It’s been over 10 years since Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” first hit theatres but the film is still not lacking in popularity. Evangelicals generally seem to have a high regard for the movie. Many notable men within the evangelical community have endorsed the film.
The Movie Reverses Scriptures Focus
Throughout the pages of God’s Word the death of Christ is placed within the context of His life and resurrection. Nowhere in the New Testament is there is a suggestion that we should meditate on the gory details of Christ’s brutal treatment he received along the road to Calvary. The New Testament invites us to focus on His obedient life, His atoning death, His glorious resurrection, His ceaseless intercession, and His triumphant return.
Mel Gibson’s film reverses that order. The central overwhelming context of the movie is the death of Christ. Details about Jesus’ life and resurrection are just small bits within the movie's central theme. Even after spending two hours vividly depicting the suffering and grief of Jesus the film deduces the Resurrection to a couple of special effects tacked on at the end.
If focusing on the brutality of the passion week was important we would expect the Apostle Paul of all people to have included details about it. Paul was flogged five times, he was beaten with rods three times, he was stoned once and he was even shipwrecked three times (2 Corinthians 11:24-29). Yet, in spite of all this “life experience,” Paul chooses to life up for our meditation the nobility of Christ’s character.
There has been a popular expression recently that says we should live a “Cross Centered Life.” While I can appreciate and understand that sentiment the truth is that if the resurrection did not happened the cross has no significance. The core of the Christian belief is the finished work of the resurrection (I Corinthians 15:14). If Christ did not rise our faith has no fountain; our belief has no blood.
The Scriptures teaching on meditation admonishes us to contemplate, not the gory details of Christ’s death, but the beauty of Christ’s character especially as it relates to His great sacrifice for us.
The Movie Puts a Picture in Your Mind You Can Never Erase
The film is rated R for its graphic violence. Every parent would agree that this is not a film for children. Since the blood factor is actually pretty minimal in the Gospel accounts I am forced to wonder where Gibson gets his information and inspiration.
The brutality and gore in the film is not designed to inspire but to leave people shocked and emotionally drained. Sure, the movie slips in some dogma, but what really sticks with the viewer is the brutality of the film. Blood splatters. Skin ripped open. Eyes swollen shut. Gibson’s focus is clearly on Christ’s suffering. Grown ups – even true believers – will have difficulty sitting through the whole film.
It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. I tend to believe that this is particularly true with cinema. Frankly, I don’t want Mel Gibson’s portrayal of the cross to be the picture forever engrained in my imagination. Billy Graham himself acknowledged, “Every time I preach or speak about the Cross, the things I saw on the screen will be on my heart and mind.”
Before you go to watch this movie please ask yourself this question: “Do I really want to be permanently influenced by a Mel Gibson’s portrayal of Christ’s passion?” I’ve asked myself that question and my answer is an emphatic “No!” God chose to proclaim the Gospel, not through drama, but through the foolishness of preaching (Colossians 1:21). The Gospels are not replete with graphic, gory details but a sober account of how Christ nobly offered Himself as a sacrifice for our salvation. Faith does not come by seeing but “by hearing” (Romans 10:17).
Man can use shock and violence to evoke strong emotion and bind viewers but this is not God’s way. The Gospel writers do not linger on the details of the suffering of the cross. They report Jesus’ suffering in the briefest of terms. The message of the Gospels is that what was important for our salvation was not the intensity of Christ’s suffering, but the fact that Jesus offered Himself as atonement for our sin.
The Movie is Undeniably Catholic in its Origins
In an interview with the EWTN Network, Mel Gibson said that the movie: “… reflects my beliefs – I’ve never done that before. … I don’t know if I will ever work again. I’ve said that this is a career killer and it could well be, but that doesn’t matter because I don’t care.” 
Now that you’ve read that quote and been moved by it consider this – Mel Gibson is a traditional Catholic. The advisor’s he used for the film were Roman Catholic. Mass was held daily before every screening. It’s even been reported that some of the crew converted to Catholicism as a result of the experiences they had on set.
As we noted earlier, the Gospels do not include many gory details about the Passion Week. Because of this Gibson was forced to look elsewhere for his inspiration. Gibson used Anne Catherine Emmerich and her writings to help with his film.
The Catholic church refers to Anne Catherine Emmerich as a “Mystic Nunn.” Born September 8, 1774 in Germany she became a Augustinian Nunn before she died on February 9, 1824. During her lifetime she experienced the mystical phenomenon of the wounds of Christ. She had mystical visions of the Passion Week which were written down by Clemens Brentano. Among the most famous of her writings is The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
How much of the move actually is taken from these writings? Answer: Almost every scene and line that does not explicitly appear in the Scriptures is taken from Anne Emmerich. Gibson, himself, stated that he used Scripture and “accepted visions” as the sources he drew on to make the film. These extra-biblical scenes in the movie range from Satan appearing to Jesus in the garden to the women kissing the feet of Jesus as he hung on the cross (a practice of the Catholic church to this day). Even the scene where Peter denies Christ and then falls at Mary’s feet and cries out, “I have denied him, mother!” is found not in the Gospel accounts but in Emmerich’s vision.
No. I’ve never seen Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.” Frankly, I never will see the movie. When I first started writing this post I actually included a lot more information about why I won’t be watching the movie but decided to keep it to these three reasons. I recognize that there will be many reading this that disagree with me. They have seen this movie and have been moved by it. If that's your case I'm really not writing to try and convince you that you are wrong and I am right. We may never be able to agree on this. This is a conclusion I have come to and you have obviously decided to come to a different one.
God has given me four descriptions of the Passion of Christ that are enough for me. They are titled: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Has this movie impacted many people? No doubt. It would be foolish for me to deny its worldwide impact. At the same time this does not mean I want to watch it.
 "EWTN to air 2nd exclusive interview with Mel Gibson on 'The Passion of Christ'," EWTN. com, 2004-JAN-13, at: http://www.ewtn.com/
 Jesus and Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ by Kathleen E. Corley, Robert Leslie Webb 2004 ISBN 0-8264-7781-X pages 160-161