An Islamic View of the Messiah: A New Film about a Cross-less Christ

Friends,

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.

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  1. While I am not offended by the film it is not something I would like. Talebzadeh is decieved and does not know the truth.

  2. DH,

    Thanks for stopping by. Deceived is the least of his problems, wouldn’t you agree?

    jerry

  3. Yes. Of course, it is only through open dialogue with someone is it possible to show them the truth.

    Several years ago I had the opportunity to talk with an Iman. It was interesting. He was very careful to ask questions like if I knew that Jesus was mentioned in the Koran or the Koran’s verison of Abehram being asked to safrice his son.

  4. Dave

    I applaud this film-makers desire to show the life of Jesus from an Islamic viewpoint. Although I personally disagree with the “ending”, I believe it will go a long way to helping non-Christians understand the life and teachings of Jesus. These are aspects all humans can understand and strive for. My faith in Christ is not jeapardized by this film.

  5. Sean

    With all due respect, no one knows the “truth” about anything regarding human existence.

  6. Sean,

    Well, I’m not really certain what you mean by the ‘truth about anything regarding human existence.’ I am quite certain that we were created by God, for God; we sinned; God redeemed us in Christ’s cross-work; gave us life in the Resurrection; and hope for the future. I have to say, without sounding terribly shallow or arrogant, that to me this fully explains life. I’ll grant there are some things that are quite mysterious, but Jesus Christ explains the most of them rather sufficiently.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
    jerry

  7. Rosa

    Talebzadeh made a film about the Prophet Jesus based on Islamic teachings. Therefore, it does not reflect Christian doctrine. The Quran is a divinely revealed book and is not blasphemous. It has not been tampered with. However, those who study or follow the Bible can not say same the same thing. The Christian world should realize that their beliefs are not the only ones that should be respected and that filmmakers, musicians and writers of the modern world will advance their art for those who are interested in it. A recent look back at history may explain why many view Christianity with circumspect.

  8. Rosa,

    Thank you for your comments, but I respectfully disagree. Christian faith demands that each person die with Christ who took away the sins of the world. However, a recent look back at history, say 9/11/2001 or just last week, may explain why even more people view Islam with circumspect, terror, horror, and derision.

    Tell me, Rosa, if I made a film about Muhammed, in the same way this person has made one about Jesus, would you protect my rights under the guise of my ‘art being advanced’? Talebzadeh made a film mocking the beliefs of Christians. But I would say this, if his version of Christ is true, then none of us have any hope. It’s not art, friend. It is a high tech rewriting of history.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  9. sangos

    First off I am neither Christian nor Muslim.
    I saw the Mel Gibson movie and thats how clicked onto this site. My understanding from the movie is that the crucification of Christ is fulfillment of a divine prophecy ( I call it higher dimensions – something which human science is unable to explain. Btw our science is still dumb!). Jesus carrying the cross says to his mother “It is happening”. You can actually see the higher purpose of this unbelievable level of physical suffering he is going through, in his eyes ( Great acting by Jim C.). From a historical point of view this is a fact as the Romans did nail people to crosses(criminal punishment-guess Chengis Khan has serious competition:he got them dipped up and down alive into boiling vats of water/oil and got a sadistic kick from the raw screams btw). The impact of the teachings of Jesus Christ is Christianity around the world as we know it.

    Now if “The Messiah” excludes the crucification and everthing else is the same(Islamic view), it would be matter of religious debate. Think it was nice of the Vatican to award this film than attack it outright as heretic ( Even they live in the space age I guess)

    Personally I would be more inclined towards what the teachings are and how they can help me become a better person if not actually achieve divinity. But again religious beliefs are important for whomsoever it is. Btw in India there is a legend that Jesus Christ was there-spent his youth and then later died, think its Kashmir( guess it might be an ‘Indian viewpoint’ next).

  10. Sangos,

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

    If I recall, there are two endings to the Iranian film. One ‘for Christians’ includes a crufixion scene. The other for ‘not Christians’ does not–I think it is called ‘the Qu’ran ending.’

