It has always been a popular thing to make movies about Jesus. Mel Gibson made one and so have many others. Now it turns out that Muslims are getting in on the action. This link connects to an interview with an Iranian man who made a film about Jesus ‘from a Muslim point of view’:
A new movie in Iran depicts the life of Jesus from an Islamic perspective. “The Messiah,” which some consider as Iran’s answer to Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ,” won an award at Rome’s Religion Today Film Festival for generating interfaith dialogue.
The movie will be adapted into a television series to be shown on Iranian TV later this year.
Filmmaker Nader Talebzadeh spoke to ABC’s Lara Setrakian in Tehran.
There is so much wrong with this man’s understanding of Jesus and Christianity that I hardly know where to begin so I will restrict myself to a few observations:
The gist of what his movie is about is this: virtually everything, according to him, is left the same. The glaring exception is the crucifixion of Jesus. He said:
NT: We are talking about the same beautiful man, the same beautiful prophet, the same divine person sent from heaven. In the Koran, it emphasizes maybe three main points: about the birth, about the fact that he was not the son of God, and then, that he was not crucified. The rest is [the same] Jesus … the sermons, and the miracles, and the political situation.
NT: The virgin birth was the same. The difference in the Koran, God says Jesus was saved. Instead of having him hung and crucified, the person who betrayed Jesus was crucified. This is how the Koran sees it, through the Gospel of Barnabas.
LS: So, you gave the alternate ending.
NT: Yes, two endings. I thought, the Christians, when they see it, it’ll be important for them. [In the Koran] God says, emphatically, he was not crucified. Somebody was crucified in his stead. In the Gospel of Barnabas, there are explications of this. The majority of [Muslims] say the one who betrayed Jesus [was crucified].
This is exactly why the Koran is not the Word of God in any sense whatsoever. The crucifixion is not only Biblical, Theological, and Necessary, but it is historical.
If this is what he put in his film, then he did not make a movie about Jesus of Nazareth. If this is his film, then he is not making a film that is worth anything. If this is what he put in his film, then it has nothing to do with Christians, Christianity, the church of Jesus Christ, Christ of the Scripture, Jesus the Son of God. It is another piece of Satanic propaganda (see below) intended to accomplish no meaningful purpose in this world. It matters little what the Koran says about Jesus because what matters is what the Christian Scriptures say about Jesus and they declare emphatically that Jesus was crucified. History declares that Jesus was crucified. It matters nill if the Koran or the Muslim respect Jesus and Mary. Jesus didn’t come to earth for mere respect. I don’t know why Christians would want to see a movie that has effectively removed any possibility of salvation because that is the state of the Christian if Christ has not been crucified. If Jesus has not been crucified then he has not been resurrected. If Jesus has not been resurrected from the dead, then Christians are without hope. We may as well party it up if Christ has not been Resurrected from the dead. (See the Scripture quote from Corinthians below.)
He goes on to answer a question concerning the sort of feedback he has received from Christians:
NT: Many thought this film is a good step for serious inter-religious dialogue. Many of them liked it — seeing the Koran-based ending. And I was very happy that the practicing Christians were very happy with the film. I have never found one case among practicing Christians who are offended [by the movie].
Well, since he has not ‘found one case among practicing Christians who are offended’ let me be the first! I will gladly be the first to announce without reservation that this film is blasphemous! There is no Koran based ending to the Gospel. The Gospel and the Koran stand in complete opposition to one another. There is only the Gospel ending to the Gospel. What the Koran does not understand is that our sin must be dealt with and if it has not been dealt with, and is not dealt with in the death of Christ then we, and all of humanity from the beginning until the end, are simply obligated to be 100% obedient to the law. (And no one is nor can anyone be.) In other words, if we are not justified by the death of Christ then we are without hope in the world. Law cannot be a substitute for grace. I am offended because in creating a Christ in his own image, this man is attempting to rob the world of the only hope it has to be lifted out of this abomination of sin we call happiness.
So if there is no death of Christ as this man is purporting in his film, then exactly how will we be saved from our sins? There can be no dialogue. I’m not so much offended or outraged as much as I am saddened. I’m not shivering with anger as much as I am shuddering with fear at the consequences for humanity if Christ was not crucified. I am saddened because this sort of teaching takes away all hope of eternal life, all hope of rescue from sin, all hope of resurrection, all hope of escaping the penalty of sin–death. There can be no alternate ending to the story of Jesus. The only ending is an empty tomb that he Resurrected from after he was crucified.
Now, there are two stories in Matthew’s Gospel that at first appearance may not have anything in common. Here they are. The first is from Matthew 4 where Jesus is being tempted by Satan. The second is Jesus’ first announcement of his impending crucifixion and Peter’s response.
8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9″All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'”
11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. (Matthew 4:8-11)
Next, Matthew 16:
21From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
23Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
24Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. 28I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:21-28)
What these stories have in common is this: both the Devil and Peter were attempting to persuade Jesus to avoid the cross! Even back then the idea was to create a cross-less Jesus! Muslims preach the same thing: A Cross-less Jesus. The filmmaker says, in response to a question about the Mel Gibson film:
NT: We were almost finished filming when Mel Gibson started shooting. I saw the film, and it’s the first time the Gospel of John has ever been depicted. It was nice. But it was the wrong story. In my film, I respect that common belief with all the good intentions the Christians have … according to what Islam says. Yet, Jesus, at the night of the last supper, ascends to heaven [without being crucified]. A beautiful man, a beautiful prophet. Why should he be bloodied that way?
Well, the reason is simple: To save humanity from sin, its guilt and its power. That’s why he was bloodied ‘that way.’ If Jesus ascended to heaven without being crucified then we are hopeless. It is not the wrong story: It’s the only story! It’s the only hope we have! Oh Lord have mercy! Here’s what the apostle wrote:
1Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
. . .
12But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
20But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:1-7, 12-28)
There is so much wrong with what that man (the Iranian filmmaker) is saying that it boggles the mind. But I’m not raising a voice of protest. No, I’m raising a cry of mercy. I’m crying out to the Lord for the poor souls who will see this film an accept it as truth. There is only one Gospel and there can be no other versions of it warned the apostle. Those who publish alternative Gospels are, according to the apostle, anathema; condemned.
Only the death of Jesus Messiah provides sufficient atonement for the sins of this world’s inhabitants. If Jesus has not been crucified, he is not the Messiah. And if He is not the Messiah, the Son of God, then we are without hope–that is, the entire world from the beginning until the end. What a sad, sad story this is. I pray this film will be a failure. I pray it will be rejected. I pray it will be destroyed before it is ever shown to anyone. I pray for the Muslims who think that their system of works righteousness is superior to the free gift of God’s grace in Jesus Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria!
PS–The article mentions something called ‘The Gospel of Barnabas.’ For more information in this ‘Gospel’ (and why it is not a Gospel) click here. The article concludes:
The Gospel of Barnabas is not an authentic Gospel of Jesus. The author does not understand the language, history or geography of the 1st century A.D., and there is no ancient evidence for the book. The internal evidence of the book suggests it was written in the 14th century and there are Muslim scholars who agree with this dating. The book is a rewrite of the Biblical Gospel most likely by a Muslim who wanted to portray Jesus as a Muslim who taught Islam and predicted the coming of Muhammad. This type of rewriting has been done elsewhere by Muslims in the Gospel According to Islam. This type of behaviour is disgraceful, and it is disgraceful for Muslims to continue to publish, promote and distribute this false Scripture.