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In the film by Martin Scorsese called "The Last Temptation of Christ," what kind of...

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lovestinks | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted October 1, 2013 at 6:15 PM via web

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In the film by Martin Scorsese called "The Last Temptation of Christ," what kind of Christological view is emphasized?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 2, 2013 at 9:32 PM (Answer #1)

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Nikos Kazantzakis, the author of the book "The Last Temptation of Christ," was a life-long searcher for religious truth. He followed several religious and philosophical teachings, though he also spent time following the ancient Greek hero Odysseus. This book, published when he was nearly sixty years old, is the result of his searching, and it portrays what he has concluded are the truths about Jesus and his teachings. His Christological view is that Jesus was more of a man than a deity and that God is purely love and mercy.

Throughout the film, Jesus is in a struggle against God rather than in a relationship with Him. A young Jesus has this conversation with the fictional (extra-biblical) character of Jerobeam:

Jesus: God hunts me. He drives his nails into my heart. He wants to push me over. He wants me to speak. But he didn't touch my lips with burning coals. How can I speak? I sinned.

Jerobeam: We all sin.

Jesus: No! I'm a liar. A hypocrite. I'm afraid of everything. I never tell the truth. I don't have the courage. When I see a woman, I blush and look away. But inside I have lust. For God, I smother the lust, and that satisfies my pride. But my pride destroys Magdalene. I never steal or fight, or kill... not because I don't want to but because I'm afraid. I want to rebel against everything, everybody... against God!... but I'm afraid. If you look inside me you see fear, that's all. Fear is my mother, my father, my God.

Nothing about this aligns with the Jesus of the Bible. While Jesus was tempted just as any of us is tempted (Hebrews 4:15), the only reference to Jesus expressing fear is during the ordeal leading to his death on the cross. 

The movie-Jesus is surprised to learn God's plan for him, which is of course not possible according to John 1:1-3. In a conversation with Judas (of all people), Jesus says he has no choice.

Jesus: I wish there was another way, but there isn't. I have to die on the cross.

Judas: I won't let you die.

Jesus: You don't have a choice. Neither do I. Remember, we're bringing God and man together. They'll never be together unless I die. I'm the sacrifice... Forget everything else, understand that.

Of course Jesus had a choice. He was a man with free will as well as God who knew his Father's will. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 says:

There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all. 

It is clear from this passage and others that Jesus gave his life; he chose to die, he was not killed.

A second disturbing and inaccurate Christological view is that God loves everyone and will never punish them as He has promised. While we understand the biblical concept of God's unconditional love, humans still have the freedom to accept or reject it. All of Jesus's teachings in this movie inaccurately end with mercy, love and grace; while those are certainly attributes of God, they are not His only attributes. Over and over again, we read that God is a just God and there are consequences for sin. Without these attributes, as well, God cannot be true to Himself. Titus 1:2 says, "God...does not lie."

In short, this movie does not portray Jesus in a biblical light, nor does it rightly characterize the nature of God. Both are a distortion of biblical truth.

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