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Joined: 2002/12/11
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"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11

 THE PASSION - A Challenge to the CHURCH -by Andrew Strom

[b]THE PASSION - A Challenge to the CHURCH[/b]
[i]-by Andrew Strom. (22 Feb 2004).[/i]

I had the privilege of seeing an advance screening of the 'Passion' movie at a local cinema last night. It is strange, because yesterday I started getting emails from Christians claiming that the film is a kind of 'Catholic conspiracy' and vowing that they would never see it. What hogwash! GO SEE THE MOVIE!!
Sure, there is the odd moment when there is a slight 'Catholic' tinge to things, but it is almost nothing. This film is a majestic and powerful viewing experience that will cause a lot of people to truly consider the claims of Jesus - perhaps for the first time.

Could it cause backslidden believers to turn back to Christ? Yes, I believe so. Could it cause a whole lot of people to start checking out their local churches? Yes, I can certainly see that happening. It is a very powerful film, and I believe God desires to use it greatly.

But here is the crux of the problem. The churches simply cannot carry the 'weight' of this movie. By and large, they represent a different "Jesus" altogether from the one that we see torn and battered in the gospel accounts. A church that has bent over backwards to make its services a "Seeker-friendly" mix of warm homilies and entertaining slickness, has nothing to say to a generation that is seeking the true Jesus of the Bible.

It is just like what happened after 9-11. The people came flooding into the churches seeking a faith that could bear the 'weight' of the momentous events unfolding around them. And they found we had erected a plastic imitation - a shallow, lightweight "Jesus" - complete with ambient 'muzak' and mindless appeals for money. A comfortable Western counterfeit of the real thing. They did not stay for long. And why should things be any different this time?

Every day we hear reports of big churches buying up large blocks of tickets and urging their people to use this film as an "outreach opportunity". I believe it is an 'inreach opportunity'. -A chance for us to look into the face of Christ and find that our shallow pretense of Christianity bears no relation to the real thing whatsoever.

We are nothing like Him - we really aren't.

How incongruous that we plan to use this blood-spattered, shatteringly 'real' movie to invite people back to our comfortable, plush-seated crematoriums - there to be wooed by our utterly "unreal" Sunday pantomimes. I don't think they will be staying long this time either.

As I said, today's Western church simply cannot bear the 'weight' of this movie. It stops our mouths, just as it stops theirs. Our "Jesus" comes out looking like a cheap used-car salesman - for that is what we have made him. We invented him to perfectly fit our 'Laodicean' lifestyle. And so we sit in our lovely buildings with our lovely music and our lovely smiles, wondering why the world cannot get as excited as we do by this plastic Jesus of ours. Meantime, all the earth sighs and groans for the real thing.

Tell me, church, don't you think it is possible that God intends this movie to challenge us,just as it challenges the unbelievers? Will we be deaf to the voice of God, or will we allow him to begin to dismantle this plastic edifice that we have built - this prison of our own making that prevents us from representing the real Jesus as He really is?

Surely the time has come for another 'Great Reformation' in the church. May this movie be just one of many "shakings" that is sent to remove the blinders from our eyes.

God bless you all.

-Andrew Strom.

SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2004/2/27 20:44Profile

Joined: 2003/9/16
Posts: 2
Des Moines, Iowa

 Re: THE PASSION - A Challenge to the CHURCH -by Andrew Strom

Just finished seeing this movie and I would have to echo everything stated by Mr. Strom. He hits the nail on the head when he said the western church cannot support the weight of this movie.

The Lord once used a donkey to rebuke a prophet. Maybe he can this film to rebuke the shallowness of today's contemporary "preacher".

