Archive for Thursday, February 26, 2004

Passions run high over ‘The Passion’

Advanced screening of controversial film receives mixed response

February 26, 2004

During prayer services Monday night following advance screenings of the controversial film, "The Passion of the Christ," 50 to 75 people raised their hands seeking a relationship with Jesus Christ.

"That showed right there that (the movie) has the power to change people's lives," said Christina Brown, outreach director for Clear Creek Baptist Church in Shawnee.

"That was the reaction we believed the movie would stimulate," said Danny Crawford, Clear Creek Church pastor.

"It's maybe the greatest tool I have ever seen in bringing people to a relationship with Jesus Christ," he added.

Monday night, Clear Creek Church presented two screenings of the film, which chronicles the last days of Christ and his resurrection, at Dickinson's WestGlen 18 Theatres in Shawnee.

In recent weeks, the film has undergone scrutiny for its graphic depiction of violence, and for its anti-Semitic potential. Indeed, the violence in pivotal scenes is difficult to stomach for the viewer.

During a scene in which Jesus is repeatedly beaten and tortured, emotions ran high throughout the audience. It was a common reaction during even more graphic sceneslater to come in the film, including the crucifixion.

Those seeing the film Monday night voiced mixed reaction to what they had witnessed on the silver screen.

Dick Marx, a Shawnee resident, said the violent content was difficult to bear.

"My first reaction was it was too gory," Marx said. "It was awful gory and I didn't like it. It hurt too bad to see what he went through."

His sisters, Connie Marx and Sandy Wooldridge, of Dallas and Houston, respectively, attended the film as well.

"It hurt me," Connie said. "It wasn't uplifting at all. I can't believe one person could go through that much agony and pain to free others.

"You want to thank him for what he did on the cross," she added.

Wooldridge said she was disappointed with the film.

"I expected more," Wooldridge said. "I really expected to be moved. It was a really good movie, though. Maybe there was too much buildup or something."

Brown, however, said the movie's portrayal is accurate and important for people to see for themselves.

"It hurts to see what he went through," she said. "It's shocking. It literally shocked me.

"Our main focus was we wanted people to come examine the claims of the bible and realize why Christ died on the cross. It's up to them to decide for themselves."

Crawford spoke to audience members during a prayer service following the film. He pointed to some pivotal points people should keep in mind.

"It wasn't the Jews who put Jesus on the cross, it wasn't the Romans who put him there, it was me, I put him there; it was you," Crawford said.

"This story has affected millions upon millions of people," Crawford said. "The message is to you. It's about Jesus Christ who gives us love and forgiveness.

"Listen to the message. That's what's important."

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