January 14, 2008

Iranians: Jesus dyed his hair...

An Iranian director has made a film to attempt to persuade Christians that they should abandon their own delusional views about who Jesus Christ was in favor of Muhammad's equally delusional view of who Jesus Christ was, AFP reports. More on that in a moment, but first, take a look at Jesus...

Blond Jesus.jpg

I had no idea Jesus dyed his hair blond, not to mention his beard.

The most ludicrous thing about the film is the director's stated intention:

A director who shares the ideas of Iran's hardline president has produced what he says is the first film giving an Islamic view of Jesus Christ, in a bid to show the "common ground" between Muslims and Christians.

Nader Talebzadeh sees his movie, "Jesus, the Spirit of God," as an Islamic answer to Western productions like Mel Gibson's 2004 blockbuster "The Passion of the Christ," which he praised as admirable but quite simply "wrong".

"Gibson's film is a very good film. I mean that it is a well-crafted movie but the story is wrong -- it was not like that," he said, referring to two key differences: Islam sees Jesus as a prophet, not the son of God, and does not believe he was crucified.

As I've noted before, it is unlikely that Christians and Muslims will be able to find much common ground about Jesus:

We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. That is the formula. That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed.

That's C.S. Lewis from Mere Christianity. I never quite believed this wholeheartedly or even half-heartedly growing up, and I do not believe it all now. However, Christians do believe this, and it strikes me as a peculiar form of cultural chauvinism that some Muslims seem to think that saying "this is wrong," based on the supposed superiority of a text cobbled together several hundred years and several hundreds of miles from the event, would influence anyone.

One final observation: As pretty as the Jesus of the Iranian film is, aren't depictions of the prophets forbidden in Islam?

Posted by Ideofact at January 14, 2008 11:20 PM

There are millions of people who don't believe Lewis' formula but still consider themselves Christians and millions more who don't believe Lewis' formula and are still usually considered Christians even if they may not necessarily go around calling themselves Christian a lot, don't you agree?

Both of my parents grew up in believing Catholic families and my mother took me to Church and put me in religious education throughout my youth but at least in my lifetime she never subscribed to that formula either. She was Christian in the sense that she thought Jesus was a great teacher of peace and service to the poor and all of those who were considered outcasts or low caste in society.

All of this is to say that while certainly you are correct that there are many Christians for whom the crucifixion of Jesus meaning forgiveness for everybody's sins is the central meaning of Christianity but here are many Christians for whom that is not the case and for whom the message that Jesus was a righteous Prophet of God and a great teacher and example is not that jarring.

I have found even personally that discussing with Christians the love and respect that Muslims have for Jesus and talking about our attempt to follow the example of his life even if we disagree about the events of his death or whether he is divine, does serve as a sort of bridge of familiarity between Christians and Muslims.

Do you catch my point?

By the way, I have no idea what's up with the blond hair, that's truly bizarre? And yes, almost all Muslim scholars would find it extremely offensive to have an actor playing Jesus or any other Prophet. The Shi'a traditionally seem to have taken a different view on pictorial depictions of prophets and other highly esteemed figures.

Posted by: Abu Noor Al-Irlandee at January 16, 2008 03:51 PM

In case my tone isn't clear, I'm not trying to argue with you Bill, I'm just expressing a stream of consciousness of thoughts and experiences that came to my mind and seeing if you would agree or disagree with my general observations.


Posted by: Abu Noor Al-Irlandee at January 16, 2008 03:53 PM

Hey, interesting comments--thanks for not forgetting me.

I often wonder about the sophistication of believers, particularly when I read a difficult treatise on Christian doctrine or an explanation of why a particular interpretation of a Koranic verse by a Shi'a scholar was regarded as heretical. I think I'm a reasonably intelligent person, but reading Luther or Tyndale on the implications of Paul's epistles or passages from the Ismaili Heresiography I have on the shelf often leaves me feeling that I'm missing certain subtleties. If I can't grasp all the finer points of the doctrine, and most people haven't bothered to read the doctrine, what does that say about the importance of doctrine?

Your mother most likely did he sensible thing: Rather than try to penetrate all the subtleties of Catholic doctrine, she believed what seemed about right to her.

I suspect though that most Christians do adhere to Lewis' formula to some extent, perhaps more through the Christmas story (the idea of God being born a baby and experiencing firsthand the cuddling and love of a mother is a very powerful idea--cf, renaissance madonna & child paintings) than through the crucifixion.

Posted by: Bill at January 17, 2008 12:09 AM