This is to be part one of a few posts with regards to the movie the Passion of the Christ (the Gospel according to Gibson). To say the least, the movie is (1) Roman Catholic, (2) highly speculative, and, (3) has its emphases in the wrong places. Anyone can nit-pick, however, and the film’s flaws have been well documented elsewhere. I recommend (amongst others) this article as a primer for where the biblical, thoughtful Christian should have problems with the movie. That being said, it is not the intention of these posts to slam the movie.

What has moved me to write this series of posts is a recent conversation I had with a friend from work. He approached me–point blank–wondering about the truthfulness of the events depicted in the movie. To be honest, my first thought was, “Oh boy, now where do we start in identifying what was right from what was wrong? How do we separate the fictitious from the factual?”

Almost immediately, however, I had an about-face. Here was an opportunity to share with someone who has very little knowledge of the story of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection what really happened! And then it hit me… Whatever good the Passion of the Christ has done, it seems that it was done in spite of itself. Now, of course, anecdotal evidence I am sure can be provided (as it can be for just about anything). Someone might say, “I heard of a friend’s sister’s mother’s cousin who broke down in tears at that movie, and she never even went to church before!” or some other variant of that story. But the simple fact of the matter is that (1) we cannot be pragmatic (see Brad Powers’ paper on that topic) about how we present the gospel, and (2) God has used an ass to deliver a message before, but that doesn’t make it ideal.

There are also many positives to be drawn from the movie, however. Not the least of which is that Mel stood up for what he believes. Not many in our world today are willing to put their reputation on the line for their religion–Mel was. Moreover, his attempt to reach today’s audience authentically was admirable. Using pop culture’s current medium of choice, Mel brought the message of hope (as he sees it) to the world of today. Many evangelicals (this writer included) need to learn many lessons in the field of how to communicate the story of God’s salvation accomplished in Jesus more effectively to today’s culture.

The problem, as we have noted, is that Mel’s (Rome’s) gospel is no gospel at all. He has openly confessed that salvation is only in the Roman Catholic Church, and many of the details in the movie show how this belief works itself out.

The most important benefit of the movie is that it has given people like my friend and me opportunities to talk about Jesus. Thinking about, talking about, singing about my Saviour are the things that make me happiest in this world. He is my glory and my joy, and Mel gave me one more chance to do that with one more person. So buddy, when you read this, hang in there. Here’s to many more conversations (in person and online, God-willing) about Jesus and what he has done, is doing, and will do.

That’s it for now… to be continued…