Hollywood handles the gospel accurately in

Entertainment in general and movies in particular have been a challenge for me in recent years. Showing solidarity with the Southern Baptist Convention, I have refrained from attending Disney movies or purchasing any of their merchandise. Going a step further in my personal convictions, we installed a curse-free gadget on our home television. It had gotten to the place where I could not watch some “family” shows without profanity being poured out in my living room. Attending movies has almost become a forbidden fruit. Where can you go without seeing salacious sex or hearing blue streak obscenities.

Christians have tried to break the Hollywood hold on movies and TV. Most of the “Christian” films are poorly written, directed and filmed. People who do not know Christ are unimpressed with cheesy second-rate movies that try to evangelize or teach a biblical perspective. Some quality films are produced by Christians, but those rarely get broad distribution. Few television programs or movies portray Christianity in a positive light. Recently I had an experience that gave me some hope.

I was invited to attend a screening of a film titled, The Passion. The cost of the film is being underwritten by Mel Gibson. He is also the director. His stated desire is to glorify God in the film. The faxed invitation said Mel Gibson would be there. I said, “Sure, right.” After checking to be sure that I was not the object of some cruel hoax, I agreed to attend.

When I entered the facilities, a few familiar faces greeted me among the thirty or so invitees. The majority of the crowd was a cross section of the evangelical community in the Dallas area. Mega-churches and Para-church organizations were represented. We were informed that Mr. Gibson had been delayed in his arrival from a Houston screening because of protesters. Once he arrived we were permitted to mingle with him informally for over thirty minutes. He came across as a very sincere and down to earth person. He is also committed to his faith.

For the next two hours plus, I sat with a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat. The portrayal of Jesus’ sufferings surpasses anything I have ever seen. The scourging and crucifixion are graphic in detail. I have preached the cross for 33 years. The movie is everything I could ever convey with words and more. I was deeply moved by the scenes of the physical, emotional and spiritual sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Please note that The Passion may not be appropriate for young children.)

I am not a professional critic, but the acting, casting, sound and special effects, and music was superb. There are a limited number of extra-Biblical scenes, yet nothing that violates scripture. Several groups will find fault on ideological grounds. One is the legalist, who would never find any movie satisfactory. Another is the secularist who will never find a presentation of truth from the Bible acceptable. Finally, there are those who have already claimed the film is anti-Semitic. They should consider that many who embrace The Passion worship a God who came in the form of a Jewish man.

When The Passion is released, I urge you to go see it. It will touch your heart and hopefully touch the hearts of those who have never experienced forgiveness through the blood of Christ.

Executive Director Emeritus
Jim Richards
Southern Baptists of Texas Convention
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