Friday, February 27, 2004

Reply to Dr. James White's "Random Thoughts" on The Passion

From his website / blog, 2-25-04 (White's words will be in blue):

Random Thoughts on The Passion

OK, saw it.

Yes you did, but you have seen "with" but not "through" the eye, as William Blake would say.

. . . 1) When Jesus said "I AM" to the soldiers, they fell back upon the ground. Why on EARTH delete that even when Jesus says "I am"?

This seems to have been overlooked. Perhaps it is a sinister Catholic plot?

2) "It is accomplished" and "It is finished" are not, in the context of the atonement, the same things.

That's interesting, since in the KJV, John 19:28, using the same word, "teleo," reads, ". . . all things were now accomplished." They gave Jesus vinegar, and He said "it is finished" (19:30). It's not rocket science to see that it is the same thing. NEB translates 19:30 as "accomplished."

Strong's Concordance gives as a possible rendering of the word for "finished", "teleo" (word # 5055): "accomplish," along with several other synonyms. "Teleo" is translated as "accomplish" in the KJV at Luke
12:50, 18:31, and 22:37. Much ado about nothing . . .

3) Jesus was wearing clothing when He came out of the grave. *Not* the way to end.

He wasn't wearing the same clothes He was buried in (see John 10:6-7), and the film doesn't show Him leaving the tomb, so this is a non sequitur.

4) The apostles addressed Mary as "Mother"?

Why not? After all, Jesus told John that she was his mother (Jn 19:27).

5) Mary had supernatural knowledge even prior to the coming of the Spirit?

Yes; it is called the Annunciation. The angel Gabriel came to her and told her she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit and would bear the son of the Most High. What do you call that? "Natural knowledge"? It is also written that Simeon was "inspired by the Spirit" to speak about Jesus to Mary (Lk 2:27; c. 2:26). That ain't "natural" either, and it is the same Holy Spirit.

6) Relics, relics, and more relics (straight out of Emmerich).

Straight out of the Bible too: Elisha's bones raised a man from the dead; Peter's shadow and Paul's handkerchief healed people, etc.

Stations of the cross,

Heaven forbid any Christian meditate on the cross. The Greeks thought it was foolishness. Funny that certain anti-Catholic Reformed Baptists would, too.

"St. Veronica," the whole nine yards.

I saw nothing whatever contrary to the Bible in the movie. I don't see you condemning the host of Protestant beliefs that can't be found in the Bible, such as altar calls and church buildings. The canon of Scripture is an extra-biblical tradition. Is that to be condemned too because it isn't in there?

7) We might well see the founding of the Roman Anti-defamation League as a result of this.

That, too? If anything, Pilate was portrayed too sympathetically.

8) What on EARTH was that hideous baby thing in the devil-woman's arms?

A demon who was mocking the nurturing love of a mother at the worst time in Jesus' life. What did you think it was? A Muppet?

9) Most, but not all, of the overt Roman Catholic elements were kept at the "subtle enough not to catch the mind of the evangelical, prominent enough to assure the Roman Catholic that all is well" level.

Thankfully, the Passion of Christ itself is often an "overt Roman Catholic element" since Protestants of your sort have been minimizing it for hundreds of years. Why they do so, I have not the slightest inkling, as it is the central act of redemption in salvation history, and central in the New Testament.

10) The emotional element was not quite as strong as I expected, but then again, I have never gone into a film more primed to be watching it closely, so I am hardly a meaningful barometer. Besides, I'm Scottish.

Me, too. And I had to wipe my eyes three times. Even anti-Catholicism could not blind one to the exceptional power and profundity of this film.

11) Will I think of this film at the next Lord's Supper? Probably.

Good.

12) Will I envision Jesus as Jim Caviezel? No. Not for a moment. Not once during the film did I make that connection. That was Jim Caviezel up there, not my Lord.

No kidding? Likewise, your caricature of yourself on your blog is a painting, not you. You don't need to point that out; nor do you need to remind anyone that an actor is not Jesus.

13) Will the emotions over-run commitment to the why of the cross, leaving people emotionally committed to whatever traditional lens through which they viewed the film? For many, yes.

Why do the two have to be opposed to each other? How could a Christian not be emotional, in seeing portrayed the biblical theme of God's unfathomable love for us?

14) Does the film open the door for proselytization of "evangelicals" by zealous Roman Catholics? Yes and no. Outside of the unbiblical and extraneous Marian elements, the issues are what they were before the film was released, and, sadly, evangelicals remain just as ignorant of the importance of sound doctrine regarding God's purposes in the atonement as they were before. This just opens up more opportunities either for that ignorance to be corrected, or, negatively, to be taken advantage of.

I have no idea what you're talking about. The movie had nothing about the four spiritual laws or TULIP. It presented the gospel in its original meaning: "Good News" (i.e., Jesus died for us so we can be saved and go to heaven and be reconciled to God).

15) Could an evangelical successfully "filter out" the extraneous stuff? I suppose so, but it would take a conscious effort.

One you obviously did not pull off . . .

So, to see or not to see? Tough call. It is culturally relevant. A person who has seen it is in better position to speak to its issues than one who has not. On the other hand, it is not nearly as accurate as we were told; it is truly a prize for Rome, and it may well bother many believers with its portrayal and presentation. If you go, don't go because of the herd mentality. Go realizing what you are seeing, or don't go at all.

Thanks for the advice. At least you are not an iconoclast. You watch movies to keep up to cultural speed. Good for you.

Did you say anything at all good about the film? If so, I missed it. But you did say it was "random thoughts," so I look forward to unrandom coherent thoughts from you.

God bless,

Dave

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