Problems With The Passion of The Christ

Last updated on August 18, 2008

The majority of this article is a response that I made to someone on an internet forum who asked me to elaborate on a comment that I made about Mel Gibson's movie called "The Passion of the Christ" (which I have seen by the way). Although I do not deny that God can use this movie for good, I believe that there are more serious problems with this movie than many well meaning people are aware of.

I find that The Passion of the Christ seems to be a very touchy subject, and many people do not even seem open to hear what is really being said when these issues are raised. Since Proverbs 18:13 says “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him”, I am hoping that at least some people out there will seriously and prayerfully consider what is written here before jumping to conclusions.

First, one of the things that I find to be amazing is that many of today's professing evangelical leaders have praised The Passion of the Christ as being "biblically accurate" when there are even some Catholics who recognize that it is not. For example, movie critic Roger Ebert was a Catholic, and he loved The Passion of the Christ. In the Bend Bulletin, Ebert made the following statement:

“Anyone raised as a Catholic will be familiar with the stops along the way; The Passion of the Christ screenplay is inspired not so much by the Gospels as by the 14 Stations of the Cross. As an alter boy, serving during the Stations on Friday nights in Lent, I was encouraged to meditate on Christ’s suffering, and I remember the chants as the priest led the way from one station to another: At the Cross, her station keeping …Stood the mournful Mother weeping…Close to Jesus to the last.” (Ebert, The Bend Bulletin)

In fact, not only is there so much in The Passion which is not biblical, but some of the scenes in it were inspired from the visions of an occultist nun - Anne Cathrine Emmerich. For some info about that, I recommend checking out the following radio broadcast link: Beatification of a Mystic! By Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon.

I also find it amazing that many evangelicals are in denial about the fact that The Passion of the Christ is a Catholic movie. In fact, some of the few who have tried to show that it is a Catholic movie have been persecuted and scorned for that.

Now that the definitive edition of The Passion is out, Mel Gibson himself has revealed that the true purpose of The Passion has been to lead people to Catholicism - yet people still seem to be in denial about that, which I find to be incredible! For some info about that, I recommend the following article: Mel Gibson Reveals True Purpose of The Passion - Leading People to Catholicism!

Another Gospel

One of the main problems with The Passion is that it promotes a false gospel. It gives the impression that Christ's physical suffering is what saved us, because Catholicism emphasizes physical suffering, whether in this life or in purgatory. But whatever the Roman soldiers or any other sinful men did to Christ would never save anyone - that would only add to their condemnation.

Although we can not fully comprehend what Jesus endured on the cross, the Scriptures make it clear that Jesus endured a spiritual suffering at the hands of God the Father as He hung on the cross: Isaiah 53:10 very clearly states that “it pleased The Lord to bruise Him...[the Lord made] His soul an offering for sin.”

So it was His soul which was made an offering for sin when it was “poured out....unto death” (Isaiah 53:12). This indicates that Hebrews 2:9 is obviously speaking of more than physical death when it states that Jesus “tast[ed] death for everyone”.

Although some have used Isaiah 53:5 to say that Jesus' scourging is part of what saved us, the Hebrew word which was translated as "stripes" in Isaiah 53:5 (which is chabburah – or chaburah) is singular and not plural.

This indicates that Jesus received a single blow in punishment for our sins, which means that the Roman solders abuse of Christ could not have saved us (As portrayed in The Passion of the Christ)....but what saved us is that “it pleased the Lord to bruise Him” (Isaiah 53:10) when His soul was made an offering for sin.

On the other hand, if the Roman soldiers abuse of Christ is what saved us, this would have to mean that any of these sinful men who got saved have actually helped bring about their own salvation by torturing Christ! That is simply not rational, and it is certainly not biblical....but many people (including myself at one time) accept it because they are not carefully thinking it through. And I feel that many people have heard the Bible taught wrong for so long that they no longer grasp what it is saying regarding the penalty that Jesus paid for our sins.

As I have said, we can not fully comprehend what Jesus endured on the cross, and I do not claim to fully comprehend it myself....but since Jesus became sin for us as 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, this means that he had to bare the curse of sin which was involved in that. I believe that this is revealed in this next verse....

