The BBC is reporting on the warnings given out by Heaton Baptist church in Newcastle that children should not be taken to their Easter service, because part of the service would involve showing scenes from Mel Gibson’s film The Passion.
I wrote something on my old blog about why actors playing the role of the Saviour is wrong in principle (can’t remember if I copied it across, in the days before the import tool for Blogger Beta was developed, but it’s available here).
But Gibson’s Passion film is even worse than this. The fact that children need to be shielded and protected from it is a terrible indictment against it, particularly when misguided churches and their thoughtless pastors are trying to use it as some sort of devotional or teaching tool.
This was the Saviour, after all, who welcomed little children to himself – that’s himself as the Saviour, the God-man, the good shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep. He isn’t a saviour by virtue of having undergone lots of horrific suffering. He is the saviour by virtue of his purposeful, meritorious, and completely successful atonement which he accomplished on the cross at Calvary. Little children can safely memorise and repeat the 53rd chapter of Isaiah without their minds being brutalised or their emotions repulsed and demoralised. Little children can learn what that woman said in her simplicity about her personal hope for eternity (she wasn’t a native speaker of English): ‘He die, me no die.’
Exposure to the bible’s version of events – the historical description and the theological interpretation – never harmed anyone. It’s a message that’s suitable for anyone, however young and however sensitive: this is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, and the blood of Jesus Christ God’s Son cleanses us from all sin. Pastors in Newcastle’s Baptist community would be better off faithfully proclaiming the word of the truth of that gospel, and inviting everyone, young and old, to hear it and believe it, rather than resorting to Mel Gibson’s sadistic portrayal of human suffering, as if the brutality of his distorted account could do anyone any good whatsoever.