Chris Hotchkiss

 2004/2/28 0:07Profile

Joined: 2004/4/2
Posts: 19

 Re: THE PASSION - A Challenge to the CHURCH -by Andrew Strom

Andrew Strom's article touches a bit on the following column... or should I say, the following column expands a bit on Andrew Strom's article? :-D (I'm a fan of this smiley)

[b]Venomous Gospel Preachers by Ray Comfort[/b]

You may be aware that Hollywood has produced a blockbuster movie centered on the things of God. You may also know that it was directed and produced by a Roman Catholic. While the film was based on Scripture, it contained a number of scenes that cannot be corroborated by the Bible. The movie I am referring to is the ever-popular Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments," staring Charlton Heston. Mr. DeMille was a Roman Catholic, and he took artistic license by portraying Moses as having a romance while he was in Egypt, and actually disguising himself as a Hebrew slave to tread out bricks. I am sure that when the film was released, most Christians rejoiced that from the pit of an immoral industry, godless minds were suddenly reminded that there was a God and that He had a holy Law.

Nowadays, most Christians are rejoicing that amidst the filth of Hollywood, suddenly another movie has been produced that flies in the face of everything for which Hollywood stands. That movie is "The Passion of the Christ." But some are deeply concerned that it was also directed and produced by a Roman Catholic. It also contains artistic license. It has scenes that are from Catholic mysticism rather than from Scripture (the appearance of a raven at the cross, Judas being tormented by children, etc.).

Another concern that some people have is that an onscreen depiction of Jesus is a form of "graven image," and therefore a transgression of the Second Commandment. Those who think that making an image of Jesus on film is breaking the Commandment should read it in full. We are not to make graven images of "any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth." That means that we shouldn't make film images (movie or still photos) of any person, animal, fish, flower, bird, mountain, etc. That doesn't make any sense...until we read the whole Commandment: "You shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them" (Exodus 20:4-5). The Commandment forbids the creation of any image for the purpose of worship.

While we could argue about these issues, I would rather ask you an important question. If someone says, "I'm not a Christian, but I did see the film. Wow! What was all that brutality about?" are you going to reply, "I didn't go to the movie because it was directed and produced by a Roman Catholic. It's idolatrous and it contains things that cannot be corroborated by Scripture, and I therefore think it was evil"? I hope not. I should hope that you instead use the movie as a springboard to explain the way of salvation.

Think of Paul's attitude in Philippians chapter one. Some folks weren't just adding their own mystical thoughts to the message of the cross. They were downright vicious. They were hypocrites who preached Christ out of pretence, envy, strife and "contention." They were devious people who were so full of venom that they wanted to see Paul further suffer--hoping to "add affliction the [his] bonds." Yet what was Paul's attitude to such wickedness? He rejoiced that they preached Christ, despite the horrible baggage that came with the message. He said, "What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yes, and will rejoice" (verse 18).

Do you remember what happened in Mark 9:39-40, when the disciples told Jesus that they had found a man who was casting out demons in His name. This man had a "ministry," but he wasn't with their group, so they took it upon themselves to rebuke him. But Jesus told them to leave him alone. This is because God doesn't need bouncers to help Him carry out His purposes.

If I had had a hand in the making of "The Passion of the Christ," I would have dropped all mysticism, and based it purely on Scripture. Also, (as in the epic movie "Ben Hur"--a wonderful movie) I wouldn't have shown the face of the Savior. But I didn't write, produce or direct it. So I tell myself that this isn't a movie about Jesus being a homosexual. It isn't about him having sexual relations with Mary Magdalene. It doesn't depict Him as merely a man--as did "Jesus Christ Superstar." Instead "The Passion of the Christ" is based on Scripture, with some artistic license. It begins with a powerful Scripture. The whole movie is full of Scripture...and it even ends with the resurrection. Christ is preached, and we should therefore rejoice and be thankful that millions have been graphically reminded of the cross of Calvary in a way they will never forget. That means we can either take advantage of an unprecedented opportunity to use it to speak further with them about their salvation, or we can whine. I choose the former, and I hope you do also.


 2004/4/2 14:12Profile

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