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The Persecuted Church


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Jesus, popcorn, a soda and...

Here we go again, we have a movie of the story of Jesus with the cooperation of other evangelicals who have very large churches.

The Son of God movie promoters are renting out movie theaters just as they did for Mel Gibsons movie “the passion of the Christ.” The Hollywood Reporter tells us 'Son of God': Churches, Religious Groups Snap Up Almost 500,000 Tickets in Weeks Before Christ Film Debut. Film charity Compassion International tells THR it bought 225,000 seats in 40 cities and Jerry Falwell's Liberty University is giving thousands of tickets away.

It opened on 3,100 screens nationally.

If you can remember 10 years ago (time flies) influential professing evangelical Christians promoted it as the greatest evangelical tool. Mel Gibson told us after the movie had been seen its purpose was to draw people to Mary, and the Catholic church; it was used as a Eucharist celebration. Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, who denounced Mel Gibson's “Passion” film, gave an endorsement to this movie.

Roma Downey along with her husband Mark Burnett, now bring Jesus to the big screen with their new film Son of God. They are both Roman Catholics and she is also known to be heavily involved with New Age beliefs. Roma played the angel on the TV show “Touched by an Angel” and she plays Mary in this film. Footage shot during production of History Channel's ten-part miniseries “The Bible” is being used. The History Channel’s “Bible” miniseries, was a dramatization of selections from Genesis to Revelation. It was the most-watched entertainment telecast of 2013, with a record-breaking 14 million viewers on the night of its finale.

Morgado who played Jesus in the TV Bible miniseries is seen from Jesus’ birth through his teachings, crucifixion and resurrection. This Jesus of the big screen is a looker, hardly descriptive of what he really was like (plain and ordinary looking) Isa. 53:2 “He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.” Can we expect anything different from a Hollywood production? After all it helps the message to have someone attractive to look at.

Mark Burnett comments in his Interview with Fandango, “The real goal for us was to deliver a big cinematic feature film experience that in a couple of hours transports you to walk in those shoes.”

Downey adds, “Jesus hasn’t been on the screen for 10 years since the Passion of the Christ, almost 50 years since the greatest story ever told which told his entire life story.”

They say their intention is to reach out, specifically to other faiths to tell the story of the life of Jesus. Will it play for the choir or will it reach its target audience of the “unsaved” (if that is their intention).

The commercializing is well prepared as they want you to share this with your church, they have thought of just about everything. They have e-mailers, group tickets, poster and flyers, bookmarks and Bible planners, 21-day devotional series from American Bible Society, discussion guides. Small group studies are available by Saddleback church. One study states “The Israelites had been waiting for the Messiah for thousands of years” Well not quite, since Moses came 1,500 years before Christ (Missing The Messiah | Read: John 18:28-38)

They took advice from academics, theologians and church leaders; like Joel Osteen, who was one of the advisors on this movie. The list continues with Rick Warren/Saddleback, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez/National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Donald William Wuerl/ Archdiocese of Washington D.C., Bishop T.D. Jakes / The Potter’s House,Dr. Cynthia Hale/Ray of Hope, Richard Mouw/Fuller Theological Seminary, Dr. Miroslav Volf/Yale University, Anthony Basil Taylor/ Diocese of Little Rock.

Can anything good (or accurate) come from the neo – evangelicals and liberals?

The endorsements are numerous:

“The best I've ever seen.” Rick Warren 
“Engaging and compelling.”Cardinal Wuerl, Washington DC
“You'll be enthralled and inspired.” Bishop TD Jakes
 ”An epic work.”Joel Osteen

Bill Hybels, Luis Palau, T.D Jakes, Mark Driscoll, Max Lucado, Edwin McManus and Pat Robertson and numerous others are all on board. It’s shameful, but expected that all these would approve without looking under the surface. False or inaccuracy is acceptable, after all they are doing an outreach, right. Some may excuse the changes as creative liberties, but whatever affects the gospel is accursed.

The scenes are filmed in Morocco, and transport you back to the time period by its stunning scenery. But what of the content? While we would hope for accuracy, it’s hard to expect that from those involved. No doubt there will be portions that are emotionally stirring and are accurate; they may even make you weep. But what of the content?

