How Mel Gibson Makes Me Love God
I love the movie, “Passion of the Christ”.
Does that surprise you?
Yes, I know it’s essentially a snuff film made by a possibly ultra-conservative pre-Vatican II Catholic (media-proclaimed) racist (publicly proclaimed) who has clearly focused on, and even glorified the violence of Yeshua’s crucifixion.
Yes, I know that it is the visual basis for a lot of folks’ Fear-Based Theology.
But I still love it.
Why? Because it’s very likely close to what Yeshua experienced in terms of the horrors and tortures of his death. The flagellation, the taunts, the humiliation, the pain… all very likely happened much in that way. And as distasteful and shocking as it is to watch… it’s true. And the point is that this film clearly expresses and displays the power of love.
Love. The kind of love that allows and enables you to endure such horror and pain, and never cry out for vengeance, never balk and recant, never abandon the teachings and the radicalism that got you into this whole mess in the first place. Steady through the torture. True through the blood. And when the poor misguided Romans hammered those nails into place, what do you do? You forgive them.
34. Yeshua said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
And this is where we get into the truly icky part: if you can wade through the blood and the violence you can eventually hear the world whispering, “Why?”
Why would a man have to endure this?
For many who ask such questions often comes the standard answer of Modern Christianity: penal substitutionary atonement (PSA). According to basic PSA, Yeshua took our place, and took upon himself the price or penalty of our sins, so that we would not have to suffer them ourselves. Sound familiar? Sound right?
I wish it didn’t.
For you see, there are many, many problems with this sick and perverse theology, which also happens to be the most popular explanation of atonement in the world:
The Collective Insanity of Penal Substitutionary Atonement
- First, the “penalty” for sin was ordained by God. It is actually God’s wrath we are trying to avoid when we try not to sin.
- Christians believe that Yeshua is God. One and the same.
- Christians believe that Yeshua died to satisfy the price, or “wrath” of sin.
- God’s wrath…?
- In other words, God created the penalty for sin, then became the subject of the wrath of sin, in order to save us from… God???
- God saved us from God.
God saved us from God? That makes absolutely no sense. Something is very clearly and horribly wrong with this theology. While it appears to make sense on the surface, you need only to walk a few steps down the Rabbit Trail of Logic to realize that this cannot be good theology.
So what other options are there?
Why Jesus Died on the Cross… according to Trig
1 Peter 2
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
“Trig,” you say, puzzled, “that sure sounds like Penal Substitutionary Atonement.”
It does, yes. But the key to a true and healthy understanding of the Crucifixion is to understand the nature of where “wrath” and “judgement” for sin actually comes from.
Not from God! I assure you of that.
Tell me, my beloved brothers and sisters, where do you see wrath and judgement coming from in this world? What is the source? A voice in the sky? An angel? Lightning bolts and plagues striking down sinners?
No. None of those.
No, the reality is, the source of all wrath, all judgement, all penalty for sin in this world, this life, is… us. Humanity. All of us.
So, yes, Yeshua’s bloody and violent death upon the cross was an offering of blood to appease someone’s wrath… ours. When you watch Mel Gibson’s gory interpretation of the Passion, it should be enough for any soul, even the darkest among us, to see such pain and suffering. We should never want to see more, ever.
If atonement theology were taught correctly we would all be satisfied with that. Our blood-lust, our desire for retribution, our need for vengeance and violent justice… all would be satiated if we could bare our souls to the reality of what all this was for.
This violence was for our sake. To satisfy our own wrath for each other. So wake us up to our violent tendencies and nature, and to give us an example…
An example of how to live.
And example of how to love.
An example of the true price of love.
An example of how to endure.
An example of how to truly win.
Now all that is left is to follow. No, no… that does not mean for you to worship at the foot of his corpse; we must finally leave Calvary and never look back.
Yeshua isn’t there anymore. He left Calvary a long, long time ago. He’s waiting for us back in this world. Waiting for us to act in his name (in honor of him), in love, for the sake of others and the world.
Is it accomplished?
When he had received the drink, Yeshua said, “It is accomplished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Yes, in fact, Yeshua died to pay the price of sin.
But did it work? Are you satisfied? Is wrath abated in your heart? Has love come to live within your temple?
I hope it will, and soon, for all of us.
Let go of the hate. Let go of the fear. Let Yeshua’s life and ministry fill you and inform you… let him change you, as he was changed.
Start to live, really live, as he lived, for the sake of the world.
1 John 4
9. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.
God did not save us from God.
God saved us from… ourselves.