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Tim Challies

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finance

3 years 6 months ago
I am in the midst of an extended study of matters related to money. In particular, I am trying to understand money and possessions from a biblical perspective. What will it take to think in a distinctly biblical way about finances? I recently read and reviewed Randy Alcorn’s new book Managing God’s Money. Last week I also turned to Family Money Matters by John Temple. This is a short and to-the-point explanation of “How to run your family finances to God’s glory” (according to the book’s subtitle).

John Temple has written several books on the subject of money; this one is pointed specifically at family finances. At around 100 pages, it is meant to be just an introduction to what could be an expansive topic. It will not teach you how to get out of debt and it will not teach you all you could ever want to know about what to do (or what not to do) with your money. What it will teach, though, is equally important—it will give you the starting points for building a biblical worldview of your money. And as it happens, this is something many of us really need. Too few Christians think of money matters as Christians.

The book is composed of 13 chapters that move from the foundational to the practical. I found the opening 3 or 4 chapters the most compelling, though certainly many of the others have more than enough value to commend them. But it is in these early chapters that Temple lays the groundwork for that biblical way of thinking about money. He teaches that “Christians are to live in such a way that our lives demonstrate different values from those of our secular neighbors, colleagues and friends. This is one area where we can truly be different.” At the same time, “We must also show our neighbors that we are not ‘weird’ but ‘normal’ in all matters which are morally acceptable.” We do not fear our money and we do not regard it as evil. Rather, we must see it as a gift of God that must be stewarded faithfully.

Temple expends some effort in showing how the world thinks about money and showing how these unbiblical ideals have infiltrated Christian thinking. This is followed by a call for us to see how the Bible tells us to understand our money. After this the author is ready to speak about debt, home ownership, cars, vacations and other very practical concerns. I found his chapter on training your children particularly effective, and especially in the very practical section in which he describes one way of giving children an allowance and using that to teach them how to steward money well.

So what are my main takeaways as it pertains to my study of money? First, it has helped me in my attempt to build that Christian understanding of money and this by showing how worldy views of money have influenced my thinking. The second big takeaway is the beginning of a plan or strategy to help my children think well about their money and to train them from a young age to handle it responsibly.

Overall, this is a short but effective look at money and family finances. With a large practical component, Family Money Matters may be just what you need to kickstart your thinking about being a faithful steward of your money and possessions.

5 years 2 months ago
The twentieth century was witness to a great battle between capitalism and communism. Early in the twenty-first century it is clear that capitalism won a resounding victory. Yet many people living in victorious nations continue to be uncomfortable with capitalism. They see it as a system of economics, a way of life that transfers wealth from poor to rich, that exploits the planet, that is somehow inherently biased toward the few at the expense of the many. An increasing number of increasingly vocal Christians even claim that capitalism is at odds with the teachings of the Bible. After reading Jesus’ words that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” they determine that capitalism, which seems to be founded on just such a love, must also be evil. Could it be, though, that such claims are based on a misunderstanding of capitalism? Could all these people be battling against a mere caricature? Jay Richards thinks so and he dedicates Greed, Money, and God to dispelling untruths and replacing them with hard facts. Through it all he seeks to show that capitalism is not the problem, but the solution.

Economics is undoubtedly a field that many of us take for granted. We may be able to define it in part, but rarely can we really explain it. According to Richards, economics is at its heart, “about us—what we choose, what we value, what we represent in language and symbols, how we interact with each other in a market, and especially how we produce, exchange, and distribute goods, services, risk, and wealth. Understand these things, and you’re well on your way to knowing what you need to know about economics.” A more traditional definition is this: “the science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.” It is, then, fundamental to all we do. But how often do we think about it and how often do we do so from a distinctly Christian perspective?

Money, Greed, and God is just such a study. Richards structures the book around eight myths, eight common misunderstandings about the very nature of capitalism. They are:

The Nirvana Myth in which capitalism is contrasted not with a realistic alternative but with an unrealizable ideal. While we acknowledge that at some time God will triumph over all that is evil, we also know that in the here and now any system will necessarily be imperfect. And so we cannot rightly set our standards at perfection. The Nirvana Myth stood behind communism and its dream of building utopian nations where equality ruled. But the experiment was a dismal failure that cost tens of millions of lives.

The Piety Myth in which we focus on good intentions rather than the unintended consequences of our actions. A contemporary example of this myth in action comes when we look at “fair trade.” We are growing accustomed, I think, to being presented with the option of buying fair trade coffee, fair trade gifts, and so on. The promise is that when we do this we bring greater profits to the people at the very beginning of the process—the person who grows or picks the coffee beans or the person who pieces together the jewelry. We see it also in foreign aid where billions or trillions of dollars are sent from the first world to the third world. Though from the outside it may appear that these are kind and loving actions, the reality is that we do not see the unintended consequences of such actions. They often bring about more harm than good.

The Zero-Sum Game Myth where we believe that any trade or exchange requires that there be both a winner and a loser. This may be the case when markets are burdened with too many regulations, but where the markets are free, there can always be win-win transactions. Still, people are prone to the feeling that it is only through increased regulation that we can guarantee that there will not be losers.