When we first see Jesus on screen, he approaches Peter only on the Sea of Galilee and asks if he needs help. He gets in his boat and they push out into the water to catch fish, Peter says “I’m telling you there’s no fish out there. Peter throws his net out Jesus looks over the side and swirls his hand in the water. Peter then pulls in a full net catch saying “How did this happen?” Jesus says to him come with me: Peter asks, “What are we going to do?” Jesus says, “Change the world.”

“Give me and hour and I will give you a whole new life.” Like a line from a motivational speaker;

Did Jesus come to change the world! NOT so. His concern was people; He came to save us from the penalty of sin. that was his purpose for being born a man.

There are other scenes changed from the Scripture, one wonders if they were going by memory instead of having a Bible opened.

When Jesus receives news that John the Baptist had been killed, he sulks with the disciples. He says to them, “John was the greatest teacher I ever knew.” What Jesus actually said, “I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” He never said John was the greatest teacher.

Scenes are made extra biblical for emphasis on evil, for example Pilate fools a bunch of Jews into gathering for a protest, and he ambushes them having them beaten and killed.

Mary is part of the inner group of disciples. Are there 13 disciples in this movie? Mary is the only woman with the other 12 wherever they go. What’s that all about? The Bible purposely had 12 men to represent the 12 tribes of Israel.

While some will make some significance out of the number 13, the point is: Mary reproves the others as she is found in places the real Mary was not.

When Jesus said it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. In the film this is spoken without the rich young ruler who asked Jesus what he must do to be saved (Matthew 19:16-30, Mark 10:17-31). In the film He says, “The most important thing is that you love your neighbor as you love yourself.” That’s not the greatest command --the greatest command is (first) to love the Lord with all your heart, mind, and strength, and the second command is like it: to love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:34-40)

We could be accused of splitting hairs except this occurs too many times throughout the film.

Jesus with Martha enters the tomb of Lazarus who died,  (who's face is seen unwrapped). He touches and breathes on his head.  Scripture is quoted and suggesting for Lazarus to rise. Then Jesus weeps after. Biblically he wept before and stood outside the tomb to call Lazarus with a loud voice, not entering the tomb. All three emerge from the tomb, with the crowd cheering.

The Lord is shown laughing and enjoying his Passover meal with his disciples. Jesus is not seen serving the disciples as the lowest of servants to give them a last example of how they are to act.   In the film, Jesus does not know until the last supper that Judas would betray him.  He suddenly has a vision of being betrayed by Judas. With a look of surprise he tells the disciples that he is going to be betrayed, suffer and die.  But in the Scripture Jesus always knew this, he foretold His suffering and death to them several times in his ministry before this.

Jesus actually turns to Judas to convince Judas to betray him. Judas tearfully refuses. Jesus insists that Judas do it, and do it quickly. Reluctantly, Judas obeys. The other disciples are also aware of Judas' betrayal without a vision ( they were not aware of this in real life Mt.26:1).  Peter tries to stop him, but Jesus tells Peter to let him go. Jesus talking Judas in betraying him is actually a betrayal of the word by the film makers. It is one of the more  offensive changes to Scripture, for in the Bible Jesus said early on "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?"(John 6:70)

Judas is depicted as being fooled by the high priest and we see Judas throw his money at the feet of Roman soldiers, not the temple floor.

Jesus tells his disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” the rest of  John 14:6 is missing, which is crucial – “no one comes to the Father except by me.”  At the last supper he passes the bread saying, “This is my body.” Then the cup saying, “This is my blood. Remember me.” But does not explain what they represent -- the forgiveness of sins.

How much more can one get wrong on this is questionable. Is this the result of the advisors or the producers?

After the supper is over, Jesus says that all of the disciples will desert him. Peter follows Jesus out of the room and says he will never deny Christ and will even die with him. Then Jesus has a vision that Peter will actually deny him three times. Its as if he sees the future by vision each time before it happens.

