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We are a Christian Fellowship meeting in North London with a strong interest in teaching the Bible and understanding our time in

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Shepherding the sheep

T

A book review

 

How many evangelical Christian pastors would invite a traditional Roman

Catholic, who sees Mary as a Co-Redemptrix with Jesus and believes that

eating meat on Fridays is a mortal sin, to speak in their churches? Or a nun

who has mystic visions and claims to be able to levitate in a state of

ecstasy and says she lives on nothing but the Eucharistic wafer and water?

Probably not many.

 

Yet evangelical pastors sent their flocks out in droves to watch The

Passion of the Christ directed by Mel Gibson, a traditional Catholic who

received much of his inspiration from Sister Emerich (1774-1824), a nun who

wrote The Dolorous Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. While some have

described the film as one of the greatest evangelistic tools in modern day

history T.A. McMahon, in an excellent book Showtime for the Sheep

uncovers the danger behind this film and points to the way it is being used

to bring yet more deception into the church.

 

The book documents the stated Roman Catholic influence behind the film and

the way it is being used to bring evangelical Christians further under the

influence of Rome: The movie is Mel Gibson’s Catholic vision. His scholarly

resources were Jesuit priests. It reflects my beliefs - Ive never done

that before, Gibson told a reporter. (Page 55). James Caviezel, who plays

Jesus in the film, states: This film is something that I believe was made

by Mary for Her Son. (Page 84 quoting the Medjugorje Website).

 

The conservative Catholic magazine Inside the Vatican acknowledges the

ecumenical influence the film is having: For evangelicals the film has

given them a glimpse inside the Catholic soul, even the traditional Catholic

soul. Many evangelicals, reflecting on what they saw in the movie, say they

are beginning to get the whole Catholic thing: Lent … the ashes on the

forehead … no meat on Friday … the sorrowful mysteries … the Stations of the

Cross … the emphasis on the Eucharist … the devotion to Mary … the enormous

crucifix hanging above every Catholic altar. They may not be rushing to buy

rosaries, but some of the things no longer seem so strange, so alien. (Page

84)

 

The pope is alleged to have commented after seeing the film, It is as it

was. McMahon points out the absurdity of this statement, since no one

living today was there to verify what did or did not happen. The people who

were there recorded the Gospel narrative which conflicts with much of the

film. For example in the Gospels when Jesus prays in Gethsemane an Angel

comes to strengthen Him. In the film Satan comes to tempt him. McMahon

writes: Peter denies Jesus without the cock crowing; as he calls Mary

Mother Peter kneels before her, acknowledging his guilt in denying her

son; … Mary goes to Jesus as he falls under the weight of the cross; a

flashback shows Mary running to Jesus as a young child; … the cross with

Jesus on it appears to levitate before it is placed on the ground; as the

cross is put in place, Mary alone among the followers of Jesus is

standing; Mary kisses the blood drenched foot of Jesus; … the body of

Jesus is partially draped across Mary. (Pages 47-8).

 

In the film Mary plays a key role in the events of the crucifixion,

comforting and strengthening Jesus in his suffering. Her role is in line

with the Catholic view of her as McMahon shows in the chapter, Mary the

Executive Producer: The Passion advances Mary, not in an overtly Catholic,

Queen of Heaven way, but showing her presence continually in her humanity

as a mother suffering along with her son. (Page 89). James Caviezel credits

Our Lady of Medjugorje for enabling him to play her son: In preparation I

used all that Medjugorje taught me. (Page 88).

 

Medjugorje is a place in war torn Bosnia where Mary is claimed to have

appeared and told those who saw the vision: Tell the priest, tell everyone

that it is you who are divided on earth. The Muslims and the Orthodox, for

the same reason as Catholics, are equal before my Son and I. You are all my

children. (Page 87-8). Mary as the queen of ecumenism is being promoted

as the one who can bring together diverse religions, including Islam and

Roman Catholicism.

 

The mythical Mary of Roman Catholicism is exalted as Queen of Heaven, Mother

of God, Eternal Virgin, Co-Redemptrix. However this teaching and the

apparitions which come in her name have nothing to do with the real Mary

(Miriam), a faithful Jewish girl, who conceived the Messiah supernaturally

and gave birth to Him as a virgin, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 7.14.

She then went on to have other children in the normal way by her husband

Joseph. The real Mary needed a Saviour and found one in the Son she gave

birth to (Luke 3.47, John 2.5). The mythical Mary of Roman Catholicism is a

deceiving spirit which is playing a major role in the great end time

deception leading to the fulfilment of Revelation 17.3-6, the woman riding

the beast.

 

The real Mary played no significant role at all at the cross. She is

mentioned only once in the four Gospels in this connection: When Jesus

therefore saw his mother and the disciple, whom he loved, standing by, he

said to his mother, Woman behold your son! Then he said to the disciple,

Behold your mother! And from that hour that disciple took her to his own

home. (John 19.26-7) Far from strengthening Jesus at the cross, He shows

His concern for her by making sure she is looked after by John. In fact some

commentators say Jesus actually sends her away from the cross so she does

not have to watch His suffering and death, and John takes her straight away

to a house he had use of nearby in Jerusalem. Mary was among the other

disciples seven weeks later in the Upper Room (Acts 1.14), but there is no

further mention of her in the Book of Acts or the Epistles. This shows that

she played no special role in the life of the early church.

 

McMahon shows how the approval given to this film is the result of the

growing reliance in evangelical circles on entertainment to communicate the

message of the Gospel instead of preaching and teaching the Bible. While the

Bible is the infallible Word of God, movies about the Bible are the product

of human imagination, adding to its message and using techniques which

manipulate the mind in order to get its message across. McMahon shows how

films become a visual translation of the Bible which leads to confusion in

the uninformed viewer who may think this is what the Bible says, when in

fact it is how the producer of the film interprets the message. He goes so

far as to conclude that any actor playing the role of Jesus is in fact

violating the commandment not to make graven images (Exodus 20.4-5). Some

may think this is an extreme view, but it cannot be denied that an image is

a visual representation of something or someone but is not that actual

person or thing. Since we cannot represent God we are commanded not to make

any image of Him and since the New Testament teaches that Jesus is God, we

cannot truly represent Him either.

 

McMahon shows that the success of The Passion of the Christ and its

widespread acceptance by evangelical Christians is the fruit of a process

that has been going on for some time. In 1994 an historic document was

produced Evangelicals and Catholics Together (ECT): The Christian Mission

in the Third Millennium. Its mission goals were Christian unity and

co-evangelisation. The document declared that Evangelicals and Catholics

are brothers and sisters in Christ and that as we enter upon a Third

Millennium that could be in the words of John Paul II, a springtime of

world missions, we must witness together to win the world to Christ. In

that endeavour however ECT cautioned against sheep stealing asserting that

it is neither theologically legitimate nor a prudent use of resources for

one Christian community to proselytise among active adherents of another

Christian community. In other words its not right for evangelicals to

evangelise Roman Catholics and vice versa. (Page 120).

 

On this subject McMahon, who came to know the Lord from a Catholic

background, says, The gospel according to the Church of Rome is a false

gospel. Believing it cannot save anyone. Roman Catholic dogmas such as

baptismal regeneration, the Eucharist, and purgatory are a rejection of

Christs gift of salvation  paid for in full  by Him on the cross. To

truly love Catholics means to share that truth with them not to embrace a

work that denies the biblical Gospel. (Page 15).

 

We recommend this book which is available from us at £6.75 including

postage. Also on the subject of Roman Catholicism we recommend All Roads

lead to Rome? by Michael de Semlyen available for £5 including postage.

T