Another film shown at my church was "The Passion of the Christ." While it was understandable from a position of being acquainted with the Gospel narrative, I later came to realize that there's no theology in it. It simply shows Jesus dying--and suffering. Lots and lots of physical suffering, which wasn't even the real sacrifice according to the Bible: how He really suffered was in the separation He experienced from the Father--that point, "when every sin on Him was laid," and the infinite God experiencing a temporally finite separation within Himself became the substitution for finite men to evade an temporally infinite separation from God, by trading places. This fails to be a true Gospel movie as a result. Sure, it can be called a "Faith" movie, since it is inspired by stories from the source of the Christian faith--the Bible. But it doesn't include the content of that faith--the Gospel of Jesus Christ--and therefore is no more than a detached biopic.
I later encountered an expose' of sorts by Tim Challies (found here) that reveals all the subtle ways in which scenes from that movie were directly inspired by Catholic mysticism, which even superseded the Biblical narrative at certain points. Red flag.
"Gibson drew heavily from Sister Anne Emmerich’s devotional book entitled The Dolorous Passion of Christ. Emmerich is known as being a Mystic, Stigmatist, Visionary, and Prophet."Well, this suddenly doesn't seem too positive any more. At least the movie 'harmlessly' merely portrays the events (well, if you ignore the added scenes from Emmerich) and doesn't blatantly come out and say "serve Satan" or something. But it opened the door for movies which disregard the Biblical narrative in favor of human ideas to proliferate.
As my wife left the theatre last night she heard a member of a Protestant church say “I didn’t remember the part in the Bible where Mary wipes up Jesus’ blood. That was so beautiful.”Frightening.
But why didn't Bible-inspired (Bible-based would be giving them too much credit) movies come rushing out into theaters then? What took them until 2014 to finally get there?
I read a blog by a woman, Elizabeth Prata, who has a very keen eye on 'creeping heresy,' as I'll simply call it--the encroachment of nonChristian and even antiChristian elements in culture on the Church sphere. In a recent post where she warns against several upcoming "Faith films," she makes this comment:
The year 2014 has been dubbed "The Year of the Christian Movie." Ten years ago Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ" was released and it became a blockbuster by any standard but especially for a Christian movie. Then...nothing. Crickets. No mainstream Hollywood movies with a Christian theme have been released. Until now.She isn't totally wrong. Hollywood has been very hesitant to pour much money into "Faith films," but that doesn't mean they've been doing nothing for ten years. I recently came across the March 31 edition of TIME magazine (online link here: it's temporarily unavailable in full because it's the current issue). In it, there is an article that focuses on a key player whom I wouldn't be surprised if Elizabeth chooses to keep tabs on from this point forward, Jonathan Bock. He's presented in the article as Hollywood's go-to guy for reaching out to 'religious' moviegoers and basically test-running and marketing movies to 'the faithful,' which Hollywood has long considered a desirable, but inscrutable, source of potential income.
The TIME article states, to my memory (since the paper copy is not with me and I don't have a subscription) that Bock worked on Passion and served as an advisor on The Bible Miniseries which was released last year. [If any of my information is wrong, I'll correct it, but it may be later in the month since I don't have frequent internet access]. What's also interesting is that Rick Warren was in some way a sponsor, producer, consultant or recipient of profit from Passion and The Bible, a bit of information which serves to imply that the 'powers' behind the recent release of Son of God have been working together since Passion to determine their next steps. We're now seeing whatever plans they may have concocted being unfolded and put on display.