The Materialist Myth which insists the wealth is not created but merely transferred (and usually from the poor to the rich). Though we are centuries removed from believing that there is a static amount of wealth in the world, centuries from the understanding that one person always gets rich at the expense of another, we remain prone to thinking this is true. When we see the fantastic wealth of the few we somehow forget that in many cases even the poorest are much better off than they were at one time. The fact is that wealth may be created, and not merely transferred.

The Greed Myth which believes that the very essence of capitalism is greed.

The Usury Myth which leads us to believe that working with money is inherently immoral and that charging interest is always exploitative. Many Christians look to Old Testament laws regarding usury and somehow feel, even if only in the back of their minds, that there is something ignoble about dealing with finances. But when we understand capitalism we can understand that such biblical precepts, even though they may guide us in some situations, are often not as hard-and-fast as we might think.

The Artsy Myth in which we confuse aesthetic myths with economic arguments. Many people argue that capitalism is inherently utilitarian, creating wealth at the expense of all that is beautiful. But here Richards shows that it is not capitalism itself that is to blame, but rather the materialist worldview endemic in our culture.

The Freeze-Frame Myth which says that things always stay the same (so that population trends will continue indefinitely or that a natural resource will always be needed in the same way that it is today). This leads to an interesting discussion about the supposed shortage of resources such as oil and the prognostications about the imminent demise of our planet due to global warming.

As Richards picks apart these eight myths and exposes the faulty thinking that underlie them, he raises a host of issues that will cause the reader to pause and consider. As I read, there were at least three big takeaways. First, I learned the importance of private property. There is something inherent in ownership that causes us to value possessions differently. Strong laws guarding private ownership stimulates an economy while lax laws or laws prohibiting ownership will depress an economy. Second, I learned of the importance of economic freedom. As we are seeing in this current downturn, the proposed solutions often entail greater restrictions, more government involvement. But as long as there is some structure of law to guarantee economic freedom, an economy can thrive. Excessive regulation hampers more than it helps. And third, I learned the importance of understanding that wealth is not static. There is not a static amount of wealth in the world that must be divided between each of the earth’s inhabitants. Instead, wealth can be created and, as that happens, it may be proportioned to those who are most in need of it. Hence there is something noble in laboring, in beginning capitalistic enterprises and in succeeding in them, provided that the proceeds are used in a way that honors God. In creating wealth we are acting in the image of the One who created us.

Capitalism is, in the mind of this economist, a special gift of providence. And as you read his book you will see how he arrives at this conclusion. Rather than being a system we are ashamed of, we can actually give praise and glory to God for it. While capitalism may not be the most perfect economic system we will ever know, it seems clear that it is the best so far. Countless others have been tried and have been found seriously wanting. God, in his providence, has given us a system in which we can work and create and labor for his glory.

7 years 9 months ago

“The Long Tail” is one of those buzz-phrases I have heard time and time again in the past couple of years. In my ongoing pursuits to catch up with books that have been sitting on the New York Times list of bestsellers and to better under the culture we live in, I decided to read the book that seems to do the best and most thorough job of explaining this phenomenon. Written by Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired magazine, The Long Tail seeks to show “why the future of business is selling less of more.” While Anderson did not coin the phrase, he is the man primarily responsible for popularizing it (and, I suppose, for turning it into a proper noun rather than simply a descriptive phrase).

The Long Tail describes the business model prevalent in many Internet-based companies such as Amazon, eBay and Netflix. Where most brick and mortar companies have, my necessity, had to focus on selling only the few products that are bestsellers (the green portion of the graph), Internet-based retailers have been able to offer a staggering variety (the yellow portion). They have been able to sell low volume of an almost limitless number of products. The typical big box retailer, for example, stocks only a relatively small number of books and focuses on the books that will sell the greatest number. They seek to sell high volume of a small number of titles. Internet retailers, though, because they are not constrained by shelf space, can offer near-infinite selection. They are finding that the long tail is almost infinite and is steadily growing ever longer.

The Long Tail deals with the economics of abundance—“what happens when the bottlenecks that stand between supply and demand in our culture start to disappear and everything becomes available to everyone.” This has drastically shifted our buying patterns. “Our growing affluence has allowed us to shift from being bargain shoppers to buying branded (or even unbranded) commodities to becoming mini-connoisseurs, flexing our taste with a thousand little indulgences that set us apart from others. We now engage in a host of new consumer behaviors that are described with intentionally oxymoronic terms: “massclusivity,” “slivercasting,” “mass customization.” These all point to the phenomenon of the Long Tail.

The Long Tail, then, seeks to show how consumer behavior changes in a market of infinite choice—a market that is no longer constrained by the difficulties inherent in having supply limited by logistics. The supply now exists for whatever demand we, as picky and increasingly particular consumers, can dream up. We live in a culture that is focused more and more on niches and less and less of hits and bestsellers. We do not necessarily want to write the book that sells best overall, but the book that sells best in the small niche that is most important to us. There is infinite opportunity for any of us to impact a niche.