    This is precisely the problem with the film. There were not two different endings, for two groups of people, to the life of Jesus of Nazareth. There was one ending for all people: He was crucified and then raised to life and then he ascended to the Father’s right hand. This is the only possible ‘ending’ to the life of Jesus. Any other ending is simply wrong and anti-historical and, I suppose one might say, of an ant-Christ nature.

    Thanks for stopping by.
    jerry

  11. Sangos

    Come to think of it religiously the impact of the Passion of the Christ and the events thereafter, give Jesus’s teachings a sledge hammer force. And the fact that he could endure such extreme physical conditions proves that he is NO regular human. Moresosever the fact that he is doing so voluntarily is definitely NOT human. He tells Pilate “You got NO power over me” proves beyond all doubt that he is divine ( my term – Higher Dimensional Being).
    In my view the Islamic view is missing out on this important aspect of the Christian teaching.

    Good comparison would be the Buddha, who in spite of large following has no claims to a higher dimensional nature (though certainly his approach to achieving nirvana is very human, like growing flowers). Think ‘The Messiah’ (Islamic ending)does this to the Christ. It would certainly be unacceptable to Christians.

  12. Jon

    Dear Jerry,
    This film is an attempt by a Muslim (from Iran!) to show the similarities between Christ in the Bible and in the Quran. The inclusion of an ending for the Christians is, if you think about it, a brave move, as it certainly wouldn’t please a lot of radical Muslims – he is probably setting himself up for their ire just by engaging in an inter-faith dialogue.
    On the other end, your utter rejection of the movie and its maker, using various epithets to him, is also not doing much for inter-faith dialogue. Look: there is a broad multitude of different religious ideas in the world, and it is very difficult to agree on anything. Religious beliefs cut to the core of people’s persons (including yours) and no one likes it when their beliefs are challenged. It’s fairly natural. But, even among Christians, there is a great deal of disagreement on all sorts of theological points across denominations (which I consider to include Catholics, Protestants, non-denominational Evangelicals, Mormons, Orthodox, Coptic, and other Christians – I know that many people don’t recognize all of these groups as Christians). Islam, which is also an Abrahamic religion (like Christianity and Judaism) but which has its own foundational text and a distinct tradition, obviously has plenty of differences to Christianity. But if we only focused on these, then we would learn very little. They are distinct religions, so why should they be the same?
    On the other hand, focusing on commonalities shows people that there are at least some links between the two major world religions. Christianity and Islam are a lot closer than, say, Christianity and Hinduism or Christianity and Atheism. At the least, both are monotheistic and include Jesus and a long line of Jewish prophets before him. I know that you completely disagree with Islam and think that it is wrong, but no one has said you have to accept it, any more than you have to accept Mormonism or Unitarianism. The point is to open up a dialogue and maintain respect. Why? Because tolerance and dialogue are in short supply right now, and in my view at least, there is rising animosity between Christians and Muslims worldwide which is partly based on misunderstandings.
    Your exchange with Rosa shows that both of you hold your beliefs dearly and refuse to compromise. That’s fine – you shouldn’t compromise your religious beliefs. But an argument that goes:
    “Jesus was the son of God!”
    “No he wasn’t!”
    “Yes he was!”
    “No he wasn’t”
    isn’t likely to be solved soon (unless the rapture is highly imminent, as some Christians think). Obviously it is theologically important, but it is also likely to divide people and drive them to frustration. A discussion that admits both the common roots and main differences, on the other hand, with acknowledgement that there can’t be agreement, might contribute to more peace and stability in the world and less mistrust of each other.
    As to your comment that: “We may as well party it up if Christ has not been Resurrected from the dead.” I know a lot Christians who certainly believe in the resurrection, and like to party it up (occasionally) anyway. They like to tell me that, after all, even Jesus went to a wedding party in the Gospel of John, and we all know there is no biblical qualm with wine. 😉

    Best,

    Jon

  13. Jon,

    I understand what you are saying, but I think you have over-simplified my post. I don’t have a lot time right now to engage in a point for point dialogue, but suffice it to say that while I understand your point I don’t agree with it at all. Religion is not merely about one’s cultural upbringing or conditioning or identity and in any case, even if it is, that certainly does not justify all religions in the eyes of God. There is only one Abrahamic ‘religion’ and that is the religion of Christ. I wrote another post about this, actually it was a sermon based on Genesis 12. You can search Genesis 12 here and find it. Dialogue between religions is helpful only to the extent that religions recognize the supremacy and sovereignty of Jesus Christ. Thanks for stopping by.

