Skip to comments.'The Nativity Story' Movie Problematic for Catholics, "Unsuitable" for Young Children
Posted on 12/04/2006 7:52:47 PM PST by Pyro7480
'The Nativity Story' Movie Problematic for Catholics, "Unsuitable" for Young Children
By John-Henry Westen
NEW YORK, December 4, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A review of New Line Cinema's The Nativity story by Fr. Angelo Mary Geiger of the Franciscans of the Immaculate in the United States, points out that the film, which opened December 1, misinterprets scripture from a Catholic perspective.
While Fr. Geiger admits that he found the film is "in general, to be a pious and reverential presentation of the Christmas mystery." He adds however, that "not only does the movie get the Virgin Birth wrong, it thoroughly Protestantizes its portrayal of Our Lady."
In Isaiah 7:14 the Bible predicts the coming of the Messiah saying: "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel." Fr. Geiger, in an video blog post, explains that the Catholic Church has taught for over 2000 years that the referenced Scripture showed that Mary would not only conceive the child miraculously, but would give birth to the child miraculously - keeping her physical virginity intact during the birth.
The film, he suggests, in portraying a natural, painful birth of Christ, thus denies the truth of the virginal and miraculous birth of Christ, which, he notes, the Fathers of the Church compared to light passing through glass without breaking it. Fr. Geiger quoted the fourth century St. Augustine on the matter saying. "That same power which brought the body of the young man through closed doors, brought the body of the infant forth from the inviolate womb of the mother."
Fr. Geiger contrasts The Nativity Story with The Passion of the Christ, noting that with the latter, Catholics and Protestants could agree to support it. He suggests, however, that the latter is "a virtual coup against Catholic Mariology".
The characterization of Mary further debases her as Fr. Geiger relates in his review. "Mary in The Nativity lacks depth and stature, and becomes the subject of a treatment on teenage psychology."
Beyond the non-miraculous birth, the biggest let-down for Catholics comes from Director Catherine Hardwicke's own words. Hardwicke explains her rationale in an interview: "We wanted her [Mary] to feel accessible to a young teenager, so she wouldn't seem so far away from their life that it had no meaning for them. I wanted them to see Mary as a girl, as a teenager at first, not perfectly pious from the very first moment. So you see Mary going through stuff with her parents where they say, 'You're going to marry this guy, and these are the rules you have to follow.' Her father is telling her that she's not to have sex with Joseph for a year-and Joseph is standing right there."
Comments Fr. Geiger, "it is rather disconcerting to see Our Blessed Mother portrayed with 'attitude;' asserting herself in a rather anachronistic rebellion against an arranged marriage, choosing her words carefully with her parents, and posing meaningful silences toward those who do not understand her."
Fr. Geiger adds that the film also contains "an overly graphic scene of St. Elizabeth giving birth," which is "just not suitable, in my opinion, for young children to view."
Despite its flaws Fr. Geiger, after viewing the film, also has some good things to say about it. "Today, one must commend any sincere attempt to put Christ back into Christmas, and this film is certainly one of them," he says. "The Nativity Story in no way compares to the masterpiece which is The Passion of the Christ, but it is at least sincere, untainted by cynicism, and a worthy effort by Hollywood to end the prejudice against Christianity in the public square."
And, in addition to a good portrait of St. Joseph, the film offers "at least one cinematic and spiritual triumph" in portraying the Visitation of Mary to St. Elizabeth. "Although the Magnificat is relegated to a kind of epilogue at the movie's end, the meeting between Mary and Elizabeth is otherwise faithful to the scriptures and quite poignant. In a separate scene, the two women experience the concurrent movement of their children in utero and share deeply in each other's joy. I can't think of another piece of celluloid that illustrates the dignity of the unborn child better than this."
See Fr. Geiger's full review here:
Apparently, it wasn't disturbing enough for the Apostles, A-G, for they used the Septuagint (LXX).
I am not sure what wonderful combinations one can come up with by adding different accent marks, but one thing is for sure: whatever was written in the Septuagint was before Christ, and therefore cannot be accused of bias with respect to Him, unless you can show that dropping tzur is a latter-day corruption.
It's not screaming it's alarming. Your western Bible is based on Hebrew OT, while the NT is chock-full of Septuagint-based OT quotes. As you probably surmized, the Apostles used LXX; Luther decided it was the Hebrew text that was 'more better.' But, then again, that was not the only thing Luther didn't get right.
IOW: we ain't readin' the same Bible, got it?
