Sunday, February 15, 2004

"I thought it might be appropriate and helpful to briefly explicate the position our family is taking on The Passion, a film in which a bold actor attempts a very difficult part, the role of God incarnate.

We strive in our family to be committed first of all to obedience to the word of God, in this case particularly the Second Commandment. We feel that the older understanding of the meaning and implications of the commandment (historic protestant iconoclasm) is being abandoned without much serious reflection.

While some have told us they think our objections to this movie are somehow a denial of the incarnation, we think that the making of this film is in fact a denial of the nature of the incarnation. We recognize the real humanity of Christ, without sin. Jesus came in the appearance of man (Phil 2:8) but He did not appear as a sinful man. Furthermore men are not now able to know Christ in His incarnate form (2 Cor 5:16), although we believe that after His glorification He remains incarnate. Thus, while He is eternally incarnate, the time in which sinful men could so know Him was intentionally temporary.

We think that it has been for our own safety that Christ left us no pictures, for it is in our basic nature to worship idols. If idolatry were not a constant danger to us, the Lord would not have repeated His warnings against it so often. The Roman Catholic church corrupted its worship by the introduction of images and relics into the pure worship of God, and continues to worship and pray to much that is not God. Those Christians err who pray to images in the church or in their imaginations. Screwtape approves of this error, encouraging young Wormwood to have the patient pray through an object of reverence, that might be "up and to the left at the corner of the bedroom, or inside his own head, or in a crucifix on the wall." He is to encourage the patient to work at correcting and improving this image. (C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, Ch IV). Gibson's movie will likely constitute a potent tool of temptation, and the excellence of the images will only make it worse.

Jesus says, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father;" Jesus "is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature." Can an actor really presume to portray this? Will we have seen the Father when we have seen Jim Caveziel on the big screen? I think all will answer in the negative to this question, but what we forget is that God has given us a word in which, as we "see" Christ in it, we also again see the Father. That Word is perfect and this film is not. That word is the way that God has given us to know Him and to make him known. We argue therefore that any insistence that Christians have a duty to view this film is completely unwarranted, for the word of God is sufficient for all our needs and cannot be improved upon.

Supposing we were to view it, we would not see film of the sinless Son of God being executed. We would see pictures of a sinner hanging on a cross, a god small enough to be portrayed accurately by a sinful man. The incarnation is about God becoming a man, but this film is essentially a man pretending to be God. Jesus is, after all, being played by the same guy who played the Count of Monte Cristo. This will result in a profound demystification of the incarnation, and demystification feels good to people who suppose they have apprehended something that has been eluding them. Jesus will be trivialized when Jim Caveziel takes his next role (what will he be, a bank robber, a cowboy, a spy, who knows?). "Hey, isn't that the dude who played God incarnate in his last movie?"

This film will not prove a panacea for our evangelistic ineffectiveness. I find it ironic that the angry Zionist critics of this film have not been just as vehemently criticizing the Bible and the church for all the same things they are angry with the film about. Why is this? Is it because we are so impotent in our proclamation of the word of God, and so weak in our worship of Him, that we are not a threat to them? I don't think this film represents any solution to our problem, or any serious threat to Gibson's Zionist opponents. I find it equally ironic that Christians are hailing this film as the next best thing to the second coming. Why is this? Perhaps childish impatience and curiosity. For my part I will wait to gaze upon my Saviour until that time that He has determined to show himself to me. He will, no doubt in many ways, be other than what I have expected, due to my own sins, distortions, and ignorance; but at least I won't be surprised that He doesn' t look like Jim Caveziel."

~My father, in a recent email.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Books I came home with from the history conference:
Kitty, My Rib, by E. Jane Mall
from the Curriculum Connection table, I think.

Dubliners, by James Joyce
from Ball and Cross Books

Gulliver's Travels, A Tale of a Tub, Satires, and Personal Writings, by Jonathan Swift, a two book set
from Ball and Cross Books

Put Out More Flags, by Evelyn Waugh
My dad bought this one for me, I'm not sure which table.

A Bob Dylan record.
from Ball and Cross Books.

And I bought my dad Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies, also from Ball and Cross Books.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Well, for those of you who were not at this last week's Credenda Agenda History Conference, you can go read Dr. Grant's blog, where he posted entries matching very closely to what he spoke.

You will also get a taste for Dr. Grant's talents in writing/speaking, for example:

"A distant gleaming skyline soars up from the fruited plains through plump cumulous clouds to sleek zeppelin docks and mad neon spires. Roads of crystal unfold between the towers like an origami trick. They are crossed and recrossed by thousands of satiny silver vehicles like choreographed beads of running mercury. The air above the city crackles with remote radio-laser signals. It is simultaneously thick with ships: giant delta wing-liners, dragonfly-like gyro-copters, electro-magneto aerial cars, and vast hovering helium blimps. Searchlights sweep surreally across the horizon illuminating streamlined buildings ringed with bright radiator flanges."