I read this book not only to understand this phenomenon, but to think about how it impacts Christians. And I did not have to look far to make many applications. The chief of these was thinking about the concept of “a market of infinite choice.” As we becoming increasingly interested in niches rather than worldwide phenomena, it seems that this may impact the church. Think, for example, about the variety of Bibles available to us. There is a Bible for any person and for any niche, whether that be people who hunt, who enjoy sports, who are African American or who are teenage boys. We do not just want a Bible, but we want one that appeals within the niche. The same is true of churches, where we are already seeing more but smaller churches that seek to appeal not to everyone but to a particular group. We do not have to look far to find evidence of The Long Tail within the church. Whether this is good, bad or indifferent largely remains to be seen. But it is something we really should be aware of since much of the beauty of the church is in its variety. While culture may tempt us to gravitate towards those who share our interests and passions, the Bible directs us to those who share our faith, no matter what happens to interest them.

The Long Tail really is an interesting book and one that is very relevant to this culture. It is not a typical book dealing with the subject of economics, but is written in a way that is easy to understand and absorb. It describes a phenomenon I think the church would do well to understand.

9 years 2 weeks ago
I own quite a few books written by Wayne Grudem and most of them vary between being long and very long (not to say that this is necessarily a bad thing). Grudem takes on difficult and controversial subjects such as Bible translation and the roles of men and women in the church and covers them both thoroughly and biblically. It was with some surprise, then, that I received Business for the Glory of God and noted that it is a mere 96 pages - the perfect size to read in a single evening. Its size may be deceiving, for this little book contains some powerful teaching about the value of business.

Grudem says, rightly I’m sure, that when people ask how their lives can glorify God, they are rarely told, “Go into business.” Students, when they ask, “How can I serve God with my life,” don’t often hear the answer, “Go into business.” This little book claims just this, that “many aspects of business activity are morally good in themselves, and that in themselves they bring glory to God - though they also have great potential for misuse and wrongdoing.” Dr. Grudem examines business under the following headings:

  1. Ownership
  2. Productivity
  3. Employment
  4. Commercial transactions (buying and selling)
  5. Profit
  6. Money
  7. Inequality of possessions
  8. Competition
  9. Borrowing and lending
  10. Attitudes of hearing
  11. Effect on world poverty

Through each chapter Grudem shows that the topic he discusses is fundamentally good, whether it be ownership, profit, or inequality of possessions, and that each one provides many opportunities to glorify God, but also many temptations to sin. The temptation to sin by making an idol of money, for example, does not negate the fact that money is fundamentally good and is a God-given gift. As we have come to expect from Grudem’s books, this one is filled with references to the Bible and in fact is driven by Scripture.

What the reader will come to understand is that business, as fundamentally good as it is, is not an end in itself. Business and all the elements that comprise it, are instruments God uses to bring glory to Himself. God is glorified when we use our gifts and talents to employ others, to make money and to turn a profit. God is glorified when we borrow and lend and compete. God has entrusted these tools to us and expects us to use them in a way that honors Him. The book concludes with a reflection on the effect of business on world poverty. “I believe the only long-term solution to world poverty is business. That is because businesses produce goods, and business produce jobs. And business continue producing goods year after year, and continue providing jobs and paying wages year after year. Therefore if we are every going to see long-term solutions to world poverty, I believe it will come through starting and maintaining productive, profitable businesses.”

Business for the Glory of God is a wonderful little book that is sure to edify whoever reads it. As we approach the Christmas season, this may be a book you would want to consider purchasing as a gift (or stocking-stuffer depending on your budget) for the man or woman in your life who is involved in business, or even for the teen who is wondering how he can use his life to bring glory to God. I enjoyed this book and am happy to recommend it.

  Evaluation Support
Theology/Accuracy
Solid, biblical teaching throughout.
Readability
Easy to read and understand for teens or adults alike.
Uniqueness
The first I have read that presents business as a uniquely God-glorifying task.
Importance
A book like this will help those in business understand how they can glorify God.
  Overall
A short, readable and interesting book that I unreservedly recommend.
More About Ratings & Reviews

 

9 years 2 months ago

Twelve Extraordinary Women.jpgJohn MacArthur wears a lot of hats. He is a pastor, theologian, author, teacher and president of a seminary. He also speaks at conferences and hosts a daily radio program. I assume he also finds time to spend with his wife and family. While he clearly excels at all of these roles, the one for which most of us know him best is simply as teacher of the Bible. And honestly, I cannot think of any man of this generation who does a better job of expositing the Scriptures. MacArthur has the amazing, God-given ability to make what is difficult seem simple. His years of passionate, careful, deliberate study of the Scripture have served to bring untold blessings to the body of Christ.

John MacArthur is one of my favorite teachers and his books have had a profound influence on my life and have done much to shape my theology. I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to preview his upcoming book, Twelve Extraordinary Women, which is due for publication later this year.

Preview

Twelve Ordinary Men, John MacArthur’s book on the apostles, was a surprise hit. After the book stayed on the bestseller lists for over a year, Thomas Nelson suggested publishing a second volume, this one dealing with some of the best-known women of the Bible. MacArthur accepted the challenge and drew up a long list of possible subjects. “I admit that I chose the twelve women featured here by a completely unscientific process: I weighed their relative importance in biblical history alongside the amount of material I had already developed on each of them as I have taught through various passages of Scripture. Then I chose the twelve women who were most familiar to me.” Twelve Extraordinary Women is not exactly a sequel to MacArthur’s Twelve Ordinary Men, yet it bears many similarities. Like its predecessor (and unlike the majority of MacArthur’s books), Twelve Extraordinary Women is not primarily expository. Instead, it is a series of brief character studies. Like Twelve Ordinary Men, it is ideally suited for personal or group study, and is intensely practical.

