THOUGHTS FROM A SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST
I have had feedback from a lawyer who saw it last night. He is Catholic. He would not take his children to see it, after viewing it, and he does not plan to see it again. He described it as entertainment, not religious. He called it, "purely Hollywood." He described Christian youth groups arriving and cutting in line. He was put off by the tents for counseling after the movie. He did find some good. He recognized his own temptations to deny Christ, by the account of Peter. He also felt it put his own small irritations in a better perspective. He did however, believe these positive effects were only based on feelings which would pass away soon enough.
I have found ten reasons why this Hollywood production should not be seen.
1. Based on the reviews which I have read and had related to me, it is not faithful to the Bible account.
a. It is a glorification of Mary (very Catholic in this). In nearly every review, it is Mary that is mentioned along with Jesus.
b. It invents scenes that are not in the Bible (Mary's flashbacks, for example).
c. It does not take into account the additional light from the Spirit of Prophecy insights.
2. It is a gross and complete mischaracterization of the death of Christ.
a. It cannot depict the wrath of God against sin. Christ's death is not primarily about the wrath of man against God, but the wrath of God against sin. This is not about a man who died a horrible first death, but about God's Son, who suffered the second death.
b. It is a false representation of Jesus. NO human can correctly portray Christ with His looks of genuine love, sorrow, compassion, forgiveness, peace, humility, etc. The "jesus" this movie portrays is the "jesus" invented by Satan to prepare the masses to accept him when he counterfeits Christ's coming. This is an impure, unclean, imperfect "jesus" that could be acceptable only by those who do not know the real Jesus.
c. It cannot begin to reveal the real suffering of Christ, which was not physical, but primarily the suffering of love from a broken heart. It can not portray the real suffering of Christ and His Father at the separation sin caused between them. It cannot reveal the anguish of Christ as He sees Satan taking control of those He is dying to save. It cannot show the pain that Jesus experienced whenever He witnessed sin, the pain even He never could fully conceal.
d. It can not portray the depth of passion and hate of the Jewish leadership nor the frenzy of the mob, whipped up by Satanic beings in human form.
e. It cannot properly portray the followers of Jesus with the full emotions of utter disillusionment, surprise, disappointment, and depression.
f. It can not depict the terror and guilt of the multitudes as the earthquake strikes, nor the judgments of God against the city of Jerusalem as the lightening flashes moved from Calvary to Jerusalem.
g. It does not portray the searching of Scripture that the death of Christ engendered, nor does the movie create a thirst for Bible study.
3. It appeals to the "feelings" of the viewers.
a. Viewers may confuse a sense of sympathy for Jesus for a genuine religious experience built on faith. Jesus warned the women weeping for Him, "Weep not for Me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children." Lu 23:28.
b. Viewers may also confuse an emotional high, with tears, for a genuine surrender of the life to Jesus. When the high wears off, as it will, viewers ever after may seek further emotional highs and consider nothing less than this to be a genuine experience. Viewers will be less responsive to the genuine gospel story and consider it boring, since it doesn't stimulate the senses in a harmful way? (see #7 below).
4. It confuses the external appearance for internal reality.
a. It may harm the actors by deluding them into believing they are doing something very wonderful and spiritual. Instead of spending their time in developing Christlike characters, they spend their time in mere externals, speaking a dead language, dressing up in "ancient" dress styles, etc.
b. It may harm viewers by encouraging an external exactness to form in place of a living faith. Thus the director, Mel Gibson, had a daily mass on site, so the work would be "squeaky clean."
5. It turns the gospel, which Jesus says must be preached, into a another "gospel" which can be acted.
a. It does not lay the axe at the root of the tree, condemning the Hollywood system, rather it suggests that the Hollywood system is fine and can and should be used by the church to convert the world.
b. It suggests that Hollywood methods, with actors, theaters, advertising and public relation approaches are a solution, not a problem.
c. But the result will not be the conversion of the world to the church, but further conversion of the church to the world.
6. Instead of founding a sacrificial ministry, this movie turns the greatest Gift, freely offered, into a money-making business.
a. The money expended to view this movie is lost to the cause of God. It does not feed the hungry, clothe the naked, or advance the cause of God. The profits from this movie will be used to strengthen the hold of Hollywood on our nation and the world. It will help theaters stay open and actors continue their acting careers.
b. It seeks the approbation of religious leaders to further a marketing plan.
c. We should never forget that it was religious leaders who lead the people to crucify Jesus. Could the religious leaders be performing the same function again?
7. It appeals to the voyeuristic instincts and morbid curiosity of man who delight to see the "unusual" and view violence and crime. The movie will cause deep emotional scarring to those who choose to view it.
a. If a prophet warned of "highly wrought" written descriptions, what should our concern be for "highly wrought" visual scenes? "There are statements and pen-pictures which set the imagination upon a train of thought that has been deleterious and positively injurious. These highly-wrought pictures have taken hold of nervous, susceptible youth, and they have lived them over and over again in imagination. It has destroyed appetite for the Bible, and the desire to attend prayer-meetings; for everything was stale and without interest after feasting upon the diet found in this book. The food taken into the mind was of such a character that heavenly and divine things found no place in the thoughts, and the imaginations were evil. This laid the foundations for a train of evils, and the imaginations became intensely excited, and the thoughts would recur again and again to immoral subjects which led to sin of licentiousness and impurity, to disobedience, to secret plannings, and to deception." 6MR 257.
b. The result will be a hardening of hearts and a further preparation of the public to enjoy the persecution of saints. It will make viewers less appreciative of a simple Bible study. Like spicy foods or amphetamines, this will make people demand more sensational entertainment to stimulate and temporarily satisfy them.
c. The commanding angels refused to watch the agonies of the Son of God, should we?
d. God Himself surrounded His son with darkness to hide His expiring suffering, should this not be respected?
8. It particularly breaks down the barriers between the Southern Baptists, who are actively promoting it, and the Catholics who produced it, thus hastening the union of Catholic and Protestant, and lessening our days to freely give the genuine gospel.
9. Jesus warned that in the future false "christs" would arise and deceive many. He warned us not to go to see these popular and acclaimed "christs." If we go to movies, simply because lots of people go, and many leaders, even confused Adventist leaders recommend it, are we setting ourselves up to continue to blindly follow others and ultimately accept the greatest actor of all time, Satan, when he comes as "jesus?"
10. With the clear instruction Adventists have been given we place ourselves on Satan's ground when we view such a movie. Like Eve, who tried the fruit from the forbidden tree, we will be deceived and used by Satan to deceive others. When God tells us not to do something, but we decide we will go see it, to see if it is harmful, we are placing ourselves above God. Satan can easily fool us.
I close with a very solemn quote.
"I tell you now that you must have divine enlightenment. If you do not seek this, Satan will set up his hellish banner right in your homes, and you will be so blinded to the real nature of his deceptions that you reverence it as the banner of Christ. If you seek God with contrition of soul, His angels will be round about you, and will minister to you, helping you to discern between the sacred and the common. But a nominal faith, a nominal religion, will find no favor with God." 1888 Manuscripts, page 505.
By Dr. Mills