The gospel is a timeless message, and by the work of the Holy Spirit it still and will continue to save the lost of this world. It needs no modernization or relevancy, for it is forever relevant. Unfortunately, this musical confirms the destructive reality of cultural Christianity, where the good news of the gospel is turned into a moralistic message, not a death to life one. My fear is that The Passion will give false hope to a dying world.
This past Sunday, Palm Sunday in fact, actor, producer, and director Tyler Perry presented The Passion, aired on FOX. This live musical hosted in New Orleans, Louisiana attempted to put a contemporary twist on the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. Instead, it made of mockery of Christ and the faith held so dear to the hearts of many Christians.
I don’t believe Perry had bad intentions in creating The Passion. In fact, I believe he probably had good intentions, although misguided and uninformed to the true weight of the Gospel message. He is known for specializing on a “gospel” genre in his television shows and famous performance of Madea. Clearly, Perry is gifted and quite creative; I do not wish to discount his many talents and accomplishments.
And to be fair, I didn’t expect Perry to present the most robust theological message of Christ. Nor did I expect him to properly explain salvation found in the Gospel in terms of regeneration, justification, and sanctification. Yet, this goes much further than a simple contextualized proclamation of the gospel.
First off, Perry equated the suffering of the City of New Orleans to that of Christ’s death and resurrection, “Jesus suffered and then was resurrected. Same thing happened to this city,” an egregious misrepresentation of the work of Christ. Additionally, his presentation of Christ, not only stripped the gospel of any salvific message and lacked a call to repentance, it mocked the very life, death, and resurrection of the true Savior of the World.
The gospel message of Jesus Christ is a beautiful and powerful message of God’s plan for redeeming his children to himself. It is a message of sin and salvation, as expressed in the self-sacrificial and grotesque death of Christ on the Roman cross, and his glorious resurrection and ascension.
The gospel is this: God is holy and just, and we are not. All of mankind has sinned against the most holy and perfect God of all, in our disobedience and shame we are rightfully sentenced to death and eternal separation from God. But, God in his love sent his Son Jesus Christ, to redeem all of God’s children to himself. Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary; he lived a perfect life, and died the perfect death taking on the weight and punishment of sin, finally and fully satisfying the just wrath of God. He died on the cross, was buried, and raised to life on the third day. Through this death and resurrection, all who might believe in Him as Lord and Savior, repenting from your sin and shame and turning to Christ, will have new eternal life with God.