Spiritual War Intensifies As Gibson Movie Nears Release
By Michael H. Brown
The Mel Gibson movie on Christ's Passion is more than a movie. It has quickly shaped up as an event. Spiritual sparks are flying everywhere. This is not just the product of an excellent director. This is an event in the spiritual war. In the midst of a great moral darkness -- a darkness caused in large party by the movie industry -- here comes a beam of light from, of all places, Hollywood itself.
Is this not how Heaven works? And might this be part of the "rivers of light" prophesied for the year 2004? It is certainly an event for the Church: in the midst of the scandals, in the middle of what sometimes seems like a meltdown (a bishop convicted in a hit-and-run?), here is a forerunner and the greatest example to date of lay religious involvement.
Indeed, because it is spoken in Aramaic, even many in the Muslim world will be able to understand the language.
The movie comes at a time when there is the Super Bowl fiasco and homosexual couples queuing up to marry and stuff on TV like Sex and the City (the most incredibly lewd and indeed demonically sexual series in television history).
This is what the film comes up against.
The big question is whether it will fulfill what seems like a vast potential.
Look at these as harbingers. Like seldom before, we will see the public split sharply, and once more it will be as Christ said: to separate the goats from the sheep, the believers from His enemies. It will be an ecumenical rallying cry. Incredible it is how a movie by an ultra-conservative traditionalist Catholic could spark fires from the inner sanctums of the Vatican to Baptist congregations.
Shortly, the secular world -- the media -- will see the strength of numbers. Last week, 17 million watched Gibson's interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer. That's more than watched a CBS interview with (yes) Michael Jackson.
With those kinds of numbers and with this kind of Christian display -- Gibson displays a relic from Catherine Emmerich right there on the tube! -- expect the spiritual war to more blatantly materialize. Gibson himself has alluded to a "great dark force" that did not want this movie made. Lightning struck the very actor playing Jesus! There are charges. There are disputes. There are rumors that Gibson and his crew have had death threats. There is the report that his father -- on the very eve of the movie's release -- has given an interview that is tantamount to an anti-Jewish and anti-Vatican diatribe.
On the verge of release, a Jewish leader, Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, met with Vatican Archbishop John P. Foley to demand that Rome restate its view that Jews were not responsible for the death of Jesus, but the Vatican in effect rebuffed him, saying no new statement was planned. Meanwhile, the secular press has tried to drive a further wedge between Gibson and the Pope, with a taped interview with Gibson's father Hutton in which the latter reportedly cites both Jews and the Vatican as conspirators in forming a new one-government, one-religion international order.
Will this derail the momentum -- will it ignite the controversy beyond what even the most pessimistic expected -- or will the movie sail beyond such diversions?
It will depend on prayer. It will depend on supplications for the success of the movie no matter the quirks of those involved. This is more than a movie. This is more than a single director's effort. It comes at a time when we need to be reminded of Jesus.
And, apparently, prayers are crucial. An e-mail is floating around and attributed to a preacher named Rod Handley, founder and president of a group in Missouri called "Character That Counts," and a man who apparently is acquainted with actor Jim Caviezel, who plays Jesus in The Passion of the Christ. In it is a prayer request for the movie's crew, which he says is under intense spiritual attack. "I can't share all the details but I will tell you that there have been current death threats towards Mel, Jim and others involved in bringing this movie to the big screen," it purports. "There are strong non-Christian movements which have arisen in recent days who are extremely hostile towards the Gospel. There are lies being circulated among the media pertaining to the film. Jim described an 'intense' spiritual war which appears to be spearheaded from Satan himself."
We are still seeking to confirm details of that note, but it goes on: "I asked Jim about what he had learned through playing the role of Christ. He said, 'Two words: unquenchable fire. He has a passion burning in his soul and believes this movie is the greatest movie ever made and it could impact entire nations, including those most hostile to Christ's message. Jim's prayer is that every person would view the movie for themselves and then make a decision about Jesus Christ."
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