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Mel Gibson’s The Passion Of The Christ’

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According to a November 2004 report by The Christian Examiner... Despite predictions that it would become one of the greatest evangelistic tools of its time, Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” failed to capitalize on the opportunity, even though ticket sales made it the eighth highest-grossing domestic film of all time. Those are the findings of a new poll from the Barna Group, a research firm which determined that less than one-tenth of one percent of those who saw the film stated that they made a profession of faith or accepted Jesus Christ as their savior in reaction to the film’s content. More than 1,600 people were surveyed for the poll.

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 Also See Who Put Jesus On The Cross? (Below)

I have a stomach that turns very easily. I have never watched Schindler’s list and switched channels when one of Saddam Hussein’s victims was being interviewed. Which is why it is doubtful that I will ever watch Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ. It is impossible for me to watch any part of man’s inhumanity to man, much less the pitiless and appalling way The Christ died. It is not that I gloss over what really happened but simply that I do not want to throw up in the movie theater.

However one can hardly be unaware of the growing controversy swirling around the movie long before it was released, one which is unlikely to abate anytime soon. Most of the Evangelical world has thrown itself behind the movie with unabashed fervour, perhaps best summed up by this comment:

    “I cannot recall a movie in my lifetime that has precipitated greater anticipation or created more of a stir than this film. Unlike some, I find listening to the discussions and debate surrounding it exciting, because I believe "The Passion of the Christ" has the potential to stir a mighty rebirth of spirituality that I pray will sweep over our nation and the world!” D. James Kennedy, Ph.D.

However even if one were to overlook the dubious origins of some of the scenes in the movie and various other disturbing factors which have been brought to light by various evangelicals, and hope that in spite of all the deviations the movie would be a wake up call for many Christians to realize that the sanitized pictures of Christ on the cross is a million miles away from reality. And perhaps, many lukewarm Christians would become more fervent when they see the uncompromising realism of the scourging and crucifixion … How terrible the price was that the Messiah paid.

However one appalling factor stands out that almost eclipses all other objections to the movie and is impossible to excuse. A completely overlooked detail which makes a mockery of the entire project.. indeed the entire Gospel.... I guess our ‘evangelists’ who have been giving the film rave reviews have been asleep again.

Christians are turning out in record numbers to support a movie starring Italian porn  stars

One has to wonder how it is possible for a Christian of ANY persuasion can see fit to cast not one, but several actresses who are not ‘unknowns’ as has been widely touted, but are extremely well known in pornographic circles. At least three of the actresses have nude pictures spread all over porn websites. A simple search on the internet for any one of these Italian actresses brings up numerous pornographic websites featuring photos of them posing in varying degrees of nudity, partial to full. They seem to be particular favourites on the Italian pornographic website.. Itagirls.

Acording to one report out of a total of 66 adult actors and actresses in The Passion of the Christ, 33 have appeared in movies with graphic sex, pornography, violence, horror or a combination of some or all of these four elements

Monica Bellucci who plays Mary Magdalen was also the star of the shocking movie ‘Irreversible’ which was aired at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002. ‘Irreversible’, directed by Franco-Argentinian director Gaspar Noe, describes a woman's rape and her boyfriend's bloody quest for revenge and includes a 10-minute depiction of sodomy.  ‘Irreversible’ also contains graphic scenes of rape and murder. Critics walked out of the screening, describing it as "sick" and "gratuitous". If fire wardens had to administer oxygen to 20 people who fainted during the film.... It doesn’t get much worse than this. (Read the BBC write-up). Additionally pornographic photographs of Bellucci are plastered all over the internet.

Claudia Gerini who plays who plays Pontius Pilate's wife was virtually unknown to North American audiences, appearing mostly in movie and television productions in Italy until her minor role in Under The Tuscan Sun (2003). Gerini also seems to be very popular on pornographic web sites, leaving nothing to the imagination.

Sabrina Impacciatore plays Seraphia, the woman who offers “Christ” a cloth to wipe his face. Sabrina appears to be another porn star whose nude photos are advertised at just-naked-celeb-movies.com.
 

(InPlainSite.org Note: At the time of writing we confirmed that the pictures were definitely on these sites). I cannot imagine how anyone in their right minds would care whether there is anything else wrong with the Passion beyond the above.... but for those who are interested....

 

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Authenticity According to Whom? The Passion has been portrayed as an authentic portrayal of the Gospel accounts of the last hours in Christ's life and that it sticks closely to accounts of the crucifixion as told in the New Testament. However is this true? The following quotes are from various Christian authors. We suggest you read the entire articles, not just the excerpts.

