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The Passion & Pragmatism
January 31, 2004
I have indicated several times that I have concerns with the upcoming movie The Passion of the Christ. I would like to provide some information about why I have those concerns.
Primarily, the concerns stem from the fact that my church is going to be heavily invested in this movie. Until I discovered my church’s plans in regard to the film I had little interest in it. But then my pastors have announced that they intend to buy and give away 5000 tickets to the film. They are going to purchase entire shows and just give the tickets away. After the shows they will give out information packages directing people to our church and asking them to think about and meditate upon what they have just seen. Starting next week the local theatre (24 screens) will have a sign advertising the free tickets, so we expect all 5000 tickets to be snatched up in short order. We will be running ads in the local newspaper, sending out postcards and letting people know by word-of-mouth. The pastors are more excited about this opportunity than I have ever seen them (with the exception, perhaps, of the day the church started). As the Web designer for our church, I have been asked to put together a site that will allow people to register for these tickets. As part of the marketing team I will be involved in drawing people to see the movie.
You see, then, that my concern is mostly selfish. I am going to be investing myself in this movie, and it is a movie I have not yet seen. The last thing I want to do is heavily invest my time and talents in a movie that I will later find God could not possibly bless. I want to do His will, and in this case it is difficult for me to discern what His will is. Part of that is because I have not seen the movie, and the other part goes deeper.
I abhor the pragmatism so common in this day and age, both in the church and beyond. Pragmatism is the belief that an action is made right or wrong on the basis of the results. I see so many people excited about this movie because of what they see it may achieve, but that is not the standard God calls us to hold to. He tells us to measure everything against the Bible. Our first thought when presented with an opportunity like this one is to look at the Word and see what it says. Does the Bible support making a movie about Jesus? Many people I know and respect would emphatically answer “no!” The tradition in which I was raised would definitely be against such a movie as I was taught to believe that portraying Jesus is in violation of the second commandment (which commands us not to make an image of God). I also have concerns with the fact that Mel Gibson is Roman Catholic and in saying that this movie is an expression of his faith, we are equating Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. I cannot judge Gibson for I know little about the man, but regardless of his beliefs, I strongly disagree with equating the Catholic and Protestant faith.
At this time I have not yet decided what I think about the movie. I have little doubt that people will be drawn to churches and drawn to God through this movie. It may well be one of the greatest evangelistic opportunities of our time. But, and this may sound crazy, the results do not tell us if it is right or wrong. God may use our folly for His glory, but that does not excuse our sin. I want to measure everything I do against the Word of God. And that is exactly what I intend to do with this movie!