By Don Fortner
None who know me will be surprised to hear that I have no intention of going to see Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of Christ. But the movie has been so passionately promoted by the media and so passionately endorsed by religious leaders across the nation that I feel constrained to state my concerns about it.
Many Protestant and Baptist religious leaders, as well as Roman Catholic, not only endorse the movie, but even see its showing as an excellent means of evangelism and teaching. The fact that Billy Graham and James Dobson are among them ought to raise red flags before anyone who believes the gospel.
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. It is purely a piece of Roman Catholic propaganda, intended to teach exactly what the papists teach in their mass. Gibson, being the devoted papist he is, asserts "the sacrifice of the cross and the sacrifice of the altar (mass) is the same thing." This movie was made by a devoted papist, with the advice of papist theologians, and is endorsed by Pope John Paul II. Is that not enough to say, "Believer, beware, there is deadly poison here for your soul and for the souls of your children"?
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." Still unconcerned?
Gibson stated, on the Eternal Word Television Network (a papist television network) that his inspiration for the movie's script was a book written by a German nun, Anne Emmerich, called The Dolorous Passion of Christ. The word "dolorous" means pain, sorrow, and grief. Gibson used the facts revealed in John's Gospel to surround the fabrications of nun to cleverly make the fabrications look like facts. That is nothing new to Rome. That is exactly what the Apocryphal books do. They add human fabrications to the Word of God to make the fabrications look like the truth.
The Passion of Christ is pure papacy and Mariolatry masked as historic drama and entertainment. It is to be released on the papists' holy day, Ash Wednesday.
Real Tear Jerker
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).
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.
Perhaps you think, "The Lord might use this movie to bring some to faith in Christ." After viewing this movie, I am sure that many will convert to papacy and some may unite with Protestant and Baptist churches; but none will be converted by it. None were even converted by watching the actual event of the crucifixion.
The physical sufferings of Christ, those things inflicted upon him by wicked men, did not accomplish our redemption and satisfy the justice of God. Our redemption was accomplished by our Redeemer's death, when he, by his one sacrifice for sin, satisfied the wrath and justice of God and put away the sins of his people. But it is not by his death alone that we are saved, justified, and declared holy and righteous before God. His death was but the finishing work of his life of obedience as our Representative and Substitute, by which the Son of God brought in everlasting righteousness for us.
Gospel preaching, not drama, is God's ordained means of calling his elect to faith in Christ. Salvation cannot be had without it. And gospel preaching is not reminding people of the historic fact of the cross and the physical agonies of our Redeemer on the cross. Gospel preaching is the declaration of justice satisfied and redemption accomplished by Christ's sin-atoning death. 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.
Do I plan to see the movie? Not until snow falls in central Kentucky in July. If that should happen, I'm still not going to see this movie; and I urge you not to do so. The cross is over. The sufferings of Christ are finished. Redemption is done. It does not need reenactment, but proclamation. The reenactment of the crucifixion is nothing less or more than the observance of the superstitious papal mass served up Hollywood style.