Skip to comments.'The Passion of the Christ' (Hugh Hewitt on impact of Mel Gibson's controversial new film )
Posted on 01/28/2004 11:19:39 PM PST by ultima ratio
'The Passion of the Christ'
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Posted: January 29, 2004 1:00 a.m. Eastern
© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com
Last Thursday night, I spoke to a conference of Christian college students and young professionals organized by the North American Missions Board and conducted at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas. There were approximately 2,000 in attendance, and after I talked for about a half hour, I stayed and took a seat in the audience because the organizers had arranged for a screening of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ."
Though Prestonwood is a state-of-the-art facility, the conditions for viewing the film were not ideal because of the size of the screen and my distance from it, but the reactions of some of my friends who had seen it, including the very serious theologian Mark D. Roberts and my Salem Radio colleague Michael Medved, as well as the controversy that has surrounded it for months, prompted me to stay put.
"The Passion of the Christ" is a phenomenal work of art a moving and inspiring film that will certainly be shown again and again for generations to come. Though I am a follower of Jesus Christ, I do not believe that one needs to be a believer in the divinity of Christ to appreciate the majesty of the movie and its extraordinary commitment to authenticity and an objective recounting of the story of the passion and death of Christ as relayed through the Gospels.
If you do believe that Christ is the Son of God and that His death and resurrection are historical facts, the film will impact you because it assists faulty human understanding to grasp the immensity of the suffering and death of Christ that was required for our salvation. Scores of the young people in attendance at Prestonwood young, media-savvy, almost impossible to impress, X-Cube playing and MTV-watching 20- to 30-year olds wept after the film.
I was reminded of the only other time I had seen reactions of that sort occur in a theater: among veterans of World War II when "Saving Private Ryan" concluded. Those veterans wept because they had lived the drama they had just seen, and they were recalling the intensity of the conflict and the sorrow it entailed. Many Christians will weep in response to "The Passion of the Christ" for similar reasons, and millions more will more deeply understand the sacrifice their God made for them.
No doubt non-believers will not understand why the film will be celebrated and why attendance will be strong and the appeal of the film enduring. Mel Gibson has provided a tool to help the faithful understand what they already know, and those who do not already know will be puzzled.
It will surprise many it certainly surprised me that Satan is a co-star of "The Passion of the Christ," and his evil presence provides the movie's theological weight. This crucifixion is no mere crucifixion. There were hundreds of thousands of such executions in the Roman world. A hundred years before Pilate ordered Jesus crucified, Crassus lined the Appian Way with 6,000 followers of Spartacus, crucifying every one of them. Jesus' death was horrible, but the means of his execution wasn't unique.
In the film, Satan speaks the words in the Garden of Gethsemane that may help a non-Christian understand the unique aspect of the passion of Christ: "No one can bear such a burden." The burden Satan refers to is the total guilt for all sin of all humankind from the first man to the last. I had wondered how Gibson could convey the theological significance of Christ's suffering and death to a viewer unfamiliar with the Gospels, and his art in this instance is complete.
I doubt if the film itself will inspire much conversion among non-believers as some of its more enthusiastic viewers have been predicting. Certainly it will present many opportunities to explain the claims that Christ made for Himself, but the work of conversion, as C.S. Lewis so richly described in his memoir, can sometimes take years and years. Movies cannot overcome doubt and ridicule, only the Holy Spirit can do that. But we will have to wait and see.
What is not in doubt is the talent of Mel Gibson, and of the entire team and cast. I have read a great deal of Roman history and seen most of the films that purport to convey what it was to be a Roman and to govern with Roman authority. The depiction of Pilate, his problems, his legions, his wife and his limits are simply the most realistic rendition of a slice of the Roman world ever recorded on film. I believe his depictions of first-century Jerusalem and its citizens overwhelmingly but not exclusively Jewish generally must be as faithful as his treatment of Pilate and the Romans.
I do not understand the accusations of anti-Semitism for except for Pilate and his soldiers, all of the players are Jewish, the most noble, the flawed and the corrupt. I do understand the long history of Christian anti-Semitism, and how it perverted the Gospels to its cause, but this film is not part of that shameful legacy. Should anyone try and pervert the movie to that end, there will be millions of Christians condemning such a kidnapping.
The actor who portrayed Christ, James Caviezel, made a brief appearance after the film concluded, and spoke quietly about his Catholic faith preparing him to make this film, and about the rigors of its production. I have interviewed a lot of actors over the years, and watched hundreds of interviews more of the men and women who play other people, and I have never heard such quiet and sincere intensity come from any of them as came from Caviezel. It will be interesting to watch his career from this film forward, as it deserves to flourish given this performance.
"If the world hates you, you know it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." John 15:18-19. These words of Jesus are a guarantee that the maker of "The Passion of the Christ" is in for a rough go of it, as well as its cast and crew. If anyone knows Mel Gibson, please pass along my thanks.
