THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST Is it REALLY offensive???? by Michelle Klein-Hass (an open l

---
Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST: Is it REALLY offensive???? by Michelle Klein-Hass (an open letter to the Fundamentalist Christian BBSer community) There has been a very big brouhaha over a film that hardly anyone has seen, and which might wind up being the first film pressured out of existance before its release. The film is Martin Scorsese's "The Last Temptation Of Christ". Reverend Hymers, a self-proclaimed Fundamentalist "Soldier for Christ" has gone so far as to say that "(this movie) is a Jewish plot to undermine Christianity". And all because of a spurious "first draft" script, which is now known for what it is...a hoax. Apparently, the now-infamous "God sleeps between your legs" line, and some of the other more offensive scenes cited by the foes of this film were not even part of this film in the first place. But let's look at what is, I believe, REALLY bugging the Christian Clergy about this movie. 1.) Jesus is shown as being as much human as divine. 2.) Jesus is shown as undergoing the same temptations that everyone else goes through in their life. First point: If you look at orthodox Christian theology from its beginnings in the Early Church Fathers through to the present day, there has been a few big issues that mark the "sheep from the goats", as it were. One is that Jesus was both fully human, meaning that he was as much flesh and blood as everyone else that walked the earth, suffering similar limitations and enduring the same temptations as the rest of humanity throughout history, as well as being fully divine...God walking the earth, God sacrificed to God on the cross of Golgotha. And this dichotomy, of a being which is at the same time both fully God and fully Man, has been the classic position of orthodox Christian theology. Where movies like "The Greatest Story Ever Told" and the TV miniseries "Jesus Of Nazareth" have been portraits of the divine nature of Jesus, this movie is an attempt to portray the human side, with all the suffering and temptation that being FULLY HUMAN means. At least that's what I can see in the "official" script I saw. >>>Part Two next post <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< ("The Last Temptation of Christ" considered: An open letter to the Fundie BBSer community, part 2) Second point: Hebrews 4:15..."For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was IN ALL POINTS TEMPTED LIKE AS WE ARE, yet witout sin." That should say it all. Again, to go by orthodox Christian theology, Jesus was as much Man as God. How many of you who espouse Christianity have been tempted with the thought of "yeah, here's a pretty girl (handsome man), I would love to have sex with her (him)"? I know in my time as a Messianic Jew I had plenty of times when I had "bad thoughts" of a sexual nature. But that's not the only way one is tempted. The temptation to cheat, to lie, to covet the things that others have, to be selfish, the temptation to seek after temporal power, that's all a part of the script as well. And think on this well: What is the more serious sin to be tempted into--to have dominion over the whole world for worshipping the Devil (Matthew 4:1-10), or to want for yourself a wife, children, and to die in your sleep an old man, rather than to die in agony on the cross at the age of 33? This rather poignant latter scenario is the one that remains in the film, the sequence that includes a brief (very brief, from what I understand) scene of Jesus making love to Mary Magdalene after they had married in full Jewish rite, which is shown as a dream sequence while Jesus hangs there on the cross, awaiting death. Is Jesus shown actually ACTING on these temptations? From what I have read, and from what I know, the answer is NO. Again, I refer you to Hebrews 4:15. I don't know how it breaks down in Koine Greek, but the gist of it is this: Everything a human being could be tempted about, Jesus was tempted. That includes the other things that the Fundies had claimed of the script, that Jesus was shown in an act of homosexuality, that he was shown soliciting prostitutes, and other things. That is the whole point of the book, the script I saw, and by all that, the movie. He PREVAILED over these temptations. So that's the reality of the situation. The Christian ministers who condemn the movie seem to be only condemning it on the basis of a forged "first draft" script, and on the basis that Jesus is shown as something other than a sterile, non-human Godling that is aloof from all earthly concerns. From my years in Born-again Christianity (Messianic Judaism) I can only say that these images of Jesus were even more offensive to me: the blond-haired, blue eyed, kingly, detached Christ of "The Greatest Story Ever Told" and the stoic sufferer of "Jesus Of Nazareth", and a host of other religious pictures. And from what I know of the Bible (I pretty much memorized a lot of it) that's not the Jesus the Bible portrays. >>>>>>Part 3 next post<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< ("The Last Temptation of Christ" considered: An open letter to the Fundie BBSer community, part 3) And lastly there is the issue of censorship. If a Christian minister can get a motion picture studio to destroy the master negative and all extant prints of a film, our separation of Church and State, and our First-amendment rights to free speech are usurped completely. What if a Wiccan High Priestess wanted to see a movie about witches sacrificing babies not just pulled, but thoroughly destroyed? Or what if an elder of one of the great Native American Nations, say, a Lakota Sioux, wanted a film destroyed that showed Native Americans as duplicious, savage monsters that deserved death? They would be laughed out onto the streets, because those kinds of films have existed for years and years. And what if some Black activist went to all the film preservation societies that kept "Birth Of A Nation" in their archives and demanded that their copies be destroyed because the film glorifies the Ku Klux Klan? Needless to say, the scenario is quite silly and downright scary if looked at that way. And suppose that MCA/Universal gives in to Hymers and his rabid, Anti-Semitic, fascistic followers, and takes the money that is being offered in exchange for the negatives and prints. What then? Could the US Government ask to buy the negatives and extant prints of a movie that it found offensive, like, to give an example of one they had already complained about, "Missing"? Could the Catholic Church buy the negatives to a movie about, for example, Margaret Sanger, the turn-of-the-century Birth Control rights advocate? The mind boggles. This is not an issue of Blasphemy. In fact, as I have proven, the very concepts in the film that the Fundies object to are integral parts of Christian doctrine. **To wit: Jesus Christ was both wholly God and wholly Man, therefore, was subject to the same temptations as Humankind in general. However, he did not once succumb to these temptations, and lived a sinless life.** I was shepherded very well in my days as a Born-again, and remember much of what I learned of orthodox Christian doctrine. So if you love your religious freedom, and you love your right to Freedom of Expression that the Constitution insures for all of us, including those we disagree with, then you should stand up to the demagogues that exist in the Body of Christ. If you do not, then go to Iran, where such things as bookburnings and censorship of real or perceived blasphemies are State affairs, and where perpetrators of such blasphemies are sentenced to death. Peace be with you, Michelle Klein-Hass

---

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank