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The Passion, Purpose-Driven Paradigm & Marketing the Gospel


Your responses to Mel Gibson's "Passion"  See also Purpose-Driven Life

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From Dennis: I read the comment from Jeff Wallace regarding the Gibson movie.  I totally agree, especially where Jeff said:

"I think a lot of us out here that are readers of your site, are perhaps little islands of strict Biblical believers, and we are hurting and hungering for other believers that share our heart felt belief in the Jesus of God's Word and the simple gospel message. You provide a source...."
The Baptist church I have been attending since 1998 is going down the Rick Warren trail, has brought in CCM music and you will also find many praises there for the Mel Gibson movie.  This particular church is drifting away from the sound doctrines of God's Word.  I really do not want to stop going to church, but I also cannot keep on going there.  I have not been there for 5 weeks and I have no desire to go back.  No one has called me either to see what's up.  I want to go to a place where God's Word is preached and spoken and the old hymns are sung, the ones that tell me all about my sin and then how Jesus died for me.  Right now I don't know where to go.
I have spoken out in Sunday school about these things and have also spoken to the pastor.  His response to my complaint about Rick Warren was:
"What do you see wrong with Rick Warren?  I am not going to be negative against a dear brother in Christ and I think Rick Warren's material is what Christ wants us to do."
I simply had no response at the time and remained quiet. 

I also got shot down in Sunday school class about the Gibson movie and ended up shutting my mouth there too.  Anything I had to say fell on deaf ears so I stopped talking about it. 


From Jeff Wallace:  When I read the McGinley article it makes me awed once again by the on going deception that really does seem to be underway now from so many that (to some) even appear to be Christians among us. Her article seems to make the scripture in Matthew almost come alive on the page so to speak.

"For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect....." Mt 24:24

As we see what is going on in so many circles, like TBN, Rick Warren's (and others) orientation toward CGM, the Jabez Prayer, media sources like Christianity Today, and now the Passion to some extent, it just makes one want to bow on ones knees in humility and wonder that God's Word is so incredibly accurrate about every single thing it addresses and that he stays faithful to his sheep.

I think alot of us out here that are readers of your site, are perhaps little islands of strict Biblical believers, and we are hurting and hungering for other believers that share our heart felt belief in the Jesus of God's Word and the simple gospel message. You provide a source where we know consistently that you share that approach that Paul stated when he said 1Co 2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. and when he said Ga 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. At any rate, I will pray for your ministry and others like it (like McGinley perhaps, she seems to be on the same page don't you think).

Thank you, Jeff. Yes, I agree with you.

And thank You, Lord, for bringing us all together through the Internet -- at least for this moment in time.

From Dan Backus: I have not seen the movie, nor do I desire to see it. This decision has caused many a heated discussion between myself and some of my Christian brothers and sisters!

I generally try to keep my opinions to myself, but when they come up to me and insist that I "HAVE" to see it... it really sticks in my "craw"! They insist that I have NO IDEA just exactly what Jesus Christ went through on the cross if I don't go see the movie! They tell me the film will "boost" my FAITH!

HHHHMMMMM... Do I believe the Word of God when it says that the visage of Jesus was marred beyond that of any man? Do I believe the Word of God when it tells me how they literally pulled His beard from His face, and forced a crown of thorns onto His head? Do I believe the Word of God when it tells me how they mercessly whipped His back to shreds and struck Him with their fists? Do I believe the Word of God when it tells me He was forced to carry His own cross to Golgotha, where he had nails driven into His hands and feet and was then suspended between heaven and earth for all to see and mock at? Do I believe the Word of God when it says the Roman soldier thrust His spear into the side of Jesus and out flowed water and blood?

YES .... BY FAITH I BELIEVE IT!!!!!! Without FAITH it is impossible to please God!

FAITH is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things NOT SEEN.

For we walk by FAITH, not by sight!

I do not understand what is becoming of the church today! Why the majority of Pastors and churches overwhelmingly support this film is beyond me!

From Mr. Gibson's own words... the Movie is deeply Catholic, and puts great emphasis on MARY... whom Mr. Gibson calls a "Co- Redemtrix" with Christ! Astounding!

I also read your article on "The Purpose Driven Church".

Wow... it is so great to know that I am not the only one that thinks the way I do! One of the churches in our area has begun to use this book , and has seen a growth explosion, to which the Pastor accredits to the methods outined in this book!

Around 12 - 15 years ago... I became "dis-enchanted" with much of what was happening in the churches in our area. There seemed to be a push for a gospel that could be "felt"!

I can remember like it was yesterday, at that time, I got on my knees before God and asked for guidance. I was ( am) a quite man by nature, but all of a sudden, the Word of God opened up to me in a way that blew my mind! I began to see everything through the lenses of the Word of God, and started to recognize many discrepencies in what some of our local churches were teaching and practicing!

