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Jesus Makes Headlines Controversy
by J. Grant Swank, Jr., Pastor
17 June 2003

Let's not review Mel's film when it's not here yet.  Let's not start a war over Jesus -- once again.

Once again, Jesus stirs up trouble, like unto two thousand years ago. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, just can't seem to work His way into peace sites. Instead, when His name is mentioned or His life reviewed, tempers fly and debate ensues.

Same with Mel Gibson's intended movie about the last 12 hours in Jesus' life. "The Passion" is not completed yet. A scratch edition, that is, a forerunner of the final copy, is a part of history; however, the ultimate Jesus movie from Mel is not yet reality.

Some people got hold of the scratch edition and made false claims about a final movie which is not even present-tense. These same people do not like Mel's biblical testimony, for his movie will keep intact biblical detail, no matter who likes it or not. In other words, Mel will remain true to the record, not fictionalizing Jesus' crucifixion.

Interestingly enough, those criticizing Mel's movie not yet completed, have obviously not seen the final copy since it is not in existence. Therefore, they proceed to critique that which is not.

Furthermore, these very persons who criticize Mel for adhering to the exact detail of the four GOSPELS are presently rewriting the GOSPELS so as to twist the record to their theologically liberal stance. Not good. Not fair. Not accurate to historical account, but quite characteristic of theologically liberal supposed scholars.

Mel believes the biblical record as presented is divine revelation. He does not intend to tamper with that. Mel wants to present then the biblical Jesus -- just as is, not seeking to add to nor take away from.

In addition, Mel is blamed for being anti-Semitic in his intended movie. Mel claims that he takes to all persons, regardless of creed, color or anything else. Naturally those who are rewriting the GOSPELS will make their rewrite present-tense politically correct; therefore, they will seek to downplay what they consider anti-Semitism in Scriptures.

Through all the arguments about the GOSPELS presenting an unfair picture of the Jews' part in Jesus' crucifixion, what is so clear in the biblical record is this: both Jews and Gentiles killed Jesus. The Jews obviously played out their cry for the Nazarene Rabbi to be hung on a cross. It's there, over and over again.

But the Gentiles also played out their permission for the Nazarene Rabbi to be hung on a cross for crucifixion was the Gentile/Roman means of putting to death one grossly accused. Check out the parts played by Herod and Pilate.

In the final fact of Jesus' crucifixion, it was seen through by both Jews and Gentiles, that is, HUMANS killed Jesus. Those who opposed the Savior were not of one category alone; they represented the spiritually fallen human race.

Now that is what the GOSPELS state. That is true to history. That is undebatable when reading the biblical account without bias. And that is exactly what Mel's intention is when working on his final film rendition.

Then let's be fair to Mel Gibson. Let's not review Mel's film when it's not here yet. Let's not accuse the man of anti-Jewish motives when he claims he's not anti-anybody. Let's not blast apart the biblical record when it's a given account.

Let's not start a war over Jesus -- once again.

Joseph Grant Swank, Jr., is the Pastor of New Hope Church in Windham, ME.  He is a a graduate of an accredited college (BA) and seminary (M Div) with graduate work at Harvard Divinity School.  Pastor Swank has been married for 41 years and he has 3 adult children.  He is the author of 5 books and over 2000 articles in various Protestant and Catholic magazines, journals and newspapers. He writes a weekly religion column for PORTLAND PRESS HERALD newspaper, Portland ME.  His columns have appeared on,,,,,,,,, among others.

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