On top of which Protestants claim to be saved by their Bible's alone. Reading the wrong version is a pretty big deal for them. (Less so for the Orthodox, who don't view the Bible as the standalone guide to Christianity or the sole source of doctrine)
Christ did not teach abandoning the Law, circumcision, dietary restrictions, etc. That's where the disagreement between +Paul and the Apostles who knew Christ personally arose. To them, +Pauline gospel (he called it 'my gospel') rang foreign to what they remembered from Christ's teachings.
If this were true ... how could the Jerusalem Council (involving Peter, Paul, James, and others) ... agree to abandon circumcision as a requirement for Gentile christians ?
More importantly, if they were all inspired, and filled with Spirit, how could they be in disagreement?
It is the Spirit which works to bring our imperfect understandings ... into agreement ... with the Truth (of course).
He's obviously still working on it.
We are imperfect receivers ... if you will.
And again, looking at the issue from the opposite perspective, ...
Would we, could we ... agree on as much as we do ... without the guidance of the Spirit ?
Is it a tenet of Protestantism that the hierarchs who determined most of the canon of scripture you study were merely performing a sort of automated housekeeping project, ...
In my view, God ALONE determined what would be, and would not be in scripture. He alone caused it to be correctly written, determined within early practicing churches, and finally assembled formally according to His exact specifications. All those involved acted precisely as God had preordained it from before time. That would be the only way to ensure that the scriptures are not only inerrant, but perfect. The scriptures are God's revelations to His most beloved on earth. How could they be any less than perfect?
Yes, there are squabbles about translations and the Apocrypha, and such, but those are squabbles among men. I don't think that touches the idea that God DID, in fact, lay down one complete and perfect scripture. I would be fairly sure that none of us has a letter for letter copy of it. IMO, the vast majority of the problems come from interpretation, not translation.
... understanding little if anything of what they were reading, persisting as they did in their "unscriptural" liturgies and ecclesial structure, venerating icons, praying to saints, etc. ...
I have no idea how much the Fathers of that time understood, or didn't. I can't name a post, but I thought you had agreed earlier that in the first days the structure of the early Christian churches and the worship that was actually practiced was not at all under an "iron fist", as some would refer to it today. (Of course, this is much more so in Catholicism.) That would seem to leave open a lot of questions as to just how many actual Christians practiced the things you listed above.
In addition, the Bible is littered with examples of just how fast God's people turned against Him. The various experiences of Moses are one example. I make no comparison in degree, but merely point out that just because somebody does something "soon after" doesn't make it right by definition.
... so that, 1100+ years later, a few Western European guys angry at the medieval Papacy would finally and at long last sort of understand what was necessary for salvation and that from that "sort of" level of understanding arises the at long last harmonious theology of 21st century Protestantism?
Well, I think there is a debate on just when Reformed beliefs "started". Remember how many Patristic writings you have been so kind to show me I have found favor with? I figure there has to be a reason for that. I suppose it may go back to the interpretation of the interpreters. I do not at all think that my theology was "born" with the advent of the original Reformers. Those original Reformers were just the most famous ones to make a federal case out of it. :)
The above is an extremely uneducated view. It would be like my saying that Catholics claim to be saved by the Pope alone.
Protestants claim to be saved "through grace alone, by faith alone, because of Jesus Christ alone."
It wasn't just circumcision; it was entire Judaism! You tell me how and why? Christ never said the Law did not apply because those who believe in Him are under grace. +Paul did. Justified under grace is not Judaism.
Even +Barnabas, who brought +Paul to Jerusalem, and was the only close friend of +Paul's at that time among Apostles, sided with +Peter and the rest.
The Church was dying. The Christians were being hunted (read up on the underground life of the Cappadocian Christians, where +Paul taught, living in carved out caved). Israel rejected Christ. In order for the Church to survive, it had to seek its existence elsewhere. Knowing the Gentiles would never accept Judaism, +Paul convinced the rest that it was "do or die."
It is the Spirit which works to bring our imperfect understandings ... into agreement ... with the Truth (of course)
Apostles had imperfect understanding, and they were inspired?
Would we, could we ... agree on as much as we do ... without the guidance of the Spirit?
I wouldn't give us that much credit. We don't even fully agree on the Holy Trinity or Christiology, although we may use the same words.
Two thousand years later, there is a huge body of Protestants who are agreeing only with themselves individually, a little bit here and a little bit there. There are 30,000 various Protestant 'churches' with their own theology and creeds. Even the Apostolic Church is in deep disagreement on some issues and has been for one thousand years.
The Church has failed miserably to stop secularization. In Europe 5% of the people attend church regularly. In America (some figures are over-inflated) the percentage is much higher, but America is a secular society through-and-through.
