The Native Tourist
reformed/biblical observations on Christianity and culture

Thursday, January 29, 2004
One Movie I Won't Be Seeing
is Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ." I am convinced that any direct portrayal of Son of God (incarnate or otherwise) is a violation of the Second Commandment. This used to be one of the bedrock reformed/presbyterian distinctives (along with the Sabbath) that is now being discarded by many.

It therefore grieves me see, for example, Brian Godawa's the positive review on Christianculture.com (also posted on PCAnews.com). There have also been some interesting discussions of this issue on Barb Harvey's blog and at Matt Colvin's. I would also recommend John Murray's brief article on the topic.

The Westminster catachisms are quite clear on the topic. Godawa is aware of this, and attempts to briefly answer those who would find depicting Christ dramatically to be objectionable. Thus he argues:

"For my purposes it is sufficient to note that any understanding of the second commandment must do justice to the fact of the incarnation of God in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth. Moses? statement in Deuteronomy 4:15, offered as the ground of the second commandment, ?you saw no form of any kind the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire. Therefore watch yourselves very carefully," can no longer be said of the incarnate God. "

I am afraid that Brian overlooks a key biblical fact: that many of the Isaelites did in fact see God (Ex. 24:9-11!). So the reason why they (and we) were not allowed to make images of God was not because they had no visual experience of God. The incarnation therefore does not trump the Second Commandment.