    jerry

    • Jimmy

      Sorry I’m a latecomer to this discussion. This might be a good thing – I had never heard of this movie before today, so hopefully not many other people saw it either. I have never understood how sincere people can say that Jesus was a “good man” or “great prophet” but not the Son of God. Jesus Himself repeatedly claimed to be the Son of God and proclaimed His death and resurrection. If they also say He is not the Son of God, and was not resurrected, then they cannot say He was “a beautiful man, a beautiful prophet”, because that would make him either a fraud and a liar, or a complete lunatic. Their own beliefs are self-conflicting.

  14. aliabbas

    1. Islam calls for faith in One True God (Quran 112:1-4); Christianity calls for faith in an absurd Triune God (Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Ghost). 2. Islam calls for faith and good works (Quran 85:11; 4:122; 19:61; 32:19; 2:112; 103:1-3; 2:62; etc.); Christianity is all about faith only. In Islam it is a combination, you must have faith and you must also do good works. Both are combined together, and without one, the other is useless. This is absent from Christianity, in Christianity good works means absolutely nothing as the Christians always say, it’s only about faith to be saved. 3. Salvation in Islam is very pure and simple, have faith in God and do good works (Quran 85:11; 4:122; 19:61; 32:19; 2:112; 103:1-3; 2:62; etc.); in Christianity Salvation rests on believing in torture and blood-shed of Jesus (God?)! One of the most disturbing things about Christianity is that to be saved, you have to believe that an innocent man died for you, an
    innocent man who did no wrong, paid for your crime! This innocent man was tortured, and given one of the most painful deaths, and basically you have to believe in such barbarity to be saved! This is nothing like the beauty of Islam, where you only have to believe in One True God (Quran 4:48). Why should you lay your Salvation on a man who was beaten, tortured, for a crime he did not commit! Christians are saved by the blood, torture and the brutal death of Jesus! 4. In Islam men and women are equal in the Sight of God (Quran 4:1; 4:124; 16:97; 40:40; 33:35; 3:195; 49:13; etc.); in Christianity men and women are not equal in the Sight of God (Genesis 2:22; 1 Timothy 2:13-14; 1 Corinthians 11:8-9; 14:34-35; Ephesians 5:22; Leviticus 27:3-4; etc.). 5. Islam does not believe in irrational Original Sin (Quran 17:15; 6:164), rather it believes in Original Forgiveness (Quran 7:19-24); Christianity does believe in Original Sin. 6. Islam equally blames on Adam
    and Eve to eat forbidden fruit (Quran 7:19-24); Christianity blames only on Eve for the same (1 Timothy 2:14)

    • Well, nice try, but you have unfortunately failed at several points.

      1. Christianity does stress the importance of faith and works. To quote the late Rich Mullins, “Faith without works is like a screen door on a submarine.” Also, to be sure, the book of James is canonical.

      2. Nowhere is Eve alone held responsible for ‘the fall.’ Re-read Genesis and re-read Romans and you will see you are clearly mistaken.

      3. The word ‘trinity’ is not found in the Bible. Christians do not believe in three-gods, but one. You sorely misunderstand the Christian doctrine of God.

      4. Christians do not ‘believe in barbarity in order to be saved.’ Christians believe in Grace.

      5. As to your claims about men and women, Christians actually believe this: In Christ there is neither male nor female…etc. Again, fail on your part.

      6. Since you don’t believe that Jesus carried your sin, who do you believe did? If no one carried your sin, then you are still in it. And if you are still in sin then even your Allah cannot save you if he be righteous.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  1. 1 Hitting the Big Time. *Sniff* “I’d Like to Thank…” *Sniff* « Life Under the Blue Sky: The View From Below

    […] my moment is finally here: I have been linked at Wikipedia! That’s right, Wikipedia! I wrote this post about an Iranian film that is a sort of ‘response’ to Mel Gibson’s The Passion of […]




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