Now, Contending for the Faith. In this regular feature, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call. Here’s this week’s question: “Dear Dave and T.A., Are you guys aware that you are beyond annoying? Is there anything going on in Christianity that meets with your approval? From the seeker-sensitive ways of winning the lost to having issues with Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, to the use of contemporary music, you’re criticizing the most effective methods and means to save souls in the history of the church. Wake up to the fact that your negative approach is simply chasing potential converts away.”
Tom: Well, Dave, why doesn’t this person tell us what they really think here? You know, it’s good to get letters like this, because, you know, you have to take stock. You say well, wait a minute—what’s the truth in this? And are we always coming off this way, and so on? So what do you think?
Dave: Well, Tom, there is some truth in what the person says. We shouldn’t just be criticizing, and I don’t think we are. We exegete the Bible, we….
Tom: …talk about the love of God.
Dave: I mean we deal with many issues. On the other hand, we must, we are accountable to teach the truth as we understand it. Now if someone disagrees, then they have a responsibility to uphold their side of the discussion as well. But we are to “earnestly contend for the faith, once for all delivered to the saints,” okay?
Now, let’s take some of these things: Contemporary music—you sat in on my discussion with the pastor where we just were. I only made a suggestion. I said, ”For example, you say, ‘I’m here to worship You, I’m here to worship You, we’re here to worship You…’ over and over and over. Well then, why don’t you worship Him?”
“I lift my voice to worship you. Oh my soul, rejoice. Take joy, my King, in what you hear….” Well, what is He hearing? I’m sorry, I don’t want to offend anyone out there, but there’s no content to that.
“Take joy, my king, in what you hear, let it be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear.” Well, what is the sweet, sweet sound? Why don’t you tell Him your appreciation for what He’s done? And His greatness, and His love and His mercy and His kindness!
So some of these songs, I think, are empty. They’ve jettisoned the old songs of the faith that are so powerful. And I don’t know why. Why would you throw out, “And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood? Died He for me, who caused His pain, For me, who Him did death pursue. Amazing love, how can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”
Okay, so I think I’m entitled to say that. Furthermore, we’re not the only ones who say that. We hear from people. I hear from people all the time, who say, “I just can’t stand it! I love this church. I love the pastor. He teaches His word, but I go there, and I get these shallow, repetitive songs.”
So I think we’re simply trying to call it to someone’s attention. Now as far as….
Tom: Now, Dave, let me jump on this other one here. We’ve been a little bit here and there talking about The Passion of the Christ.
Dave: Very little, I think.
Tom: Yeah, but I think there are some issues here that people ought to consider. For example, the movie—you’ve seen it, I’ve seen it—this is Mel Gibson’s vision. This is his understanding, his interpretation, much of it taken from the gospels, but other sources, certainly. As a former Roman Catholic, I can tell you from beginning to end, that this is the foundation of the film. It’s based on the Stations of the Cross—the fourteen stations of the cross. And here’s what I would ask anybody who’s seen the film or is going to see the film: Based on what you’ve seen, if you had a Bible study in your home, would you turn your Bible study over and let Mel—many people would love to have him come to their house, okay?—but on the other hand, would you let Mel teach your Bible study? Well, basically this is the way many, many thousands upon thousands of people are going to the film and recognizing it in their minds as Scripture—and it’s not.
Dave: Yeah, Tom, just a couple of quick things. I’ve been reluctant—in fact, I scarcely have said anything publicly about that film. First of all, what Mel is trying to do—he’s trying to show that Jesus suffered so much physically that it could pay for the sins of the world. Well, physical suffering does not pay for the sins of the world. That’s what we did to him.
Tom: But that’s what we believed as Roman Catholics.
Dave: I understand that. Yeah, but, so all I’m saying is this impression a person gets. You don’t see the spiritual suffering of Christ. You don’t see that God laid on him our sins; that He paid the penalty His own infinite justice required for the sins of the world, and that is where our salvation comes from. So you walk out of there with an impression about the physical sufferings of Christ, but, Tom, anyone would know if they have studied any history, Christ did not suffer more physically that any person who walked this earth. They roasted you on a grill…
Tom: …during Inquisition.
Dave: …in the Inquisition times. The Assyrians skinned you alive, and in other parts they would hang you on a meat hook and cut you up into pieces while you’re still alive, okay? So now there’s a problem. I ask someone, “Tell me what is wrong when I say that?”
Number 2, Tom, and this is something I’ve talked about for years, but I don’t push it on people. If you have a picture of Jesus—let alone an actor trying to portray Jesus…Jesus said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” Now, how can any actor portray that? When you walk out of the theater—I mean there are many people—I’ve talked to people who say, “Well, now, whenever I pray I see this actor in my mind—that’s Jesus.”
Now, Tom, if I carried in my wallet a picture of someone else, but I said it’s my wife, and I keep looking at it several times a day to remind me of my wife, but it’s not a picture of my wife at all, I think my wife would be upset. And I was just looking at numbers of pictures that artists have portrayed of Jesus down through history. They don’t even look alike, okay? Now don’t you think that Christ is a bit upset by these misrepresentations of Him? And if this isn’t really Jesus, then why have it? Tom, I would ask any listener out there, please refute the simple logic of that. Furthermore, if Jesus is God, and He is, we are commanded not to have images of God. That’s another problem.
So what must we do? Be silent? I think we need to speak out on certain issues. If people disagree with us, they’re entitled to disagree with us, but don’t say we can’t disagree with them, okay?
Tom: Well, again, the name of the program is Search the Scriptures Daily. We certainly want people to go to God’s Word first and then compare other things that are out there, whether it be a film, whatever it might be, with God’s Word. And, as you said, Dave, come to your own conclusions.