Mel Gibson confirms new project on Jesus’ resurrection


Mel Gibson confirmed that he is making a movie about the resurrection of Jesus, recalling that he had the “tar kicked out of” him for his movie about the last days of the Christian messiah, “The Passion of the Christ.”

“That’s a very big subject and it needs to be looked at because we don’t want to just do a simple rendering of it,” Gibson said last weekend at SoCal Harvest, an evangelical Christian arts festival. “I mean, we can all read what happened.”

At the beginning of his interview with evangelist Greg Laurie, first reported by IndieWire, a film business news website, Gibson thanked the cheering audience for the support of evangelicals during the controversies surrounding “The Passion,” a 2004 movie critics and Jewish groups said stoked anti-Semitic themes.

“I love you folks,” said Gibson, who belongs to an ultraconservative Roman Catholic sect. “You know, about 12 years ago, when I was literally, when I made this film, I was literally getting the tar kicked out of me, and it was you people out there, evangelicals, who stood up and supported me, I thanked you at the time, but I thank you again, and that was great of you.”

Jewish groups said at the time that Gibson relied on anti-Semitic stereotypes to depict Jesus’ persecutors, including Caiaphas, the high priest. The movie nonetheless was a box office success, resonating among devout Christian audiences. As the controversy ensued, it emerged that Gibson’s sect rejected much of the Vatican II doctrine that had absolved the Jews for the death of Christ, and that his father was a Holocaust denier.

Two years later, Gibson, during an arrest for driving while intoxicated in Southern California, spewed an anti-Semitic rant against the Jewish sheriff’s deputy who arrested him. That and subsequent scandals involving his marriage and allegations of abuse toward his girlfriend tanked his career for a period, although he has scored some recent successes.

Randall Wallace, a screenwriter who has collaborated with Gibson in the past, said in June that they were working on a sequel to “Passion,” but Gibson at the time would not confirm the project.

In his SoCal Harvest interview, Gibson clarified that he did not view the project as a sequel to “The Passion.” “It’s not the ‘Passion 2,’” he said.

 

Messianic truth in advertising


The growth of the Jews for Jesus and messianic movements in Israel, especially during Israel’s 60th anniversary, is unprecedented and an outcome of unrestrained relationships with fundamentalist Christians.

There are more than 15,000 messianic Jews residing in Israel and more than 275,000 in the Diaspora. Jews for Jesus now has an office in Tel Aviv, with a staff of 10 that includes several Israeli-born messianic Jewish couples, and they have launched a five-year crusade to proselytize Israelis. Last month they spent over $500,000 for full-page ads in four Israeli papers and ads on buses and billboards. They have already handed out more than 75,000 missionary tracts and received contact information from 850 Israelis.

Furthermore, some Israeli politicians and prominent rabbis are associating with messianic Jews, inadvertently lending them credibility. Others rabbis were outraged about a messianic Jew in the International Bible Quiz for Jewish youth and called for a boycott. Of grave concern are the actions of messianic lawyer Calev Myers, who has been fighting in the Israeli Supreme Court for messianic rights, including initiating changes in the law of return that recently enabled a dozen messianic missionaries to become Israeli citizens.

Myers and the messianic movement are trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the Israeli public. It is misleading for them to claim that the only difference between messianic Jews and other Jews is their belief that Jesus is the Messiah. This was highlighted by Myers’ recent quote in the Jerusalem Post comparing messianic Jews to messianic Chabadniks. In fact, messianic Jews intentionally avoid mentioning a fundamental difference. In addition to believing Jesus is the Messiah, they believe he is God in the flesh and part of a Trinity. All denominations of Judaism considered these beliefs to be idolatrous for Jews.

As early as 1980, Jews for Jesus founder Moshe Rosen in his book, “Sharing the New Life With a Jew,” advised messianic missionaries to avoid mentioning their belief in the deity of Jesus because it makes witnessing to Jews extremely difficult. Additionally, attempts by the messianic movement to prove their theology from biblical and rabbinic sources are based on misquotations and mistranslations.

Even before Christianity, Jews rejected these anti-Jewish nonmonotheistic beliefs. We also realize they were introduced into Christianity due to the influence of pagan cult gods like Osiris and Dionysus.

Obviously, there are other differences. Messianic Jews accept the Greek New Testament as divinely inspired scripture and they believe that all Jews who don’t believe in Jesus face eternal damnation in hell. However, historically it is their idolatrous beliefs that have ultimately placed “Jews who believe in Jesus” outside the pale of Judaism.

Christian friendship is appreciated; however, we must be cautious and call for truth in advertising by the messianic movement. We should also call on messianic Jews to reject these foreign beliefs and return to the pure monotheistic unity of God that defines our identity and personal relationship with God.

Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz is the founding director of Jews for Judaism International, which has offices in Los Angeles, Baltimore, Toronto, Jerusalem, Sydney and Johannesburg. He can be reached at RabbiKravitz@JewsForJudaism.org

+