Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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More on the Mel Gibson Film:
A Response to Roman Priest Patrick McCafferty

Rev. Angus Stewart


(1) The virgin Mary. Contrary to the claims of Mr. McCafferty, my letter did not object that Mary features "prominently" in Mel Gibson’s film, "The Passion of The Christ." It is true that Pilate, Herod, Annas, Caiaphas, Barabbas, the penitent thief, Judas, Peter, John, Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus are all given more space in the biblical record of the last 12 hours of Christ’s life than Mary (only 3 verses: John 19:25-27), but this is not the key issue regarding Mary.

Mel Gibson’s film presents mariolatry, that is an idolatrous view of the virgin Mary. Indeed, Mary is "blessed among women" (Luke 1:42) so that "all generations" call her "blessed" (48). Her blessedness consists in this: out of all women that ever lived, she was sovereignly chosen by God to conceive and bear Jesus who would "save his people from their sins" (Matt. 1:21). Mary’s blessedness does not lie in her immaculate (or sinless) conception (1854) or her bodily assumption into heaven (1950) as declared "infallibly" by the pope; nor in Mary’s being mediatrix or co-redemptress as portrayed in the film.

Roman Catholic authorities (not just my last letter) demonstrate that the film depicts Mary as co-redemptress with Christ (as Mel Gibson intended). Roman Catholic theologian Dr. Miravalle enthuses, "As Jesus, who is affixed to the cross, is being raised up from the ground, Mary ... rises from her kneeling position in proportion to her son’s being raised on the cross. She then stands bolt upright as her son is now on the gibbet. ... at [the] climactic moment of redemption [Mary says,] ‘Let me die with you!’ ... As the fruit of her sufferings with Jesus, Mary becomes the spiritual mother ... of all humanity redeemed at Calvary ... [Mary] offers this suffering with her son ... to buy back the human race from sin." Miravalle concludes, "Gibson has achieved a Marian feat ... Mary co-redemptrix has been given her ... international film debut ... and it’s a hit."

Mr. McCafferty appeals to John 19:27 where Christ speaks to John regarding Mary: "Behold thy mother!" In Christ’s (bodily) absence, John is to look after Mary as if she was his physical mother. Thus she is not the mother of all the other disciples. Nor is she their (or anybody’s) "Mother" (capital "M"), for in the film "Mother" Mary is the co-redemptress with Jesus to whom Peter confessed his sin of denying Christ. Gibson (and Roman Catholic theology) is declaring Mary as the "Mother" of the church to whom we must pray and confess sin. However, Mary, like all the other members of the church, is a sinner saved by grace (Luke 1:47) through Christ, the "one mediator between God and men" (I Tim. 2:5).

(2) Christ. In acting the sinless Christ (God incarnate!) suffering Jehovah’s almighty wrath against the sins of His elect church, Jim Caviezel broke the second commandment as explained in Presbyterianism’s Westminster Larger Catechism 109 and the Irish Articles of Religion adopted by the Church of Ireland (1615): "All manner of expressing God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost in an outward form is utterly unlawful" (article 53). Those who attend the film—whether for masochistic entertainment or (false) evangelism—approve, pay for and participate in the blasphemy. The issue is not whether people will "worship Jim Caviezel" as Mr. McCafferty misrepresented my argument.

(3) Scripture. One analyst identified 55 inaccuracies in the film, some worse than others and many taken from the visions of the mystical German nun, Anne Emmerich. This is bad enough with a human book, but God guards His Word jealously. Scripture says, "Add thou not unto his words, lest ... thou be found a liar" (Prov. 30:6) and partake of divine "plagues" (Rev. 22:18-19).

(4) The mass. Mr. McCafferty closes with a reference to the mass. In the mass—the heart of Roman Catholicism—a priest (allegedly) performs a miracle by changing the wafer into the literal, physical body and blood and divinity of the Lord Jesus (transubstantiation). The wafer is then to be worshipped—more idolatry!—and eaten.

Mel Gibson’s film and the Roman Catholic defence of it show that Rome’s idolatries in her views of Jesus Christ, Mary, Scripture and the mass are inseparably intertwined.