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FIRST-PERSON Revisionism takes on 'The Passion'
BPNews ^ | Thursday, Mar 4, 2004 | Steven M. Ortiz

Posted on 03/09/2004 6:28:14 AM PST by Free2Be49

FIRST-PERSON Revisionism takes on 'The Passion'

By Steven M. Ortiz

Thursday, Mar 4, 2004


NEW ORLEANS (BP)--The movie was not out yet and already it had caused a major debate. Why would a movie depicting a story so commonplace within Western culture cause such division? Hundreds of movies about Jesus are rerun every Easter. Why would this new one bring out the critics?

The reason is the Jesus depicted in the movie “The Passion of The Christ” is not the Jesus of the 21st century.

Deconstruction and revisionism are the philosophy of our times. These deconstructionist trends are evident in media hoopla of the 1990s concerning the Jesus Seminar. This group of scholars, in their search for the “historical Jesus,” deconstructed most of the sayings attributed to Jesus in the New Testament down to less than 20 percent. This watered-down Jesus is more palatable to Western man and the fads of contemporary biblical scholarship.

The Passion is a visual depiction of the Jesus of the New Testament. This Jesus is not acceptable these days. I saw the movie the other night. Now I understand why the critics have labeled it as controversial. They do not want a suffering Jesus; they want a Hollywood Jesus. Mel Gibson is taking heat in the Hollywood community because he produced a movie about the wrong Jesus, a Jesus who willingly chose to undergo suffering and to go to the cross.

What must the critics do with the Jesus depicted in the Passion movie? Deconstruct!

If the content of the movie is so powerful, then deconstruct Gibson. Critics have focused on Mel Gibson’s father and Gibson’s Catholic faith; one critic compared Gibson’s production of “Braveheart” with The Passion on the themes of violence and gore.

Yes, Gibson has frequently portrayed characters in action movies from Mad Max to rogue cops. Do the movie critics actually think The Passion is a Mad Max movie set to the times of first-century Palestine? Is The Passion’s depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus just another version of Braveheart? Or was Roman crucifixion a gory and violent event?

I think it is a fascinating story of how someone in Hollywood has an authentic faith and is willing to invest millions of his own money to portray the passion accurately. But I expect movie reviews to be about the content of the movie, not the lifestyle of the producer. Does the movie accurately portray the events recorded in the Gospel accounts? Does the movie portray Mel Gibson’s version? What is the movie about? Simple stated, the movie is about the cross.

Our society wants to deconstruct the image of the cross. The cross becomes a hip piece of jewelry for Madonna wannabes. It becomes a symbol of group identification. Contemporary theologians have deconstructed the cross as a symbol of political correctness. The cross is a symbol for love and tolerance for all views. It is a symbol of liberation from capitalism. The Passion confronts these reinterpretations of the cross and places the crucifixion as a horrendous event experienced by Jesus.

Today’s church also is in danger of deconstructing Jesus in its own image.

We have developed a myriad of evangelism programs so that the Gospel message sometimes seems to be a sales pitch, and Christianity is seen by a lost world as one of many ways of living as Christians try to sell the Gospel as a product or a lifestyle. Jesus becomes, for example, the centerpiece of various types of weight loss programs and lifestyle changes. It doesn’t matter which program, just find one that works for you. We have become guilty of watering down the Gospel and placing Jesus in the midst of our Western fast-food, feel-good, self-centered culture.

“There is no greater love than for a man to lay down his life...,” the Bible says. But this is not the Jesus who will help you move up the corporate ladder.

“Take up our cross and follow Him.” Is this the attitude that people will find if they walk into our church?

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 has become a placard to hold up in the end zone of football games. I admit that I also have deconstructed the cross into something casual in my relationship with God. The Passion of The Christ has placed the flesh and blood back into this verse that had become only a slogan to me.

“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). A good sign of whether The Passion accurately depicts what Jesus did is how controversial the film becomes. The Passion forces us to remove our layers of meaning of the message back to the cross as a symbol of shame, sacrifice, atonement and redemption.

The question is not what our society should do with Mel Gibson’s movie, but what impact the Gospel is going to have on our society. Which Jesus is the church going to present? The postmodern Jesus of pop culture or the Jesus who was preached by the early disciples?


Steven M. Ortiz is assistant professor of archaeology and biblical studies and the director for the Center of Archaeological Research at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

KEYWORDS: passion; passionofthechrist; the; thepassion

1 posted on 03/09/2004 6:28:14 AM PST by Free2Be49
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To: Free2Be49
The cross becomes a hip piece of jewelry for Madonna wannabes

I have wondered if this "fashion jewelry trend" would continue after "The Passion" was released...

2 posted on 03/09/2004 6:36:42 AM PST by 2banana
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To: Free2Be49
Evidently Mel Gibson's movie assaulted many people's illusions.

Nothing is more frightening and enraging than a threat to a delusional system. People will kill if their paradigms--their concepts of reality--are threatened. It is very dangerous to draw people unwillingly out of denial.

Observe the lengths to which Muslims will go to prevent the questioning of their belief systems. "Liberals" are the same. In fact, many people--perhaps most--are.

Force truth on people, and you're likely to get yourself crucified!

3 posted on 03/09/2004 6:40:34 AM PST by Savage Beast (Whom will the terrorists vote for? Not George W. Bush--that's for sure! ~Happy2BMe)
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To: 2banana
Oh Fox they showed one of the marketing tie-ins, a antique style nail hung around the neck. The liberal theologian was horrified, he called it grotesque and macabre if I recall correctly, or words to that effect.

I thought he must have never really accepted or understood what crucifixion really was. I wanted to shake him. Since then, I have heard "theologians" say that they don't know if he was nailed, perhaps he was just tied to the cross. Clueless.
4 posted on 03/09/2004 7:03:42 AM PST by I still care
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To: Free2Be49
5 posted on 03/09/2004 7:19:00 AM PST by LiteKeeper
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To: Free2Be49
6 posted on 03/09/2004 7:28:46 AM PST by Fiddlstix (This Space Available for Rent or Lease by the Day, Week, or Month. Reasonable Rates. Inquire within.)
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To: Free2Be49
Great Article.
7 posted on 03/13/2004 12:16:14 AM PST by Smartass
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To: All
8 posted on 03/27/2004 3:17:38 PM PST by Liz
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