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Script: The script for The Passion of Christ contains much extrabiblical material, and is based in part on a mystical Roman Catholic devotional work by an 18th century German Nun (Sister Anne Emmerich) entitled The Dolorous Passion of Christ. Gibson stated on EWTN that reading Emmerich's book was his primary inspiration for making the movie. By introducing extra-biblical elements, not only does The Passion of Christ change some of the theological emphases of the Biblical account of Christ's crucifixion, but it will also create a false impression amongst the very 'seekers' that Evangelicals are trying to reach, that things were said and done at the crucifixion that did not actually happen. [1]

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The Sources: "In a New Yorker article entitled "The Jesus War," [2] Gibson disclosed to the interviewer his fondness for an Augustinian nun named Anne Catherine Emmerich, described by a web site dedicated to her as a Mystic, Stigmatist, Prophet and Great Visionary. Her visions were recorded in a book before she died in 1924 called The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Here is the account from the New Yorker piece:

    "When Gibson returned to his faith, he acquired, from a nunnery that had closed down a library of hundreds of books... He says that when he was researching 'The Passion' one evening he reached up for a book, and Brentano’s volume tumbled out of the shelf into his hands. He sat down to read it, and was flabbergasted by the vivid imagery of Emmerich’s visions. ‘Amazing images,’ he said ` ‘She supplied me with stuff I never would have thought of.’ [3]

(One quote from the books which can be found online at www.emmerich1.com says

    “Her angel-guardian used to appear to her as a child; and when she was taking care of sheep in the fields, the Good Shepherd himself, under the form of a young shepherd, would frequently come to her assistance. From childhood she was accustomed to have divine knowledge imparted to her in visions of all kinds, and was often favored by visits from the Mother of God and Queen of Heaven, who, under the form of a sweet lovely, and majestic lady, would bring the Divine Child to be, as it were, her companion, and would assure her that she loved and would ever protect her."

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The Language: The script for The Passion of Christ was translated into Aramaic and Latin by Father William Fulco, an old friend of Mel Gibson's. This was not done for reasons of making it more authentic. The language decisions in the Passion of Christ were made for theological reasons:

"It is crucial to realize that the images and language at the heart of "The Passion of the Christ" flow directly out of Gibson's personal dedication to Catholicism in one of its most traditional and mysterious forms - the 16th-century Latin Mass.

"I don't go to any other services," the director told the Eternal Word Television Network. "I go to the old Tridentine Rite. That's the way that I first saw it when I was a kid. So I think that that informs one's understanding of how to transcend language. Now, initially, I didn't understand the Latin. ... But I understood the meaning and the message and what they were doing. I understood it very fully and it was very moving and emotional and efficacious, if I may say so."

The goal of the movie is to shake modern audiences by brashly juxtaposing the "sacrifice of the cross with the sacrifice of the altar - which is the same thing," said Gibson. This ancient union of symbols and sounds has never lost its hold on him. There is, he stressed, "a lot of power in these dead languages."

Thus, the seemingly bizarre choice of Latin and Aramaic was actually part of the message....intended to link the crucifixion of Christ with what Roman Catholics believe is the re-sacrificing of Christ that occurs in the mass. " [1]

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Mel Gibson’s Beliefs:
Near the end of his long article, "The Jesus War: Mel Gibson & "The Passion" 9-15-03, (Link is now obsolete) Peter J. Boyer gives us this glimpse into Mel Gibson's faith:

    "I told Gibson that I am a Protestant, and asked whether his pre-Vatican II world view disqualified me from eternal salvation.

    "He paused. 'There is no salvation for those outside the Church,' he said. 'I believe it.' He explained, 'Put it this way. My wife is a saint. She's a much better person than I am. Honestly. She's, like, Episcopalian, Church of England. She prays, she believes in God, she knows Jesus, she believes in that stuff. And it's just not fair if she doesn't make it, she's better than I am. But that is a pronouncement from the chair. I go with it.”

Apparently Mel Gibson's beliefs have changed since that interview last September. During his more recent televised appearance on ABC (February 16), Diane Sawyer asked him about his traditional form of Roman Catholicism, which opposed Vatican reforms such as "more inclusion of other faiths." Would Gibson's traditionalist views bar the door to heaven to Jews, Protestants and Muslims?

"That's not the case at all," answered Gibson. "Absolutely not! It is possible for people who are not even Christian to get into the Kingdom of heaven. It's just easier for -- and I have to say this because it's what I believe...."

    "You have a nonstop ticket?"

    "Well, yeah, I'm saying it's an easier ride. I have to believe that." [4]

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Evangelism: “This may be the most important question of all. Does The Passion really communicate the gospel to a postmodern, biblically illiterate population? Many churches are counting on it to do just that. And the people they target -- many of whom are driven by a steady diet of MTV and gratuitous violence -- may be more emotionally prepared for the intense violence than many Christians, especially children. But will they hear the gospel?.... unbelievers cannot be "born again" unless they actually read or hear the gospel. Since they will not hear it in Mel Gibson's movie, multitudes will walk away with their own unbiblical interpretation. The variations of those interpretations will be as diverse as the people who see the movie. Most will adapt it to fit their own worldview -- their mental model or filter for what is acceptable or not. In our postmodern tolerant and pluralistic culture, they are likely to be inclusive in their embrace of the crucifixion. Unless God Himself touches their heart and causes them to seek Him outside their own comfort zone, they will either be blind to any true meaning ....”  [4]

The Passion of Christ has already proven its effectiveness as an evangelism tool in producing Catholic conversions and encouraging Catholic devotion: "In his first nationally broadcast interview about his starring role in Mel Gibson's much-anticipated film "The Passion of Christ," James Caviezel - Gibson's Jesus - detailed on Friday the ordeal of filming the Crucifixion scenes, noting that the overall experience prompted many in the crew to convert to Catholicism."

