For whatever reason, filmmakers are fond of putting the Bible, or portions of the Bible, into video-format as a movie. From The Ten Commandments to The Passion of the Christ, many important themes of the Bible have been put to film, and that isn’t even including the countless cartoons of various lesser-known Bible stories out there.
And now, director Mark Dornford-May brings us Son of Man, a movie in which Jesus is portrayed as a revolutionary in modern day Africa. Says the Dornford-May, “The truth is that Christ was born in an occupied state and preached equality at a time when that wasn’t very acceptable.” Further, he confesses his belief that the Gospels “were written by spin doctors” and that he had to strip away content in order to arrive at his conclusion about the Gospel’s truth.
I confess that I agree with Dornford-May a bit; Christ has been “hijacked a bit — he’s gone very blond-haired and blue-eyed” and that “the message of Christ was that it is universal.”
However, to strip away any of the Gospels’ truth is to create a lie. Jesus Christ did not come to preach equality, He came to seek and to save that which was lost. Only those who believe into Christ are acceptable to Him, as Jesus demonstrated with a brash statement about the inquality of men: those who believe Christ are saved while unbelievers are damned already.
He did not fight to end slavery, nor did He seek to end the Romans’ occupation of Israel, though He could have done both in less time than it takes for you to finish this sentence.
The bottom-line, as with most “Jesus films” is that the creature portrayed on screen cannot rightfully be called an honest portrayal of Jesus Christ (if such a portrayal could exist). Elements of fiction abound, turning what little truth is being portrayed into a lie. However, in this instance Dornford-May confesses that he doesn’t believe in the real Jesus, but rather in one of his own making, one who is simply “a divine being who rises from the dead” rather than the only begotten Son of God.
Even the portrayal of the apostles is diluted with lies, as they are portrayed as coming from “factions of armed rebels across the country,” a far cry from fishermen and tax collectors.
The gospel portrayed in the movie is not one of salvation for the soul, but according to the director Christ’s resurrection signals “hope for Africa, the world’s poorest continent…”
Rather than remember Christ’s statements about laying up riches in Heaven and trusting the Lord for our daily bread, Dornford-May implies that Christ’s sacrifice can bring riches to Africa and help solve its image of being a “mess of conflict and corruption.”
Lastly, Mary, the wife of Joseph, is portrayed by Pauline Malefane (the director’s wife), who previously paid a “seductive heroine” in U-Carmen. Mary’s role is “beefed-up” as well, serving as inspiration for Jesus rather than His teaching her (which is what we read in the Bible). Perhaps there is some Roman Catholic influence in this?
Whatever the case may be, it cannot be emphasized enough that any portrayal of Jesus Christ on film is going to be wrapped in lies or, at worst, blasphemy. To claim a need for a video to teach us the ways of the Lord is to deny the sufficiency and truth of the Scriptures.
Sadly, even conservative church leaders of South Africa have praised the film. Where is the discernment? Where is the love and fear of God? Where is the truth in the portrayal of our Lord and God Jesus Christ?
“Let God be true, but every man a liar…” Romans 3:4.
(Hat tip: Shawn)