Mel Gibson’s “The Passion”

was shown at a private screening at Willow Creek Community Church. I’m not really going to discuss the film at present (that will happen soon). Rather I have to comment on its use in the evangelical Christian community, and the irony of it…

From what I can tell, Mel Gibson has basically put he latin mass and the stations of the cross into a cinematic performance. It will be released on Feb. 25th (ash Wednesday), effectively opening the Lenten season of reflection and penance before Easter. Did I mention Gibson is a faithful Catholic?

Now, because Evangelical are both addicted to “cultural works” and liturgically ignorant, the evangelical community is gearing up for an evangelism explosion, using this film to connect with unbelievers. This was epitomized in during Bill Hybils interview with Gibson when he suggested to the 4,500 pastors in attendance that they might think of planning a sermon series that corresponded with the movie, so they could ‘relevantly’ make use of the film. (don’t get me started about how evangelicals (ab)use art in/as evangelism).

Now, only because a film made by a Roman Catholic, can evangelicals enter into the liturgical calendar, and yet not know it. The irony is simple: evangelicals are taking cues from a Catholic; and they are only thinking liturgically (on accident) b/c they want to make use of a movie. Historically the Church always preached through “The Passion” of Christ every Lenten season. Maybe we should just get back to that and politely let Gibson’s “The Passion” explain itself.

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