Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Second Commandment issues aside, I've appreciated what Mel Gibson has done in producing The Passion of the Christ. However, I think the sheer amount of hype surrounding the film by evangelical Christians may serve to turn me off from the project for a while.

Last night, I heard the film's release touted by fellow Christians as "the greatest evangelistic event of the century," at which "movie theaters all over the country will be turned into houses of prayer." It is being hailed as a sign of urgency for believers, signalling "a movement of God that the church is not ready for," and, according to these folks, (who also praised the 60 Minutes interview with Tim LaHaye) it portends the impending Rapture-- so you'd better take all the heathens you know to see this film because it is going to change their life! (Because God, um, needs us-- and this film-- to do His work for Him. Yeah.)

The cross section of Christians I was with last night may not be the most accurate sampling. The group included extreme charismatics and health and wealth followers, those who attend large non-denominational "fellowships," members of an SBC mega-church, members of small Independent Baptist churches, a former Presbyterian turned Church of God, born-again AME folks, and well, me -- an odd mixed breed of liturgical, Calvinistic, covenental Baptist. I'm pretty sure that puts me in the minority.

I must admit, I'm extremely optimistic about God's plans for the world (those darn postmillenialist leanings), and in fact, am probably much more optimistic than they are, considering. However, I'm not so caught up in the frenzy to think that something must happen RIGHT NOW. Sin has jaded me. Someone said last night they thought Passion would spark another "Great Awakening." Perhaps. It is hard to imagine, though, that with the absence of Scirptural preaching in many of our churches that one film could fuel the call to repentance that is sorely needed, especially here in America.

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