The women MacArthur chose as subjects for this book are: Eve, Sarah, Rahab, Ruth, Hannah, Mary, Anna, The Samaritan Woman, Martha and Mary, Mary Magdalene and Lydia. “My prayer for you is that as you read this book you will share their faith, imitate their faithfulness, and learn to love the Savior whose work in their lives made them truly extraordinary. Your life can be extraordinary, too, by His wonderful grace.”

The format of the book will be familiar to those who have read Twelve Ordinary Men. MacArthur spends a chapter discussing each of the women (though Martha and Mary share a single chapter) and shows that what made each of these women extraordinary was nothing they brought to God, but the work of the Savior in their lives. Each of them had a deep reverence towards God and trusted His promises, whether they looked forward to a time when the Savior would come, or whether they looked back at his death and resurrection. Some of them stood between the New and Old Testament eras, even witnessing with their own eyes the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

By way of introduction, MacArthur writes about the high position given to women within Scripture. Women are never relegated to a secondary status and, unlike so many other religions, are never degraded and considered less important than men. From the beginning of the New Testament era to the close of the canon of Scripture we see God granting extraordinary privilege to women. There are countless women in the Bible who stand as examples of faithfulness, integrity, hospitality and every other admirable virtue. “The faithfulness of these women is their true, lasting legacy. I hope as you meet them in Scripture and get to know more about their lives and characters, they will challenge you, motivate you, encourage you, and inspire you with love for the God whom they trusted and served. May your heart be set ablaze with the very same faith, may your life be characterized by a similar faithfulness, and may your soul be overwhelmed with love for the extraordinary God they worshiped.”

Each of the subsequent eleven chapters is a study of a particular woman, with MacArthur shining light on the Scriptural accounts of each subject. Each chapter is practical, showing how the virtues exemplified in the lives of the women can be applied to the life of the reader. The reader is show how he, too, can be extraordinary through the power of God.

What Others Are Saying

At this point I have not been able to find any endorsements for this book. It seems to me that with John MacArthur’s long track-record of successful, biblical books he hardly needs endorsements!

Content

Preface
 Introduction

1. Eve: Mother of All Living
2. Sarah: Hoping Against Hope
3. Rahab: A Horrible Life Redeemed
4. Ruth: Loyalty and Love
5. Hannah: A Portrait of Feminine Grace
6. Mary: Blessed Among Women
7. Anna: The Faithful Witness
8. The Samaritan Woman: Finding the Water of Life
9. Martha and Mary: Working and Worshiping
10. Mary Magdalene: Delivered from Darkness
11. Lydia: A Hospitable Heart Opened

Epilogue

Conclusion

Twelve Extraordinary Women is a worthy successor to Twelve Ordinary Men. This book is both informative and inspiring. It will lead the reader to understand what each of these twelve women surely knew, that God was the truly extraordinary one, as He conformed such ordinary women to the likeness of their Savior. I highly recommend this book for both personal and group study.

Availability

Twelve Extraordinary Women is being published by Nelson Books and according to Amazon will be available on the 1st of November, 2005. It is already available for pre-order:

It appears that in addition to the book, Thomas Nelson is publishing:

  • A Study Guide (which is not yet available at Amazon). For future reference, the SKU for the guide is 1418505579. The guide will contain “Insightful Questions for In-Depth Study, Places to Journal and Guided Prayers.”
  • An Audio CD. You can pre-order it from Amazon here.
10 years 8 months ago

I do not often answer questions directly on this site, but since this one fits the theme of the crucifixion which I have been writing about this week, I thought I would post it publicly.

Question: Why did Jesus “give” his mother to John when He was hanging on the cross?

Answer: A very good question. The passage relevant to your question can be found in the book of John.

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!”7Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. (John 19: 25-27)

Though the Bible does not explicitly state it, the evidence indicates that Joseph, Mary’s husband, had died before this time. The last we hear of Joseph was when Jesus was twelve years old (see Luke 2: 41-50). It seems that Joseph died while Jesus was somewhere between 12 and 33 years old. As the oldest son Jesus would have assumed the responsibility as the head of the household. Knowing that He was going to die, Jesus honored the fifth commandment by making provision for His mother.

The next question to consider is this: why did Jesus not assign the care of His mother to His brothers? Again, the Bible does not explicitly say why Jesus told John to provide for Mary. However, the evidence does point to a logical conclusion.

We do not know how many children Mary and Joseph had after Jesus, but we do know there were several. They were Jesus’ half-siblings because they had Joseph as their father while Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit. One of Jesus’ brothers, James, went on to become an important figure in the early church and pastored the church in Jerusalem. He also wrote the book of the Bible that bears his name. So why, then, did Jesus not tell James to take care of their mother?

The answer is found in John 7. In verse 5 we read “For even His brothers did not believe in Him.” The gospels make it clear that Jesus’ siblings did not believe in Him until after the resurrection. We know that Jesus appeared to James, for 1 Corinthians 15:7 says “After that He was seen by James.” It is probable that this event is what finally inspired James to believe in His brother as the Son of God.