You call that a success? It's not the failure of the Spirit. We failed. Miserably.
Well, the father of sola fide is Marcion. Some Baptist and reformed individuals see him as the start of the "alternative" church. In my opinion they couldn't have picked a better individual. :)
Works for me.
kosta50: Apparently, it wasn't disturbing enough for the Apostles, A-G, for they used the Septuagint (LXX).
They just weren't "quoting" Deu 32 specifically - and if they did, they could not have used the Septuagint because the meaning of tzur was lost in the translation.
This kind of indirect reference to the Tanakh is not raised in your and Buggman's conversation - not a direct quote, a Spiritual Truth out of the Tanakh.
The name(s) of God are more than a little bit important. It is our first "no strings attached" request:
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, [even] to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:11-12
I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. John 5:43
I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. John 17:6
And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we [are]. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. John 17:11-13
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth; And [that] every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ [is] Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11
His eyes [were] as a flame of fire, and on his head [were] many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he [was] clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. Revelation 19:12-13
Jews do not casually write any Name of God. This practice does not come from the commandment not to take the Lord's Name in vain, as many suppose. In Jewish thought, that commandment refers solely to oath-taking, and is a prohibition against swearing by God's Name falsely or frivolously (the word normally translated as "in vain" literally means "for falsehood").
Judaism does not prohibit writing the Name of God per se; it prohibits only erasing or defacing a Name of God. However, observant Jews avoid writing any Name of God casually because of the risk that the written Name might later be defaced, obliterated or destroyed accidentally or by one who does not know better.
The commandment not to erase or deface the name of God comes from Deut. 12:3. In that passage, the people are commanded that when they take over the promised land, they should destroy all things related to the idolatrous religions of that region, and should utterly destroy the names of the local deities. Immediately afterwards, we are commanded not to do the same to our God. From this, the rabbis inferred that we are commanded not to destroy any holy thing, and not to erase or deface a Name of God.
It is worth noting that this prohibition against erasing or defacing Names of God applies only to Names that are written in some kind of permanent form, and recent rabbinical decisions have held that writing on a computer is not a permanent form, thus it is not a violation to type God's Name into a computer and then backspace over it or cut and paste it, or copy and delete files with God's Name in them. However, once you print the document out, it becomes a permanent form. That is why observant Jews avoid writing a Name of God on web sites like this one or in BBS messages: because there is a risk that someone else will print it out and deface it.
Normally, we avoid writing the Name by substituting letters or syllables, for example, writing "G-d" instead of "God." In addition, the number 15, which would ordinarily be written in Hebrew as Yod-Heh (10-5), is normally written as Tet-Vav (9-6), because Yod-Heh is a Name. See Hebrew Alphabet for more information about using letters as numerals.
Excellent refs and points.
God has gone to a lot of trouble to illustrate His character, His nature
via His names . . . . Certainly the OTestament is replete with vivid examples. But there are plenty of references to those in the NT for it to be clearly important.
I think I'll stop there. I feel a rant coming on.
Indeed, the names and titles of God speak right to our spirit.
The first phrase of John is absolutely breathtaking to me: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
That is correct: "God (Gr. Theos, vs. the Heb. HaTzur, 'The Rock'), His works are true, and all His ways are equity. God is trustworthy, and there is no injustice in Him; just and sacred is the LORD" (Deu. 32:4, LXX).
A similar mistranslation occurs in 2 Sa. 22:32, this time replacing Tzur with Ktistes, altering, "Who is a Rock except our God?" to "Who is a Creator like our God?"
Good catch, A-G.
You are correct that Yeshua HaMashiach never advocated abandoning the Torah; just the contrary (Mat. 5:17-19).
But you are incorrect that Sha'ul did.
For not the hearers of the Torah are just before God, but the doers of the Torah shall be justified. (Rom. 2:13)Sha'ul's apparent opposition to the Torah was not an opposition to the Torah itself, but to a misuse of it that some elements were trying to foist on the infant Ekklesia:
Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the Torah, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the Torah, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the Torah? (Rom. 2:26-27)
Do we then make void the Torah through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish (i.e., uphold) the Torah. (Rom. 3:1)
Therefore the Torah is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. (Rom. 7:12)
For we know that the Torah is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin. (Ro 7:14)
For I delight in the Torah of God according to the inward man. (Rom. 7:22)
For Christ is the end (telos, goal) of the Torah for righteousness to everyone who believes. (Rom. 10:4)
Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. (1 Co. 7:19)
Therefore the Torah was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (Gal. 3:24)
But we know that the Torah is good if one uses it lawfully . . . (1 Ti. 1:8)
All Scripture (including the Torah) is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Ti. 3:16-17)
First, the idea that circumcision--which in a first century context meant becoming Jewish via a rabbinical ceremony--was required for salvation; i.e., that one had to be Jewish to be saved.
