promote the kind of gift of love that is Mel Gibson's filmmaking masterpiece, "The Passion."
Gibson wants people to understand through the movie, if they don't already, the incalculable influence Christ has had on the world. And he grasps that Christ is controversial precisely because of WHO HE IS - GOD incarnate. "And that's the point of my film really, to show all that turmoil around him politically and with religious leaders and the people, all because He is Who He is."
Nevertheless, certain groups and some in the mainstream press have been very critical of Gibson's "Passion."
What you won’t learn from ‘The Passion’- Pastor Ken Wimer www.donfortner.com
1. It won’t teach you the GOSPEL. The Bible says, “it pleased God by the foolishness of PREACHING (not dramatizing) to save them that believe, I Cor. 1:21. Is not the Bible sufficient to give us the account of Christ’s death? Is it not the record that God has given of His Son, 1 John 5:11. Faith does not walk by sight, 2 Cor. 5:7. The truth regarding the Lord Jesus Christ, and how God has redeemed and justified sinners by His sovereign grace, is not revealed through man-made imagery (idolatry), but through the Gospel revealed in God’s Word, I Cor. 2:1-5.
2. It can’t show you the true SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST. The movie is rated ‘R,’ because of the torture and abuse that it portrays, directed toward the actor playing the lead role. The question is, ‘When the Bible speaks of the sufferings of Christ for sinners, was it referring to His physical sufferings?’...Isaiah the prophet declared, “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin,” Isaiah 53:10. His sufferings were about God justly pouring out His wrath upon His Son as the Substitute and Sin-Bearer of His elect. It is the Just One dying for the unjust, that God the Father be just in justifying (declaring righteous) every one for whom Christ died. The Lord Jesus, by His death, satisfied God’s perfect righteousness by which God has forever justified chosen sinners, having put away their sin, once for all, Rom. 5:9,10.
3. It doesn’t tell WHY the Lord Jesus Christ laid down His life. If it did, there wouldn’t be a debate as to whether the Jews or Romans killed him. Acts 2:23- “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” God slew His Son, but the wicked hands used are representative of the sins of His people. If Christ laid down His life for me, my SINS nailed Him there. Salvation is conditioned on His righteous life and sacrificial death alone. I could not provide that perfect righteousness, but He did. I was guilty of the wrath of God, but God purposed that wrath on His Son. By His death, God has redeemed, justified, and sanctified every sinner for whom Christ died, I Cor. 1:30.
Don Fortner www.scionofzion.com/passion_of_christ.htm
We are being fed the media line that this movie is historically accurate and that it is based entirely upon the account of the crucifixion given in John's Gospel. But that simply is not the case. Gibson himself has stated, "The movie reflects my beliefs." Remember, he is a devoted Catholic. James Caviezel said, referring to his role (as the Son of God!), "I think it's very important that we have mass every day. I need that to play this guy. If I was going to play him I needed the sacrament (mass) in me."
I am sure the movie will be a real tear-jerker. Paul Harvey saw the movie and declared, "Frankly, having now experienced it (you do not 'view' this film). this was not simply a movie; it was an encounter, unlike anything I have ever experienced...I will never be the same. When the film concluded. I am not sure there was a dry eye in the place. The crowd that had been glad-handing before the film was now eerily silent. No one could speak because words were woefully inadequate." That is precisely the desired effect. That is exactly what makes the movie appealing to men, especially to religious leaders. Both papists and Protestants equate feeling sorry for "poor, suffering Jesus" as either conversion or a sure move toward conversion. But that is not the case. Our Master said, as he was on his way to Calvary, the place of his triumph, "Weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children" (Luke 23:28).
Animated Idolatry - Why would anyone who would not think of attending a papal mass or wearing a crucifix want to see such a film as this? It is nothing more than animated idolatry. Our God forbids the making and use of religious images (Ex. 20:3-4). That prohibition certainly includes images and pictures that are supposed to be or represent Christ. If it is idolatrous to have an image of God (the Lord Jesus Christ) in your living room, it cannot be less evil to play the role of God (or watch a man play that role) in a movie or play.
Gospel preaching is not playing on the emotions of people to trick them into religion. Gospel preaching is convincing sinners of sin, and righteousness, and judgment finished by the effectual accomplishments of the omnipotent Lamb of God.
2) Its Script: The script of The Passion of Christ was specifically intended to link the crucifixion of Christ with what Roman Catholics believe is the re-sacrificing of Christ that occurs in the mass. Gibson's intent is to show us that the sacrifice of the cross and the sacrifice of the altar (the mass) are the same thing. Protestant Evangelicals have historically rejected the idea that Christ can be sacrificed again and declared it "abominable."
4) Its Medium: We need to remember that the last time dramatic presentations replaced preaching as the main vehicle by which the truth of the Bible was communicated was during the middle-ages when the church refused to allow the translation of the Bible into common languages and when in place of the preaching and teaching of God's word, the common people were given visual presentations such as Passion Plays, statues, relics, and icons. These things were designed, like most visual imagery, to play upon the emotions and stimulate a response; but the ability to evoke an emotional response via imagery or drama is not the same as successfully transmitting the Gospel.
ONE REASON TO GO: . 1Co 9:22... I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.
1) Its Origins: This is in marked contrast to the Jesus film, which is unabashedly Protestant and Evangelical in its production and message and which has been widely used in evangelizing Roman Catholics. It is largely for this reason that the Jesus film has not been utilized or endorsed by Roman Catholics. By contrast, The Passion of Christ has already proven its effectiveness as an evangelism tool in producing Catholic conversions and encouraging Catholic devotion
2) Its Script: Although it is widely thought that the script for the movie is based entirely on the gospel according to John, this is not the case. The script for The Passion of Christ contains much extrabiblical material, and is based in part on a mystical Roman Catholic devotional work by an 18th century German Nun (Sister Anne Emmerich) entitled The Dolorous Passion of Christ. Gibson stated on EWTN that reading Emmerich's book was his primary inspiration for making the movie. By introducing extrabiblical elements, not only does The Passion of Christ change some of the theological emphases of the Biblical account of Christ's
3) Its Theology: Gibson's comment about the sacrifice of the altar and the sacrifice of the cross shows the indispensable link in this movie between the Catholic view of Christ's sacrifice and the portrayal of the Crucifixion in The Passion of Christ....Also central to the Christian Gospel, but missing from The Passion of Christ, is the concept of Christ's active obedience. Christ not only died for the sins of His sheep on the cross but He established their righteousness through His perfect obedience to God's Law. It is only if His passive obedience in dying on the cross and His active obedience in keeping the law are imputed to believers per 2 Cor. 5:21 that believers will be justified before almighty God. The Passion of Christ does not even make any pretence of teaching the active obedience of Christ, the entire notion of which is alien to Roman Catholic theology. Therefore if Evangelicals intend to use this as a Gospel teaching tool, they must understand that at best they are teaching only half a gospel, and that the half they are teaching is defectively presented.
4) Its Medium: Many Evangelical Pastors are hailing movies like The Passion of Christ as part of a new and better way of spreading the Gospel:
Agape News: Sawyer questioned the Catholic actor about whether his traditionalist belief system barred the door to heaven to Jews, Muslims, and Protestants, to which Gibson replied, "That's not the case at all -- absolutely not. It is possible for people who are not even Christian to get into the kingdom of heaven." Although most Christians cite John 14:6 -- "I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes to the father except through me" -- as evidence to the contrary, Gibson says he believes that it is not impossible for non-Christians to enter heaven, but that it is "an easier ride" for those of his faith.