John Mulderig reviewed the movie for the Catholic News Service “Catholic viewers will also appreciate the unqualified acknowledgement of St. Peter (Darwin Shaw) as the leader of the Apostles as well as scenes highlighting Mary's (Roma Downey) closeness to her son. And, though the portrayal of the Last Supper seems somewhat noncommittal as to the meaning of the Eucharist, a rough-and-ready celebration of the sacrament is shown to be the chosen moment for the Lord's first post-Resurrection appearance to the Twelve.

We are told, to avoid controversy the Satan/ Obama look alike was omitted, “For our movie, 'Son of God', I wanted all of the focus to be on Jesus. I want his name to be on the lips of everyone who sees this movie, so we cast Satan out. It gives me great pleasure to tell you that the devil is on the cutting-room floor.”  (http://www.aceshowbiz.com/news/view/00068485.html#ixzz2vKTdmxM1)

The Devil is on the cutting room floor (not really, he was actively influencing you to mix things up). Satan being out of the movie - must have his approval.

After supper Jesus is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, and begs God, “Spare me!” Certainly over the top embellishment of what is NOT in the Bible. We do not see him sweating drops of blood concerning what He is about to do as he surrenders to God’s will, to take upon himself the sins of the world.

When questioned by Pilate about him being a king and having a kingdom he never looks at him until the end, apparently his beating has made him irresponsive.

There are so many scriptures out of place of where they were actually said. While carrying his cross, Jesus falls and his mother runs over to him. Jesus tells her, “Everything is possible with God.” Jesus actually said this in response to the rich young ruler leaving, when his disciples asked him “Who then can be saved? They omit “With man, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.”

You would think they would want to get the crucifixion right and make the message of why Christ died perfectly clear: The atmosphere around the crucifixion is silence, hardly what happened. When Jesus says he's thirsty, a guard gives him water on a sponge, not sour wine. In the film the earthquake happens before Jesus died, not after.

After the time passes Mary Magdalene goes by herself and enters the empty tomb. Scripture mentions several women with her (Mk.16:1), and Mary did not enter but met Jesus in the garden.

Before he ascends into heaven Jesus’ Great Commission to the disciples is to go and preach the gospel;  making disciples and baptizing is eliminated. Then he disappears. Peter says, “We have work to do,” and off to work they go. But it is not the end...

The film finishes with Jesus appearing to John in exile. The Apostle John has been looking back narrating it from the Island of Patmos. At the close of the movie, John's narration is interrupted by Jesus who appears smiling saying, “There will be no more death, pain and crying ... I am coming soon.” Then He disappears.

The movie does not give the reason why Jesus came to earth; to die on the cross for payment of our sin. Christ's blood shed as an atonement for sin to satisfy the wrath of God against unrighteousness is not explained, so what is the message? Its not repentance, that’s missing too.

The filmmakers did not stay true to the text but depended on the scenery and costumes and acting to carry the “big cinematic feature film experience.” The disciples are subdued; Jesus is constrained from passion, as if God is not to show too much emotion through his human form.

What did it accomplish? With all the unbelievers chiming in on blogs it certainly appears it was not as a successful outreach to them as the church planned. Much like the disappointment of the Passion movie (which many of the same adherents were involved with). So it played to the choir and they supported it and enjoy it. Hurray for Hollywood.

What I and others would like to see is the same effort put into equipping people to speak and explain the gospel, is that too much to ask?

How did we allow movies to do our representation of Jesus to the world - Has the church become this lazy and numb to not be able to bring the gospel to friends and family that we have to rely on Hollywood productions? Why do so many pastors promote this film and not teach - equip their members to witness. Because they are unable to, its too much work. That’s why they depend on films and the commercial products that come with it, anything else but teaching how to explain the ACTUAL gospel message.

Should we expect God to accomplish by a film what he has told us to do by our being involved? He wants to use you to speak.

If you’re going to make a film to be a “tool for evangelism” than it should present the message of Jesus to people who do not know him accurately. It is extremely important to be accurate so they can know the real Jesus. If you change key elements you misrepresenting him.

But what can we expect much from those who have such a shallow view of the truth; after all it’s only a movie.

pt.2  addendum

What should we know about the ones who wrote and produced this film:



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