Thursday, February 12, 2004

Since when is this our job???

In the past I've said nice things about Chuck Colson's Breakpoint commentaries, so it's with a clear conscience that I can rant against him. In today's Breakpoint, Who Killed Jesus? Setting the Record Straight, Colson addresses the latest issue of Newsweek (which will probably hit my mailbox today) which had the cover story "Who killed Jesus?" This was, of course, inspired by Mel Gibson's 2nd Commandment shattering film.

This morning on Today I saw Katie Couric lob soft-ball questions at the Newsweek writer on the same topic (and saw more of the movie than I ever, ever wanted to). This alone started my day off on a bad footing--it would've been much worse if Diane Sawyer hadn't mollified me by lobbing soft-ball questions at Adam Sandler on Good Morning, America.

On Today, the Newsweek guy said some silliness about Pilate not being the kind of person who would be bullied into crucifying Jesus by a bunch of Jews, and made some nasty remarks about the hyper-literalistic nature of Gibson's movie--silly man, thinking that the Gospel writers knew what actually happened at the Cross without the perspective of 21st century "scholarship." The point he seemed to be making was that we shouldn't blame the Jews for the death--it was Pilate. See, the Jews shouldn't be blamed for it--so nobody should hate them, just hate that Pilate guy.

Here's a better idea--those who watch the movie should realize that everyone who isn't a Roman in the movie probably is a Jew--"bad guys" and "good guys" alike! So yeah, there are probably people to villainize as well as those to proclaim as hero. Furthermore, we need to realize that Pilate had a hand in it, the Jewish leaders had a hand in it, the Jewish mob that cried for the release of Barabbas had a hand in it, and GOD ALMIGHTY had a hand in it (you might say He predestined it if you're one of those silly types that take the Bible at face value). This is NO reason to HATE any group of people who happen to be descended from Pilate, the Romans, the Jewish leaders of the day, the Jewish mob or anybody else.

The book of Acts recounts the early church praying, "...for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place." (Acts 4:27-28) And did they call down fire from Heaven on these people, did they call for their deaths? No. Instead, they asked that God would enable them to keep proclaiming the Gospel to these people. If you're gonna hate the Jews for this, you'd better be ready to hate everyone mentioned in those verses (including the One they were praying to).

Colson's point in reaction to the Newsweek question was, "The Jews didn't cause the death of Jesus, nor did the Romans. They were merely instruments carrying out what God had decreed. He sent His only begotten Son to die on the cross so that the sins of mankind might be forgiven. And those who take Scripture seriously have always known who killed Jesus: You and I and all other sinful human beings did so. So enough of this foolish controversy." Now up to that point, he's right. (and says it with less sarcasm than I did) And according to Gibson, that was his point as well.

Now all my bile for the day would've been saved for the ninny at Newsweek, if Colson had stopped there. Or if he'd only gone on to say, "be ready with a biblical answer for your Jewish friends who hear all of this propaganda, most of it stirred up by professional activists."

It was the stuff in between those two quotes that got me going: "My advice to Christians is that you make it abundantly clear to your friends and neighbors that we are the ones responsible and then take them to see the film. Let them experience the passion and explain to them why it was necessary for Jesus to go to the cross." (emphasis mine) Take them to see the film? Why not just use what you've already said as your answer? Better yet--USE THE BIBLE with them. Give them one, read them the passages, study it with them!!!

And then he topped it off by concluding with: "So, three cheers for Mel Gibson. And thanks to Newsweek for asking the right question, even if it does not have the right answer. But now it is up to us Christians to do our job to educate our neighbors and flood the movie theaters." It's the JOB of Christians to flood the movie theaters? Where are we told to do that? Must be somewhere in 4th Corinthians 15 (never spent that much time reading that portion of Paul's letters).

Here, Christian, here is your job--proclaim the gospel, preach Christ and Him crucified--we don't need some silly little (blasphemous) movie to do our job when we have the Bible.