Galatians 3:13 says, “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”)

The verse which Paul quoted there is Deuteronomy 21:23, which says “he who is hanged is accursed of God”.

Once again, this verse fits the fact that Jesus endured a spiritual suffering at the hands of God the Father as He hung on the cross. That is the most significant suffering that He endured for our sins, and that is the suffering which is missed in The Passion of the Christ. Sadly, it also seems to be missed by most believers and professing believers today.

Showtime For The Sheep?

For a more thorough critique of The Passion of the Christ, I recommend a book by T.A. McMahon titled Showtime for the Sheep?

The author of this book used to be a Catholic for 30 years before he was lead to the true Jesus Christ by some loving evangelicals, and I find it sad that many of today's professing evangelicals apparently do not have that same love in their hearts for Catholics. This author also used to work in the movie industry, so he understands the medium of film making fairly well.

I have found this book to be very insightful and very thought provoking, and it is not even the least bit mean spirited. It addresses more than The Passion of The Christ....it actually addresses several key trends, and the Lord has used it to confirm some convictions which I already had (yet which I have tried to ignore), to be true.

I do not doubt Mel Gibson's sincerity in making The Passion of The Christ, nor do I deny that there is some good that can come from it....but I think that he is dead wrong in his theology, and I think that there has already been more bad that has come from this movie than good.

Much More Info

If you are still interested in more info about some of the issues that I have addressed here and more, I also recommend the following links....

Showtime for the Sheep? by T.A. McMahon (This is excerpts from his book with the same title)

Christ Died For Our Sins, by Dave Hunt

Let the Biblical Buyer Beware! by T.A. McMahon

What's Wrong With This Picture? by T.A. McMahon

The Penalty For Sin - Part 1 (This is another one of my articles)

The Penalty For Sin - Part 2 (This is another one of my articles)

Visual Translations Of The Scriptures (This is another one of my articles)

Christian Movies (This is another one of my articles)

Dueling Evangelists

A Marian Movie? (quotations from “Christianity Today”)

Mel’s Mystical Stigmatist (excerpts from Spirit Daily web page article)

J.C. Mistaken For J.C.

Mel Gibson Reveals True Purpose of The Passion - Leading People to Catholicism!

What Lies Behind Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ? By Roger Oakland and Jim Tetlow

Passion Evangelism, by Roger Oakland and Jim Tetlow

Caution: "The Passion" and Mary, by Roger Oakland

The "Passion" Visionary, Roger Oakland

Catholic Evangelism? By Roger Oakland

Showtime For The Sheep Again and Again, by T.A. McMahon

Many of these next links will let you hear some short radio shows which address some issues in The Passion Of The Christ, and some other issues as well.

These first two radio shows address some idolatry issues:

Should We Make Movies About Jesus? (Radio show)

Jesus Actor Gets Some Fan Worship (Radio show)

Also check out this You Tube video: Mel Gibson's Vivid Idolatrous Deception: The Passion of the Christ, by Richard Bennett.
This presentation is by a former Catholic priest.

This next radio show is about a mystic nun whose visions inspired many scenes in The Passion Of The Christ:

Beatification of a Mystic! (Radio show)

These next three radio shows are about the penalty that Jesus paid for our sins, and some misconceptions about the penalty for sin:

Did Jesus Pay The FULL Penalty? - Click here for the You Tube version of this one.

How Could Jesus Suffer Eternal Death? (Radio Show)

What Is The 'Power' Of Jesus' Blood? (Radio show)

This last radio show is about the definitive edition of The Passion of The Christ:

The Definitive 'Passion Of The Christ' - Click here for the You Tube version of this one.



Another Jesus? By Roger Oakland (You Tube Video) - DVD - Book

The Bible According To Hollywood, by T.A. McMahon

The Bible According To Hollywood 2, by T.A. McMahon

The Bible According To Hollywood You Tube video, by T.A. McMahon

April 2014 Q&A From The Berean Call

September 2014 Q&A From The Berean Call

June 2015 Q&A From The Berean Call

A Word of Caution: Ecumenical-Backed Movie, “Son of God,” May Send Subtle New Age/Roman Catholic Messages

WHAT IS SALVATION?

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