THE VOICE OF REASON
'The Passion of the Christ'
Exclusive: Hugh Hewitt on impact of Mel Gibson's controversial new film
"If you do believe that Christ is the Son of God and that His death and resurrection are historical facts, the film will impact you because it assists faulty human understanding to grasp the immensity of the suffering and death of Christ that was required for our salvation.From www.thepassionofthechrist.com:
Scores of the young people in attendance at Prestonwood young, media-savvy, almost impossible to impress, X-Cube playing and MTV-watching 20- to 30-year olds wept after the film." - Hugh Hewitt
(If you want OFF - or ON - my "Hugh Hewitt PING list" - please let me know)
"I do not understand the accusations of anti-Semitism for except for Pilate and his soldiers, all of the players are Jewish, the most noble, the flawed and the corrupt.From www.worldnetdaily.com:
I do understand the long history of Christian anti-Semitism, and how it perverted the Gospels to its cause, but this film is not part of that shameful legacy. Should anyone try and pervert the movie to that end, there will be millions of Christians condemning such a kidnapping." - Hugh Hewitt
Mel Gibson agrees to change 'Passion' film to combat anti-Semitism
Posted: January 29, 2004
1:00 a.m. Eastern
By Mike Evans
© 2004 WorldNetDaily.com
I was recently invited to a special screening of "The Passion of the Christ" in Dallas to make recommendations regarding the film. My agent-attorney, Tom Winters of Tulsa, my pastor, who is an Assemblies of God official, and 30 other leaders were also invited. At the end of the screening, Mr. Gibson humbly asked if we felt the film could incite anti-Semitism and, if so, what could be done to avoid it.
I explained to Mr. Gibson that the Crucifixion story has been used by anti-Semites to feed and fuel Jew-hatred throughout history, and that anti-Semitism has risen throughout the world to levels not seen since the days of Hitler. I further stated that the film, in its present form, could incite violence against Jews in the former USSR, Muslim countries and Europe, and could even result in Jews being killed.
I related to Mr. Gibson that the Christian church in Germany supported Hitler, and a major reason for that support was the belief that Jews were suffering for their sin of crucifying the Savior. Oswald J. Smith of the People's Church in Toronto, who visited Germany in 1936, said: "Every true Christian in Germany is for Hitler. I know, for it was from the Christians that I got my information, and right or wrong they endorse Hitler." I also told him that great numbers in the Muslim world teach Hitler's evil myths to their children, even in the schools. This is the reason it is so very important to correct this. Purely and simply, the foundation of terrorism is firmly imbedded in bigotry!
Mr. Gibson listened intently, hung his head, and was deeply moved. "What can I do," he asked?
I responded, "When the last scene ends go to black, scroll these words across the screen: "During the Roman occupation, 250,000 Jews were crucified by the Romans, but only One rose from the dead."
"By doing this," I said, "instead of feeding Jew-hatred, you will be fighting it. You will be communicating the suffering of all Jews under Roman occupation. By simply inserting this statement, those who desire to use the film to incite hatred toward Jews will be deterred.
"Those who might use the movie to incite Jew-hatred would know that they would be doing just the opposite challenging the evil myths (that Jews are cursed for crucifying Christ and are Christ-killers) taught throughout history, and still today. In addition, 'The Passion of the Christ' would be the first Jesus film produced to fight anti-Semitism by telling the true story of Jewish suffering during the time of Christ."
Mel Gibson became very excited, and said, "Perfect! I will do it. Yes, I will do it. I needed something for that spot anyway. This is it. I will do it. Thank you."
At the showing in Dallas, no one was given a legal form to sign, so I am not bound to a confidentiality agreement. Why am I speaking out now? Because the film was screened when I was in Orlando on Jan. 21 and 22. I realized that leaders in the Jewish community were still extremely worried about increased anti-Semitism because of the film.
I became convinced it was time to let the Jewish community know that Mr. Gibson is very concerned, and is making a historic contribution to combat anti-Semitism. Never before has any effort been made in any Jesus film to correct the myths and misinformation propagated by Jew-hatred.
"The Passion of the Christ" opens on Feb. 25, Ash Wednesday.
-- snip --
Michael D. Evans is the chairman of the board of the Corrie ten Boom Foundation in Haarlem, Holland.
The foundation combats anti-Semitism.
Most of the ten Boom family died fighting anti-Semitism during the Holocaust. Dr Billy Graham produced a movie on their story, "The Hiding Place." Evans is also the author of "Beyond Iraq: The Next Move," an Amazon No. 2 and a New York Times best-seller, and founder of Americas largest Christian coalition praying for the peace of Jerusalem, Jerusalem Prayer Team.org, including Joseph Farah, Jerry Falwell, Tim LaHaye, Pat Robertson, Kay Arthur, John Maxwell and over 300 national leaders on the board of governors.
