Thousands of churches are still in the midst of Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Purpose and little do they know that if they do not hurry it up, they are going to miss out on the best outreach opportunity of the past 2000 years! Yes indeed, Mel Gibson’s movie “The Passion of The Christ” is proclaiming itself just that. They have even created a Web site geared specifically to this purpose. I have to admit, I cannot remember the last time a movie was released that included an outreach timeline along with outreach postcards. They really know the evangelical world as Powerpoint slides are coming soon too! If you are really interested you can order any number of posters, door hangers, etc.
The support for this movie is overwhelming. The Notable Quotes section reads like a who’s who of Protestant and Catholic clergy and theologians. It is interesting that all the Protestants are listed first, followed by Catholics. They even have some prominent Jews proclaiming that the movie is in no way racist. Evidently the site and the outreach program are geared mostly at evangelical churches.
You do not have to look far to find all sorts of early reviews for the movie. By and large the reviews are very positive. It seems that the reports of Jewish people being upset by a perceived negative portrayal of their forebearers were mostly media hype. I am not sure if it is a positive or a negative that neither Protestants nor Catholics are claiming the account of Jesus’ death is inaccurate. Perhaps this means the movie is all story with little theology (which is probably a good thing since it spans denominations which have different views about parts of the story and its implications). The only person I know who saw the movie said it was “accurate with some artistic license.” Another reviewer said “It truly is a great depiction of the passion of Christ with the theological emphasis on Mary’s role in the Church, the wickedness of Satan, and the Eucharist in connection with the crucifixion itself.” Uh oh. Of course that may be someone interpreting events through his theology rather than stating what the movie actually shows.
I look forward to seeing how this movie impacts the evangelical world. I don’t doubt that it will provide a powerful portrayal of Jesus’ suffering and death. I don’t doubt that many people will be touched by this movie and that it will probably be instrumental in bringing some to Christ.
Despite this, I have mixed feelings about the movie. If my wife was brutally murdered, would I want to see a movie about it? If I love Jesus more than my wife, why would I want to see a graphic, brutal portrayal of His death? Do I really need to see His death to truly understand it? What will the movie do that reading the account will not do? Might it be that all I will walk away with is an emotional reaction, but nothing that really penetrates my mind? At this time I do not have answers to all of those questions, but I do intend to think and pray about it over the next few weeks.