Being an average student many years before in High School, I never really liked to write.

After calling upon God for guidance, He gifted me with the ability to write, which has caused me some dispair, as much of what I write goes against many "denominational" teachings. Much like your writings... I always use the scripture as the basis for understanding... and not by what the majority believes or follows!

Often times I really don't understand why I see everything so "Black and White" when it comes to scripture! My life would be so much easier if I just went along with the status quo, and followed the majority! But.. in order to be true to God's word... I can't do that! I have not yet discerned why God has gifted me in this way... or what He desires me to do with such a gift. I suppose until I recognize His purpose for it, I will be obedient and continue writing!

It seems we ( the church) have adapted to a "Seeker Sensitive" mentality... using all kinds of "Gimmicks" to attract people to our churches. When did the preaching power of the un-adulterated... un-watered down Word of God lose it's attraction?

Sadly, our churches are full of folks that will leave and not come back if we so much as change the song service or cancel a pot- luck!

As harsh as it may sound....I say... "Let them leave"! If those in the church who are dedicated to the Lord, and have repented from their sins, and are following in His footsteps would seek God's face in a more intimate way... then perhaps He would cause a TRUE revival to take root.... not one that is based on mostly emotions!

We can use all the "tactics" and " proven methods" to increase the numbers in our churches.... but as it is written... " Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it!"

I am reminded of the last words of Christ before He ascended back to the Father....

"Go ye therefore, and TEACH all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: TEACHING them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:...."

How can this film be an "evangelical tool" when is not TEACHING the truth? Most of the people that I have personally spoken to that have seen the movie, say that if someone has knowledge of the Bible, then they will understand the movie! I have to ask... "what about those that don't know the Bible? Will they be able to understand it?" They may get the "jist" of the movie... but they will in no way understand the FULL gospel of Christ! And it is the Gospel of Christ which brings about salvation!

Anyway... thank you for your article... I know that in the near future, I will be cornered again concerning my opinions of the "Passion of Christ", as our local Ministerial Alliance is planning to buy out the local theatre and give the tickets away to those in the community. Soon they will be asking for "donations" so they can accomplich this task... and my conscience simply will not allow me to participate... either in supporting it financially, nor even going to see it!

From Laura: Re the violence, we don't think the end justifies the means. Years ago, nobody needed an explicit violent movie to convey the Gospel, but God can enable His Word through His Holy Spirit without using the violence - in fact this was His design and who am I to add to it? (See the A.W. Tozer article - wow!)


Violence appears to be the latest and greatest shock factor in a culture that keeps raising the bar of shock and emotion, and lowering our tolerance of God-given innate fear and disgust at violence (which God PUT in us for our own protection!) The whole cultural trend to the occult and violence and monsters is precisely the design of the devil to lower our fear levels associated with those items that should normally make us tremble in deadly fear. But we don't anymore because we're conditioned to it. It takes higher and higher levels of stimulation to get to that fear and shock level.


Paul and I believe this movie is to shock value what porn is to sex. You keep craving the next level to meet a lustly need. And so for those who require a violent film to bring them closer to Christ, what will be required next to solidify that relationship? In another 10 years, when technology will produces a virtual reality experience, where you can actually see, hear, feel, touch and smell the absolute pain of Christ in the crucifixion, as though you were right there with him (or maybe you can purchase the role of Peter observing if role playing Christ Himself is too much) are we to attend that too so we can witness and feel closer to Christ? That's not what the Bible says we do to build our relationship with Him....

The real suffering was not physical anyway - that was temporal. The REAL suffering for Jesus was in bearing the sins of those who place their faith in Him and being rejected by the Father - THAT is the message of eternity, not the swollen eye and butchered body. Christ Himself ordained how we were to identify with and remember his Crucifixion -He didn't say 'each week/year, re-enact it so you can empathize with my pain'. He said 'this bread is my body; this wine is my blood.' THAT is what Paul and I will do to remember the brutality of the crucifixion - the body and the blood - and its meaning.

From F. D.: I'm not sure which is worse, Gibson's version, or the "Jesus Beanie" version... Either way, I hope and pray that people will have discernment and not fall for the marketing ploys. However, curiosity and sentimentality are strong temptations, and unless we Christians are in full armour and looking to the *real* Jesus we will not be able to resist.

Every day we are confronted with new and ever-worse insults to our Lord and God.

We cannot afford to let down our guard -- we must put all our trust in God through Jesus Christ, and depend on Him alone. It is too easy to fall if we look to our own strength.


