Friday, 10 April 2009

The Lamb of God – The Mormon Story at Easter

The Lamb of God is the Mormon Church's video presentation of the Easter story. Once again this video has been finding its way into thousands of homes across the country, usually accompanied by a pair of missionaries. It is usually preceded, at Christmas, by a short video entitled The Nativity, depicting the birth of Jesus. The Nativity is simply a visual presentation of the Christmas story with very little dialogue, and that in Aramaic/Hebrew. It is more an animated tableau depicting successive familiar scenes from Luke 2. But then what more could you expect from a film barely 12 minutes long?

The tableau format is carried over into the 27 minute long The Lamb of God. Beginning with Jesus' appearance before Pilate it is a presentation of the last few hours of His life, interspersed with retrospective scenes from His last week and a couple of brief scenes from the Christmas video. The dialogue is sparse, a few brief phrases at the last supper "Do this in remembrance of me," and brief exchanges between Jesus and Pilate, familiar phrases given in the inevitable King James English - "Art thou the King of the Jews?" "My kingdom is not of this world." "Art thou a king then?" "For this purpose came I into this world." "I find no fault with this man!" "Shall I crucify your king?"

There is the inevitable "Crucify Him!" from the crowd and the rest is simply a background noise of Aramaic/Hebrew. From the cross you hear "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit," then "It is finished." We see the anger of the crowds, the sorrow of the disciples and the hasty burial. Then the discovery of the empty tomb by Mary, and Peter and John racing to see for themselves. It finishes with a depiction in silhouette of the pair telling shepherds on a hill and a visual presentation of John 3:16.

This is a moving and heart-warming film. It is comforting and reassuring in its familiarity, well produced and quite accurate to the King James account. An Evangelical Christian viewing it for the purpose of finding arguments against the Mormon Church would be disappointed. There is nothing doctrinally wrong with it and it would serve well as a starting point for a gospel discussion. But that is because there is nothing doctrinal in it. If asked to write this video the average Christian would be hard pressed to decide what to leave out of a film depicting such a significant week in the history of the world. Yet, this 27-minute video is totally devoid of teaching or indeed structured storytelling - either Christian or Mormon.

It is a 27 minute "virtual" tableau leading up to the most important message in the whole video - the last words on the screen: This is a presentation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is a type of iconography, designed to give an impression, a representation by means of images. An impression of what? An impression of Christianity. An Evangelical Christian watching this video would be hard pressed to fault it. Someone unfamiliar with the Christian message would learn precious little about Christianity - or Mormonism, and that is the point of the film. You will inevitably think that it is a "Christian" film produced by a "Christian" church.

We showed it to a group of Christian friends and asked for their comments. One expressed real surprise that it actually "told the gospel." However, it does not tell the gospel at all, either the Christian gospel or the Mormon gospel. Read the rest of this article here

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