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The Passion Of Christ

 

By Dr. Richard Ing

March 22, 2004

 
            A few Sundays ago, I made comments regarding The Passion of Christ movie, taken from excerpts out of an article published by Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph.D., retired Professor of Theology and Church History at Andrews University.  That article was pinned to our bulletin board over a week ago for all those who care to read it.  Some members expressed dismay at my comments because they loved the movie.

            I misquoted one item where the Roman Catholic Church was designated as the only way to salvation and heaven.  I thought it was at the end of the movie, but it was apparently found in several newspaper and magazine interviews with Mel Gibson, the producer and director, a devout Roman Catholic.  My other comments about the movie stand; especially about Mary following along the path up the hill to Golgotha and ministering to Jesus when He fell, her being there when His body was taken down from the cross, Satan being among the crowd and talking to Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, etc.  Gibson and other supporters claim that this is the most accurate movie of Jesus ever made and in strict accordance with the Bible gospels.  This is false.  The overall theme of the movie came directly out of Roman Catholic theology.  The movie is not accurate when compared with the four gospels in the New Testament.

            Some may be of the opinion that the “minor” liberties taken by the director for art’s sake is no problem and that it won’t change anyone’s belief system.  However, I differ on a number of grounds:  (1) it may not have a major effect on people who are already Christians, but may have a negative effect on non-believers and perhaps new converts who do not know the Bible and will take it as “Gospel truth“; (2) the minor liberties are actually Roman Catholic theology, not for art‘s sake; (3) it promotes and bolsters the Roman Catholic Church, the false harlot religion (being essentially Catholic evangelism); (4) it is only a conjecture, but a substantial amount of the profits from the movie will likely end up in the Roman Catholic Church to bring many down to hell; (5) it promotes the Ecumenical Movement by telling Protestants that Catholics worship the same Jesus and are Christians too, since they can find no “substantial“ difference between the Catholic and Protestant versions (therefore, we should emphasize our sameness and forget unimportant differences); and (6) the Roman Catholic Church started with little distortions of the Gospels here and there and ended up with big-time deception.  A little leaven spoils the whole batch.

            God recently warned us against subtle deception.  The Passion is a classic example.  A little distortion here and there and a few liberties taken by the director and the whole thing becomes false.  In a book entitled The Spirit of Truth, written by Arthur Katz and Paul Volk, the authors point out that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth - not “mostly true” or “generally true,” but absolutely and wholly true.  A little untruth taints the truth and makes it untrue.  There is no such thing as 95% true.  It is either all true or all false, just as a door that is a little ajar cannot be mostly closed or a little open.  It is either open or closed.

            One of the authors took a 30 day vacation and visited the large church his friend attended, the latter having asked him to come and listen to a good sermon.  Upon arrival, he saw a bunch of stiff, old people dressed formally on one side and on the other side, some youths dressed in hippie clothes, brightly colored hair, long earrings, nose rings, lip rings, tattoos and boots on both men and women.  He thought it strange.  When it came time for the sermon, the pastor was a great speaker and what he spoke was straight out of the Bible.  But something was not right.  As he prayed over the strange feeling in his spirit, the Lord spoke to him and said, “The truth spoken out of an untrue heart becomes untrue.”  “What do you mean, Lord?”  “This pastor receives a large salary and in his heart he is saying, ‘So long as you take care of me financially, I will take care of you.  I will give a great sermon every Sunday and you can go home happy.  If you don’t push me, I won’t push you.’”  You can quote the Bible accurately, but if your heart is different, it becomes hypocrisy and false appearances.  Intention matters.

SALVATION

            Another deception is that The Passion will bring many into the kingdom of God.  It is true that it will arouse the emotions of many, but it is the Holy Spirit, not a movie, that convicts and draws men to Jesus, and brings genuine conviction and true repentance that cleanses. 

            No one enters into the kingdom of God unless he is first born of water and of the Spirit.  Jn. 3:5.  Can the Roman Catholic Church that claims that only they can bring salvation and the Holy Spirit is not enough, truly save anyone?  Can Catholics, who do not believe in being born of the Spirit enter the kingdom of God?  Jn. 3:4.  Of the people who become “Christians” because of the movie, what percentage will go to the Roman Catholic Church to be doomed forever?

            Another subtle result is that Christians will never get out of the notion that it is the responsibility of the Church to provide programs, social events, movies, plays, etc. to bring people into the kingdom of God.  The truth is that each and every saint has the responsibility to preach the gospel, whether or not the organized church provides movies, plays, or any other forum.  A true saint will evangelize anywhere and everywhere, with or without help from the church or anyone else.  A few months from now, the movie will become pass and Christians will cool down and go back to their selfish and backslidden ways with hearts unchanged.