At the time Jesus hung on the cross, His siblings did not believe in Him. It stands to reason, then, that He would ask one of His followers to care for His mother. He selected John, his closest friend who is consistently referred to as “the disciple Jesus loved,” to take on this responsibility. We can assume that if James had believed in Jesus at this time, He would have received this responsibility.

NOTE: The Catholic Church teaches that, because of Mary’s perpetual virginity, Jesus had no siblings. I do not know how the Catholic Church answers this question.

10 years 8 months ago

The Passion of the Christ has been described by Protestant leaders as being �factually accurate,� �very accurate [in the details],� �realistic,� �biblical,� �an accurate account,.� �a true representation of Jesus� and �close to the Scriptures.� All of these quotes were taken from The Passion Outreach Web site, a resource dedicated to helping churches of all denominations capitalize on this movie. This movie is continually described as an exceedingly accurate portrayal of the gospel account of the passion of Jesus � an account that transcends denominations.

Mel Gibson has repeatedly acknowledged that He drew inspiration for The Passion of the Christ both from the gospels and from the writings of Anne Catherine Emmerich. He respects her to such an extent that he carries an Emmerich relic in his pocket at all times. Most Protestants pastors and leaders admit that Gibson has taken �artistic license� at times, but by reading Emmerich�s book The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ we will see that much of what is perceived as artistic license is actually following the words of Emmerich. It seems that it is impossible to reconcile Emmerich and the Bible. The movie must either follow the Word of God or the words of a human. Though the two seem to complement each other at times, far more often they contradict. A staunch Roman Catholic and devotee of Mary, Emmerich adds situations and theology which stand in direct contrast to the beliefs Protestants should hold dear.

Why?

Before we begin this examination I would like to answer the question of why I have decided to present this information. Certainly this could be construed as an attempt to just be critical for the sake of being critical. It could be seen as an attempt to lower other people�s perception of a man who claims to be a Christian. It could be seen as an attempt to discredit this movie.

I present this information for the sake of sharing what is true and what is false in this movie. This movie is being presented as truth, yet much of it is error. I seek to expose what is truth and what is error so people who see the movie can understand what parts of the story truly happened and are therefore important and part of the story of the Savior�s death. At the same time I wish to show which parts are inspired by false revelation supposedly revealed by God almost two thousand years after the writing of the Bible. The error adds elements to the story that detract from God�s glory and Christ�s purpose in suffering and dying.

Brief Biographical Sketch of Anne Catherine Emmerich

The following information is drawn primarily from the Catholic Encyclopedia. It is evident that her abilities are fiction, yet the Encyclopedia teaches they are fact.

Anne Catherine Emmerich was an Augustinian nun, stigmatic and ecstatic who was born in 1774 and died in 1824. She was forced to work from an early age and after a difficult twenty eight years of life entered the Augustinian convent at Agnetenberg, Dulmen. She soon began to display strange powers and ecstasies. Her convent was closed in 1812 and she was forced to find refuge in a poor widow�s house. In 1813 she became bedridden. It was during her long illness that her supernatural abilities became popular knowledge. Some of these abilities included conversing with the child Jesus, predicting future events, having knowledge of other people�s diseases and prescribing remedies that never failed. She soon experienced the stigmata with which she suffered for many years. In 1819 the poet Klemens Brentano visited her and she asked him to write down the many visions God had given her. In 1833 the “The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to the Meditations of Anne Catherine Emmerich” was released followed in 1852 by “The Life of The Blessed Virgin Mary.”

Six weeks after her death a rumor surfaced that her body had been removed from its grave. She was disinterred and it was discovered that her body had suffered no decay.

Emmerich�s visions are considered by the Roman Catholic Church to be private revelations and not public revelations. Therefore, not all Catholics are required to believe them and the Church has no official position on their accuracy or truth. They are widely accepted amongst Traditionalist Catholics and relatively unknown to other Catholics.

Emmerich�s Influence in The Passion of the Christ

The following table details many of the scenes in the movie that are not described in the Bible and shows, where I have been able to find out, where the inspiration came from. This is not an exhaustive list of all the extra-Biblical material presented in the movie.

The Passion of the Christ

The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Satan torments Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane

Chapter 1, pages 100-102

But Satan, who was enthroned amid all these horrors, and even filled with diabolical joy at the sight of them, let loose his fury against Jesus, and displayed before the eyes of his soul increasingly awful visions, at the same time addressing his adorable humanity in words such as these: ‘Takest thou even this sin upon thyself? Art thou willing to bear its penalty? Art thou prepared to satisfy for all these sins?’”

Mary wakes up, sensing Jesus’s arrest

Chapter 1, page 116

During this agony of Jesus, I saw the Blessed Virgin also overwhelmed with sorrow and anguish of soul, in the house of Mary, the mother of Mark. She was with Magdalen and Mary in the garden belonging to the house, and almost prostrate from grief, with her whole body bowed down as she knelt. She fainted several times, for she beheld in spirit different portions of the agony of Jesus.”


Chapter 11

THE Blessed Virgin was ever united to her Divine Son by interior spiritual communications; she was, therefore, fully aware of all that happened to him—she suffered with him, and joined in his continual prayer for his murderers. But her maternal feelings prompted her to supplicate Almighty God most ardently not to suffer the crime to be completed, and to save her Son from such dreadful torments.”

