Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Young Gnostic Messiah (ADD)

It wasn't so long ago when radical liberals lined up attacks upon Christianity during the season of Good Friday and Easter. Liberals would be on media programs to promote (discredited) theories that Jesus didn't actually die on the cross, or that the resurrection did not actually happen, and other such nonsense. Now however, Satan does not have to rely on the liberals and their attacks, which were so outrageous the attacks convinced no one but their liberal proponents themselves. Instead, Satan dresses up as an angel of light and is now attacking the Christian faith from within.

So what is the Trojan horse? This Good Friday/ Easter season, we have the so-called Christian movie The Young Messiah. To say that the movie is unbiblical is an understatement. Just from the trailer alone, there is enough material to indict the movie and its producers as being agents of the devil, willingly or unwillingly. It is unbiblical, blasphemous and Gnostic. Yes, it is Gnostic, with a capital "G." It is astonishing that supposedly many Christian leaders have endorsed this movie. I know Evangelicalism has little if any depth in it, but these endorsements have stricken a new low for Evangelicalism, which is saying a lot since my estimation of the Evangelical movement was so low I thought I had reached rock bottom — even supporting the nativist and vulgar buffoon Donald Trump was not as bad as this!

The first and major problem with this (anti-) "Christian" movie is its Gnosticism. Gnosticism was an esoteric and eclectic movement in the first few centuries of the Church that attempted to fuse Eastern mystical religion, Greek philosophy, and elements of Christianity into a syncretistic religious soup. Gnosticism, like Neo-Platonism, elevates the spirit over matter. Matter is considered evil, and thus creation (matter, the universe) was made by a lesser and lower deity. The problem with man is not sin, but creatureliness. The body is the prison of the soul, and salvation is achieved by learning the path to liberation, towards pure spirit and towards the One, God. This path involves the gaining of secret knowledge (gnosis), and thus the movement is called Gnosticism.

As a false religion loosely affiliated with, and competing against Christianity, Gnosticism attempted to subvert the Christian faith and message. Spurious gospel accounts were written that made it seem as if Jesus were a Gnostic. Since the four Gospels were well distributed, Gnosticism tried to insert its message by "filling in the blanks" of Jesus' life and ministry, and the first 30 years of that life would prove an excellent place to embellish the character and teaching of Jesus in their favor.

One such Gnostic text was the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, an anonymous text falsely ascribing as its author the Apostle Thomas. The text claims to fill up some of the unknown years of Jesus, during his childhood. In the trailer to the movie, we see an enactment of, or an allusion to, the scene from the Infancy Gospel of Thomas 1:2-3. In that text, the Gnostic writer claimed Jesus fashioned birds out of clay and then they came alive. In the trailer, we see Jesus at the beach rising to his feet with clasped hands and then opening his hands to reveal birds which flew away, so, while it isn't clear in the trailer, it seems likely that the full scene in the movie will show Jesus making birds from clay, or rather sand.

The movie is thus Gnostic in its use of a Gnostic source, and in its "filling in the blanks" (basically lying) about the life of Jesus. This is not just plain artistic license and embellishment, but it is the whole movie, the creation/ adaptation of a totally fictional story about Jesus with no basis at all in the Scriptures and in real history. For the Christian leaders who endorse this blasphemous (in more ways than one) movie, is it their intent to state that the historicity of Jesus' actual life and work do not matter, since a fictional tale about him is evidently just as valid as the biblical truth?

The second problem, a theological problem, lies in its portrayal of the young Jesus as someone struggling with existential angst concerning his calling. There are so many things wrong with this portrayal of Jesus. First of all, the trailer seems to indicate that Jesus came to realize his calling not from himself but through Mary. Secondly, Jesus was portrayed as someone learning how to become the Savior. Yes, the trailer cited Philippians 2:6-7, but, as far as I know, even the worst of the kenotics (those who hold that Jesus emptied himself of his divine attributes in the Incarnation) would balk at this portrayal of Jesus! If the trailer is accurate, the movie's Christology is totally messed up. To say that Jesus learned to be the Messiah puts Jesus out as a man who became the Messiah, which is basically an Adoptionist Christology. This kind of doubting and angst, while making "Jesus" relatable to an angsty postmodern audience, is a practical denial of Christ's deity and a rejection of Scripture's actual portrayal of the young Jesus. The text misused in this trailer, Philippians 2:6-7, did not say that the Son ceased to be God in the Incarnation, but rather that He divested Himself of His heavenly privileges and glory, thus becoming a servant (as opposed to the Lord of heaven). The Son as a servant divested Himself of the exercise of his regnal authority, but He never ceased being the Son. Jesus continued to be God even while on earth! In the one section where we were given a glimpse into Jesus' childhood (Lk. 2:41-51), we are shown a Jesus who already knew of his calling even at the young tender age of 12.

Yes, a young "Jesus" struggling with angst might be more relatable, but it is a false idolatrous representation of the real Jesus. The real Jesus from young knew who he was and what he was sent to do. The life of the historical young Jesus would not make for a good movie, but then Jesus came not for our entertainment but for our salvation! While Jesus was indeed human and suffered on this world, that does not mean that he faced the same angst as we do. In fact, ancient civilizations tend not to face our postmodern angst, for most people in ancient times struggle daily to put food on the table, while living in constant fear appeasing gods and spirits among them.

I am sure the actual movie would yield even more problems, as the footage concerning the Romans seem to indicate. But just from the trailer itself, we see a person portrayed that behaves all too differently from the biblical Jesus. It is manifestly shameless for the director of the film to think that this movie has anything remotely to do with the true Jesus. In an interview with Christianity Astray Today, the director even had the gall to denigrate orthodoxy, stating that one just have to have an emotional connection to the people on firm. While that might be fine with normal movies, this movie is marketing itself as a Christian movie about Jesus, which means it should be truthful at the very least, which this movie isn't.

The Young Messiah is a work based upon false stories of Jesus. As such, all Christians should be warned against watching this Gnostic trash. If God did not see fit to give us details on Jesus' first 30 years, then perhaps we should likewise not peer into the secret things of God.

ADD: Dr. James White has posted a short review of the movie here. While it's good that the explicitly Gnostic elements are removed or toned down, that does not excuse the needless speculation of Jesus' early life. There is still no word as to whether this Jesus did in fact experienced angst over his calling

No comments: