I attended The Passion of the Christ recently and was so moved that I could not speak for some time. Today I read the "Passion for the Passion" articles (Feb. 28) and enjoyed them. Perhaps the focus of this film was a bit narrow; however, I believe it served Mr. Gibson's purpose while accomplishing much more. This film has caused me to see my sins, which were responsible for Christ's suffering, with more clarity. I also realized that receiving monthly Communion at my church had become a shallow experience. Never again. -Rhonda Hodge, Amesbury, Mass.
3» Your coverage of The Passion of the Christ, capped by Andrew Coffin's excellent review ("No mere martyr," Feb. 28), provides a refreshing relief from the monotony of most media. As The Passion generates discussion, I pray it also stimulates a Christian art renaissance.
-David K. Lewis
I had already seen The Passion of the Christ before reading "No mere martyr," or I would have written off the movie as too violent and too poorly done to go see. I was upset that a Christian magazine seemed to be taking pot shots at the most powerful and thought-provoking movie I have ever seen.
Owens Cross Roads, Ala.
"No mere martyr" has been very helpful in discussing the heavy emphasis on the physical in Mr. Gibson's film. It gives us a great opportunity to bring up the spiritual dimension. May we rise to the occasion.
-Marion S. Powers
Ann Arbor, Mich.
I applaud Mr. Gibson for crafting this powerful illustration of the utter depths of our depravity and the necessary sacrifice Jesus paid on our behalf. I am challenged by his example of putting his own finances and reputation on the line to tell this love story.
Jews should not feel they alone were accused by this presentation. All of us have sinned and stand accused; let us all acknowledge our own guilt and receive the forgiveness available to each of us. I am overwhelmed by the love of a man who "laid down His life for a friend."
-Cecilia J. Talley
A reporter for an Australian newspaper asked Mel Gibson if Protestants are denied eternal salvation. He replied, "There is no salvation for those outside the church. I believe it." His wife is Episcopalian, and he commented that it's "just not fair if she doesn't make it, she's better than I am. But that is a pronouncement from the chair. I go with it." How sad to make a $25 million movie about the death of Christ and miss the big picture.
-Porter E. Taggart
When the Second Commandment was received, wood and stone were the only materials available to make graven images. Does Mel Gibson deserve a pass because he created, albeit with noble motives, one out of celluloid?
Lake Peekskill, N.Y.
Let's not be hasty in judging Mr. Gibson's narrow focus. The response of an overwhelming majority of those few dozen folks with whom I have discussed the movie (believer and unbeliever alike) was to go home, get out a Bible, and read the account directly from the Gospels.
Mullica Hill, N.J.
Called to die
I was moved by John Piper's connection between Calvary and the concentration camps ("Calvary and the camps," Feb. 28). His statement that Christians are "called to die, not kill" to show how Christ loved us carries an authentic ring of the gospel. Seeing The Passion of the Christ challenged me anew to "love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me."
-Mark B. Kraybill
Joel Belz hits it squarely on the head again ("Leaving out the Lord," Feb. 28). I've heard for weeks conservative arguments against homosexual marriage and they were just not working for me, either. The last thing I want is legislation by majority vote, especially in this increasingly anti-Christian nation. Even conservatives in this country are reluctant to invoke the name of God or the Bible for fear of being branded religious fanatics. The slouch toward Rome continues.
I don't think I have ever disagreed so much over any one page that I read in your publication as over Mr. Belz's column. Is he saying that we should persuade our politicians only by, "Thus saith the Lord"? That we should not use "Let the people decide," or "Don't tamper with 6,000 years of human consensus," or "What is best for the children"? All of these are true and valid arguments (even if they were not valid for slavery). Should we withhold all the truth except that which is least likely to be effective in this culture?
Mr. Belz wrote that if they won't listen to the Word of the Lord, then "it's already too late." Too late for what? To save one more child from a soul-crushing family life? Oh, and we shouldn't hammer on the truth about child-rearing because it can "no longer shock"? Do we have to restrict ourselves to Scripture quotes or to shocking arguments?
-Victor K. Tripp
A personal incident seemed to prove Mr. Belz's point. As I discussed the issue with a co-worker, he found weaknesses with the social science arguments against homosexual marriage and expressed the postmodern view that my "truth" is for me and their "truth" is for them, neither one more valid than the other. He was unconvinced that such a line of thinking was illogical. The Scriptures teach that it is a Spirit-wrought change of heart toward sin, the Law, and ultimately our Savior that is necessary.
Using reasonable arguments that demonstrate the creative order does not leave God out of the debate. Using history, the role of marriage and family in raising children, natural design, and even "common sense" arguments demonstrate that God's design is consistent with logic and reason. The real issue, from my perspective, is that the church is unable to demonstrate that God's design for marriage and family actually does work-the divorce and teen pregnancy rates in the church are the same as in the culture. How can we say that God's Word should be authoritative for the world if it is not for us?
Thanks to Joel Belz for a clear and courageous column. After seeing myself in the shoes of the traditionalist who argues everything except the clear standards of the Word of God, I was convicted to reassess Who and what I am really trying to defend.
If we cede the middle ground of facts in this discussion (be they medical, social, or psychological), Mr. Belz will be proven correct-we will have lost-not because our position was wrong, but because our arguments were not relevant to our secular, post-Christian society.
Months ago I came to the same conclusion as Joel Belz, that apart from God's design there's no "overwhelming reason" to oppose gay marriage. I've been losing the debate, myself, with liberal friends and I've been tuned in daily to the same debate in TV and radio. What a heart-rending time to be alive. God help us.
Regarding the intelligence about Saddam's possession of weapons of mass destruction ("Winning the war, losing the debate," Feb. 21): The war was resumed because he behaved in material breach of his international obligations as stated again in UN resolution 1441, not because he possessed stockpiles of nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons. Behavior in terms of threats, evasion, intimidation, and past use were always the keys.
In Cal Thomas's column about the financial crisis in the city of Baltimore's public school system ("Baltimore and more and more ..." March 13), the accompanying photo of Arbutus school should not have run. Arbutus is a Baltimore County school.