Soldiers throw Jesus off a bridge

Chapter 3, page 131

I saw our Lord fall twice before he reached the bridge, and these falls were caused entirely by the barbarous manner in which the soldiers dragged him; but when they were half over the bridge they gave full vent to their brutal inclinations, and struck Jesus with such violence that they threw him off the bridge into the water”

Jesus’ abuse when before the priests.

At this answer of Jesus the countenance of Annas flushed with fury and indignation. A base menial who was standing near perceived this, and he immediately struck our Lord on the face with his iron gauntlet, exclaiming at the same moment, ‘Answerest thou the High Priest so?’ Jesus was so nearly prostrated by the violence of the blow, that when the guards likewise reviled and struck him, he fell quite down, and blood trickled from his face on to the floor. Laughter, insults, and bitter words resounded through the hall. The archers dragged him roughly up again, and he mildly answered, ‘If 1 have spoken evil. give testimony of the evil; but if well, why strikest thou me?’”

Flashback: Jesus, as a young carpenter, is at home with Mary


During court scene, Mary prays, “It has begun Lord. So be it.”


After thrice denying Jesus, Peter runs to Mary, weeping and calling her, “Mother.”

Chapter 11, page 165

Mary approached him instantly, and said, ‘Simon, tell me, I entreat you, what is become of Jesus, my Son !’ These words pierced his very heart; he could not even look at her, but turned away, and again wrung his hands. Mary drew close to him, and said in a voice trembling with emotion: ‘Simon, son of John, why dost thou not answer me?’—‘Mother!’ exclaimed Peter, in a dejected tone, ‘0, Mother, speak not to me—thy Son is suffering more than words can express: speak not to me!’”

Mary walks about the now-emptied courtyard and then falls with her face pressed to the floor, directly above the cell in which Jesus is imprisoned

Chapter 11, page 166

John, therefore, led her and the holy women to the front of the prison where Jesus was confined. Mary was with Jesus in spirit, and Jesus was with her; but this loving Mother wished to hear with her own cars the voice of her Divine Son.”

Satan and his minions torment Judas

Chapter 5, page 144

I beheld the traitor, Judas Iscariot, wandering about, alone, and a prey to the tortures of his guilty con-science; he feared even his own shadow, and was followed by many devils, who endeavored to turn his feelings of remorse into black despair.”

An effeminate Herod is depicted amidst cushions

Chapter 20, page 194

Herod was expecting them. He was seated on a pile of cushions, heaped together so as to form a species of throne, in a spacious hall, and surrounded by courtiers and warriors.”


Chapter 20, page 195

the luxurious and effeminate prince turned away in disgust, uttered the name of God, and said to the priests in a tone of mingled pity and contempt, ‘Take him hence, and bring him not back into my presence in such a deplorable state.’”

Herod calls Jesus a fool and commands that Jesus be given a fool’s homage

Chapter 20, page 197

But he spoke in the most contemptuous manner to Jesus, and turning to the guards and servants who surrounded him, and who were about two hundred in number, said: ‘Take away this fool, and pay him that homage which is his due; he is mad, rather than guilty of any crime.’”

The scourging scene is very similar to that written by Emmerich. Jesus is scourged against a pillar in the center of a courtyard. The scourging culminates with the use of chains with barbs that tear chunks off his back. Jesus is then rotated so the soldiers can scourge the other side. Mary is prominent throughout the scene as if exhorting Jesus.

Chapter 22, page 206

This pillar, placed in the centre of the court, stood alone, and did not serve to sustain any part of the building”


Chapter 22, page 206

Jesus trembled and shuddered as he stood before the pillar, and took off his garments as quickly as he could, but his hands were bloody and swollen. The only return he made when his brutal executioners struck and abused him was to pray for them in the most touching manner: he turned his face once towards his Mother, who was standing overcome with grief; this look quite unnerved her: she fainted, and would have fallen, had not the holy women who were there supported her.”


Chapter 22, page 208

Two fresh executioners took the places of the last mentioned, who were beginning to flag; their scourges were composed of small chains, or straps covered with iron hooks, which penetrated to the bone, and tore off large pieces of flesh at every blow. What word, alas! could describe this terrible—this heartrending scene!

The cruelty of these barbarians was nevertheless not yet satiated; they untied Jesus, and again fastened him up with his back turned towards the pillar. As he was totally unable to support himself in an upright position, they passed cords round his waist, under his arms, and above his knees, and having bound his hands tightly into the rings which were placed at the upper part of the pillar, they recommenced scourging him”


Chapter 23, page 211

I SAW the Blessed Virgin in a continual ecstasy during the time of the scourging of her Divine Son; she saw and suffered with inexpressible love and grief all the torments he was enduring.”

During the scourging scene, Mary says, “My son, when, where, how will you choose to be delivered from this?”


Pilate’s wife hands white linens to Mary, who uses these to wipe Jesus’s blood from the floor

Chapter 23, page 211

I saw Claudia Procles, the wife of Pilate, send some large pieces of linen to the Mother of God.”


