Dr. Ted Baehr is the founder and publisher of MOVIEGUIDE, chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission, and a well-known movie critic, educator, lecturer and media pundit. He also is the author of several books, including "The Culture-Wise Family" with legendary entertainer Pat Boone. For more information, please call 800-899-6684 or go to the MOVIEGUIDE website.More ↓Less ↑
Several people have called me lately to discuss the controversy over “The Passion.” Generally, they have brought up the question of whether the movie is anti-Semitic. The real issue of “The Passion” is not anti-Semitism; after all, Jesus was Jewish, as were the disciples. The real issue is anti-Christ – a bigoted position embraced by a group of negative, self-appointed secular elites whose intent is to attack Jesus Christ by attacking the authenticity of the Bible and of Christianity itself.
These are the same people who fight to get the 10 Commandments removed from the Alabama courthouse and crosses removed from government cemeteries. Their arguments do not hold water.
Many of these anti-Christs want people to believe that the Bible is highly inaccurate and cannot be read as if it says what it says. They are angry that Mel Gibson has stuck to the biblical text, and their problem is that they do not want to believe the biblical text because it would force them to consider the claims of Jesus Christ. Their fallacious premise is that “we don’t know who wrote the Gospels.” The reason they can make such an absurd statement is that they’ve thrown out 2000 years of tradition, research and historical documents. From their brief, insignificant, semi-sentient life spans and limited intellectual capacity, they’ve passed judgment on over 2000 years of tradition and history; and so, their judgment is that the Gospels do not mean what they say.
One of these anti-Christs makes the silly statement that the thieves on the cross, crucified with Jesus, were not thieves, but “insurgents.” The question is, Has this self-appointed expert ever read the Old Testament? Isaiah 53:12 says that the Messiah will be crucified with thieves, and the Gospel account of the crucifixion is a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy written hundreds of years earlier. In fact, most of the things they object to in the Gospels are prophesies testified to in the Old Testament. Therefore, the events of the Gospels are proved by prophecy, history and the immediate revelation to those who are believers in Jesus Christ. What’s sad is that the cynical press seizes upon the comments of these negative anti-Christs and treats them as if they were saying something profound and truthful, which they are not.
The Gospels were written very shortly after the death of Jesus, as J.A.T. Robinson points out in “Redating the New Testament.” Robinson (a noted theologian, but not a believer) dates all of the New Testament books as written before A.D. 70 and some as early as A.D. 40-50, which is only 10 to 20 years after these events occurred. Biblical archeologist William Foxwell Albright supports this finding:
In my opinion, every book of the New Testament was written by a baptized Jew between the 40s and 80s of the first century A.D. (very probably sometime between about A.D. 50 and 75).
In recent years, this view has been confirmed by several other top-line scholars.
The significance of this dating is that those reading the testimony of the New Testament writers would have been alive during the events written about. Hence, if the writings were outright fabrications, they could have easily been challenged. In fact, the testimonies in the writings were indeed challenged, yet there is no historical record anywhere that the challenges were successful, or that the disciples who witnessed Christ’s brutal death and miraculous resurrection appearances recanted their testimony.
Bishop Robinson began his book, “I thought I would see how far one could get with the hypothesis that the whole of the New Testament was written before 70,” the year in which the Roman army sacked and burned the Temple of Jerusalem. According to reviewer Edward Thomas Veal, “As it turned out, Robinson got much further than he had ever expected, a journey made more impressive by his lack of any predisposition toward a ‘conservative’ point of view. His conclusion is that there is no compelling evidence – indeed, little evidence of any kind – that anything in the New Testament canon reflects knowledge of the Temple’s destruction. Furthermore, other considerations point consistently toward early dates and away from the common assumption (a prejudice with a seriously circular foundation) that a majority of primitive Christian authors wrote in the very late first or early-to-middle second century under assumed names.”
Thus, the Gospels are highly accurate and well attested to by the historians of their age and tell the story that God gave His only begotten son, that all who believe in Him will be saved. What these people are rejecting is not Mel Gibson and “The Passion”; they’re rejecting reason, tradition and God himself, who is Jesus Christ, and his salvation, and we need to pray for their eternal souls. This pack of ravenous anti-Christs have done little more than weave a pack of vicious lies.
“Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.”