    "Noting "the amount of conversions on the movie," he said the experience of filming Christ's story "really changed people's lives."

    "Caviezel recalled telling Gibson, "I think it's very important that we have mass every day - at least I need that to play this guy."

"I felt if I was going to play him I needed [the sacrament] in me. So [Gibson] provided that. [1]

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What Will Come of This Movie?

“In the past we have seen evangelistic campaigns come and go, each one being trumpeted as the "greatest evangelistic event of the century" that will "lead to millions being saved" - and what came of them? Nothing!

Over the past years, we have heard time and time again from the so-called "prophets" that a massive new wave would come, that people would be falling down in the streets to worship God, that stadiums would be filled with worshippers and that whole towns would give themselves over to God. And what has actually happened? Nothing!

Since at least 1993 we have been bombarded with promises that the "spiritual anointing" being released into the churches would result in a physical manifestation of the Glory of God, and the birth of a whole new Superchurch capable of converting the world - people who were actually perfected, glorified and immune from harm, spiritual leaders with the wisdom and power to rule the nations!

And what have we seen, apart from a few carefully orchestrated scatterings of plastic gold dust and "feathers", - nothing!... But the danger in abandoning the classic biblical truths, and seeking after a worldwide spiritual awakening, is that sooner or later God Himself will reach the limit of His patience and give men exactly what they have been looking for. It will become a snare both to the leaders and to those who follow in their footsteps. (Tricia Tillin. Banner Ministries)

 

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On The Other Hand
The film has been fiercely denounced as anti-Semitic (as it turns out this has been the least of its problems), and ‘accused of perpetuating stereotypes that will fan hatred against Jews’, because it portrays Jewish authorities as largely responsible for Christ's death. That it could, in theory, transform Christians into ‘snarling, Jew-hating predator’s. But why is belief in the New Testament considered de facto evidence of anti-Semitism? Which brings me to the last and most important point..

Who Put Jesus On The Cross?

Any Christian who sees this movie and feels the stirrings of hatred towards, or even dislike for the Jews has missed the very foundations of our faith and needs to re-examine what they think and believe. The Jews did not put The Christ to death… the Romans did not put Jesus on the cross. The might of the present day army of the United States could not have done this without His willing consent. Had Jesus not embraced His fate He could have called down a legion of angels to protect Him and where would the Romans and Jews been then? No, they were simply instruments of the plan that God Himself put in motion from the beginning of time.

If you want to know who really put The Christ on the cross… Take a deep breath and go stand in front of your bathroom mirror.

The person looking back at you is one of those responsible for the Saviour’s death… He died for your sins.. And Mine.


End Notes
[1] "Five Reasons Not to Go See The Passion of Christ" by Pastor Andrew J. Webb www.providencepca.com/essays/passion.html

[2] www.seethepassion.com/article.php?id=21

[3] John LeGare. "Why I Will Not See 'The Passion of the Christ'" www.informedchristians.com/articles/ART-why_i_will_not_see.htm

[4] Mel Gibson's "Passion" Berit Kjos, February 2004 www.crossroad.to/articles2/04/passion.htm

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Related Articles

A 2004 report in Newsweek magazine says "The writers of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John shaped their narratives several decades after Jesus' death to attract converts and make their young religion, understood by many Christians to be a faction of Judaism, attractive to as broad an audience as possible... And many scholars believe that the author of Matthew, which is the only Gospel to include the "His blood be on us" line, was writing after the destruction of the Temple in 70 and inserted the words to help explain why such misery had come upon the people of Jerusalem. According to this argument, blood had already fallen on them and on their children." [Jon Meacham. Who Killed Jesus? http://www.newsweek.com/who-killed-jesus-131113]

The question that has to be asked is how these ‘scholars’ come to this conclusion? On what basis do they presume to know that this line was inserted at a later date? The truth of the matter is that this statement is not based on anything that even resembles solid evidence, but is simply their opinion, intended to discredit the Bible.

See Are Biblical Documents Reliable... A Corrupted Book?

The Reliability Of The Gospels
While many will die for what they believe to be the truth, who in the world would be willing to be martyred for what they know to be a lie

Dating The New Testament
There is overwhelming evidence that the three Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were written within 20-30 years of the Cross

Also See

 Jesus..Plain And Simple
Who do you believe about Jesus--those who were closest to Him, or those who are two thousand years removed from the events?

Crucifixion Described
Are you callous to its horror by a too easy familiarity with the grim details and a too distant friendship with our Lord.

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