Chapter 25, page 218

Then it was that the Mother of Jesus, accompanied by the holy women, approached the pillar and wiped up the blood with which it and the ground around were saturated.”

Flashback: Mary Magdalene recalls Jesus preventing her from being stoned and writing on the ground (this is a misusage of John 8:1-11; the woman in this passage was never named)


Jesus prays, “I am your servant and the son of your handmaid.”


Jesus falls multiple times while carrying the cross (These correspond to the 3rd, 7th, and 9th Stations of the Cross. “The Stations of the Cross are a popular Catholic devotion. Each of the fourteen stations stands for an event which occurred during Jesus’ Passion and death at Calvary on Good Friday. A person making the Stations Of The Cross is to meditate about each event depicted at each station, and pray.”

Chapters 31-33

Mary meets Jesus while on the way to Golgotha (4th Station of the Cross)

Chapter 32

Then came her beloved Son. He was almost sinking under the heavy weight of his cross, and his head, still crowned with thorns, was drooping in agony on his shoulder. He cast a look of compassion and sorrow upon his Mother, staggered, and fell for the second time upon his hands and knees. Mary was perfectly agonised at this sight; she forgot all else; she saw neither soldiers nor executioners; she saw nothing but her dearly-loved Son; and, springing from the doorway into the midst of the group who were insulting and abusing him, she threw herself on her knees by his side and embraced him. The only words I heard were, ‘Beloved Son!’ and ‘Mother!’”

Flashback: Mary remembers a time when Jesus (as a child) fell and she came running with outstretched arms


The scene in which Simon of Cyrene is pressed into service is very similar to that written by Emmerich. One of Simon’s children is present. He is initially reluctant, exhibiting great disdain towards Jesus. Simon soon after experiences a change of heart.

Chapter 33

At this moment Simon of Cyrene, a pagan, happened to pass by, accompanied by his three children. He was a gardener, just returning home after working in a garden near the eastern wall of the city, and carrying a bundle of lopped branches. The soldiers perceiving by his dress that he was a pagan, seized him, and ordered him to assist Jesus in carrying his cross. He refused at first, but was soon compelled to obey, although his children, being frightened, cried and made a great noise, upon which some women quieted and took charge of them. Simon was much annoyed, and expressed the greatest vexation at being obliged to walk with a man in so deplorable a condition of dirt and misery; but Jesus wept, and cast such a mild and heavenly look upon him that he was touched, and instead of continuing to show reluctance, helped him to rise, while the executioners fastened one arm of the cross on his shoulders, and he walked behind our Lord, thus relieving him in a great measure from its weight”

Veronica wipes Jesus’s face (6th Station of the Cross; the cloth with the bloody face imprinted in it is now a relic)

Chapter 34

Seraphia was the name of the brave woman who thus dared to confront the enraged multitude; she was the wife of Sirach, one of the councillors belonging to the Temple, and was afterwards known by the name of Veronica, which name was given from the words vera icon (true portrait), to commemorate her brave conduct on this day.

Seraphia had prepared some excellent aromatic wine, which she piously intended to present to our Lord to refresh him on his dolorous way to Calvary. She had been standing in the street for some time, and at last went back into the house to wait. She was, when I first saw her, enveloped in a long veil, and holding a little girl of nine years of age whom she had adopted, by the hand; a large veil was likewise hanging on her arm, and the little girl endeavoured to hide the jar of wine when the procession approached. Those who were marching at the head of the procession tried to push her back; but she made her way through the mob, the soldiers, and the archers, reached Jesus, fell on her knees before him, and presented the veil, saying at the same time, ‘Permit me to wipe the face of my Lord.’ Jesus took the veil in his left hand, wiped his bleeding face, and returned it with thanks. Seraphia kissed it, and put it under her cloak. The girl then timidly offered the wine, but the brutal soldiers would not allow Jesus to drink it.”

The scene of Jesus and Simon of Cyrene is very similar to that written by Emmerich. Simon threatens to stop helping if the soldiers continue in their cruelty, saying that he will do so even if the soldiers kill him. Simon then places Jesus’s arm across his shoulders, supporting him.

Chapter 35, page 243

Their cruelty to Jesus so exasperated Simon of Cyrene that he at last exclaimed, ‘If you continue this brutal conduct, I will throw down the cross and carry it no farther. I will do so if you kill me for it.’”


Chapter 35, page 244

Jesus was on the point of again falling, but Simon, who was behind, perceiving that he could not stand, hastened to support him; he leant upon Simon, and was thus saved from falling to the ground.”

The scene in which Jesus is nailed to the cross is very similar to that written by Emmerich. After the first hand is nailed, Jesus’ other arm is stretched out with a sickening crunch to reach the hole provided for the nail. The soldiers also subject Jesus to more agony as they stretch his body out to the wooden footrest that they placed too low.

Chapter 38, page 250

The Blessed Virgin stood motionless; from time to time you might distinguish her plaintive moans; she appeared as if almost fainting from grief, and Magdalen was quite beside herself. When the executioners had nailed the right hand of our Lord, they perceived that his left hand did not reach the hole they had bored to receive the nail, therefore they tied ropes to his left arm, and having steadied their feet against the cross, pulled the left hand violently until it reached the place prepared for it. This dreadful process caused our Lord indescribable agony, his breast heaved, and his legs were quite contracted.”


