Christians not to be Passionate about Gibson's Passion
The Banner of Truth has posted five well-thought-out reasons why Protestant Christians should not see the movie The Passion. One comment made resonates with my own perusals of the past few days:
Lest we forget, the greatest torment that Christ experienced on the cross was not caused by the nails driven into his flesh, but in his being made "sin for us" and vicariously suffering the righteous punishment of the Father in our place. Even the worst physical torments inflicted by the Sanhedrin and the Romans upon Jesus were nothing by comparison to the anguish of having the sins of all the elect imputed to Him and making full satisfaction for them. Satisfying the justice of the Romans on a cross was comparatively easy, thousands of condemned men and women including Spartacus and several of the Apostles did that, but only Christ could satisfy the justice of God.
In addition, I disagree with the notion that Jesus wants us to continually dwell on his physical suffering. He calmed his disciples before his crucifixion by saying:
"I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy." (John 16: 20-22 NIV).
Jesus did not want his followers obsessing about his physical suffering, but instead longed for them to embrace the joy that would follow his resurrection, the joy that would come as they realized his sacrifice meant their salvation.
Another qualm I have with the movie is the Christian community's emphasis that the movie will be a great evangelistic tool. Banner of Truth makes their fourth reason for not seeing The Passion: "Its Medium: Many Evangelical Pastors are hailing movies like The Passion of Christ as part of a new and better way of spreading the Gospel". I agree with the author's assessment that relying on the movie to do the Bible's job is lazy and discounts the power of the written Word. "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing sould and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)
Christians should not think that they can leave evangelism to a movie. No, we have had the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) all along and should have been telling people about the Gospel before Gibson's movie ever came into being. Perhaps some Christians who have never shared their faith before will do so because of this movie, but I find that to be a sad commentary on today's Christians' lack of urgency in spreading the good news, rather than a positive reason for taking advantage of Gibson's movie.
Let the Banner of Truth author offer these final words:
In closing, let me address a common objection, namely that we must use tools like The Passion of Christ in order to reach the lost and that if we don't we are "missing a great opportunity."
Are we really missing an opportunity though? If we are convinced that using a Roman Catholic movie to present the Gospel is in essence a violation of God's law, how could we possibly use it? Should we sin that grace may abound?