            As we enter the last phases of the end times, deception will become particularly subtle and cunning.  It will enter inch by inch and before you know it, you will be standing side by side with the enemies of God.  You may disagree with me, but it is my job to be vigilant and to stand on the side of truth.  Some may think that I am being picky and small-minded, but I need to protect the sheep.  I’d rather be overly-protective than under-. 

            While we are not perfect and there are areas in our hearts and minds that do not square up with everything in the Bible yet, we need to keep striving to be God’s pure and true church and to be careful and discerning.  Otherwise, we will be deceived.

OTHER JESUS MOVIES

            What about past Jesus movies?  Have they not been used to bring others into the kingdom of God and weren‘t there some errors in them?  Yes.  There are a few movies that have been used to evangelize the masses.  In non-Christian countries such as India and Africa, these movies have proven to be very useful.  There are a few differences, however: 

            (1) These movies were intended to be evangelistic tools and were not released to the general public as The Passion was.  They were sold to Christian organizations mostly, with the intention that the movie be used as a tool for evangelism in non-Christian countries such as India, China and various African nations.  In most cases, after a viewing of the movie (such as Jesus of Nazareth), an altar call is made and people asked to repent of their sins and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.  These movies never involved the Roman Catholic Church.

            2)  These past movies contained errors that were indeed artistic liberties taken to enhance the story, but they were not taken from the viewpoint of any established doctrines or theologies such as Roman Catholic doctrines that uphold Mary, the mother of Jesus, as co-redeemer worthy of worship.  In The Passion, the “errors” were Roman Catholic theology often garnered from visions received by Catholic saints.  You may not be swayed about the role of Mary, but others may.

            (3)  People who watch these movies come away remembering scenes and conversations in the movie more than they would if they read the Bible.  The movie is a substitute for the Word of truth.  If the movie, errors and all, is implanted in their minds, then untruth has invaded their minds and hearts.  Bear in mind that The Passion is being touted as complete truth.  Even other Jesus movies are subject to this criticism, although the effects are not as fundamental as The Passion’s inaccuracies.  Worshipping Mary and using the visions of various Catholic saints is a substantial error and distortion.

            (4)  What if a Jesus movie was made exactly as stated in the gospels except that Jesus says plainly, “I am not God, never was, and never will be.  Jehovah is the only God and there is no Holy Spirit or trinity.”  Or, what if He says, “I have a brother called Lucifer, and every man that believes in Me shall have his own planet and millions of wives.”  Would Christians rave about the movie?  The Devil is much more clever than that.  First, he lays the foundation carefully by appealing to your emotions.  Then he sneaks in a few artistic liberties and opens the mind to the introduction of false theology.  He might put in a few episodes wherein Jesus says, “Worship Jehovah, the only true God.” or “Do not worship me.  I am only a man.”  Remember, Jesus always claimed to be the Son of God, making Him God and He always claimed to come from heaven.  On the Lucifer issue, a scene might be introduced in which Jesus says, “There is good and evil in every man, good and evil in the world, Lucifer and God in everyone.  So it was from the beginning.”

            (5)  The widespread, overwhelming and enthusiastic raving over the movie by most Christians makes it easier for Roman Catholics to promote their Babylonian brand of theology since all Protestants apparently agree with and see nothing wrong with the movie.  Once new converts join the Catholic church, other false doctrines are easy to instill.  Keep in mind that we are talking about people who are largely uninformed about the differences between Roman Catholicism and Protestants.  If even Protestants agree with the Catholics, why should any Catholic leave and join born-again Christians.  If they do, it will not be because of theology, but for social and other reasons.

            (6)  Roman Catholic theology still embraces the idea that Mary is co-redeemer of mankind and a co-savior, that she is higher than Jesus because she is His mother and deserves to be worshipped even more, that praying the rosary is more important that praying to Jesus, that Mary is the wife of the Holy Spirit, that Jesus is an angry God and His wrath can be quieted only by His mother, Mary, that all religions ultimately worship the same God, whether His name is Buddha, Krishna, Allah or Kane.  Do you agree?

            (7)  It is a trick of Satan to give 95% truth and then introduce the 5% lies after minds and hearts are open to receive lies.  The New Age Movement is filled with such tactics.  They lead you down the path and then introduce false doctrines.  They agree with you that Jesus is God and that they too worship Jesus.  Then they teach you an occult healing method and say that it came from Jesus.  Once your mind and heart are open, it is easy to deceive because you have come to their side.  Deception is going to be even more subtle in the future, and “(I)f it were possible, they shall deceive the very  elect.“  Mt. 24:24.  One world religion is only a step away and you may be unwittingly and vicariously supporting it.


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