Chapter 38, page 251

The executioners had fastened a piece of wood at the lower part of the cross under where the feet of Jesus would be nailed, that thus the weight of his body might not rest upon the wounds of his hands, as also to prevent the bones of his feet from being broken when nailed to the cross. A hole had been pierced in this wood to receive the nail when driven through his feet, and there was likewise a little hollow place for his heels These precautions were taken lest his wounds should be torn open by the weight of his body, and death ensue before he had suffered all the tortures which they hoped to see him endure. The whole body of our Lord had been dragged upward, and contracted by the violent manner with which the executioners had stretched out his arms, and his knees were bent up; they therefore flattened and tied them down tightly with cords; but soon perceiving that his feet did not reach the bit of wood which was placed for them to rest upon, they became infuriated. Some of their number proposed making fresh holes for the nails which pierced his hands, as there would be considerable difficulty in removing the bit of wood, but the others would do nothing of the sort, and continued to vociferate, ‘He will not stretch himself out, but we will help him;’ they accompanied these words with the most fearful oaths and imprecations, and having fastened a rope to his right leg, dragged it violently until it reached the wood, and then tied it down as tightly as possible. The agony which Jesus suffered from this violent tension was indescribable; the words ‘My God, my God,’ escaped his lips, and the executioners increased his pain by tying his chest and arms to the cross, lest the hands should be torn from the nails. They then fastened his left foot on to his right foot, having first bored a hole through them with a species of piercer, because they could not be placed in such a position as to be nailed together at once. Next they took a very long nail and drove it completely through both feet into the cross below, which operation was more than usually painful, on account of his body being so unnaturally stretched out”

As the cross is lifted up, Mary opens fists, releasing pebbles she had been holding (perhaps in a gesture of surrender)


Jesus is depicted as having long hair and being generally pleasing to the eye

Chapter 41, page 257

The complexion of our Lord was fair, like that of Mary, and slightly tinted with red; but his exposure to the weather during the last three years had tanned him considerably. His chest was wide, but not hairy like that of St. John Baptist; his shoulders broad, and his arms and thighs sinewy; his knees were strong and hardened, as is usually the case with those who have either walked or knelt much, and his legs long, with very strong muscles; his feet were well formed, and his hands beautiful, the fingers being long and tapering, and although not delicate like those of a woman, still not resembling those of a man who had laboured hard. His neck was rather long, with a well-set and finely proportioned head; his forehead large and high; his face oval; his hair, which was far from thick, was of a golden brown colour, parted in the middle and falling over his shoulders; his beard was not any great length, but pointed and divided under the chin.”

Mary begs, “Flesh of my flesh, heart of my heart, my son, let me die with you.”

Chapter 43, page 259

the Blessed Virgin, filled with intense feelings of motherly love, entreated her Son to permit her to die with him”

A soldier is showered by Jesus’ blood after piercing His side

Chapter 48, page 276

He seized his lance and rode quickly up to the mound on which the Cross was planted, stopped just between the cross of the good thief and that of our Lord, and taking his lance in both hands, thrust it so completely into the right side of Jesus that the point went through the heart, and appeared on the left side. When Cassius drew his lance out of the wound a quantity of blood and water rushed from it, and flowed over his face and body. This species of washing produced effects somewhat similar to the vivifying waters of Baptism: grace and salvation at once entered his soul. He leaped from his horse, threw himself upon his knees, struck his breast, and confessed loudly before all his firm belief in the divinity of Jesus.”

Jesus’ body is lowered by the soliders and other men

Chapter 48, page 285

Then Joseph and Nicodemus, having placed ladders against the front of the Cross, in a very upright position, and close to the body, untied the upper strap, and fastened it to one of the hooks on the ladder; they did the same with the two other straps, and passing them all on from hook to hook, caused the sacred body to descend…”

Jesus’ body is lowered into Mary’s arms and the camera focuses on Mary in the “Pieta pose” before panning and fading out (this suggests Mary as a co-redeemer)

Chapter 50, page 285

When the body was taken down it was wrapped in linen from the knees to the waist, and then placed in the arms of the Blessed Virgin, who, overwhelmed with sorrow and love, stretched them forth to receive their precious burden.”


Chapter 51, page 286

THE Blessed Virgin seated herself upon a large cloth spread on the ground, with her right knee, which was slightly raised, and her back resting against some mantles, rolled together so as to form a species of cushion. No precaution had been neglected which could in any way facilitate to her—the Mother of Sorrows—in her deep affliction of soul, the mournful but most sacred duty which she was about to fulfil in regard to the body of her beloved Son. The adorable head of Jesus rested upon Mary’s knee, and his body was stretched upon a sheet. The Blessed Virgin was overwhelmed with sorrow and love. Once more, and for the last time, did she hold in her arms the body of her most beloved Son, to whom she had been unable to give any testimony of love during the long hours of his martyrdom. And she gazed upon his wounds and fondly embraced his blood-stained cheeks, whilst Magdalen pressed her face upon his feet.”



Sources:

Emmerich, Anne Catherine. The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Read It Online

I am indebted to a brother in Christ for doing much of the comparison between the movie and Emmerich’s book.

�I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book.� Revelation 22:18