Proclaiming the True Passion of Christ
Rev. Angus Stewart
In Mel Gibson’s film "The Passion of The Christ," a
sinful man acts the part of the Lord Jesus as He suffers the terrible
wrath of God on behalf of His elect church.
Jesus Christ is both God and man. God is spirit and so
cannot be portrayed, and (by God’s will) no one knows what Christ looks
like. Moreover, Christ’s human nature was joined to and assumed by His
divine Person. How can any actor portray that? Also the film presents
Christ with long hair and thus as a sinner, for Scripture says it is a
"shame" for a man to have long hair (I Cor. 11:14).
Such a portrayal of the incarnate Second Person of the
Trinity is condemned by the second commandment as explained in
Presbyterianism’s Westminster Larger Catechism, Q. & A. 109: "The
sins forbidden in the second commandment" include "making any
representation of God, of all or any of the three persons, either inwardly
in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature
Jesus said, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John
14:15). Thus all who love the true God revealed in Scripture and
especially all Presbyterians who believe their church’s confession will
obey the second commandment and reject this idolatrous movie.
The film falsely portrays Mary as mediatrix. The
disciples call her "Mother," and Peter confesses His sin of denying Christ
to her. "The Passion" also presents her as co-redemptress. On several
occasions, Jesus receives strength by looking at Mary. While Jesus hangs
on the cross, Mary kisses His feet and His blood smears on her face. As
she looks up at the cross, Mary asks Jesus, "Let me die with you." When
Jesus says, "It is finished," Mary says, "Amen," as though His atonement
requires her stamp of approval. Thus one critic reckoned the movie should
be named "The Passion of The Christ and Mary."
Though allegedly faithful to the Bible, parts of the
movie’s script (especially the mariolatrous sections) are taken from
The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a book recording the
visions of an eighteenth century German nun and mystic, Anne Emmerich. A
Roman Catholic advertisement for the book states, "Mel Gibson based ...
‘The Passion of The Christ’ on this book ... It is also wonderful on the
Blessed Mother’s role in our redemption."
Mel Gibson, the director, is a devout Roman Catholic,
even attending Latin mass. He believes that "the sacrifice of the cross
and the sacrifice of the altar [the mass] are the same thing." He calls
Mary "a tremendous co-redemptress and medriatrix" with Christ. Of his
movie, he declared, "It reflects my beliefs."
Jim Caviezel, who acts Christ crucified, is an avid
lover of Medjugorje (Bosnia Herzegovina), a site of Marian pilgrimage. He
said, "In preparation [for acting the Son of God], I used all that
Medjugorje taught me." He was given a piece of Christ’s (alleged) cross
which he put in a special pocket so it would always be with him while
filming. On set he was often seen handling his rosary. He also frequented
the confessional and the mass, for he said that he needed the wafer in him
to be like Jesus. On 15 March 2004, Caviezel was blessed by the pope.
"The Passion" is a Roman Catholic film, with a Roman
Catholic director, a Roman Catholic lead actor and a Roman Catholic
message. No wonder Catholic Passion Outreach (a Roman Catholic web site)
declares, "‘The Passion of The Christ’ offers a once in a life-time
opportunity for you to spread, strengthen and share the [Roman] Catholic
faith with your family and friends."
This film does not teach the true gospel of salvation
by Christ alone (not Mary), through faith alone (not by sight; II Cor.
5:7) and revealed in the Scriptures alone (not mystical visions by a
German nun). This film does not show us the heart of the Lord’s
sufferings: God’s pouring out His wrath upon Christ for the sins of His
people (Isa. 53:10). Nor does it teach for whom He died: His elect sheep
and not the reprobate goats (John 10:11, 26).
This film also rejects God’s way of proclaiming the
gospel—preaching—for God has chosen "the foolishness of preaching [not
drama] to save them that believe" (I Cor. 1:21). In faithful preaching—not
idolatrous movies—Christ is "evidently set forth, crucified among you"
(Gal. 3:1). This is "foolishness" to those who "perish," but "unto us
which are saved it is the power of God" (I Cor. 1:18).
"Could you please send me the [CPRF] weekly bulletin.
I was reading the Covenant Reformed News today and read
your [letter] on the Mel Gibson [movie] which is due to be released soon
which included your web site address. I have been questioning whether
this film was right or not and I got my answer in your newspaper article
"I was very interested in your articles concerning
'The Passion of The Christ' film as one of the residents of the home
where I work (for and with younger disabled adults) asked me to
accompany him to see it. I declined on account of its being grounded in
papal superstition and error, so your piece was most helpful to me in
highlighting to him the erroneous and dangerous doctrines and practices
within the film." - England
"I think you hit the nail on the head with your
"I am an
American and a Lutheran ... I recently read your article ... in the
online edition of the Belfast Telegraph
... I would agree ... that there are blatantly Catholic (or as you would
insist ROMAN Catholic) elements to the film not found in the Scriptures
but rather supported by [Roman] Catholic tradition." - Indiana, USA
... to let you know that some, albeit very few, expressed the same
perspective as you do. The vast majority of the leadership of the
American Evangelical Church has gone daft." - USA