From Dave M.:  Speaking of disturbing, I also appreciate your article on Mel Gibson's "Passion" movie. Although I can't fairly critique it, having not seen it, I still had an assortment of "red flags" arise when I started hearing about it. Again, my "gut" feeling about it wasn't good. Even though I could still go and see it despite my worries just to satisfy my curiosity and see what the fuss is all about, I really have no desire to do so. Here are my reasons:

1) I don't want to subject myself to a mass (no pun) of disturbing, violent, gory, bloody, and sadistic images and portrayals. Don't we have enough violence being paraded around in front of us that we don't need to go and absorb more? I'd rather sit at home and read the real story of the passion in the real Bible, or watch the movie "The Hiding Place," which keeps the violence in check but does not diminish the true Words of our Lord.

2) Mel Gibson himself said that this movie is not for children. Since when is Jesus not for children? If there is a problem for children to see it, I have a problem, too. Jesus came to the little children and says that we are to be like little children.

3) I keep hearing or reading about people who have problems like nearly vomiting, nightmares and staying awake at night. None of this brings me closer to Jesus. When I study, watch, listen to or do anything else about Jesus, I want to be strengthened and encouraged by His Word. This is what usually happens. I don't suspect that will happen with this movie, although I can't judge it properly without seeing it.

4) I guess modern people are so hooked on imagery, stimulation, visuals and dramatics that real preaching and Bible study are going by the wayside. This is a tragedy. So many people have to be entertained that they can't sit still for anything "plain", such as simply hearing the Word preached. And this movie is not supposed to be entertaining! This modern out-of-control lust for violence is causing people to "have to have it" in whatever medium they watch. I've even seen videos at
music concerts. Is that really necessary? On occasion when used as an enhancement, I suppose, but we used to simply listen to the music and leave the external imaging for another time.

5) I keep hearing about the discussions that will ensue after people see the movie. I'm not against discussions, especially regarding the Bible. Real Bible studies will invoke discussions. The danger is letting discussion groups put their own opinions and conclusions above the authority of the Bible. We can't vote on what God says. We need to read and expose His written Word to us, obey it, put it first in our lives, and let the rest of the discussions continue from there. Once our priorities are straight, we can grow in true faith to God's Word. Christ, and His Word, must stay at the center of our faith and be our foundation, not movies, discussions, opinions or outside sources.

Thank you for all your good work! If nothing else, this will be an interesting next few months!

From a friend in Australia:  It was a relief to see your article on Mel Gibson's film The Passion! I had so many misgivings about this film, yet everything I heard or read from other Christians suggested others didn't have a problem with it -- in fact, most seemed to welcome it as a wonderful celebration of Christianity, and to think it will be a great help to the Gospel.


What first struck me struck me when I first heard about this film (and what I also have against the "Jesus film" that is so popular in evangelicalcircles) is that yet again someone is showing images of Jesus. In the Gospels there is not one hint of what Jesus looked like, how tall or short He was, etc. The fact that He is God and we are warned not to make images of what we think God looks like implies that we are not to make images of Jesus either. If God wanted us to know what He looked like He would have included a description in His Book. Isn't it adding to His Word to produce images of Jesus? And doesn't He warn us in His Word not to add to it?!  (One of the things I find difficult if not impossible to agree with is the distortion of Scripture presented to children through "Bible" stories -- whether illustrated or not, but often elaborated on with invented details -- and "picture Bibles")


[Have you ever read Peter Barnes' "Seeing Jesus - the case against pictures of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Banner of truth Trust)? It is only a very short booklet, but he explains the case very well.]


One thing that is very disturbing about the "Passion" film is that it is very graphic (no secret has been made about this). The accounts of Jesus'suffering in the Gospels leave out all the details (actually, the details are left out of every account of violence in the Bible); we are simply told that He was beaten, that He was mocked, that a crown of thorns was put on His head, that He was crucified -- no descriptions of how or of what it did to Him. Doesn't this suggest that God has a reason for leaving them out?


There is an element of voyeurism (it seems to me) in wanting to portray the details of Jesus' sufferings. This generation thrives on graphic illustrations of violence (this is the same sinful attitude that filled the Coliseum in the days of gladiators...). If God doesn't think we need to know the details in order to appreciate what Jesus went through for us, how dare we suggest that He is wrong??!!


I didn't know about the background to Mr. Gibson's ideas for the film. However, that he was coming at it from a RC viewpoint was already a cause for concern, if not alarm. Having been brought up through Roman Catholic schools and taken part in several "Passion plays" in that time (when I was not a believer, I know that the RC church focuses on the crucifixion and sacrifice aspect of Jesus' death, and tends to sideline the resurrection and victory side of it. The focus is on His suffering, not on His overcoming sin and death and bringing eternal life to all who put their trust in Him.

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