The Problem With ‘The Passion’

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”.

The dictionary definition of “similitude” is ‘likeness…sometimes a person that is like or the counterpart of another’ [Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus: 21st century Edition: page 1107]. In Deuteronomy 4:12 God is reminding His people that they heard His words but saw no “similitude” [‘likeness’ including any ‘person like’ the speaker Who was of course “the Lord”]. Then in verses 15-16 and 23-24 God again reminds His people that there was no “similitude” [‘likeness’ when they heard His words].

Why was God so insistent on reminding His people of this truth? His reason for reminding His people was so that they would not make any “similitude” [‘likeness’ including any ‘person like’] of the God Who had spoken to them. This prohibition included not only “a graven image” – an “image” that people might be tempted to worship but the prohibition included making FOR ANY REASON [not necessarily worship] a “similitude” [‘likeness’ including any ‘person like’] “of anything, which the Lord thy God hath forbidden thee”.

It is clear from the context in which these prohibitions are given that God had the making of a “similitude” [‘likeness’ including any ‘person like’] of Himself in mind for He says in verse 24 that He is “a jealous God”. The incarnate Lord Jesus Christ was “Emmanuel…God with us” [Matthew 1:23]. He was “God…manifest in the flesh” [1 Timothy 3:16] therefore to make any “similitude” [‘likeness’ including any ‘person like’] of Christ such as in the Mel Gibson movie ‘The Passion of The Christ’ is to sinfully disobey God. For this one reason alone Christians should not go to see it.

Cecil Andrews – ‘Take Heed’ Ministries – 1 March 2004

After this article was posted to the web site I received the following emails and my replies are also posted herewith –

  • Subj: Images 
  • Date: 08/03/04 12:43:33 GMT Standard Time
  • From:
  • To:
  • Sent from the Internet (Details)

Evidently you do not own a camera C. L. S 

  • Subj: Re: Images 
  • Date: 08/03/04 14:17:44 GMT Standard Time
  • From: Takeheed

To: Dear Mr S

I did receive your email and assume that it is in response to my short article entitled ‘The Problem with The Passion’.

Obviously you have taken from it that I do not approve of any ‘images’ – hence your brief comment. If that has been your deduction then I do apologise for conveying this mistaken impression to you and I shall attempt to clarify exactly what I meant.

The passage from Deuteronomy 4 that I referred to shows clearly that man is not to make either a ‘graven image’ or a ‘similitude’ [which could be either male or female] to represent God.

This prohibition applies not only to the ‘invisible God’ but also to making a ‘similitude’ [by dressing an actor up to portray Him] of the Lord Jesus who although being described in the Bible as ‘the image of God’ [2 Corinthians 4:4], as ‘the image of the invisible God’ [Colossians 1:15] and as ‘the express image of his {God’s} person’ [Hebrews 1:3] was, as I said in my article, “God manifest in the flesh” [1 Timothy 3:16].

Any ‘image’ that we make of ‘someone’ is not actually that ‘someone’ but the Lord Jesus, although described as an ‘image’, was at all times God for we read that “in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” [Colossians 2:9] and the Lord could say to Philip “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” [John 14:9].

I am certainly not against taking photographs [‘images’] and also not against watching [suitable] movies, even based on Bible stories, provided that they do not attempt to portray either the ‘invisible God’ or the ‘incarnate God – Jesus Christ’ in some visible form.

I hope this is helpful.

Your servant for Christ

Cecil Andrews ‘Take Heed’ Ministries

  • Subj: Views 
  • Date: 18/03/04 17:45:38 GMT Standard Time
  • From:
  • To:
  • Sent from the Internet (Details)

Dear Sir,

After reading your reviews of the Passion Film … my heart is heavy!

Could you tell me if you are ever positive? This is a Hollywood film – a film that God can use to advance his kingdom. Please wake up, grow up and start to advance the kingdom rather than ALWAYS ridiculing everything & everybody!

Regards, D

Subj: Re: Views 

Date: 18/03/04 22:49:15 GMT Standard Time

From: Takeheed


Dear D,

Thank you for your email and for your response to items posted on our web site concerning the Mel Gibson movie ‘The Passion of The Christ’.

Like you, as I investigated the whole issue of this movie, my heart was ‘heavy’ as I read of those who would claim to be submissive to the Word of God eagerly rushing to ignore what that same Word says on this subject. You ask if I am ever ‘positive’? Well, if you have read the updated article on our web site called ‘The Problem with The Passion’ you will see that I am very ‘positive’ about what God has to say in Deuteronomy 4 in relation to the making of ‘similitudes’ [either male {as in the case of the movie} or female] of God.

Christians must never forget that the Lord Jesus was ‘God manifest in the flesh’ so that rules out any ‘likenesses’ of Him being made for any purpose, no matter how laudable we in our fallen state may think the purpose is. God ‘s thinking and teaching on this issue is quite clear – ‘don’t do it’ – what believers must decide is whether they are going to obey God or disobey God – it’s really as simple as that.

I also made this ‘positive’ statement that you can find in the article by Richard Bennett and Virgil Dunbar and that includes a few comments by myself near the end ‘We must also of course use any openings provided to us by those who do watch the film to FULLY explain the truth of The Gospel’.

You believe that this film, [despite the 55 unscriptural errors that are listed in the Chuck Swindoll article also on our web site – that’s a ratio of about 1 error for every 2 minutes of the movie] which in the light of all these errors cannot possibly be viewed as either good ‘seed’ [Luke 8:11] or a ‘good tree’ [Matthew 7:18], that it is still going to somehow ‘advance’ God’s kingdom – that belief flies in the face of what God’s Word teaches.

God’s kingdom is only advanced when God’s Word [good ‘seed’] is preached to people and God Himself opens their understanding – we learn that lesson very clearly through the details of Luke 24:13-35. There you have the story of 2 people who had witnessed THE REAL Passion of Christ and they didn’t have a clue what it was all about. Only when Christ Himself took them to the Scriptures and taught them [just as the Holy Spirit does today when God’s Word is preached] and gave them understanding did they realise the significance of what happened at Calvary [the real events – not the mystical fabrications of Mel Gibson’s movie]. God’s ordained way for advancing His kingdom is through ‘preaching’ [1 Corinthians 1:21] – not through Hollywood movies.

You tell me to ‘wake up’ and ‘grow up’ – would you have issued these same instructions to that wonderful man of God, A W Tozer, in the light of his article that is posted to our web site? Let me assure you that I am certainly ‘awake’ and by the help of God’s Holy Spirit as I study His Word I am seeking daily to ‘grow’ in both ‘knowledge and judgment’ [see Philippians 1:9].

I commend these thoughts to you.

Your watchful servant for Christ

  • Cecil Andrews
  • ‘Take Heed’ Ministries