And second, the idea that keeping the Torah--and in particular, keeping the rabbinical customs as part and parcel of keeping Torah--was a prerequisite for salvation.
Sha'ul opposed those ideas not on the basis of some new revelation, but on the basis of the Torah itself. Therefore, he was not anti-Torah, but very pro-Torah.
More importantly, if they were all inspired, and filled with Spirit, how could they be in disagreement?
Where were they in disagreement? Sha'ul rebuked Kefa (Peter) for an ill-considered action in distancing himself from the Gentiles at one point, but remember that Kefa and Ya'akov (James) both agreed with him, not only at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) but also later (Acts 21)!
There is no other author of post-Pentecost Christianity other than +Paul.
Your Bible stops at Hebrews? Interesting. Mine has three letters and a prophetic vision by Yochanan (John), two letters from Kefa, one from Ya'akov, and one from Y'hudah (Jude). I also have a history recorded by the companion of Sha'ul which tells us in some detail how the Apostles and the Jerusalem Ekkesia--the one closest in time, space, and culture to our Lord Yeshua--lived and practiced, and it tells us that they worshiped daily in one accord in the Temple (Acts 2:36), that the issue of Jews keeping the Torah was never even an issue (Acts 15), that it was not uncommon for even "optional" parts of the Torah like Nazrite vows to be undertaken (Acts 21:23-24) or for the requisite animal sacrifices for such vows to be made (v. 26).
More importantly, my Bible has the words of our Lord Himself, recorded in four Gospel accounts--and He never opposed the Torah, only human tradition piled on top of God's pure Word.
If Sha'ul--who never walked with the Lord Yeshua during His earthly ministry, and who started out opposed to Him--stood alone among all the Apostles--the rest of whom were taught personally by the Lord in the flesh--and we cannot even find this supposed anomia in the Messiah . . . well, guess who's in the wrong then. I guess you'd best go find an Ebionite congregation to worship in.
However, the fact is that Sha'ul was not in opposition either to the rest of the Apostles or to the Torah. You've been misreading him.
Now, in regards to post #7248, you write, It wasn't just circumcision; it was entire Judaism! You tell me how and why? Christ never said the Law did not apply because those who believe in Him are under grace. +Paul did. Justified under grace is not Judaism.
You obviously don't know the first thing about Judaism! First of all, where did Sha'ul get the idea that one is justified by faith rather than by the Law? Genesis 15:6--that's right, in the Torah! How then could it even enter your mind that grace and Judaism, built upon the Torah, are mutually exclusive?
But let us look at what the Jews say about their own beliefs. The basis of a Jew's salvation, in the minds of the rabbis, has never been that he keeps Torah, but on the basis of his fellowship in Israel with God, because of Israel's covenant with God. Hence why the Mishnah says,
All Israelites have a share in the world to come, as it is said, "your people also shall be all righteous, they shall inherit the land forever; the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified." (Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedron 11:1, folio 90A)In Shabbat 119B, R. Joshua b. Levi points out that God annuls the retribution that He would be just to pour out on His people when they offer themselves to Him willingly. Gee, doesn't that sound familiar?
In the Avinu Malkeynu ("Our Father, Our King"), traditionally sung on Yom Kippur, the Jew prays, "Be merciful unto us / For we have no deeds / Commending us unto You / Be merciful, save us, we pray." Hmm, nothing there about winning God's favor by keeping the Torah--in fact, we see the admission that only by God's unmerited mercy (grace) does one have a hope.
Now what is true is that modern Judaism--and I have no doubt this was going on in the first century as well--tends to emphasize a "merit system" of salvation. I suspect that this is in part an overreaction against the Christian emphasis on faith, just as Christian anti-Torah attitudes are an overreaction against the synagogue. However, the fact remains that according to Judaism's own oldest traditions, one cannot separate salvation from God's grace exhibited in the forgiveness of sins.
Now, for some friendly advice: Put down Paul for a while; pretend that those pages don't even exist in your Bible. Then go study the Torah, the Prophets, the Writings, the Gospel, and the other Epistles with all reverence and prayerfulness, asking God for wisdom (Jas. 1:5). Do a little historical study on the Jewish culture of the first century. Then return to Paul with fresh eyes, and see for yourself if he is really against the Torah, or if perhaps he was simply trying to return to a pure Torah.
And rightly so, since the command is far more concerned with God's Names being removed from the culture than it is about a piece of paper.