In the Autumn 04 Issue 11 edition of ‘The Word’ – the magazine of Carnmoney Presbyterian Church – there is an article on page 12 dealing with the movie ‘The Passion of The Christ’. The article is written by David Ferguson who is listed on page 1 as being a member of a 9-strong Editorial Team. Herewith is the full text of the article:-
‘It’s been a little while since the release of this Mel Gibson film, but I think that even now I would be jumping the gun if I suggested that opinions about it have begun to mellow. Jews are still hot under the collar about Hollywood turbo-charged anti-semitism. Many Protestants, especially here in Ulster still see it as a piece of pro-Catholic propaganda. (Isn’t it interesting how so many people have such strong opinions about something they’d never even seen?) Then there is the violence and the whole business of religion and entertainment being mixed together.
To fully understand the background to this article I believe it will be helpful for those who come to this article to first read the following articles that are posted elsewhere on our web site.
The articles and their links are as follows –
‘Evangelical Catholic’ suggestions for Belfast ‘Passion Café’ rejected?
The ‘leaven’ in ‘Power To Change’
Power To Change – Ecumenical or not Ecumenical?
In the article on the ‘Belfast Passion Café’ I referred to an ‘unnamed person’ in these terms – ‘One of the committee for the café’- and explained how this ‘unnamed person’ had sought guidance from the so-called ‘Evangelical Catholic’, Eugene Boyle. The rest of the article was an exposure of the devious suggestions put forward by Eugene Boyle and was not as some mistakenly thought a ‘condemnation’ of the planned café outreach to those who view ‘The Passion’ movie.
In the providence of God I have now been put in possession of further information that shows just how premeditated both this ‘unnamed person’ and Stephen Cave, General Secretary of Evangelical Alliance [NI] (this is the same Stephen Cave mentioned in the ‘Power to Change’ articles listed above) were to try and ensure that their solicitation of ‘Evangelical Catholic guidance and participation’ in the ‘Belfast Passion Café’ should not become public knowledge.
by Lorin Smith
In the midst of the furor that has accompanied the release of Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ, there is an important theological issue at stake that is surprisingly being overlooked by most Christians and critics of the film. The issue is this. If Jesus Christ is truly God, as Christians claim Him to be, how can He be portrayed in a motion picture when, as God, He expressly forbids the making of images of His person in Exodus 20:4? “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” (See Leviticus 19:4;Deuteronomy 5:8; 27:15; Isaiah 40:18-20; 42:8; 2 Corinthians 6:16) Furthermore, if Jesus Christ is at this very moment seated at the right hand of The Father in heaven (Psalm 110:1; Acts 2:34-36; Ephesians 1:3, 20; 2:6; Hebrews 1:3, 13; 8:1; 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22), then the making of an image of His person is again expressly forbidden. Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language defines an image as “a physical likeness or representation of a person, animal or thing, photographed, painted, sculptured, or otherwise made visible.” In addition, if Jesus is a member of the Godhead as 1 John 5:7 states “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one,” then any material representation of any member of the Godhead is forbidden.
by Roger Oakland and Jim Tetlow
On Ash Wednesday 2004, The Passion of the Christ premiered in North America. Never has a film on Christ’s passion garnered so much attention. In its first two weeks the movie grossed well over 200 million dollars and is poised to become the highest grossing R-rated movie in history. Its subsequent release around the world has the potential to influence multiplied millions of viewers. Though The Passion of the Christ was produced and directed by a devout Roman Catholic – Mel Gibson, Catholics are not alone in the endorsement of this monumental movie. Perhaps the greatest support for the movie comes from Evangelical Bible-believing Christians. In an effort to win souls to Christ, these Christians are sponsoring all types of evangelistic events that revolve around the movie.
God Delivers His People From Idolatry
by J. Virgil Dunbar
Before God sent His Son into the world to be the Saviour, He prepared a people who would not make images of Him. God revealed Jesus to this prepared people so that they could tell the world about Him. Why did God wait two thousand years until the time when His chosen people would not make images of His Son? Because for many centuries the world’s people made images of what they thought God was like. Soon there were many concepts of God. False images of God corrupted mankind. (See Romans 1:22-32.)
How did God prepare a people who would not make false images of Him? God’s battle with idolatry is an important theme of the Bible and of church history.
Charles [Chuck] Swindoll is President of Dallas Theological seminary. In his ‘Insight for Living’ letter dated 23 February 2004 [the copy I have was issued by his UK office in Bath] he ‘sings the praises’ of Mel Gibson’s movie ‘The Passion of The Christ’. Amongst the many accolades he heaps on the movie is this one – ‘Amazingly accurate’. Later in the letter he writes ‘We saw a vivid portrayal of what Jesus endured from the garden to the grave. And we saw how and where the tortuous treatment took place…Why would anyone submit to such mistreatment?…Unable to get that out of my mind and realising the importance for everyone who sees the film of having that question answered, I decided to sit down and put together a book…I deliberately kept it short (only eight chapters)…By going back to an earlier and more thorough work I’d written ‘The Darkness and The Dawn’ I was able to recreate some of the details of Jesus’ passion, as set forth in the gospel accounts. The truth of these events, seen vividly in the film and explained clearly in the book, will fill you with wonder’. So, all in all, Mr Swindoll conveys a clear impression of a vividly accurate film portrayal of what happened to the Lord ‘from the garden to the grave’.
In Deuteronomy 4: 12 we read “And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude, only ye heard a voice”. Later in verses 15-16 and 23-24 we read “Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves, for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: Lest ye corrupt yourselves and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, male or female…Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image or the likeness of anything, which the Lord thy God hath forbidden thee. For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God”.
by A.W. Tozer (1897-1963)
When God gave to Moses the blueprint of the Tabernacle He was careful to include every detail; then, lest Moses should get the notion that he could improve on the original plan, God warned him solemnly, “And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shown thee in the mount.” God, not Moses, was the architect. To decide the plan was the prerogative of the Deity. No one dare alter it so much as a hairbreadth.
The New Testament Church also is built after a pattern. Not the doctrines only but the methods are divinely given. The doctrines are expressly stated in so many words. Some of the methods followed by the early New Testament Church had been given by direct command; others were used by God’s specific approval, having obviously been commanded the apostles by the Spirit. The point is that when the New Testament canon was closed the blueprint for the age was complete. God has added nothing since that time.
by Shaun Willcock
As the movie, The Passion of the Christ, spans the globe, filling theaters, filling the hearts and minds of millions with deception, and filling Mel Gibson’s pockets with filthy lucre, it is necessary for the watchmen on the walls of Zion to speak up, loudly and clearly, to stand against the tide of popular opinion and condemn this movie in the strongest possible terms.
Utter spiritual blindness lies upon the “Evangelical” world today. Such total blindness, that many churches have reserved the entire movie theatre for themselves, and some have even held services in the movie theatre after the movie was screened!
by Robert M. Zins
ISA 53:4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.
With these words Isaiah, the Prophet of Israel, predicts the sufferings of the Messiah of Israel. With these words Isaiah predicts the Atonement of Jesus Christ the Son of God and Son of Man. With these words Isaiah predicts the death of death in the death of Jesus Christ the glorious savior of mankind and bearer of the penalty due to the sins of His people.