...Last Thursday night, I spoke to a conference of Christian college students and young professionals organized by the North American Missions Board and conducted at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas.See also, from www.sbcbaptistpress.org:
There were approximately 2,000 in attendance, and after I talked for about a half hour, I stayed and took a seat in the audience because the organizers had arranged for a screening of Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ." - Hugh Hewitt
Elevate 2004 motivates young adults to impact world for Christ
Jan 23, 2004
By James Dotson
Taking a look
Kacy Chaffin (from left), Melissa Ramirez and Larissa Woolfe look over the program for the Elevate 2004 conference for young adults ages 18-29 which opened Jan. 22 in Dallas. Photo by James Dotson
DALLAS (BP)--Several thousand college students and young professionals attending the opening night of Elevate 2004 were challenged not only on how to impact their world as Christians, but also on their own understanding of Christ's suffering through a special preview screening of the Mel Gibson film "The Passion of The Christ."
The Jan. 22-24 conference at the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano is sponsored by the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board to help adults ages 18-29 clarify God's call on their lives. Speakers include leaders from entertainment, politics and other key areas of influence in society. The second Elevate conference is planned Feb. 19-21 at the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center.
In the opening address of the conference, NAMB President Robert E. (Bob) Reccord challenged conference participants to view their Christian witness as an adventure, "going out of your comfort zone, not knowing the outcome."
"From one end of this room to the other," Reccord said, "God is saying, 'I want you to have the adventure of your life. And if you want the adventure of your life, here's what happens: You give away your life to me, and I will give a mission to you that will allow you to change your world.'"
Reccord cited the account of the call of God on the life of the prophet Jeremiah and his reluctance to accept it because of his age.
"But God said, 'Don't say you're too young, Jeremiah, because I your God am with you; I will touch your mouth and put my words on your lips. Whatever I say to speak, you do. And I will be with you whatever you go to do,'" Reccord said. "Now that's an adventure. The God who said that to Jeremiah is the same God who says it to you."
Reccord detailed the process that has become a key message of NAMB over the past year: "Answer the Call, tell His story, and change your world."
"If you answer His call with all your heart, if you tell His story with all your heart, here's the bottom line," Reccord said. "You will inevitably change your world."
Following up on the broad challenge was practical advice from author and political analyst Hugh Hewitt on the essentials of making a difference for Christ on a large scale.
Hewitt served on the staff of former Presidents Nixon and Reagan and most recently authored the book, "In, But Not Of: A Guide to Christian Ambition and the Desire to Influence Your World."
One essential, Hewitt said, is that Christians take the time and effort to understand not only the biblical basis of their faith but also how it has influenced the world since the time of Christ. With that understanding, individuals are much more likely to gain respect for what they say about Christ's influence on their own lives, he said.
"You've got to know your history," Hewitt said. "Especially you've got to know the five stories that make up the story of why we are here in this building today: the history of the Jews, the Greeks, the Romans, the English and the Arabs."
On the practical side, Hewitt said, post-graduate education is important for anyone seeking to have influence on a national scale.
"In the Christian community there has been a strain of people that tend to look down at credentials," he said. "The world values certain pieces of paper more than others, and if you want to rise in the world you need to possess those credentials."
Along the same lines, Hewitt said it is important that young adults get experience working in the power centers of the nation -- particularly New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles. It's also important to maintain a disciplined habit of following a daily personal quiet time with God with a review of the nation's most influential newspapers over the Internet.
"It doesn't take long, but it makes you uniquely positioned to speak the language the country is speaking -- and to have influence on individuals on any subject," Hewitt said.
The evening concluded with a full preview screening of "The Passion of The Christ," which graphically portrays the final hours of Jesus' life.
At the film's conclusion, Reccord talked with the audience about their relationship with the Christ depicted in the film and led in the sinner's prayer. Jim Caviezel, the actor who portrays Christ, then appeared briefly to thank the audience for their attendance, and Reccord led in prayer that the film would lead to thousands of evangelistic conversations and opportunities when it premieres in late February.
After the screening, several viewers said that while the film is graphic in its depiction of Christ's suffering, it helped them appreciate the depth of His love for them.
"At first I didn't want to watch ... but then I let myself watch it and witness it, because this is what Christ really went through. And I didn't want to avoid it," Melissa Ostrum of San Marcos, Texas, said.
"The second thing is that Christ considered it joy to go through that for us, and in the Bible He tells us we're not going to go through anything that He didn't first already endure," she added. "And He considered it joy because it was worth it. We should consider it joy when we endure pain, suffering and persecution, because that's going to bring forth the patience, the fruits of the Spirit."
Editors' Note: Baptist Press will carry additional stories from Elevate on Monday, Jan. 26.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net.
Photo titles: TAKING A LOOK and ELEVATED.
If you want to see what areas and countries are supporting the film, and how you can support and promote The Passion of Christ (the official title) to show at a theater near you, please visit this link: Support The Passion of Christ Another awesome link thanks to Paul Atreides!
Another awesome link thanks to Paul Atreides!
...Hewitt served on the staff of former Presidents Nixon and Reagan and most recently authored the book, "In, But Not Of: A Guide to Christian Ambition and the Desire to Influence Your World."That would THIS one:
Prayers for Mel, too..and for those with a public platform, and the courage to speak up on Mel's behalf, and for Christ.
Thank you, Hugh.
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