Tuesday, July 29, 2003
A few weeks ago, I defended Mel Gibson's upcoming movie,
Passion," against unwarranted criticism. After having had
privilege of attending a private screening of the movie in
I am even more convinced of its value.
The movie, which depicts the final 12 hours in the life
Christ, was so deeply moving and profound one cannot do
it by attempting to describe it in words.
The closest I can come to a description is to say that
makes you feel almost like a live witness to the historical
(abbreviated from 12 hours to two hours) as they unfolded.
not like watching a movie from a detached perspective, but
being inescapably drawn into the realism of the action.
No punches are pulled here, no emotions are spared, no
sensitivities are coddled. It is a depiction of suffering,
passion and raw, uncensored violence visited on one man (and
who volunteered for the indescribable torment out of His
I am sure that Gibson chose stark realism not for the
shock and awe or sensationalism, but to recreate as accurate
portrayal of the historical events as humanly possible. The
sees the scourging because there was scourging, he sees
because there was blood, he sees pain because there was
Ironically, many of the attacks on the project are based
alleged inaccuracy. Some Christian "scholars" are panning
without having seen it and based on a purloined and now
movie script, because of its dubious historicity and
Gibson erred, they say, not by deviating too much from
but by trying to adhere to it too closely. These "experts"
they know better than the eyewitnesses to the events what
didn't happen and what Jesus did and didn't say. Manifestly,
quarrel is not with Mel Gibson, but with the Bible.
As "The Passion" makes clear in terms I could never
express, the Gospel message is not reserved for Ph.D.s and
scholars. It is simple enough for children to understand,
profound enough to rescue the entire human race and all of
Certain Jewish groups are criticizing the movie, saying
anti-Semitic and will inflame anti-Semitic sentiments among
who view it. While anti-Semitism in the world is real and
witnessed a disturbing resurrection of its infernal
throughout the world in recent years, this movie is not an
of it. Quite the opposite.
The movie endeavors to show the historical events "as
down," without any editorial comment or innuendo, and
without judgmentalism. It is not about blame and finger
but love and redemption. It does not convey a message of
condemnation, but universal hope. After all, as sinners, we
culpable in Christ's death, as Gibson points out, careful to
his own responsibility.
I believe one of Mel Gibson's main purposes is to use the
he knows best to spread the Gospel message, which is
of love and eternal life. And the way Gibson has decided to
that message is to focus on the price Christ paid to redeem
We are so removed from Christ's suffering that we could,
careful, view the Gospel as a mere mathematical equation.
sacrificial death of the sinless God-incarnate cancels out
present and future sins of all those who place their faith
But this is real life, not an abstract exercise.
God didn't just zap out man's sinfulness by divine edict.
God of perfect justice and unlimited mercy, He had to deal
? that is, physically and spiritually deal with it. The Son,
still 100 percent God, humbled and demeaned Himself to
to suffer all the indignities of human existence, to become
separated from the Father with whom He was united in perfect
and harmony, and to suffer His full wrath for the sum of all
We must understand that for this equation to work, for
redemption to be possible, Christ's suffering, His anxiety,
despair, His sense of betrayal and His separation from the
had to actually occur in the flesh. "The Passion" emphasizes
reality of Christ's substitutionary suffering in the flesh.
that words alone cannot articulate, "The Passion" homes in
full value of the ransom Christ paid for all of us in the
demonstration and act of love ever exhibited.
Copyright 2003 Creators Syndicate, Inc.
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