Mano Paul claims that allegations of anti-Semitism were unfounded when The Passion of the Christ was released. Since he blocks comments from dissenters and won’t reply directly to any disagreements, we can only guess at what he means by this statement.
Does he mean that the people who are responsible for the movie are not anti-Semitic or did not intend such a message? If this is the case, the best we can hope for his mistake is willful ignorance. While it may not have been widely known at the time, since then Mel Gibson has shown his true colors. Even if his movie is only a subconscious reflection of his hate, it’s clear that there are plenty of reasonable grounds to interpret the production as hateful toward Jews.
Does he mean that the actual events of the Bible aren’t anti-Semitic? Here I would actually agree – the Jews aren’t the villain in the story. According to the narrative, the ultimate cause for Jesus’ torture is God. It is God’s plan to create a son on earth in order to torture him and kill him in redemption for the sins of his creations. The men in the story, who are naively portrayed as villains, are simply God’s actors for dramatizing his macabre snuff film. Judas, Pontius, and indeed the cabal of Jewish betrayers are all integral to the larger plot. 30 pieces of silver are merely a distraction to trump up a puppet’s role and obscure the evil of the puppetmaster.
Whatever Mano means when he dismisses claims of anti-Semitism, he should first consider the centuries of blood libel tradition that have cursed the Jewish people by the same wicked hands as Jesus – those that kill and torture in the name of religion. If only those people had instead blamed their misfortune on the true perpetrator (God) instead of the innocent pawns, perhaps the world would not still be shackled with bigotry and ignorance in His name.
Points to Ponder
Mano asks our response to this God who willingly gave his life for us, who supposedly did it of his own free will. He then asks what we will choose to do with our free will. There are so many things wrong with the premises of these questions that a reasonable answer is not even possible until we understand what these even mean.
Presumably, Mano is not just preaching to the choir. If he honestly intends to win converts, he must not assume that nonbelievers have any understanding of the Trinity. (While we’re on the subject, we should hope he realizes that nobody has any reasonable understanding of the Trinity, and indeed most claims are that it is beyond human understanding.) To a nonbeliever, there does not appear to be any justification for believing that God gave his life for us. Perhaps there is a case for God giving his son’s life for us (though a few hours of torture and a few days of “death” followed by heaven forever hardly seems a terrible sacrifice). However, if this was always God’s plan, then it hardly seems like Jesus had any choice in the matter.
Most apologetics for theodicy include some requirement for free will (e.g. if we weren’t allowed to do evil, then we wouldn’t have free will). Saving that argument for later, we must at best assume Mano allows for human free will if he asks us what we will choose with the knowledge of the Jesus story.
So how does a non-Christian respond to a God who kills his son and then makes the only requirement of his inherently sinful creations for avoiding eternal suffering NOT behaving ethically and good, but simply believing that this torture story is the best plan an infinitely loving God could come up with? We think it sounds more like a story that some dimwitted clerics came up with, and we don’t understand why you believe it, either.