Although Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” won’t reach most theatres for another couple of weeks, the excitement it has created among evangelicals is stunning. The number of well-known Christian leaders who have previewed the film and are very enthusiastic about it is overwhelming. One article addressing such enthusiasm begins with this comment: “For years it was an article of fatih for many Christians that the most powerful vehicle for bringing nonbelievers to Jesus was a Billy Graham crusade. Now, they expect it will be a Mel Gibson movie.”
We have received numerous calls and emails asking our opinion of the film. Not having seen it as yet, we can offer nothing definitive. We shall see it as soon as it arrives in Bend, Oregon, and follow that with our review.
In anticipation of reviewing the film, here are a few of the issues we will consider: 1) How does presenting “Jesus” on the screen square with the Second Commandment (Ex. 20:4)? 2) Is what the film presents (as it has been alleged Pope John Paul II said about it, “It is as it was.”) visually accurate, or does it matter? 3) Is the emphasis on the physical sufferings of Christ misleading as to His paying the infinite penalty for our sins? 4) To what degree is Mel Gibson’s extremely conservative Catholicism reflected in the film? 5) Is this motion picture event another (albeit highly significant) inducement for the rapidly developing market-oriented, entertainment-hungry, ecumenically prone evangelical church?